The collapse of cinemas – A box office analysis in Romania

7 February, 2022

On March 18, 2020, all cinemas in Romania are closed as a measure to combat the pandemic. We all sense the detrimental effect this reality has had on cinemas, but the figures for the last two years could be even worse than we expect. After years in which the number of spectators has risen steadily, beating record after record, 2020 has seen a decrease of 71% compared to 2019, and 2021 only a slight recovery (an increase of 13% compared to the previous year, but only 67% of the total number of admissions in 2019).

For a clearer picture, both 2020 and 2021 recorded 5.77 million viewers, meaning only 61% of the excellent total of 2019, 9.37 million. To reach annual figures similar to those of the last two years, we need to go a decade and a half into the past: 2007 had 2.63 million viewers, and 2008 came with a significant increase, reaching a total of 3.47 million tickets sold, according to the weekly figures compiled by


The highest-grossing movie of 2021 in Romania is Spider-Man: No Way Home, with 11.37 million lei in revenue (although some of the sales took place this year), whereas the 2nd place goes to Fast & Furious 9, with 9.11 million lei. The two are followed by the epic science fiction film Dune and the Pixar animation Luca, with 4.76 and 4.44 million lei, respectively. A surprising appearance in this national top is House of Gucci, with 4.25 million lei in revenue, thus outperforming the latest James Bond film, No Time to Die, ranked 6th with 4.11 million lei. Next is Venom: Let There Be Carnage (3.71 million lei) and the Romanian film Tabăra / Camp, with 3.52 million lei. Ranking last in our top 10 are Jungle Cruise, with 3 million lei, and the Marvel production Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, with 2.86 million lei.

2021 Romanian box office (according to

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home – 12,49 million lei
  2. Fast & Furious 9 – 9,11 million lei
  3. Dune – 4,89 million lei
  4. Luca – 4,45 million lei
  5. House of Gucci – 4,39 million lei
  6. No Time to Die – 4,25 million lei
  7. Tabăra/The Camp – 3,93 million lei
  8. Venom: Let There Be Carnage – 3,71 million lei
  9. Jungle Cruise – 3 million lei
  10. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – 2,92 million lei

One can notice that the preferences of Romanian audiences are quite different from the global and American preferences. The global top 10 sees no less than three Chinese films, which will probably never be distributed in our country, and it also includes Eternals (13th in Romania) and Godzilla vs. Kong (32nd in Romania).

As for the American top, the audience here reconfirms their true obsession with superhero movies, five of the first six positions being occupied by such productions. Considerable success was achieved by A Quiet Place Part II, Ghostbusters: Afterlife and Free Guy, films which in Romania ranked 31st, 34th and 12th, respectively, in the top-grossing movies of 2021.

2021 Worldwide Box Office (according to

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home – $1,697,736,280 
  2. The Battle at Lake Changjin – $902,540,935
  3. Hi, Mom – $822,009,764
  4. No Time to Die – $774,153,007 
  5. F9: The Fast Saga – $726,229,501
  6. Detective Chinatown 3 – $686,257,563
  7. Venom: Let There Be Carnage – $502,050,366
  8. Godzilla vs. Kong – $468,216,094
  9. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – $432,233,010
  10. Eternals – $402,027,582

2021 US Box Office (according to

  1. Spider-Man: No Way Home – $572,984,769
  2. Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – $224,543,292
  3. Venom: Let There Be Carnage – $212,609,036
  4. Black Widow – $183,651,655
  5. F9: The Fast Saga – $173,005,945
  6. Eternals – $164,616,321
  7. No Time to Die – $160,772,007
  8. A Quiet Place Part II – $160,072,261
  9. Ghostbusters: Afterlife – $122,378,960
  10. Free Guy – $121,626,598

As for Romanian films, 2020 came with the surprise of Miami Bici, which grossed 11.6 million lei in just a few weeks, becoming the most popular local production in the last 25 years. Moreover, this undisputed success of Spanish director Jesús del Cerro would have had considerably higher revenues if its theatrical run had not been cut ahead of time due to the closure of all movie theaters in the country on March 18, 2020, as a control measure for the pandemic.

If in 2021 we do have a Romanian film (Camp, dir. Vali Dobrogeanu) in the top 10 grossing movies at the national box office, the next film (Snow, Tea and Love) occupies the 19th position. Other Romanian titles ranked 58th (Perfect Strangers), 63th (Wild Romania) and 69th (Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn). Next is Pup-o, ma2! The Crazy Bride (71), Father Moves Mountains (80), Întregalde (82), Luca (85), So, What’s Freedom? (91), Malmkrog (95), Poppy Field (97), Unidentified (99), The Ladder (101), And They May Still Be Alive Today (102), Mia Misses Her Revenge (111), House of Dolls (114), Berliner (115), The Exit of the Trains (117), Otto the Barbarian (122), No Rest For The Old Lady (126), Us Against Us (130) and The Royal Train (135).

What’s next?

The biggest question we can ask ourselves is how long we will have to wait until an annual amount reaches the figures of 2019. Unfortunately, there’s no right answer yet because the pandemic has inexorably affected the culture of cinema consumption, and the consequences will be perpetuated even after a return to normalcy (by this we mean going to the cinema without the existing restrictions such as having to wear a face mask, reduced capacity and a limited number of screenings).

A survey carried out by Cinemagia in June 2020, when movie theaters could resume their activity (although most preferred not to), showed that only 54% of about 1,500 participants were willing to return to the cinema, and some of them even mentioned in the comments section that they would return only under certain conditions and to certain special releases. The figures for the last two years are absolutely justified by the quarantine and the authorities’ non-challengeable decision to close venues, but no one can deny that a considerable part of the public rather turns to streaming platforms and piracy, especially now that certain major films are released simultaneously in theaters and online.

Intuitively, we could say that we will need at least a few years to return to a total of almost 10 million viewers in Romanian theaters and that this number will be reached only as a result of strategy changes by cinemas (enticing deals, discounts, and so on). Otherwise, the public will prefer to stay at home, in front of their personal screen, paying nothing or very little for a less tempting content quality-wise, but more than enough for many.

Born in Piteşti, Romania, in 1980, Ştefan is a graduate from the University of Bucharest, with a degree in Journalism and Communication Sciences. After trying his hand with financial journalism and photography (the latter still being very close to his heart), he put his career on a new path in 2006, when he became the senior editor of Cinemagia. He is also the Romania and Bulgaria correspondent for At Films in Frame he recommends monthly the newest film trailers.