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Hollywood Finally Gets A Blockbuster After Months of Struggle

It took nearly two months, but it looks like Hollywood finally has its first blockbuster movie of the year after having a terrible few months. Fortune writes, “The super-hero film from the company’s Marvel unit exceeded forecasts, which Disney had put at $95 million at the start of the weekend. BoxofficePro had estimated the opening at $103 million. The movie took in $225 million globally, Disney said in a statement Sunday. 

The third installment of the Ant-Man series, Quantumania delivered the highest opening of the three. The previous pictures took in $57.2 million in 2015 and $75.8 million in 2018 in their domestic debuts, respectively.

The latest film, which ushers in a fifth phase for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, features returning stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly and Michael Douglas. Reviews from critics were mostly poor, according to Rotten Tomatoes, with many finding the dialog and plot lacking excitement. Audiences rated it higher.

Disney’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which debuted in December, dominated the box office early in 2023. Hollywood studios largely stayed on the sidelines in January and the first half of February. March will bring new installments of the Shazam!Creed and Scream franchises.”

This lackadaisical start to the new year follows a disastrous holiday season for Hollywood. The Guardian noted, “Thanksgiving period might have seen Wakanda Forever top the box office with a healthy $64m over the five days but overall, it was the worst holiday showing since 1994 (pandemic years notwithstanding). In 2019, the total was $181m. This year it was just $95m.

The Disney fantasy Strange World tanked with just $18.6m, a start so rocky that analysts are suggesting the film will lose over $100m for the studio (previous Thanksgivings have seen them open Coco to $72m and Frozen 2 to $130m). Sony’s airborne action drama Devotion sputtered out at just $9m, failing to capitalize on the summer success of Top Gun: Maverick (its budget is a reported $90m). And expansions of Luca Guadagnino’s Bones and All and Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans both struggled to make an impact, with $3.6m and $3.1m respectively.

Trade headlines about the concerning state of the box office have been brewing now for weeks. Universal’s prestige Weinstein investigation drama She Said, Billy Eichner’s landmark gay romcom Bros, the acclaimed Cate Blanchett-led drama Tár, David O Russell’s starry caper Amsterdam, period whodunnit See How They Run, George Miller’s garish fantasy Three Thousand Years of Longing and even Dwayne Johnson’s DC outing Black Adam all underperformed on different levels.

‘It’s been tough drawing audiences to the multiplex,’ said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst at Comscore. ‘I don’t think anyone can complain that there isn’t an incredible mix of movies out there but this marketplace has been so confounding in terms of trying to get a handle on it and crack the code as to why certain movies are doing well and why others aren’t.’ He referred to this Thanksgiving as ‘an attention getter for an industry that’s still reeling from the impact of production delays and release calendar changes.'”

Americans just don’t have the interest in going to the movies like they used to. “During a survey carried out in the United States in April and May 2022, approximately 41 percent of responding internet users said they rarely went to the movies. Roughly one-third stated that they went to see a film in theaters sometimes, while eight percent reported doing it often. Almost one out of five interviewees – 18 percent – said they never went to the movies.

According to the same source, little more than one-third of Americans whose household income stood below 50 thousand U.S. dollars reported going to the movies often or sometimes in mid-2022. Meanwhile, more than half of those with an income above 100 thousand dollars said the same. The gap added up to 17 percentage points. There was also a generational gap among cinephiles. About half of respondents aged 18 to 34 stated that they usually went to the movies, whereas little more than one-fourth of consumers aged 65 and over reported doing it.

The moviegoing frequency also varies across the U.S.’s regions. In the Northeast, for example, the share of interviewees saying they went to see a film in theaters either sometimes or often amounted to 45 percent. Within the Midwest, more than 60 percent of respondents in the South said they rarely or never went to the movies as of May 2022. Furthermore, nearly half of American male adults surveyed stated that they visited a movie theater often or sometimes, while little more than one-third of women said the same.”

A Morning Consult poll showed that COVID-19 is not to blame for people no longer going to the movies. “62% of American adults are comfortable going to a movie theater, compared to a low of 12% who were comfortable doing so in May 2020, shortly after the pandemic began.” 

Over half of respondents, 55%, said they are more interested in watching movies at home, 50% said it’s too expensive to see movies in theaters and 32% said they aren’t interested in the movies playing in theaters are major reasons why they don’t go to theaters.”

Forbes reported that “major studios have differed in their release strategy once moviegoers were allowed to return to theaters, with some releasing blockbusters on streaming services and in theaters at the same time, instead of delaying streaming releases, as was the norm before the pandemic. A survey from film research company Quorum released in November found that 49% of pre-pandemic movie goers are not buying tickets anymore. The North American box office earned $4.5 billion in 2021, up from the $2.27 billion earned in 2020 but down from the $11.4 billion earned in 2019.”

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