It wasn’t until recently that we learned the box office would eventually recover from the epidemic that hit two years ago. Two films released in 2021—“Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “No Time to Die”—gave audiences a reason to believe that movie theaters weren’t doomed to extinction. By 2022, however, movie theaters had shown their worth to Hollywood once again.
Additionally, for the first time in quite some time, the box office was supported by more than just superhero movies. While “Elvis,” a glitzy biopic from Baz Luhrmann, “Ticket to Paradise,” a starry romantic comedy from Universal, and the indie “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once,” from A24, all proved there is a real opportunity for bold swings to resonate with audiences, the highest-grossing film of the year was the sequel to a movie that premiered nearly four decades ago.
Sadly, box office bombs are a fact of life now that movies are making a serious comeback. And there were some real stinkers this year. Disney’s “Lightyear” and “Strange World” bombed, casting severe doubt on the viability of family-friendly filmmaking in the future. Meanwhile, the successes of “Bros” and “She Said” bring attention to the problems that mid-range films have to deal with.
The domestic box office has earned $7.4 billion so far in 2022, according to Comscore. Revenue from ticket sales is still 33% lower than it was during the previous typical box office season in 2019, when $10.6 billion was brought in. Studios did not release as many movies last year because of COVID, but one virus cannot account for the whole drop. It may also reflect a shift in buyer preferences. Prior to the end of the year, Variety analyzed the year’s worldwide box office performance for the big studios.
Avatar: The Way of Water ($955 million), “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever“ ($800 million and rising), and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($955 million and counting) are just a few of the box office successes of recent years. Death on the Nile ($137 million), Lightyear ($226 million), Amsterdam ($31 million), and Strange World ($54 million) are the lowest grossing films.
Amazing what time and a pandemic can do. As 2019 began, Disney continued its reign of box office dominance with seven films that each earned over $1 billion. Only “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which is set to cross the $1 billion mark any day now, has not yet done so this year. Although just two other films this year have broken the $100 million mark, you’d think that with three Marvel films scheduled for release, at least one of them would have a chance. Disney has survived many high-profile flops despite its success with established brands.
Pixar, once the standard bearer for family-friendly entertainment, hasn’t been able to reconnect with audiences in a significant way for quite some time, which is cause for worry. Disney’s failures still beat the successes of most other studios, but the Magic Kingdom invests much in the production and promotion of its movies, setting very high standards. The superhero genre will be fine in 2023, but the studio’s freshly reinstated CEO, Bob Iger, has his work cut out for him with the rest of the schedule.
Record-breaking numbers include $1.48 billion for “Top Gun: Maverick,” $402 million for “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $216 million for “Smile,” $190 million for “The Lost City,” $140 million for “Scream,” and $80 million for “Jackass Forever.” In the dumps, we have “Babylon” ($5.3 million and counting).
Takeaways: Paramount‘s incredible box office revival cannot be overstated. The studio had near-perfect run (good times were somewhat disrupted by “Babylon”) with successive successes in every genre after being written off in the early epidemic days. Paramount’s 2022 slate was particularly successful since it catered to viewers that like rom-coms, comedy, and traditional all-American action with films like “Jackass Forever” and “The Lost City,” genres that had previously struggled to pull in audiences for the studio.
And of course, there’s Tom Cruise’s decades-in-the-making sequel to “Top Gun,” “Top Gun: Maverick,” which was a massive financial success despite being everything from a sure thing. But it was an undeniable success, and not only among the original’s devotees. Its $1.488 billion worldwide revenue and position as the year’s highest-grossing film may be attributed to the fact that any pop culture consumer would feel compelled to see what all the fuss was about. Moviegoers throughout the world applaud Tom Cruise.
Awards: “The Woman King“ ($92 million), “Where the Crawdads Sing” ($140 million), “Uncharted” ($401 million), and “Bullet Train” ($293). Movies that did poorly at the box office include “Morbius” ($167 million), “Father Stu” ($21 million), “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” ($87 billion annually), “Devotion” ($17 million), and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” ($9.5 million).
The company took some calculated chances with its 2022 output, and the results were films like Viola Davis’ action epic The Woman King and the literary adaption Where the Crawdads Sing. Costing $75 million to produce, Jared Leto’s “Morbius” comic book movie wasn’t a complete failure, but it scarcely made enough money to warrant sequels and spinoffs to match Disney’s MCU adventures. The family film “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” also failed to meet expectations and was added to the year’s list of bombs.
Sony only had to take the hit on the $90 million budgeted failure “Devotion,” which it distributed but didn’t fund. By limiting spending, the studio demonstrated that audiences would still pay to see something new and different.
Records broken include “Jurassic World Dominion” ($1.001 billion), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” ($939 million), “The Black Phone” ($161 million), “Ticket to Paradise” ($165 million), “Halloween Ends” ($104 million), and “Nope” ($171 million). The 355 ($27 million), The Northman ($69 million), Bros. ($14 million), Easter Sunday ($13 million), She Said ($10 million), and The Fabelmans ($10.5 million) all performed poorly at the box office.
Key Takeaways: In 2022, Universal released more films over a broader range of budgets and genres than any of its rival major studios. But the findings were far from uniform. Both “Jurassic World” and “Minions” proved to be the blockbusters that Universal had hoped they would be, helping to push the studio’s worldwide gross beyond $3 billion.
Additionally, scary movies like “The Black Phone” and “Nope” did very well at the box office. Unfortunately, Universal’s attempts to diversify into more arthouse or adult-oriented entertainment were met with little success. In spite of positive reviews from most observers, Oscar hopefuls like “The Fabelmans” and “She Said” failed to find an audience and ultimately tanked at the box office. It would seem that quality alone is not sufficient to combat a pandemic that refuses to go away.
Box office successes include “The Batman” ($770 million), “Elvis” ($286 million), “Don’t Worry Darling” ($86 million), and “DC League of Super-Pets” ($220 million). Disappointing numbers include $405 million for “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” and $389 million for “Black Adam.”
The Warner brothers’ home was not a pleasant place to be at the moment. Under Warner Bros. Discovery’s new management, the studio has begun a round of layoffs, budget cuts, and shelved projects, creating an atmosphere of high tension among employees. So, how did the studio do with all the changes going on behind the scenes? OK. Director Matt Reeves breathed new life into the classic story of a caped crusader with “The Batman.”
While “Don’t Worry Darling” rode a tide of off-screen drama to must-see status and gave us some of 2022’s most meme-able moments (Miss Flo and split gate, we’re looking at you), “Elvis” was one of the few movies geared at adults to truly connect at the box office. However, not everything went as planned; two franchise hopes fizzled. The “Fantastic Beasts” films no longer seem to have the same enchantment they once had, and DC’s new leadership has decided to abandon Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s anti-hero, Black Adam, because of how much money and time he wasted.
We didn’t find out the box office would bounce back from the pandemic that struck two years ago until just recently. The success of “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and “No Time to Die,” both released in 2021, offered moviegoers hope that the multiplex wasn’t dead after all. However, by the year 2022, movie theaters had shown their usefulness to Hollywood once again.
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