This Is the Top Grossing Movie of 2020

The movie industry has been hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the five years that ended in 2019, the total of domestic movie ticket sales has been above $11 billion a year. So far in 2020, the number is $1.9 billion. One film has been the winner, by far, in domestic ticket sales this year.

The shuttering of theaters has hurt both theater chains and studios alike. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc.’s (NYSE: AMC) stock price dropped over the past year from a peak of over $11 to just below $2. It has recovered somewhat to slightly above the $5 level. Its locations were completely shut during the worst weeks of the national spread of the disease. Those locations have reopened. However, only a fraction of seats can be used, due to social distancing, and fear of infection continues to keep people away.

Studios like the one operated by Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) also have seen falling revenue and bottom-line problems. In the second quarter of the year, revenue from Disney’s studio entertainment unit dropped 55% from the year before to $1.7 billion. Operating profit fell 16% to $668 million.

Studios have had to delay major films because they cannot recoup production costs, which in some cases run into the tens of millions of dollars per movie.

The primary beneficiaries of the theater shutterings have been streaming services, an industry dominated by Netflix Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN). The field has grown with the rapid expansion of newcomers, such as Disney+.

The top-performing movie in America for 2020, based on domestic ticket sales, was released right after the start of the year. That gave it two months to accumulate revenue before the COVID-19 shutdowns. “Bad Boys for Life,” released on January 17, has brought in $240 million, much more than second-place “1917,” a World War I movie, which has brought in $158 million.

“Bad Boys for Life,” like many other successful movies, is part of a series of sequels. The first weekend it was open, it brought in $62 million. The movie is about two Miami detectives, played by two of the most well-known actors in the world: Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.

“Bad Boys for Life” was preceded by “Bad Boys” in 1995 and “Bad Boys II” in 2003. The first film brought in $65 million in ticket sales in North America. The second brought in $138 million.

“Bad Boys for Life” is at the top of the U.S. box office, and no other film may take that lead if COVID-19 keeps people out of theaters for the next three months.