“Unforgettable May at Theaters: Surprising Top Ten Titles and Public’s Return”

Super Mario Bros., the film, the highest grossing of 2023 in Argentina

In the first half of 2023, the Argentine public returned to theaters. The theaters were once again filled with figures that almost doubled those registered in the same period of 2022 and brought the attendance to levels similar to those of the pre-pandemic.

According to data from the Ultracine consultancy, they were sold in total between January 1 and June 30, 21,715,618 tickets throughout the country, 42% more than in the initial six months of last year (just over 15,200,000), but with an extreme concentration in the billboard.

On the one hand, the most popular production made in Hollywood, and on the other, very worrying figures for Argentine films and for European, international, and auteur cinema. The latter, if things continue like this, is heading towards a virtual disappearance from the commercial rooms.

The numbers are very eloquent. Cinemas recovered the call they had lost in times of Covid-19 (and the forced closure of all activity) thanks to the attraction of a handful of blockbuster titles produced with large budgets and the latest technology by the major Hollywood studios.

To such an extent that 70% of the total tickets sold between January and June across the country (15,189,580) are concentrated in the 10 most viewed films. The remaining 30% appears distributed among the 412 remaining productions that went through the billboard during these six months.

Attendance at theaters went from low to high so far in 2023

This year, for example, there was a historic May with almost five million viewers, a figure that had not been recorded for that month since 1997, the year in which the local market began to have reliable data and statistics. The numbers had already been on the rise since April, with the best comparative box office record between 2017 and today, and they also remained high in June.

The month that just ended, the last of the first semester, according to Ultracine, it registered a total of 4,195,645 tickets sold, 2.62% more than the same period in 2022. But the most significant data is that immediately behind the historical record of May, June appears as the month with the highest attendance in theaters so far in 2023.

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The last XL weekend, with 1,200,000 spectators in theaters, made a great contribution to reaching those figures. The return of the classic image of multi-screen complexes brimming with public, with many performances to full houses, especially over the last two months, is explained purely and exclusively by the convening power of the strongest premieres coming from Hollywood.

This trend was confirmed especially in the four or five weeks from a string of very successful strong releases and which explains why May and June reached such high ticket sales records. Fast and Furious X; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3; The Little Mermaid, Elements, Spider Man: Through the Spider Verse and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, all released in the last two months, appear in the Top 10 of the most viewed movies of the year.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish It was the big surprise in terms of calling the public to theaters in the first half of 2023

The list is headed by Super Mario Bros., the movie, with 2,829,779 tickets sold. Behind them are Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2,452,169); Fast and Furious X (2,256,198); Avatar, the path of water (2,148,450); Guardians of the Galaxy, Volume 3 (1,390,503); The Little Mermaid (1,240,434); Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (768,998); Elements (740,721); Spider Man: Through the Spider Verse (740,438) and Transformers: Rise of the Beasts (621,890).

The chart once again makes it clear that the convening power of cinemas is concentrated more and more strongly and absolutely in animated blockbusters and sequels or relaunches of highly successful titles. The figures not only confirm the prevailing global trend. They also show that not all Hollywood tanks work. There were some very important global releases that also had disappointing box office figures in Argentina. Leading the way are Flash (440,998 tickets sold up to 6/30) and Shazam: the fury of the gods (196,922).

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A detail that deserves to be highlighted in the balance of the first semester is the ratification of the local public’s sustained interest in cinema horror, which for that reason has a guaranteed presence in the premiere programming superior to that of other traditional genres. During this period, the most prominent titles of that current (Evil Dead Awakening, M3gan, The Exorcist of the Pope, Scream 6, and Boogeyman) managed to be among the 25 most viewed.

Fast and furious X, one of the most viewed movie releases so far this year

Having sold 42% more tickets in the last six months than in the same period of 2022 is a reason for immediate celebration for a large part of the local market. They celebrate the multi-screen exhibitors, which are fully active in their complexes, and also some of the main distributors of material from the big Hollywood studios. Two of them, UIP and Disney, share the ownership of the 10 most viewed films in equal parts.

The opposite side involves Argentine cinema and all the rest of the programming of international premieres in theaters: foreign films and everything that is known as independent and auteur cinema. They are the great stone guests in a scenario of extremely high concentration, increasingly difficult to reverse.

With a total registered by Ultracine of 191 premieres and a total of 774,026 viewers, Argentine cinema has barely 3% of the total number of films that went through the billboard of our country in the first six months of this year. This percentage acquires even greater significance if we compare it with the launches originating in the United States. They are much fewer in quantity (76 films), but all of them account for 72% of the tickets sold between January and June. They add up to 15,672,813 out of the more than 21 and a half million of the absolute total.

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In the midst of this panorama, national cinema achieved a small feat. The most watched Argentine film so far in 2023 as a theatrical release is La extorción, by Martino Zaidelis, starring Guillermo Francella. It added 525,707 tickets sold and occupies the 11th place among the highest grossing this season. 67% of the total attendance that Argentine cinema shown in theaters added belongs to him.

Behind Extortion, far behind in the figures, the most watched Argentine releases of the year in theaters were Asphyxiated (55,652 admissions), Blondi (45,822 ) and Argentina, 1985 (53,343).

The case of Blondi is also notable within its scale, because it maintains its call constant throughout its four weeks on the bill (it has just entered its fifth) if we take into account the average number of viewers per room. It has been shown that word of mouth works in this case and everything indicates that Dolores Fonzi’s debut film will remain available for a longer time to be seen in theaters simultaneously with its arrival on streaming, scheduled for July 5 on the Amazon platform Prime Video.

As for Argentina, 1985, it is confirmed in this first half of the year of its international Oscar nomination that it is the most important nationally produced film of recent times. Released at the end of September 2022, it was among the 10 most watched films of last year and with the addition of tickets sold during the first half of 2023, it already has a total of 1,130,223 viewers.

The other Argentine name that deserves to be highlighted is that of Damián Szifron, who this year premiered his new film as a director produced entirely in the United States, spoken in English and with a cast of that origin. The Argentine public’s interest in seeing Misántropo at the cinema, the…

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