It looks like movies are sinking at a rapid rate.
Movie theater owners had hoped that shots in the arms and declining COVID rates would lead to a box office revival this summer.
Those dreams may be deferred, at least for a few more months. Instead, the movie theater industry is spending the second half of popcorn season, the term for the escapist fare that pops up in multiplexes from May through August, grappling with an all-too-real situation. A worsening public health picture — one exacerbated by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories — and a maze of day-and-date distribution strategies that appear to be cannibalizing ticket sales, are raising questions about the viability of a theatrical comeback.
Both Disney’s “Black Widow” and Warner Bros.’ “Space Jam: A New Legacy” suffered steeper-than-normal declines in their second weekends of release, with revenues falling more than 70% after opening to stronger-than-expected results. In a sign of the new world order, “Black Widow” debuted simultaneously in theaters and on Disney Plus, where it was available to rent for $30. The “Space Jam” sequel was showing in cinemas at the same time it was streaming for free on HBO Max.
“The avid moviegoers who want to go to the movies are coming back,” notes Eric Handler, an exhibition industry analyst with MKM Partners. “But the ramp up from here looks like it’s going to be slower than we hoped.”