Opening weekend box office numbers and commentary
The current weekend: May 13 to 15, 2022
1) Firestarter opening
- This is a weak opening. Firestarter has a lot of production pedigree; Blumhouse and Stephen King are consistent hit-makers, but this weekend’s figure is below average for the producer and novelist. The opening is roughly half of average for all non-series horror films. Having the movie available on streaming at the same time it’s in theaters reinforces that this is not big-screen, must-see entertainment. Reviews are poor:
2) 2022 overview, movie count and genre mix
- Currently there are 88 movies scheduled for wide release in 2022 (movies that play on 1,000 screens or more). That count should rise by 20 titles, and possibly more than that, before the end of the year — new releases continue to be added regularly. Those totals are down from 138 wide releases in 2019, and 152 in 2018. The five years before 2018 were in the 133 to 152 range as well. The mix between big franchise series films and original single-episode films has settled back to where it was pre-pandemic, to around 40% franchise and 60% original:
Superhero movies are back to form, carrying their outsized load of the box office — we’ve seen it with Spider-Man, Batman and now Doctor Strange. They make a lot of noise and it might seem like there's one opening every other week. Actually, they're rare: 8 this year is a good number (there were 9 in 2016, and only 4 in 2015). Thor 4 and Black Panther 2 will both bring strong momentum when they arrive this summer and year-end.
The number of character-driven wide releases — comedies, dramas, romances — has dropped sharply since 2019 and 2018, by around half. Recently, Dog and The Lost City did well, while Marry Me struggled. The number of family movies has also dropped, although lately they've been having good success (Sonic the Hedgehog, The Bad Guys). Business has been muted for crime/cops/suspense (Death on the Nile, Ambulance). Horror numbers are down so far this year, but is that a permanent change? Nope.
- Moviegoing has shown strength, but it’s been inconsistent. The box office should continue to improve through the rest of the year. The family audience is essential, and this summer is loaded (Lightyear, Minions, et al). Action adventure is poised for a boom (Top Gun, Jurassic, Bullet Train, Avatar). And a number of character-driven dramas might finally galvanize older audiences (Downton Abbey, Elvis, Don't Worry Darling, Amsterdam, The Fablemans, I Wanna Dance with Somebody). Right now, there's some slack in the market — audiences have shown more willingness to attend than there are strong titles to see. The current weekend is an example of that. During the next few months, we'll see how well moviegoers respond to a much stronger line-up.