“Theaters have seen a renaissance of sorts this year with traditional blockbusters — sequels, superheroes and slasher pics — leading the box office brigade,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst at entertainment research firm Exhibitor Relations, told CNN Business.
Yet despite the optimism, the industry is still not completely back. Streaming remains a powerful alternative, inflation is squeezing disposable income and the second half of 2022 has a dearth of potential blockbusters.
Where we are
This year’s box office numbers present a “Choose Your Own Adventure” of sorts. Being down 33% could be seen as disappointing, but it could also be viewed as a success considering the last two years.
The biggest film of the year so far, in which Tom Cruise reprises one of his most iconic roles from the 1986 classic, has brought in $575 million in North America — or roughly 15% of this year’s entire domestic box office.
That’s excellent news for the industry, but should one movie represent that much of the domestic box office? Bock called “Maverick” a “box office anomaly that happens maybe once every decade.”
So, while the 2022 box office has bounced back, it still has a ways to go before reaching normalcy. But can it get there?
Where we’re going
“As we move forward, box office outlooks begin to focus minimally on pandemic concerns and mostly toward the strength of schedule again,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN Business.
He noted that summer films like “Thor,” Jordan Peele’s next horror film “Nope,” and the Brad Pitt led “Bullet Train” all have the potential to “keep a healthy momentum rolling.” However, Robbins admitted there isn’t “a great deal of built-in audience content slated to open from August to mid-October.”
Original films have struggled to find a sizable audience in recent years. If films like the rom-com “Bros,” the mysterious “Don’t Worry Darling” starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles and others are able to find an audience it could bridge a gap to the holiday season.
If theaters can maintain foot traffic until the holidays, 2022 ends the year with sequels to two of the highest-grossing films of all time.
Bock, the analyst from Exhibitor Relations, believes blockbusters will continue to “breakaway at the box office,” and that this year “overall will likely be considered a major success considering the titles left on the release calendar.”