Movie theaters will fill up with people again.
It’s been a brutal summer and a frail autumn for movie theater chains. AMC stock Entertainment Holdings (AMC) and its smaller competitors have been experiencing low ticket sales since mid-July, casting doubt on the industry’s recovery. The domestic box office this year is 34% lower than in 2019 and 38% lower than the previous year.
The last month has been even worse. Ticket sales in October were down 25% compared to last year, when we started the recovery process much earlier after the pandemic. Exhibitors need a hit, and luckily there are many promising theatrical releases in November. Let’s take a look at some movies that could help AMC and its peers make a difference this month.
11th of November
There is no doubt that Disney’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever After (DIS 4.44%) will be the big draw this month. The first film in the Marvel franchise surpassed $700 million in domestic ticket sales and was the highest-grossing film of 2018. Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman sadly left us too soon, but the movies will go on.
It is unlikely that the new film will surpass the financial success of the original part. Industry insiders are modeling between $450 million and $550 million in the US market, making it the second-highest earner this year behind May’s Top Gun: Maverick. But it will still bring crowds to theaters next weekend.
Another notable film opening in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York is The Fabelmans. Steven Spielberg directed and co-wrote this movie, and it’s already created some serious buzz around the Oscars. It’s about growing up as a young director making it personal for Spielberg. Will it be the Cinema Paradiso of our country? Two weeks later, he will start playing all over the country.
Wakanda Forever will be a daunting task, and the studios know it’s a bad move to present potential blockbusters in a week. We still have a couple of interesting debuts in the star-studded “Menu” and “She Said,” stories from the New York Times reporters who debunked Harvey Weinstein’s accusations and kick-started the #metoo movement.
The two releases belong to genres that weren’t box office winners in the era of streaming services. However, they are yet to find their hearing in mid-November. Since the screenings of Wakanda Forever were probably still sold out by then, this may also lead to other moviegoers choosing one of these two new films.
Thanksgiving weekend is very important for exhibitors. Families get together and there’s not much turkey and football for the house to handle. A trip to the multiplex is a popular pastime, and this is where the biggest movies outside of the Black Panther sequel will appear.
Some of the big movies opening this weekend, in addition to The Fabelmans’ wide release, include Devotion, Strange World, and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery. All three will be interesting in their own way. The devotion is based on the story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots during the Korean War. The huge success of Top Gun: Maverick this year may lead to interest in Devotion, even if the latter naturally lacks the franchise and nostalgic power of this year’s main draw. Weird World is Disney’s latest animated film, but House of Mouse has proven deadly on that front as of late.
A glass bow would also be interesting. Netflix (NFLX 8.46%) picked up a sequel to the hit 2019 detective series Knives Out. It will begin streaming the film on its platform on December 23, but has struck a deal with AMC and other leading theater chains to show the film during Thanksgiving week, a month before its streaming debut. Will people know that in a few weeks you will be able to stream the movie on Netflix? If users clear this glass bulb at the local multiplex later this month during this week, you may find more video-on-demand platforms going down this path as an additional revenue stream.
This year has been a bust for cinema stocks, but we still have two more months until the end of 2022. November should see an increase in ticket sales, which has been virtually non-existent since the beginning of July.
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