After an unexpectedly strong summer at the international box office, there is a near-term question mark over what will happen next: Will the recovery stall due to a lack of Hollywood tentpole films? Or will the international theater develop and find new drivers to keep pace?
The good news is that most areas of the international market are now fully open and functioning without any significant restrictions on seating capacity. These include Great Britain and Ireland, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and Brazil. A small number of regions are still operating under restrictions, however some valuable ones include: China, Turkey, Argentina, Hong Kong and Russia.
Hollywood films that have sparked recent international revivals include “Jurassic World Dominion” ($611 million internationally); “Minions: Rise of the Gurus” ($486 million); “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($405 million); and “Elvis” ($126 million).
“Top Gun: Maverick,” with $1.4 billion worldwide to date, including $720 million internationally, has outperformed expectations almost everywhere. It is now Paramount’s highest-grossing film, surpassing “Titanic.”
“Many theater markets have shown that when the production is there, the audience will show up. But we may be coming to a fork in the road now as Hollywood’s new productions are out,” said Robert Mitchell, director of theatrical insights at Gower Street Analytics. , says a research and consulting firm based in London.
Warner Bros. “Black Adam” won’t bow until October 21. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is set for a stateside release on November 11. And “Avatar: Waterway” opens on December 16.
“This could be an opportunity for local films to fill the gap,” says Mitchell. Or it could be the start of a new box office slump.
Signs of local success – and a growing box office recovery – look positive in several regions, including Japan and South Korea. China has rebounded from a COVID-related slump earlier this year with local hits including “Lightning Up the Stars,” “Detectives vs. Sleuths” and “Moon Man.”
In other markets, the pandemic extended or strengthened Hollywood’s dominance. This is also true in France, the birthplace of cinema, which can boast diversity and auteur traditions.
This year’s French box office is dominated by American blockbusters, with “Top Gun: Maverick” (launched in Cannes, no less!) in first place, followed by “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” There is only one local film in the top 10: “Serial (Bad) Weddings,” the third installment of the comedy franchise. “The consistency of ticket sales around the American blockbuster has been particularly strong in 2022, but it has been an ongoing trend. In France, it goes back to 2016,” says Ari Marty at ComScore France.
Richard Petrie, French National Exhibitor Assn. , argues that more people working from home is detrimental to attracting them back to the theater. He says that when the cinema houses were closed, the media also reduced the editorial space for film news and interviews. This coverage has not returned.
Hollywood’s growing reliance on the product put exhibitors in a vulnerable position, particularly in France, whose strict window rules caused Disney to abandon the theatrical release of “Wonderful World.” These same rules have caused Netflix to premiere its star-studded films at the Venice Film Festival, rather than Cannes.
“We need to work with the platforms because things are changing, and these window rules will evolve. But the platforms also need to work with us because cinemas are the best place to experience movies. ,” says Jocelyn Boussy, managing director of CGR Cinemas, France’s second largest exhibition chain.
In Korea, where locally produced films have reigned for much of the past decade, there are also questions about which films should be seen in cinemas, given the strong streaming market there. Cannes contender “Decision to Love” earned $14.3 million in the region, a relative low for “Old Boy” director Park Chan-wook, while “The Broker” earned $9.62 million.
“I think it will take two to three years to fully recover from the pandemic,” says leading Korean producer-director Ji Ji Yoon, who also worries that distributors will delay titles until the end of the year. Cycle through the big backs, slowly. Filling their treasury and only later giving the green light to new pictures. Meanwhile, filmmaking talent is being lured by the riches and immediacy of streaming. Yoon himself has taken a job as head of a new TV production hub, CJ ENM Studios.
With the exception of Hong Kong, where the UAE cinema chain ended, most markets still hold most of their cinemas, according to Gower Street data. But the subsequent bankruptcy of Cineworld, the UK-based chain that owns Regal in the US, shows the weakness of the exhibition sector.
It currently has 43,000 screens in Europe and around the world. The total number of screens, in fact, has increased by 5 percent,” says Laura Holgott, CEO of UNIC, the trade body representing exhibitors in Europe. She says that while some chains are operating through the pandemic, local Thanks to “generous subsidies and rescue packages” from governments.
The big challenge comes now that the COVID-related subsidy schemes have stopped and landlords have ended rent holidays, but cinema revenues have not reached pre-COVID times.
“We haven’t gone bankrupt in France, but some companies have been weakened by the crisis and are now struggling with huge debts,” said Magli Valente, head of cinema at CNC, referring to exhibitors and distributors. said To repay the national debt. Valeant says CNC is exploring new subsidy schemes targeting distributors.
Bouyssy, who is in the process of selling CGR Cinemas, says upgrading the venues and installing premium formats could be the way forward. Box office data from Imax locations shows that they have outperformed regular screens during this year’s revival.
Houlgatte says: “Audiences are looking for premium experiences, so distributors and exhibitors should look at different ways to build events around the release. This could be to get the filmmakers to interact with the audience, Serving tea during the screening, as in the UK, or offering drinks before the screening.