Maverick, Disney won 2022 box office crown

Tom Cruise in “Top Gun: Maverick”

Source: Paramount

“Top Gun: Maverick” was the highest grossing theatrical release in 2022, but its $719 million haul wasn’t enough to make its studio, Paramount, ruler of the domestic box office.

The Tom Cruise-led action film was a juggernaut, generating $719 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, the most of any film released in 2022, according to data from Comscore. It also accounted for more than half of Paramount’s overall domestic haul for the year.

Other releases, including “The Lost City,” “Smile,” “Scream” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” pushed Paramount’s 2022 box office to around $1.3 billion, the third-highest haul for studios, Comscore reported.

Ultimately, “Maverick” represented around 10% of the total $7.5 billion in domestic ticket receipts collected last year. That domestic total is down around 34% compared to 2019, before the pandemic.

While the “Top Gun” sequel topped the charts as the highest-grossing film of the year, it is Disney that ultimately wears the 2022 box office crown.

The company, which includes 20th Century Studios, tallied around $2 billion at the domestic box office thanks to several Marvel Studios pictures and James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which is still pulling in big bucks after its mid-December release.

Disney films represented nearly 27% of all box office revenue domestically in 2022, with three of its releases earning spots in the top five highest-grossing films of the year and four of the top 10.

North America’s 2022 box office champions

  • Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick — $719 million
  • Disney’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” — $436 million
  • Disney’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” — $411 million
  • Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” — $401 million
  • Universal’s “Jurassic World: Dominion” — $377 million
  • Universal’s “Minion: The Rise of Gru” — $370 million
  • Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” — $369 million
  • Disney’s “Thor: Love and Thunder” — $343 million
  • Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” — $191 million
  • Warner Bros.’ “Black Adam” — $168 million

Franchise films, always popular, were the strongest draw for cinemas after pandemic restrictions were lifted. In fact, all of 2022’s 10 highest-grossing films were based on existing intellectual property.

Universal had the second-highest market share for studios domestically, accounting for 22% of box office receipts in 2022, or around $1.65 billion. “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru” were its biggest ticket sellers, but the studio’s tally was also bolstered by several horror films including “Nope,” “The Black Phone” and “Halloween Ends.”

Warner Bros. had the fourth-highest market share, just behind Paramount, accounting for around 12.5% of ticket sales. “The Batman,” “Black Adam,” “Elvis” and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” contributed to its nearly $940 million total.

The fifth-highest market share was Sony, which started the year strong following the late 2021 release of “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” a collaboration with Disney. “No Way Home” collected $241 million in ticket sales in 2022. Sony also had releases like “Uncharted,” “Bullet Train” and “Where the Crawdads Sing,” which contributed to its around $870 million in receipts, nearly 12% of the total 2022 box office.

Last year was “a year of realignment and recovery for movie theaters,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

While ticket sales have rebounded, there were significantly fewer films released in theaters in 2022, which resulted in a lower annual box office.

Industry experts like Dergarabedian are encouraged by the more robust 2023 slate of films, which includes several blockbuster features as well as low-to-mid-tier budget movies. Expectations are high for a handful of Marvel and DC superhero films alongside an increase in family-friendly fare.

Movies like Warner Bros.’ “Barbie,” Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” are just some of the hotly anticipated features coming in 2023.

“The journey ahead promises to be a much more consistent and robust year for the big screen,” Dergarabedian said.

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.