We already knew that the Fall Box Office was going to look a little flat in comparison to the raging successes of summer. With a need to sustain a solid slate, where to now for the exhibition industry? Blake & Wang P.A’s entertainment attorney, Brandon Blake, takes a look.
The $3 Lure
As the exhibition industry seeks to power up the progress made this summer, we saw the $3 cinema ticket initiative for National Cinema Day launched. While it did drive a lot of feet through the door, there’s certainly something to be said (and not all that positively) about what was on offer for them- the best performers were a return of Top Gun: Maverick and Spider-Man: No Way Home, at least fairly topical, and then a special release of Jaws. Fun for attendees, of course, but a 47-year old movie does not Box Office success make.
Of course, we have a little more than that to look forward to in October, with the release of another (albeit mid-tier) DC superhero pic in Black Adam among some other lures. However, the news that Halloween Ends would opt for a day-and-date theatrical release alongside its release to Peacock was rather disappointing. However, Universal has been sending a lot of works to theaters, so we can’t complain too loudly.
As some theatrical chains and critics alike are now pointing out, perhaps it’s not the wisest to worry only about the bad news from some chains. That the wider cinema industry managed to whether the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic at all, let alone for the relatively robust recovery we’ve seen this year even in light of the concurrent muddle-ups the shift to streaming has created in studio plans and production, has been marvelous indeed, and things are looking far better than they did even a year ago.
However, what is clear is that it needs a robust slate across all types of film, not just tentpoles, to keep people happy at the cinema. Good news for the mid-tier films critics were once claiming were now ‘dead’ in theatrical release! We’ve seen stellar performances even outside the record-busting tentpoles, and even in films with relatively limited audiences, and it’s good to see the older demographic now turning out in force, too. Thank Top Gun and Elvis for that.
This summer brought a wider diversity of slate, and a surprising amount of longevity, to the table, and it is clear it worked well with audiences. We’ve even seen indie films, like Everything Everywhere at Once, perform at unprecedented levels for their benchmarks. Domestic revenue for the summer Box Office is projected to be about $3.4B, almost double 2021s. We also saw monthly ticket sales cross $1B in July, the first time since 2019 that benchmark was met.
Provided film studios and distributors can get their production pipelines more organized, avoiding a dearth of product as we’ve seen for the Fall slate until October, it’s clear that an exhibition partnership is incredibly useful to a film’s performance, and that people are keen to visit the cinema. For now, perhaps that’s victory enough- but let’s hope to see great things from the Festive season releases, too.