Tom Cruise will be back at the controls of those famous aviators this summer at the movies. Doctors Grant, Sattler, and Ian Malcolm will be back for another round of the dinosaurs. Natalie Portman will be taking Thor's hammer. Jordan Peele is ready to terrorize us with the unknown. Again.
Hollywood has brought out its most trusted and powerful players for the 2022 summer movie seasons. Officially, it kicks off this weekend with the aid of Marvel and Disney's " Doctor Strange and the Multitverse of Madness" and continues through August. The movie industry is still struggling to recover from the pandemic. Exhibitors and studios are trying to adjust to new business models, such as shorter release windows, streaming competition, and the need for their own content. Everyone is asking if moviegoing will ever recover to pre-pandemic levels.
Although the pandemic continues, there is hope.
"We still wait for older audiences to return. It really feels like we have turned the corner," stated Jim Orr of Universal Pictures' domestic distribution. "I get the impression that people want to be outside, they want theaters. It's going be an amazing summer, I believe."
Last week, movie stars and studio executives mingled with exhibitors and theater owners at a convention held in Las Vegas. They proudly promoted films they promised would bring back audiences week after week.
Paramount Pictures' "Top Gun: Maverick" will be released on May 27, after two years of postponements due to pandemics. Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer of "Top Gun" says he has never wavered in his desire to release the film. It is a full-throttle action movie with extensive aerial photography and practical effects. The film will be available only in theaters. It transports you. It transports you. We say it all the time: We are in the transportation business. Bruckheimer stated that Top Gun transports you from one place or another. "There is a lot of demand for certain movies, and hopefully we are one of them."
The movie industry already has several notable hits in six months, including "Spider-Man: No Way Home", now the third highest-grossing film ever, "The Batman," "The Lost City" and, smaller, "Everything Everywhere At Once." The hope for the future is that momentum will continue to build.
The summer movie season was able to consistently bring in over $4 billion, or 40%, of the year's gross revenues, before the pandemic. That total fell to $176million in 2020 after theaters were closed for most of the season, and most releases were pushed. Although there was a significant improvement in the last summer with $1.7 billion, things weren't back to normal. Many chose to delay further releases or use hybrid strategies.
Everyone is now focusing on the theatrical, even though there are fewer options. Fandango, a ticketing company, recently surveyed over 6,000 ticket-buyers and found that 83% of them planned to see three or more movies at the big screen this summer. Not insignificantly, Netflix reported last month its first subscriber loss for 10 years, and it expects to lose another two million subscribers this quarter.
Adam Aron, Chairman and CEO of AMC Theatres (the nation's largest theatre chain), stated that "Finally it is movietime, with blockbuster upon blockbuster après blockbuster after banbuster after banbuster," He praised franchises such as "Doctor Strange 2," Top Gun 2, "Jurassic World: Dominion," ("June 10) and Thor: Love and Thunder"), "new film concepts" such as Jordan Peele's “Nope” (July 22), and "Elvis” (June 24), and family-friendly offerings like "Lightyear” (June 17) and "Minions: The Rise of Gru” (July 11).
Paul Dergarabedian (comscore senior media analyst) stated, "It's bold, but this summer could potentially stand on par with 2019, and that would be monumental for Hollywood."
Analysts predict that "Doctor Strange 2", which will open to $170m this weekend, could be twice the opening of the original film. Marvel and Disney follow up with the sequel to "Doctor Strange 2", which sees Hemsworth as a Guardian of the Galaxy character, traveling with them and asking "What now?"
Director Taika Waititi said that Thor is trying to find his purpose. It could be called a midlife crisis.
The film features Jane Foster as Portman, who plays The Mighty Thor and Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie. Russell Crowe is Zeus, while Christian Bale plays Gorr the God Butcher. Waititi said it was the most crazy film he has ever seen.
However, superhero movies by themselves don't create a compelling or healthy cinematic environment. Theaters must have options to survive.
"Our business cannot be reduced to just tentpoles or branded IP. Orr stated that we need to keep offering as many options as possible. We have something for everyone. Exhibitors are also craving it.
Universal is proud to present a diverse summer slate, which includes family animations like "Easter Sunday" on August 5. Focus Features also has period charmers like "Downton Abbey - A New Era" (May 20,) and "Mrs. Harris goes to Paris (July 15,).
Jason Blum, Blumhouse's powerhouse producer, hopes that Scott Derrickson’s supernatural horror "The Black Phone", featuring Ethan Hawke as a villain, will be the "not superhero movie" of the summer when it hits theaters June 24.
Theaters will soon have more than franchises. There are literary adaptations like "Where the Crawdads Sing" with Daisy Edgar-Jones. There's also non-stop action like "Bullet Train", July 29, with Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock. Baz Luhrmann's drama on Elvis Presley's life and music, "Marcel the Shell with Shoes On," June 24, and Regency-era fun with "Mr. Malcolm's List (July 1), creepy hair-raisers such as "Watcher" and "Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies", and "Resurrection” (both Aug. 5).
Alex Garland, the writer and director of "Annihilation," has also released "Men," a thriller that will be in theaters on May 20. Jessie Buckley portrays a woman who flees to the English countryside to find peace after a personal tragedy, only to be faced with more horrors by the men of this small town, all of which are played by Rory Kinnear.
Garland, who is known for making original, challenging films for the big screen has concerns about the movie industry as well as the seismic shifts happening beneath the surface. These shifts are both cultural and economic.
Garland stated, "Every time an interesting movie comes out and underperforms," "If only the films that make money are those for younger audiences, then something culturally changes." There are some cultural changes in the types of films that get funded and why they get financed.
He said that although it almost feels outdated or boring, he believes there is a place for cinema. "A film such as "Men" functions differently in a cinema. It has a qualitatively distinct effect because you can't stop it from ending.
Streaming services, however, are still strong. Netflix boasts a huge 35+ film summer slate. This includes "The Gray Man", a spy thriller that was released on July 22nd. It stars Ryan Gosling, Chris Evans, and "Spiderhead," which is starring Chris Hemsworth. A documentary on Jennifer Lopez ("Halftime"), an Adam Sandler basketball team ("Hustle") and a Kevin Hart/Mark Wahlberg buddy pic ("Me Time") are all available.
Streamers are also releasing some of the most intriguing titles from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, including "Good Luck To You Leo Grande" on Hulu, "Cha Cha Real Smooth” (Apple TV+), and "Emergency” (Amazon).
Blum said that streaming has its place, but not the only thing. He believes there is still a demand for theaters. "There were people saying that the movies were dead. Although I didn't think that, I was worried about how much demand there was. It seems that this part of the world will not disappear any time soon.
Bruckheimer may find the equation even simpler.
It all depends on the movies. It's all about the movies. Bruckheimer stated that if there is something people want to see they will show up. I use this analogy all the time: You may have a kitchen in your home or apartment, but you prefer to eat out. You would like a new meal.