Happy New Year! I hope everyone managed a safe celebration into 2021 and a restful weekend. We are now close to 10 months deep into this pandemic. Hang in there! Although it is difficult to pinpoint the end, the current consensus from scientists and health professionals is that the U.S can return to a “strong semblance of normality” by mid-2021. The catch? As one movie theater operator told CNBC: “We are cautiously optimistic as long as needles are going into arms”. Theater re-openings, studio confidence, and a significant uptick in moviegoer attendance – these will all depend on the success of the vaccine rollout.
When the industry is ready, moviegoers have a strong line-up of films to look forward to seeing on the big screen this year. The majority of the year’s top films will be titles originally slated for 2020: No Time to Die (4/02), A Quiet Place Part II (4/23), Black Widow (5/07), F9 (5/28), Venom: Let There Be Carnage (6/25), Minions: The Rise of Gru (7/02), Top Gun Maverick (7/02), Jungle Cruise (7/30), Candyman (8/27), Halloween Kills (10/15), and Marvel’s Eternals (11/05).
But wait, there’s more! The re-run of 2020’s box-office comes with some bonus blockbusters, too. Top contenders include: Cruella (5/28), Marvel’s Shang Chi (7/09), Hotel Transylvania 4 (8/06), Mission Impossible 7 (11/19), Disney’s Encanto (11/24), the third installation to Marvel’s Spider-man (12/17), and Sing 2 (12/22). There are also the Warner Bro’s films that are currently set for day-and-date HBO Max releases – Godzilla vs Kong (5/21), The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (6/04), Space Jam 2 (7/16), The Suicide Squad (8/06), and Dune (10/01).
If Warner Bros sticks to their new model, the theatrical revenues for their films are expected to take a hit. Wonder Woman 1984 now stands at a running box-office total of $28.5M – picking up another $5.5M over the New Year weekend. That is a disappointing 67% drop from the first weekend, but this cannot be fully explained away by “it’s available on HBO Max too”. Whereas the first weekend is driven by fans (who showed up in “pandemic-record-breaking” numbers), the second depends on word of mouth – and the word of mouth is just not good for Wonder Woman 1984. Rotten Tomatoes critics tanked the movies score to 60%; Metacritic users gave it a 4.2/10, and a 5.5/10 on IMDb. Ouch.
Pair that with the fact that other holiday offerings had much better holdovers: News of the World dropped just 24.9%; Promising Young Woman dropped 8.2%. Films that have been in the theatres for several weeks even gained audiences: The Croods: A New Age gained another 24.9%, Monster Hunter gained 11.1%, and The War With Grandpa gained 28.1%. These are films that are already available on PVOD, and yet, they saw an uptick in moviegoers wanting to see it on the big screen instead of at home. Content – good content – is what will drive moviegoer attendance. Personally, I wonder where the headlines would be if the family mega-hit, Disney’s Soul, had gone day-and-date on Christmas day instead of exclusively on Disney Plus.
Up next, we’ll have to wait until Friday 1/15 for the debut of new wide-releases: The Marksman and Wrath Of Man.