Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” tells the story of the Sully family.
the box office 2022 is a story of Hollywood underdogs brought to life.
Despite nearly 40% less movie content available in theaters compared to 2019, year-to-date ticket sales are down about 30%, according to data from Comscore.
The public has returned to theaters after the coronavirus pandemic and is spending more than ever on tickets and popcorn. However, the lack of consistent theatrical releases will weigh heavily on the industry during the crucial final months of the year.
As it stands, there are currently only four possible blockbuster releases hitting theaters before the end of December:
- Warner Bros.’ “Black Adam” – October 21
- Disney and Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” – November 11
- Disney Animation’s “Strange World” – November 23
- Disney’s “Avatar: The Way of Water” – December 16
In 2019, there were nearly two dozen blockbuster movies scheduled to hit the calendar for the last four months of the year, including “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
“We’re seeing right now that as we head into the fall, we take another break,” said Shawn Robbins, chief media analyst at BoxOffice.com, “and a lot of that is really coming down on the ongoing pandemic.” problems.”
Those issues include production shutdowns that delayed filming and pressure on visual effects houses to complete projects in shorter time frames.
There is no doubt that moviegoers are interested in returning to theaters. Movies like “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”, “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Thor: Love and Thunder” have once again attracted audiences. However, with fewer movies of all budgets listed, there are fewer opportunities for studios and theater operators to lure customers to the big screen.
“For me, the question now is, when can we get back to having more of those movies like ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ and ‘Elvis’ and ‘The Black Phone?'” Robbins said, noting that there is potential for some releases. of smaller movies like “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile,” “Amsterdam” and “Don’t Worry Darling” to break out and generate stronger-than-expected ticket sales. Universal’s “Halloween Kills” opens in theaters and on Peacock on October 14.
Dwayne Johnson dressed as Black Adam speaks onstage at the Warner Bros. Theatrical Session with “Black Adam” and “Shazam: Fury of the Gods” panel during 2022 Comic Con International: San Diego at the San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in San Diego, California.
kevin winter | Getty Images Entertainment | fake images
“The hope is that that will happen later in the fall and through the holidays,” he said. “But it really will be 2023 at this point before there’s some month-to-month consistency again.”
This is why many studies have turned to library content, movies that were previously released in theaters, to attract people back to theaters. Disney has already re-released the Star Wars prequel “Rogue One” in theaters and has plans to re-release the original “Avatar” in late September. Sony is also in the midst of releasing an enhanced version of “Spider-Man: No Way Home.”
Re-releases are nothing new in the industry, especially when it comes to major anniversary milestones for popular and iconic features, but 90% of those showings are scheduled through Fathom Events, not the studios themselves, according to Comscore data. . Fathom is a joint venture between AMC, Regal, and Cinemark that brings legacy titles to theaters for limited commitments.
Upcoming Fathom anniversary performances include the “Star Trek: Wrath of Khan” 40th anniversary, “Pitch Perfect” 10th anniversary, “Poltergeist” 40th anniversary and “To Kill a Mockingbird” 60th anniversary.
The company will also release a slate of Halloween titles in October, including “The Mummy” from 1932, “The Bride of Frankenstein” from 1935, “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” from 1954 and “Phantom of the Opera” from 1943. In addition, it will celebrate the 25th anniversary of “Scream 2” and the 30th anniversary of “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”
Fathom is also working with Universal to release three Judd Apatow-produced movies before “Bros,” a romantic comedy that hits theaters on September 30.
“Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Trainwreck” and “Knocked Up” will be re-released beginning September 19, with pre-recorded introductions from director Nicholas Stoller and co-stars Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane.
Action movies have dominated the box office in 2022, so counter programming like these rom-coms could appeal to demographics that haven’t been eager to return to theaters or bring back customers looking to enjoy a different genre instead. the big screen.
These re-releases allow theaters to carry additional content and market “Bros” to the public, said Ray Nutt, CEO of Fathom.
Letitia Wright plays Shuri in Marvel Studio’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”
Similarly, Disney hopes the late-September re-release of “Avatar” will draw in fans and increase interest in the upcoming sequel “The Way of Water.”
“The box office is currently over $5.3 billion year to date, much higher than the last two years at this point, but naturally down from 2019 and 2018,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
“With big movies like ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ in November and obviously ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ in December, among others, the industry will likely end up with a projected 2022 domestic box office of around $7.5 billion. . ” he said. “Frankly, that’s a huge result for an industry that saw 2020 levels at just $2.3 billion and a 2021 ending at $4.6 billion.”
Dergarabedian and Robbins noted that 2023 has a much stronger movie slate, both in terms of number of movies and diversity of content. As more movies are released more frequently, the overall domestic box office is expected to rebound more strongly.
The 2022 box office missed “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” which was scheduled for December 21, last month when Discovery of Warner Bros. pushed the movie back to March 17, 2023. It replaced “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” which will now arrive on Christmas Day 2023.
“The first quarter is packed with great movies that should build momentum leading to a strong summer next year,” Dergarabedian said.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.