Carl checks out the difficulties faced by the cinema industry amidst the second wave of COVID cases
It is no surprise that the world’s box offices are seeing a huge decline in audience attendance at the moment. With the COVID-related restrictions firmly in place, the theatres cannot hold as many people as usual. Plus with the lockdown of multiplexes in some parts of the United States, cinema admissions are seriously depressed. The lack of bigger budgeted releases doesn’t help matters either. While we should be sitting down with our snacks and sodas watching fare such as ‘Wonder Woman 1984‘, ‘Black Widow‘, ‘Fast & Furious 9‘, ‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife‘ and ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘ to name just a few, instead, we are being presented with smaller fare or re-releases of classic movies. Not to put too fine a point on it but this is not what the audiences want or expect. That said, however, you really can’t blame the studios for what they have done by postponing the releases of the films listed above among others. Cinema is big business and with the heightened health considerations and the forcing to cut the audience sizes by almost 75% to compensate, it isn’t the right time to launch the blockbuster fare into the world.
‘Tenet‘ has once again topped the box offices around the world. However, the film is budgeted at $200million and has so far taken $41.2million in the United States and $283million around the world. While those figures don’t sound too bad, it must be noted that the film needed (apparently) to hit at least $500million to break even. Let’s face facts. It won’t get there. A bold experiment by Warner Brothers and the film that was hoped to drag the audiences back into theatres, it sadly hasn’t worked out how we all dreamed it would. That’s not to say it hasn’t got a chance of earning more money. If and I say IF the theatres in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco were to, by some miracle, manage to re-open this side of Christmas, then the film would get a sizable boost in its fortunes. However, this is looking more and more unlikely to happen.
‘The New Mutants‘, much delayed and critically derided (but not so much by the audiences who have seen it) sits in second place at the moment with a worldwide gross of $38.8million. To be honest, Disney/ 20th Century Entertainment didn’t have much of a choice in releasing the film but it isn’t as bad as it sounds. The film is now ‘Out There’ and is slowly dragging in the finances that are needed at this time. Again, IF the big U.S cities manage to open, then the film will drag in more money and could still become a box office success. But again, this seems highly unlikely.
Russell Crowe’s thriller ‘Unhinged‘, while not a highly budgeted affair, is still slowly managing to bring in some money. It currently holds onto $26.2million in cinema receipts against its $33million budget. Once more, it was a bold attempt to entice the audience back into multiplexes and again, it has sadly not worked out as the industry hoped. The 1980 film ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back‘ has hit screens on its 40th anniversary and has dragged in enough cash to justify its re-release. $908,000 is not to be sniffed at but you get the sense that IF the coronavirus hadn’t hit, then its fortunes could have gone one of two ways. The fans could once more have come out and given the film another decent box office haul. Or it could have been swept away in the rush of summer blockbusters and wouldn’t justify its re-release. At the moment, the chance to release the film again looks like it has paid off.
Smaller fare is now starting to dominate the screens. Is that a bad thing? Not in the slightest. But it has to be said again, would these films have made the kind of money they currently have if they had been lined up alongside the big guns? Probably not. Let us be clear, they are not making the millions of dollars that they COULD be earning but at least they are playing in cinemas around the world. Some of these films may be dominating the Academy Awards next year and the lack of big-budget fare has done them a favor, to be honest. These smaller, independent films are being seen and digested by the audiences that go and view them. Oscar glory may be in their futures. If not, then we may just get ‘Bad Boys For Life‘, ‘Bloodshot‘, and ‘Birds Of Prey: And The Fantabulous Emancipation Of One Harley Quinn‘ in contention for the big awards! I’m joking of course but feasibly, it could happen. (Not that I would object to seeing Margot Robbie get Best Actress for Birds Of Prey but that’s just me!).
If and I say it once more, IF ‘No Time To Die‘ actually opens as it is supposed to in November, then we will possibly see exactly how the cinemas of the world are getting on. IF it manages to release, then it WILL be the benchmark for the remainder of the cinema year. Ok, so it will only be roughly a month before the cinematic year actually ends but it will still be the marker that is laid down. IF the film opens and pulls in the big bucks then ‘Dune‘ MAY get to open in December. ‘Death On The Nile‘ MAY get to sail the same month. But deep down, I already suspect that an announcement regarding the film and its probable postponement is incoming, possibly within the next week or two. If it does, then cinemas will suffer the biggest downturn in their history. And will lead the studios to effectively wipe the slate for this year and, to be honest, possibly into next year too. We may be looking at another year of what we have suffered this year. And that would truly be the death knell of cinema.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!