The Future. It was a great summer at the movies, both creatively and financially. But that goodwill is hitting the skids as ongoing labor negotiations derail the visibility and momentum of new releases. How can Hollywood recover? When contracts are finally renewed with striking writers and actors, studios may need to work overtime to eventize the films they have ready, while the theater industry doubles down on the premium formats that make those movies feel like appointment viewing.
Goodbye, summer success
It’s the best of times and the worst of times in Hollywood right now.
- The summer box office surpassed $4 billion for the 13th time ever and was up 16% from last summer.
- Between May 5th and September 4th, over 330 million tickets were sold (also up 16% from last year) — with premium formats like IMAX being a big driver.
- Barbie and Oppenheimer, which represented 22% of that haul, were the cinematic events of the year, with The Quorum finding people came back to the cinema for the first time since COVID to see one of them.
- The dual strikes not only barred creatives from promoting movies, but they also led to studios pushing several titles to next year — moves that could cost the box office $400 million this fall (though TSwift may pick up the slack).
- And next year may not be much better. With production shut down, many titles likely won’t be ready to hit their release dates, causing more delays.
That’s a blow to the narrative of a box office recovery, especially as The Quorum found 40% of people who saw Barbie said it reminded them how much they miss going to the movies.
As one studio distribution exec told Deadline, “If this summer proved anything, it’s that staying at home is fundamentally an untrue idea. People want to have a premium experience outside the house, whether that’s Barbie or a Taylor Swift concert.”