In any given year, the biggest box office successes often hit theaters in the summer months, but with 2020 being such an unprecedented year for a number of reasons, the highest-grossing movie at the domestic box office was a January release, with Bad Boys for Life topping the charts with $204.4 million. Interestingly, 1917, which was released in 2019, was the second-highest-grossing movie of 2020, as it earned $157.9 million, with the December 2019 release scoring major numbers thanks to it securing a number of major awards and recognitions in the early part of the year and helping it trounce the competition.
When audiences look back on box office earnings in 2020, the totals will surely come with a number of asterisks. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, theaters around the world shut their doors in March of 2020, with new releases only seeing wide, global releases in January and February. Films like The Hunt and Bloodshot briefly landed in theaters, though quickly pivoted to Premium VOD services as theaters closed.
As the months passed, international theaters began to reopen as various countries got a better handle on containing the pandemic. Christopher Nolan's Tenet, which was slated to be one of the year's biggest releases, delayed its release for weeks at a time, all while other major blockbusters pushed their debuts back by months. Warner Bros. and even Nolan himself were hoping that the release of Tenet could help usher audiences back to theaters and revive interest in the cinematic experience, with the film first opening in select foreign markets on August 26th before opening domestically on September 3rd.
Sadly, with limited theaters being open and with those open theaters functioning at a reduced capacity, Tenet failed to make a major box-office impact. Complicating matters further is that the film had a number of stipulations of where it could be screened, making it difficult for even the most devout Nolan fan to see his latest adventure on the big screen.
The future of the movie industry is still quite unclear, given that we're still in the middle of the pandemic. Surely the promise of a vaccine being distributed brings hope that 2021 could see some sense of normalcy be resumed around the world, but between there being no official timeline of when these events could occur, and studios like Warner Bros. committing to releasing their films not only in select theaters, but also on HBO Max the same day as their theatrical debuts, it likely means it might not be until 2022 or 2023 that we see the movie industry bounce back to pre-pandemic numbers.
Are you surprised Bad Boys for Life topped the charts? Let us know in the comments below!