SPIDER-MAN: NO WAY HOME gave a triumphant send-off to an otherwise turbulent year for exhibitors. The superhero blockbuster struck a nerve, grossing over $1B worldwide in under two weeks. Mark O’Meara, the owner of the University Mall Theatre in Fairfax, Virginia, commented that SPIDER-MAN produced the first sold-out shows in two years, with many patrons saying that it was their first time back at the movies since the pandemic began.
While SPIDER-MAN is a high-point, the theatrical box office has been littered with disappointing performances such as WEST SIDE STORY, THE SUICIDE SQUAD, and THE LAST DUEL. While 2020 was marked by shutdowns, 2021 was a year for experimentation with virtually all major studios using day & date releasing to boost streaming subscriptions, at the expense of theatrical box office during uncertain times.
However, as the page turns to 2022, the pendulum appears to be swinging back to theatrical releasing, especially for high-profile titles such as SCREAM, BLACK PANTHER 2, and THE BATMAN. The exhibition has shown remarkable resiliency to emerge from the last two years with a reduction of only 5% of active screens in North America. Still, many exhibitors remain anxious about the future, with owners such as Mark O’Meara fretting about his increasing reliance on a handful of blockbuster titles. “I don’t like having the world live and die by one movie.”
See Also: Spider-Man Complicates Movie Theater Recovery Plot (Wall Street Journal)