Some 274 movies, including blockbusters like "No Time to Die," "Top Gun: Maverick" and the ninth "Fast and Furious" action film, were moved to 2021 release dates.

A person wearing a face mask looks from a viewing area overlooking the Hollywood sign as seen from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California, December 28, 2020.
A person wearing a face mask looks from a viewing area overlooking the Hollywood sign as seen from the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, California, December 28, 2020. (AFP)

Hollywood movies have suffered an unprecedented 80 percent slump in box office revenue in North America in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic closed movie theaters and studios held back the release of scores of new films.

Research firm Comscore said in an end-of-year report on Tuesday that the North American box office brought in $2.2 billion in 2020, compared with $11.4 billion for 2019.

The 2020 revenue marked an almost 40-year low, according to historical data from Box Office Mojo. The lowest previous take for North American box office receipts was 1981, with a total of $918 million, in a year when "Superman II" was the biggest film.

Comscore did not release worldwide data for 2020, but Variety said global returns slumped some 71 percent.

The pandemic forced movie theaters to close around the world in mid-March, bringing some small and big chains like AMC Entertainment to the brink of bankruptcy. Theaters have still to reopen in the biggest US markets of Los Angeles and New York City.

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Blockbuster movies suffer delays, rope in less money

Some 274 movies, including blockbusters like "No Time to Die," "Top Gun: Maverick" and the ninth "Fast and Furious" action film, were moved to 2021 release dates, according to the Comscore report.

That left Sony Pictures cop caper "Bad Boys for Life," released in January last year, as the top-earning movie in North America for 2020 with $206 million. In 2019, "Avengers: Endgame" ruled the domestic box office with $858 million.

Thriller "Tenet" from Warner Bros, which hoped to tempt movie-goers back into theaters in the summer, took in just $58 million in the US and Canada.

Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst with Comscore, said that 2020 revenue, much of it from drive-in venues, was grounds for hope given that some industry observers had feared the figure would be even smaller.

"That should be extremely encouraging to anyone who was worried that movie-going would not come back at all," Dergarabedian said.

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Netflix rises to the occasion

Already the master of 2020's pandemic-era movie landscape, Netflix on Tuesday offered a preview of upcoming 2021 releases, a list with no fewer than 70 star-studded feature films.

From drama, comedy and science fiction to horror and even Westerns, the slate will take in every major film genre before the year is out, with some releases poised as potential competition for major awards.

Among the most-anticipated titles is "Don't Look Up," from filmmaker Adam McKay of "The Big Short" and "Vice" fame and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

"The Harder They Fall," a Western co-produced by Jay-Z and with a primarily Black cast including Regina King and Idris Elba, also promises to be one to look out for.

But the list included premier dates for only 10 of the titles, from early January to mid-March.

The announcement, via a brochure on the streamer's website, was accompanied by a short video presented by "Wonder Woman" star Gal Gadot, "Jumanji" lead Dwayne Johnson and "Deadpool" actor Ryan Reynolds.

The video also features Regina King, Adrien Brody, Meryl Streep, Sandra Bullock, Octavia Spencer, Jeremy Irons, even Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence, showcasing the several Oscar winners Netflix has snagged for their 2021 season.

The directors featured on the slate include notable names such as Jane Campion for "The Power of the Dog," Halle Berry and Lin-Manuel Miranda in both of their first spins behind the camera.

Johnson, Gadot and Reynolds will appear in "Red Notice," an action film with a $160 million budget, according to US media.

Netflix did not respond to an AFP query about which, if any, of its 2021 films would also receive theatrical releases.

The preview came as Warner Bros. dropped its own slate, revealing that it would release all 17 of its 2021 titles simultaneously in theaters and on HBO MAX.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies