While the ups and downs of the pandemic have meant a fluctuating recovery for movie theaters, the dearth of January releases comes on the heels of Hollywood’s biggest pandemic success in “Spider-Man: No Way Home.” At the box office, famine has followed feast.
“Lack of movies is a critical issue for movie theaters,” said Patrick Corcoran, spokesman for the National Association of Theater Owners. “Contrary to some industry thinking, we cannot live on blockbusters alone. A consistent flow of exclusive movies to the movie theater is necessary to serve the range of audiences that go to the movies.”
“We cannot get back to normal and show audiences that movie theaters are safe if the studios don’t give us a normal flow of films,” added Corcoran.
For exhibitors, it’s a potentially worrying sign of what may come. Though there have always been lulls at the box office, such quiet periods could become more regular. Aside from the myriad films that go straight to streaming on platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Apple TV+, industry consolidation — and less major studio product — has been a concern for theater owners since Walt Disney Co. acquired 20th Century Fox in 2019.
Whether the theatrical business can weather the changes wrought by streaming is one question. But another, and potentially more pressing one is whether theaters will always have enough movies to subsist in between the biggest hits.
Next week, Lionsgate’s “Moonfall” and Paramount Pictures’ “Jackass Forever” will open and are expected to finally topple “Spider-Man: No Way Home” from the top spot. A large number of blockbusters, including “The Batman,” “Jurassic World: Dominion” and “Top Gun: Maverick,” await in 2022. But some alarmingly thin periods may, too.
Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Comscore. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.
1. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” $11 million.
2. “Scream,” $7.4 million.
3. “Sing 2,” $4.8 million.
4. “Redeeming Love,” $1.9 million.
5. “The King’s Man,” $1.8 million.
6. “The 355,” $1.4 million.
7. “American Underdog,” $1.2 million.
8. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” $770,000.
9. “Licorice Pizza,” $691,000.
10. “West Side Story,” $614,000.