With dozens of high-profile releases able to roll after being delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, vaccines broadly obtainable and no less than a section of moviegoers primed to return to the cineplex (some demographics extra excited than others), the film enterprise tried a Hollywood comeback in 2021.
Now, as the times tick down on one other calendar 12 months, we are able to ask the billion-dollar query: Did the film enterprise bounce again after lockdowns crippled the exhibition trade a 12 months in the past? The reply is a powerful “type of.” There have been legit blockbusters however there have been additionally numerous caveats. In spite of everything, how do you choose the efficiency of high-profile releases from Warner Bros. or Disney when these titles are concurrently launched, respectively , on HBO Max and Disney+ home-streaming companies?
There is no arguing the utter domination of Spider-Man: No Method Residencewhich swung above all expectations — pandemic or not — with a staggering $600 million worldwide opening. However extra on that later.
Total, it was a 12 months outlined by highs (superhero motion pictures persevering with to dominate) and lows (musicals getting muted irrespective of how good they’re), unhealthy information (the everlasting closures of the West Coast’s much-loved Arclight Cinemas and Pacific Theaters chains) and good (the latest announcement that the Arclight’s crown jewel, Sundown Boulevard’s landmark Cinerama Dome, will likely be reopening).
“This has been an unbelievable 12 months for film theaters and one of the vital vital in its historical past within the wake of a disruptive 2020 that examined the attract of the movie show to the restrict,” says Comscore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.
Listed here are the key classes we realized from the 2021 field workplace.
Household fare suffered from the beginning.
The comeback plot stumbled out of the gate as a pair of family-minded releases, Warner Bros.’ Tom and Jerry ($45 million) and Disney’s Raya and the Final Dragon ($54 million) solely attracted small audiences to theaters (whereas concurrently racking up views on their respective streamers) in late February and early March. That may start a pattern in underperforming kid-friendly movies, which might virtually actually be traced to the truth that coronavirus vaccines weren’t obtainable for youngsters underneath 12 till the autumn.
Whereas Disney’s Jungle Cruise (July 30) and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Nov. 19) carried out admirably with $116 million and $117 million, respectively, they have been the one family-ish motion pictures (each have been rated PG-13) to make 9 figures on the US field workplace to date this 12 months. Disney’s animated musical Encanto (Nov. 24) continues to climb the charts with $84 million, and will get a vacation enhance to cross that threshold, whereas Common’s star-studded Sing 2 (Dec. 24) remains to be on the best way.
However in any other case there have been a handful of underperforming child flicks, together with House Jam: A New Legacy (July 16) with $67 million, The Boss Child: Household Enterprise (July 2) with $57 million, The Addams Household 2 (Oct. 1) with $56 million and Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (June 11) with $40 million — all sequels that (understandably) grossed significantly lower than their predecessors.
Monsters and aliens did some injury.
Whereas 2021’s launch calendar was gradual to rev up, it was a showdown between two traditional film monsters that made the primary main influence. Warners’s Godzilla vs. Kong (March 31) smashed all earlier pandemic data, opening with a surprisingly hefty $48 million the final weekend of March on its solution to exceeding expectations with a complete US haul of $100 million (and $467 million worldwide) — much more spectacular contemplating the kaiju duo have been additionally brawling it out on HBO Max.
Quick-forward to Memorial Day weekend, and Paramount’s blind extraterrestrials vs. Emily Blunt and household thriller A Quiet Place Half II kicked off a promising summer time film season en path to complete US grosses of $160 million. Positive, A Quiet Place (Half I), additionally directed by John Krasinski, scored $188 million three years earlier. However with the shifting goalposts of a pandemic-battered enterprise, Half II was not solely a blockbuster, its success indicated that hits have been attainable once more.
They weren’t the one style wins of the 12 months. Common’s Halloween Kills (Oct. 15) scared up $92 million within the US regardless of underwhelming critiques. Nevertheless, different horror movies did not kill as properly. There was The Conjuring: The Satan Made Me Do It (June 4) with $65 million, Candyman (Aug. 27) with $61 million, M. Night time Shyamalan’s Previous (July 23) with $48 million — which spoiled the filmmaker’s latest sizzling streak — and the Noticed spinoff Spiral (Could 14), which netted solely $23 million.
