Solely Four huge films left in 2022
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water tells the story of the Sully family.
Box office 2022 is a Hollywood underdog story brought to life.
Despite almost 40% less movie content available in theaters compared to 2019, year-to-date ticket sales are down about 30%, according to data from Comscore.
Audiences have returned to cinemas in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and are spending more than ever on tickets and popcorn. However, the lack of steady theatrical releases will weigh heavily on the industry in the final, crucial months of the year.
As it stands, only four wannabe blockbuster releases are currently hitting theaters before the end of December:
- Warner Brothers’ “Black Adam” – Oct 21
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever from Disney and Marvel Studios – November 11
- Disney Animation’s “Strange World” – November 23
- Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water – December 16
In 2019, nearly two dozen blockbuster-style movies were scheduled for the final four months of the year, including Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
“What we’re seeing right now as we get into the fall is that we’re going to take another hiatus of sorts,” said Shawn Robbins, chief media analyst at BoxOffice.com, “and a lot of that really comes down to the ongoing pandemic issues. “
These problems include production shutdowns delaying film shoots and the pressure on visual effects houses to complete projects on tight deadlines.
There is no question that moviegoers are interested in a return to cinemas. Movies like Top Gun: Maverick, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Thor: Love and Thunder have brought audiences back. However, with fewer films of all budgets on the schedule, there are fewer opportunities for studios and cinema operators to lure customers to the big screen.
“The question for me now is, how soon can we have more of these movies like ‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ and ‘Elvis’ and ‘The Black Phone’?” said Robbins, noting that there’s potential for some smaller film releases like “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile”, “Amsterdam” and “Don’t Worry Darling” to break out and generate stronger than expected ticket sales. Universal’s Halloween Kills hits theaters October 14 on Peacock.
Dwayne Johnson, dressed as Black Adam, speaks onstage at the Warner Bros. Theater Session Featuring ‘Black Adam’ and ‘Shazam: Fury of the Gods’ Panel during Comic Con International 2022: San Diego at the San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2022 in San Diego Diego, California.
Kevin Winters | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images
“The hope is that this will happen later in the fall and over the holidays,” he said. “But by that point it’s really going to be 2023 before maybe there’s some month-to-month consistency again.”
Because of this, many studios have turned to library content, films previously released in theaters, to lure people back to theaters. Disney has already re-released the Star Wars prequel “Rogue One” and plans to relaunch the original “Avatar” at the end of September. Sony is also in the process of releasing a souped-up version of Spider-Man: No Way Home.
New releases are nothing new in the industry, especially when it comes to major anniversary milestones for popular and iconic features, but 90% of these showings are scheduled through Fathom Events, rather than by the studios themselves, according to data from Comscore. Fathom is a joint venture between AMC, Regal and Cinemark, bringing back old titles for limited engagements.
Upcoming Fathom anniversary performances include the 40th anniversary of Star Trek: Wrath of Khan, the 10th anniversary of Pitch Perfect, the 40th anniversary of Poltergeist, and the 60th anniversary of To Kill a Mockingbird “.
The company is also releasing a number of Halloween titles in October, including 1932’s The Mummy, 1935’s The Bride of Frankenstein, 1954’s The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and 1943’s Phantom of the Opera. Also celebrating the 25th anniversary of Scream 2 and the 30th anniversary of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Fathom is also working with Universal on the release of three Judd Apatow-produced films ahead of “Bros,” a romantic comedy that hits theaters September 30.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Trainwreck and Knocked Up are set to be re-released September 19, with pre-recorded intros by director Nicholas Stoller and co-stars Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane.
Action movies have dominated the box office in 2022, so counterprograms like these romantic comedies could lure in demographics not keen to return to theaters, or bring back customers eager to enjoy a different genre on the big screen.
These re-releases allow theaters to have additional content and market “bros” to the public, said Ray Nutt, Fathom’s CEO.
Letitia Wright plays Shuri in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Likewise, Disney hopes that the re-release of Avatar in late September will attract 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 it has been for the past two years at this point, but certainly lower than 2019 and 2018,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
“With big films like ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ in November and of course ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ in December, among others, the industry is likely to end with a projected grossing of around $7.5 billion in 2022. he said. “That’s honestly a great result for an industry that only made $2.3 billion in 2020 and $4.6 billion in 2021.”
Dergarabedian and Robbins noted that 2023 has a much stronger film roster, both in terms of film count and variety of content. As more movies come out and more frequently, the overall domestic box office can be expected to recover more strongly.
The 2022 box office lost “Shazam! Fury of the Gods, which was slated for December 21, last month, when Warner Bros. Discovery pushed back the film to March 17, 2023. He replaced Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which will now arrive Christmas Day 2023.
“The first quarter is packed with big films that should provide momentum for a strong summer next year,” said Dergarabedian.
Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.