Thor: Love and Thunder hopes to kickstart a recovering theater industry


Thor: Love and Thunder hopes to kickstart a recovering theater industry

Now, in mid-2022, reports of theaters dying appear grossly exaggerated. Audiences have returned to the cineplex for hits like Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman and Minions: The Rise of Gru, and there is hope in Hollywood that these films will be the norm for the rest of the year, not the norm will be an exception.
Theaters should be hit by another bolt of lightning this weekend when Thor: Love and Thunder, Marvel’s latest film, hits theaters. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman as God(s) of Thunder, the film is forecast to debut at $150 million in North America. The film grossed a whopping $29 million as of Thursday night.

“Movies have enjoyed something of a renaissance this year, with traditional blockbusters — sequels, superheroes and slasher pictures — leading the box office,” Jeff Bock, senior analyst at entertainment research firm Exhibitor Relations, told CNN Business.

But despite the optimism, the industry is not quite back. Streaming remains a strong alternative, inflation is weighing on disposable income and there is a lack of potential blockbusters in the second half of 2022.

Where we are

According to this, the domestic box office has taken in almost 4 billion US dollars so far this year comscore (SCOR). That total is up 243% from the same period last year, but 33% lower than before the pandemic in 2019.

This year’s box office figures present a kind of “Choose Your Own Adventure”. A 33% drop could be seen as disappointing but also a success given the past two years.

A great example of this dichotomy is Top Gun: Maverick.

The year’s biggest film so far, in which Tom Cruise reprises one of his most iconic roles from the 1986 classic, has grossed $575 million in North America — or about 15% of that year’s total domestic box office.

'Minions: The Rise of Gru' breaks box office records

That’s excellent news for the industry, but should a film make up that much of the domestic box office? Bock called “Maverick” a “box office anomaly that happens maybe once every ten years.”

There have been other hits, of course, big moneymakers from franchises like Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion, as well as unexpected upstarts like A24’s trippy Everything Everywhere All At Once, which has nearly 70 domestically Grossed millions of dollars despite being a smaller, low-budget film.

Although the box office has recovered in 2022, there is still a long way to go before normality is achieved. But can it get there?

Where do we go

“Moving forward, the box office outlook is minimally focused on pandemic concerns and mostly back on schedule strength,” Shawn Robbins, principal analyst at, told CNN Business.

He noted that summer movies like Thor, Jordan Peele’s next horror film Nope, and the Brad Pitt-directed Bullet Train all have the potential to “keep a healthy momentum going.” However, Robbins acknowledged that there “isn’t a lot of built-in audience content scheduled to open from August to mid-October.”

Original films have struggled to find significant audiences in recent years. If films like the rom-com Bros, the mysterious Don’t Worry Darling starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, and others find audiences, it could bridge the gap to the holiday season.

If theaters can sustain traffic into the holiday season, 2022 will end with sequels to two of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Thor: Love and Thunder does not ignite the spark that 'Ragnarok' ignited
The highly anticipated Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is slated for November. The latter is December’s Avatar: The Way of Water, director James Cameron’s first film since the original Avatar in 2009, to have grossed $2.8 billion worldwide.
Without Chadwick Boseman to play the title character, “Wakanda Forever” can match the box office of the original tragically died in 2020? And will “Avatar” still find an audience 13 years later? The answers are unclear, but bet against Marvel Studios and Cameron – the director of many blockbusters like ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ and ‘Titanic’ – at your own risk.

Bock, the Exhibitor Relations analyst, believes that blockbusters will continue to “break through at the box office” and that this year “is likely to be viewed as a big hit overall given the titles remaining on the release calendar.”

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