By most accounts, the movie business has been coming back after being devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Box office in the US was at a healthy $4.2 billion through the weekend, according to Comscore — still down from this time in 2019 but way up compared to last year, when movie releases were slim in the first half. Releases like “Top Gun: Maverick” and most recently “Thor: Love and Thunder” have had blockbuster openings. Others like “Minions,”
“The Lost City,” and “Elvis” have signaled audiences across demographics are steadily returning.
But the momentum may waver in the months ahead, even though theatrical industry execs have expressed optimism.
“Blockbusters are and were before extremely important,” Mooky Greidinger, the CEO of the theater chain Cineworld, told Insider in April. “But this isn’t a blockbuster business. It’s a business with 200 movies coming out every year and each one of them has its target audience.”
That’s not so much the case this year. Through May, there were 33% fewer wide-release movies in theaters compared to the same point in 2019, according to Comscore.
Franchise tentpoles, particularly of the superhero variety, have kept the business afloat. That’s been the case for some time, but they’ve been even more integral this year as studios release fewer movies to theaters due to pandemic-related production delays and a greater emphasis on
Some tentpoles that were slated for this year, such as the DC movies “The Flash” and “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” were pushed to next year.
Theaters won’t see a live-action superhero movie, or any other kind of big-budget tentpole, until DC’s “Black Adam” in late October — and the success of that hinges less on the character and more on Dwayne Johnson’s star power. The next surefire blockbuster may be Marvel’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in November, as the first “Black Panther” grossed $700 million in the US.
Until “Black Adam,” the theatrical release calendar will mostly hinge on original movies, like the thriller “Don’t Worry Darling” and Billy Eichner’s romantic comedy “Bros.” There’s also re-releases like an extended version of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” in early September and the original “Avatar” — the biggest movie of all time — later that month before its long-awaited sequel, “The Way of Water,” hits theaters in December.
The coming months will test whether audiences will turn out in a significant way for original movies when there’s a lack of bigger product in theaters.
Horror movies could pick up some slack, as the genre is one of the more reliable at the box office. Director Jordan Peele’s “Nope,” which will be released later this month, has plenty of promise, as his first two movies, “Get Out” and “Us,” both earned over $175 million off of low budgets.
Here’s a rundown of some of the movies hitting theaters over the next few months that will be supporting the theatrical industry:
- “Nope” — July 22
- “League of Super Pets” — July 29
- “Bullet Train” — August 5
- “Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero” — August 19
- “Spider-Man: No Way Home — The More Fun Stuff Version” — September 2
- “The Woman King” — September 16
- “Avatar” (Re-release) — September 23
- “Don’t Worry Darling” — September 23
- “Halloween Ends” — October 14