Tom Cruise is getting ready to walk the red carpet at Cannes, tickets for the next Marvel movie are selling out fast and a new dinosaur adventure is big on the summer movie schedule.
It gives theater operators hope that their business is finally heading back to normal as they meet Hollywood studios this week in Las Vegas at the annual CinemaCon convention.
“Clearly we have reason to be optimistic,” Cineworld chief executive Mooky Greidinger said in an interview, citing titles such as “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. “.
Cineworld, AMC Entertainment and other theater operators have been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic and are still working to bring business back to levels of a few years ago.
The handful of big-budget sequels will have to do the heavy lifting this summer, as Hollywood releases fewer movies than a typical summer, the biggest movie season.
“It’s more of a rebuilding summer,” said Jeff Bock, senior media analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co. “It’s all about sequels and superheroes and dinosaurs.”
Bock expects studios to release 40% fewer movies than they did in the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, when 48 movies lit up screens from May to early Labor Day. september. This same period this year will feature 29 wide releases.
The decline is largely due to filming hiatuses during the pandemic. Additionally, some genres, such as romantic comedies, are now more likely to head straight to streaming.
During the pandemic, skeptics wondered if theaters would ever recover. Many believed that the public had become so addicted to streaming movies at home that they would avoid cinemas.
The success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” last December, which sold nearly $1.9 billion in tickets, eased those concerns. This year’s “The Batman” and “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” also exceeded expectations.
“Our customers are showing that they miss the cinema and want to live the experience on the big screen,” Greidinger said.
Other upcoming summer titles include the Pixar animated film “Lightyear,” Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder,” and Cruise’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” which debuts at the Cannes Film Festival on next month.
Greidinger and other operators say they’ve put the COVID challenges behind them as cases decline and vaccines and treatments become widely available.
But previous attempts to revive the box office have been cut short by new waves of COVID. The start of 2022 was impacted by the Omicron variant, and domestic box office receipts are down 37% this year compared to 2019, according to Comscore data.
American consumers are also struggling with high inflation.
B. Riley analyst Eric Wold estimates that box office receipts in the United States and Canada, the world’s largest movie market, will end the year at around 80% of 2019 levels.
A survey by ticket seller Fandango found that 83% of moviegoers plan to see three or more films on the big screen this summer. Advance ticket sales for the new film “Doctor Strange” are the highest so far in 2022, Fandango said.
“I just think there’s pent-up demand,” said Rich Daughtridge, president and CEO of Warehouse Cinemas in Frederick, Maryland. “People want to get out of the house.”
Daughtridge is bullish on the summer slate.
In addition to blockbusters, he sees potential for mid-budget films such as a biopic “Elvis”, Brad Pitt’s action film “Bullet Train” and horror film “Nope”. The May-July deals offer a mix of original films and big-budget sequels in a variety of genres, he said.
“That, in my opinion, is the recipe for a great box office,” he said.