It was an particularly unhealthy 12 months for musicals and grownup dramas.
The 12 months was hyped for its myriad high-profile Broadway variations: Warners’s Within the Heights (June 11), Common’s Expensive Evan Hansen (Sept. 24), twentieth Century Studios’s West Facet Story (Dec. 10) and Netflix’s Tick, Tick… Growth! (Nov. 12). Early response to Within the Heights was by way of the roof, however the movie grossed a disappointing $29 million, maybe dinged by criticism for its lack of Afro-Latinx illustration. Evan Hansen limped by way of putrid critiques to $15 million. Not even the mixture of Steven Spielberg and ecstatic critiques might save West Facet Story from a tragic begin, because it made solely $18 million its opening weekend, or 1/14th of Spider-Man‘s haul. And who is aware of how properly Tick, Tick… Growth! has carried out on Netflix, which does not launch metrics.
Different adult-oriented and status movies additionally struggled. Ridley Scott’s Home of Gucci has fared modestly to date with $45 million since Nov. 24. However the filmmaker’s different 2021 launch, the $100 million Matt Damon-Ben Affleck reunion/historic drama The Final Duel (Oct. 15) bombed for twentieth Century Studios, raking in solely a tenth of its funds on the US field workplace, for which Scott promptly blamed… millennials and their cellphones? The Aretha Franklin biopic Respect (Aug. 13, $24 million), the Will Smith-starring Oscar contender King Richard (Nov. 19, $14 million) and the MAGA Matt Damon drama stillwater (July 30, $14 million) additionally failed to search out audiences.
“Movies geared toward extra mature moviegoers have had a more durable time gaining traction with this extra reluctant, however vital demographic,” Dergarabedian says, suggesting that older viewers have been hesitant to return to theaters in giant numbers.
(Marvel) Superhero motion pictures nonetheless rule.
Nothing says “again to regular” like 5 of the six top-grossing motion pictures of the 12 months being comedian guide variations (versus 2020, when the one two motion pictures to gross the $100 million mark stateside have been the pre-pandemic releases) Dangerous Boys 4 Life and Sonic the Hedgehog).
Sony-Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Method Residence (Dec. 17) turned 2021’s prompt champion upon launch final weekend with $260 million within the US That eclipsed Disney-Marvel’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Sep. 3, $224 million), Sony’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Oct. 1, $212 million), Disney-Marvel’s Black Widow (July 9, $183 million) and the one non-comic film within the high 5, F9: The Quick Saga (June 25, $173 million). (Disney-Marvel’s Eternals is at present sixth with $163 million.) Solely James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (Aug. 6) disillusioned, dying pretty shortly with solely $55 million.
The truth that superhero motion pictures typically proved so dominant might be both good or unhealthy information, relying in your perspective. On one hand, the style is maintaining film theaters afloat, particularly the freshly arrived, record-breaking sensation No Method Residence. On the opposite, their dominance solely furthers the speculation of critics who envision a day when film marquees will characteristic nothing however superhero motion pictures (or no less than $200 million IP tentpoles, which might additionally embody High 10 finishers this 12 months like F9 and Daniel Craig’s James Bond swan music No Time to Die.)
“Whereas it is indisputably a giant win for theatrical and the field workplace restoration, it additionally underscores that the huge divide between large, splashy occasion pics and every part else, a spot that was exacerbated by COVID-19,” notes The Hollywood Reporter‘s Pamela McClintock.
A few of the greatest information to glean from 2021’s field workplace receipts, nonetheless, is that grosses are trending upward. As of this week, seven of the 12 months’s high 10-earning movies have been launched in September or past, with potential hits The Matrix Resurrections and Sing 2 nonetheless set to open Christmas weekend.
Hollywood’s knight in red-and-blue Spandex, Spider-Man, has already generated $600 million globally and, per Dergarabedian, “has an actual shot of hitting $1 billion worldwide — if Omicron does not get in the best way, notably within the worldwide territories that will likely be important to the achievement of this lofty aim.
“What we’ve got realized is that the movie show expertise is irreplaceable and irrespective of the numerous challenges thrown its approach through the years has at all times bounced again and thrived.”
If the flicks are again, then we would have to provide Peter Parker a brand new alias: The Comeback Child.