U.S. box office has lowest February sales in 13 years, but here comes 'Captain Marvel'

Key Points
  • The box office brought in about $627.1 million last month, its lowest February take since 2006.
  • Ticket sales were down about 38 percent from last year's record-breaking $1 billion haul.
  • The film industry is looking to "Captain Marvel" to reinvigorate the box office.
The AMC 25 and Regal Cinemas on 42nd Street in Times Square in New York.
Richard Levine | Corbis | Getty Images

After two months of disappointing U.S. ticket sales, the film industry is looking to "Captain Marvel" to reinvigorate the box office.

A weak slate of February movies exacerbated an already floundering box office and led to a 38 percent decline in ticket sales in the month compared with last year, according to Comscore. Hollywood hauled in about $627.1 million during the month, its lowest February take since 2006.

February's movie slate was always going to be hard-pressed to beat the monumental box-office sales of the month a year ago. Last year, "Black Panther" helped boost sales to a whopping $1 billion for the month, the best February ever.

This February, analysts had hoped that "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part" from Warner Bros. and "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World" from Universal would help entice moviegoers to theaters, but "Lego 2," released on Feb. 8, only brought in $91 million and "Hidden World" was released with six days left in the month, so it only contributed $97 million to the monthly total.

Of course, there is plenty for moviegoers and theater owners to look forward to in 2019. Disney's "Captain Marvel," which opens Friday, is the first of many potential blockbusters coming down the pike.

The female-led Marvel film is expected to haul in $125 million to $135 million during its opening weekend in the U.S., according to David Miller, analyst at Imperial Capital, and could take in as much as $720 million during its global run.

Not only would "Captain Marvel" help boost box-office sales based on its own ticket sales, but it would increase the likelihood that customers will see in-theater advertisements for other films, Paul Dergarabedian, analyst at Comscore, told CNBC.

"The blockbuster year of 2019 will officially kick off March 8 with 'Captain Marvel,'" he said.

Correction: 2019's February box office was the lowest February take since 2006. A previous version misstated that figure.

Disclosure: CNBC's parent company NBCUniversal owns Dreamworks and distributed "How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World."