The box office is starting to get back on track.
According to new data from Comscore, October was the best month of the pandemic-era so far, with domestic ticket sales clocking in at $638 million — widely surpassing the previous record of nearly $584 million, which was last set in July.
"That never happens," Comscore Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Yahoo Finance Live during a recent interview, underscoring that July — the height of the summer blockbuster season — typically locks in the most revenue.
But to have October 2021 come out on top after nearly two years of pandemic headwinds "is a testament to how much people want to go back to the movies" and how "great movies draw people back to the multiplex," Dergarabedian said.
Theaters stocks on Monday surged on the news with Cinemark Holdings (CNK) closing up over 11%. IMAX (IMAX) and AMC (AMC) also saw swings to the upside, capping off Monday's trading session up 4.5% and $4.8%, respectively.
"Venom: Let There be Carnage," along with "No Time to Die" led the box office last month, bringing in a domestic total of $190.4 million and $133.3 million, respectively.
"Halloween Kills" and "Dune" also delivered strong results, with the latter widely expected to continue a strong box office run through November.
However, "Dune" was also a simultaneous release on HBO Max (T), which some analysts say thrashed potential theatrical earnings.
Dergarabedian said "it's all about the quality of the movies," explaining that "Dune's" strong domestic debut at $41 million proved movie goers' desire to see this particular film on the big screen — despite its availability to stream at home.
Still, hybrid releases "hurt the long-term [box office] potential" for certain films. The analyst cited "Halloween Kills" as one movie that could have been impacted by its hybrid model, since horror movies typically cater to the at-home viewing experience.
Dergarabedian also called out piracy as "a big issue"— heightened by day-and-date releases.
According to piracy news website TorrentFreak's weekly ranking, "Dune" has been the most pirated movie two weeks in a row following its debut.
' On that road to recovery'
To date, the North American box office has amassed about $3 billion in ticket sales.
Upcoming films like "Spider-Man: No Way Home," "Eternals," "West Side Story" and "The Matrix Resurrections" are expected to help lift that box office total and round out a strange (yet encouraging) 2021.
Dergarabedian anticipates the domestic box office to close out at over $4 billion in ticket sales with potentially more room to run. (For context, the domestic box office amassed $9 billion in 2019.)
"We're not back to normal, but we're on that road to recovery," the analyst said.
"I'd love to see $5 billion but I think 2022 and 2023 are the years where we can start approaching that typical $11 billion in North America and $40 billion-plus around the world," he surmised.
"It's just going to take some time [but] the signs are all there," he added.
Alexandra is a Producer & Entertainment Correspondent at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193