With dozens of high-profile releases able to roll after being delayed as a result of coronavirus pandemic, vaccines extensively out there and at the least 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 yr, we will ask the billion-dollar query: Did the film enterprise bounce again after lockdowns crippled the exhibition trade a yr in the past? The reply is a powerful “type of.” There have been professional blockbusters however there have been additionally plenty of caveats. In any case, how do you decide 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 not any arguing the utter domination of Spider-Man: No Approach Residencewhich swung above all expectations — pandemic or not — with a staggering $600 million worldwide opening. However extra on that later.
Total, it was a yr outlined by highs (superhero motion pictures persevering with to dominate) and lows (musicals getting muted regardless 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 current announcement that the Arclight’s crown jewel, Sundown Boulevard’s landmark Cinerama Dome, will probably be reopening).
“This has been an unimaginable yr for film theaters and one of the crucial necessary 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 below are the most important 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 development in underperforming kid-friendly movies, which may nearly definitely be traced to the truth that coronavirus vaccines weren’t out there for kids below 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 had been rated PG-13) to make 9 figures on the US field workplace thus far this yr. Disney’s animated musical Encanto (Nov. 24) continues to climb the charts with $84 million, and will get a vacation increase to cross that threshold, whereas Common’s star-studded Sing 2 (Dec. 24) remains to be on the way in which.
However in any other case there have been a handful of underperforming child flicks, together with Area 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 harm.
Whereas 2021’s launch calendar was gradual to rev up, it was a showdown between two basic film monsters that made the primary main impression. Warners’s Godzilla vs. Kong (March 31) smashed all earlier pandemic information, opening with a surprisingly hefty $48 million the final weekend of March on its approach to exceeding expectations with a complete US haul of $100 million (and $467 million worldwide) — much more spectacular contemplating the kaiju duo had 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 whole US grosses of $160 million. Certain, 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 had been doable once more.
They weren’t the one style wins of the yr. Common’s Halloween Kills (Oct. 15) scared up $92 million within the US regardless of underwhelming critiques. Nonetheless, different horror movies did not kill as effectively. There was The Conjuring: The Satan Made Me Do It (June 4) with $65 million, Candyman (Aug. 27) with $61 million, M. Evening Shyamalan’s Previous (July 23) with $48 million — which spoiled the filmmaker’s current sizzling streak — and the Noticed spinoff Spiral (Might 14), which netted solely $23 million.
It was an particularly unhealthy yr for musicals and grownup dramas.
The yr was hyped for its myriad high-profile Broadway diversifications: Warners’s Within the Heights (June 11), Common’s Expensive Evan Hansen (Sept. 24), twentieth Century Studios’s West Aspect Story (Dec. 10) and Netflix’s Tick, Tick… Increase! (Nov. 12). Early response to Within the Heights was via the roof, however the movie grossed a disappointing $29 million, maybe dinged by criticism for its lack of Afro-Latinx illustration. Evan Hansen limped via putrid critiques to $15 million. Not even the mixture of Steven Spielberg and ecstatic critiques may save West Aspect 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 effectively Tick, Tick… Increase! 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 thus far 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 price range 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 seek out audiences.
“Movies aimed toward extra mature moviegoers have had a more durable time gaining traction with this extra reluctant, however necessary demographic,” Dergarabedian says, suggesting that older viewers had been hesitant to return to theaters in massive numbers.
(Marvel) Superhero motion pictures nonetheless rule.
Nothing says “again to regular” like 5 of the six top-grossing motion pictures of the yr being comedian e-book diversifications (versus 2020, when the one two motion pictures to gross the $100 million mark stateside had been the pre-pandemic releases) Dangerous Boys 4 Life and Sonic the Hedgehog).
Sony-Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Approach Residence (Dec. 17) turned 2021’s on the spot 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) disenchanted, dying pretty shortly with solely $55 million.
The truth that superhero motion pictures usually proved so dominant might be both good or unhealthy information, relying in your perspective. On one hand, the style is protecting film theaters afloat, particularly the freshly arrived, record-breaking sensation No Approach Residence. On the opposite, their dominance solely furthers the speculation of critics who envision a day when film marquees will function nothing however superhero motion pictures (or at the least $200 million IP tentpoles, which might additionally embody Prime 10 finishers this yr 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 the whole lot else, a niche that was exacerbated by COVID-19,” notes The Hollywood Reporter‘s Pamela McClintock.
Among 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 yr’s high 10-earning movies had 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 way in which, notably within the worldwide territories that will probably be very important to the achievement of this lofty purpose.
“What now we have realized is that the movie show expertise is irreplaceable and regardless of the numerous challenges thrown its means through the years has all the time bounced again and thrived.”
If the films are again, then we would have to provide Peter Parker a brand new alias: The Comeback Child.