- The summer box office starts strong with “Doctor Strange” and “Top Gun: Maverick”.
- But fewer movies are released, and the box office could decline later in the season.
- TV events could dominate pop culture in this era, when cinemas will run out of franchise IP.
With “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” and “Top Gun: Maverick” posting strong box office numbers in May, summer movies seem to be making a comeback.
Ahead are more surefire hits like “Jurassic World: Dominion” and potential breakthroughs like “Elvis.” Shawn Robbins, the chief analyst at Box Office Pro, currently predicts that the ‘Jurassic World’ sequel could make up to $210 million in its opening weekend in the United States, and Elvis could rake in up to $55 million – both would be solid starts.
But a closer look at the release schedule and the entertainment industry as a whole reveals the major hurdles the theater industry will face, even as it contemplates a recovery.
Most notably, fewer films are hitting theaters than before the pandemic. During the weekend of May 20, 28 films were released in 2,000 theaters or more, according to Comscore. That’s a 33% drop from the same period in 2019, when 42 films were released widely.
The box office was also down 41% over the same period, compared to 2019.
At the time of Comscore’s analysis, an additional 63 films were slated for wide release by the end of this year, bringing the total for the year to 91. In a pre-pandemic year, major Hollywood studios alone would release around 120 films. movies in theaters.
Chris Aronson, president of national distribution at “Maverick” distributor Paramount, recently told Insider that he expects the trend to continue. The pandemic has made studios “more cautious” about releases, he said.
Studios are giving movies longer theatrical windows – but also making more movies straight for streaming
A successful exclusive theatrical release can help build momentum for a film’s eventual home entertainment or
exit, theater officials say. But the opposite could be true if the film is a box office dud.
“There’s no safety net,” Aronson said. “If you fail theater, you fail post-theatre,”
The good news for theaters is that studios are once again embracing an exclusive theatrical window, albeit shorter than before the pandemic. Forty-five days are becoming an industry standard before a movie makes its way to streaming services, compared to the pre-pandemic window of 75 to 90 days.
But studios also create content exclusively for streaming. To name a few:
- 20th Century Disney Studios’ ‘Predator’ Movie ‘Prey’ Will Land on Hulu This Year
- A live-action ‘Pinocchio’ will premiere on Disney+
- Warner Bros.’ ‘Batgirl’ movie set to debut on HBO Max
- Sony, which doesn’t have a dedicated streaming service, has an initial deal with Netflix for all the movies it plans to make for streaming
Amazon’s March acquisition of the MGM movie studio could further complicate matters. Amazon has yet to reveal its release strategy for MGM films. Will the company give the movies an exclusive theatrical release or debut them on Prime Video?
“We want to see if there’s a theatrical release model for these MGM footage still in the works,” said John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners. “We don’t have any answers yet.”
Of course, streaming isn’t the only threat to the movie industry. Mooky Greidinger, CEO of cinema chain Cineworld, said he was more concerned about competition from the live events industry which is also rebounding.
“My competition is concerts, live theater, sporting events, other things outside of the home,” Greidinger told Insider at the April exhibitor conference, CinemaCon. “Over the past two years, the demand for streaming has naturally increased. But streaming services are competing for attention at home. I think the main attraction of streaming is TV, not movies.”
But streaming TV is also gaining momentum.
TV events, including new ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ series, could dominate the entertainment landscape
Shows like Disney+’s “Star Wars” series, “The Book of Boba Fett” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” could have been theatrical movies before Disney+ arrived.
Now, the “Star Wars” movies are slowing down considerably with some planned projects officially on the back burner, while a dozen series are in the works for Disney+. The next big-screen entry “Star Wars” is likely years away from Disney’s movie-per-year plan when the franchise first relaunched in 2015.
Disney’s five “Star Wars” films between 2015 and 2019 grossed nearly $6 billion worldwide combined.
And in August and September, when theaters lack the franchise power that has so far boosted the box office, major shows like the “Star Wars” series “Andor” and “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” from Amazon start.
Granted, Disney+’s May 27 release of “Obi-Wan Kenobi” didn’t hurt this weekend’s big theatrical release, “Maverick,” which grossed $160 million over the four days. vacation. This suggests that streaming and theatrical events can co-exist.
But the switch to streaming for franchises that were once big-screen hits could still impact the overall box office.
This summer’s box office gains may decline as the season draws to a close. IP blockbusters are the bread and butter of the film industry, and they are non-existent at the end of the summer. Industry leaders Insider spoke to are banking on original adult films like August’s ‘Bullet Train’ and September’s ‘Don’t Worry Darling’ during this time to prove these movies still have a place. on the market.
Meanwhile, hit TV shows like ‘Andor’ and ‘The Rings of Power’, as well as HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ spin-off ‘House of the Dragon’, are set to dominate the culture landscape. pop during this period.
Ironically, movie theaters seek to
to help overcome these obstacles.
Theater owners have been pushing the streaming company to give its movies more robust theatrical releases for years.
Now they want Netflix to give films an exclusive window closer to traditional studios of 30-45 days, and invest in a major marketing campaign, a source close to the theater industry said (Bloomberg recently reported that Netflix is considering indeed a 45-day window for some titles this year, including its sequel “Knives Out”).
“Cinemas need content to survive,” said Aronson, head of Paramount distribution. “If releases are lowered by traditional studios, they have to find content elsewhere.”