Pandemic-hit theaters are feeling good after a strong June.
For two years, the film industry lived in genuine fear about the future of cinema, with no one able to say for sure if theaters would recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Sitting in the dark in a theater watching moving images – a 117-year-old American pastime that was already in long, slow decline – may well have met its moment of dinosaur extinction.
Superhero movies excepted, of course.
But box office analysts say there’s now enough evidence for a clear assessment: Cinema in the United States and Canada has moved out of intensive care and into something even resembling health. “Every genre has recovered except for big animation,” said David A. Gross, who runs Franchise Entertainment Research, a film consultancy.
This weekend could add animation to the list. “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (Universal-Illumination), the fifth installment in the “Despicable Me” series, could gross $100 million or more in North American theaters between late Friday and Monday, according to a analyst. investigations that follow the public interest. It would be a “spectacular” display for an aging franchise, Mr. Gross said.
Ticket sales for June in the United States and Canada will total about $990 million, down about 10% from June 2019, according to Comscore, which compiles data on theater releases. “This is a fantastic result – by far the best month at the box office since the start of the pandemic,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior analyst at Comscore.
Cinema in May was down 26% from May 2019, for example. April was down 44%.
June benefited from a mix of films. “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) has collected more than $535 million in North America since its May 27 arrival, while “Jurassic World Dominion” (Universal) has sold approximately $315 million in tickets over the past few months. last three weeks. The animated “Lightyear” (Disney-Pixar) has raked in around $100 million since its June 17 release, while “Elvis” (Warner Bros.) has raked in nearly $50 million since its release a year ago. week, a very solid total for a musical. biopic. “The Black Phone” (Universal), a low-budget horror film, grossed around $35 million over the same period.
And the goofy indie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” (A24) continues to romp through art houses, raking in an impressive $66.4 million since the end of March.
After years of delaying releases and redirecting movies to streaming services, studios are restocking multiplex shelves. This month, 11 wide releases are planned, one more than in July 2019, according to Gross. Lineup includes “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Where the Crawdads Sing,” “Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank,” and Jordan Peele’s “Nope.”
“We’ve always said that a steady stream of diverse and engaging new cinematic content, along with improved sentiment among moviegoers, would be the driving forces behind the revival of theatrical exposure,” said Sean Gamble, Managing Director of Cinemark, one of the North American companies. largest multiplex operators, said in an email. June was Cinemark’s highest-grossing month since the pandemic began.
Analysts attribute part of June’s surge to movie quality (good reviews), pent-up consumer demand and theatrical marketing power (trailers released on a weekend boost attendance the next day) . There is also growing confidence in theaters as a virus-free business; About 85% of pre-pandemic ticket buyers – those who attend at least four movies a year – feel safe going to the cinema, according to a survey by National Research Group, a film industry consultancy. In January, about 65% felt safe. NRG data shows that consumers in general consider movie theaters to be safer than gyms, bars and restaurants.
Gross noted that his positive domestic outlook comes with a big caveat: the international box office still seems to be lagging in a recovery, and not just because studios have stopped releasing films in Russia. .
“There is an unease,” he says. For example, “Jurassic World Dominion” is expected to generate around $125 million in China, but its 2018 franchise predecessor, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” raised $258 million domestically. Pixar films generally do fairly well overseas, but “Lightyear” was an exception, Gross said. (“Lightyear” was banned in 14 small box office markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia because it briefly depicts a same-sex relationship.)
“Top Gun: Maverick” is a smash hit everywhere, but some analysts expected even more in some overseas markets.