Barbie wins summer box office, Taylor Swift might not save fall

A scene from “Barbie.”

Courtesy: Warner Bros.

Hollywood bet big on blockbuster franchise sequels to revive its summer cinema business, but it was fresh fare such as “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” that fueled the industry’s haul of $4 billion, a 19% jump from last year.

Starting the first Friday in May and running through Labor Day weekend, the summer movie season, on average, represents 40% of all movie ticket sales for the year. Studios typically pad this part of the release calendar with superhero spectacles, franchise sequels and action-packed flicks in an effort to capture audience attention during the hottest months of the year.

Fall is looking gloomy, however.

Movie theaters are already contending with less content than previous years. Missing titles such as “Dune: Part Two” will exacerbate that issue. The industry got some good news in the form of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour concert film, arriving in theaters in October. Expectations are set high for its debut, with many box office analysts expecting a $100 million opening. Swift won’t be able to balance the scales by herself, however.

Still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, Hollywood has entered a chaotic period of recovery. As studios are desperately trying to lure moviegoers away from their couches, they are also contending with dual labor strikes that have limited their ability to market their slate.

Top summer movies of 2023, domestic

  • Warner Bros.’ “Barbie” — $612.3 million
  • Sony’s “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” — $381.2 million
  • Disney’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” — $358.9 million
  • Universal’s “Oppenheimer” — $310.6 million
  • Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” — $298.1 million

Source: Comscore

Summertime gladness

Fall pall

Timothee Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson star in Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of “Dune.”

Warner Bros.

The summer season also showed a growing desire from audiences for tickets to premium format showings, said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at He said the industry can learn a lot from the performances of titles such as “Barbie,” particularly the appeal of grassroots communal experiences in cinemas.

“The caveat, however, is that the release calendar has thinned out slightly due to the ongoing strikes,” he said. “While this could create an opportunity for certain studios and films, it’s a headwind that nonetheless presents an increasing number of challenges for theater owners and audiences who don’t want to see more delays of movies they’re looking forward to.”

Over the longer term, it would become an increasing worry for next year as productions remain halted, Robbins added.

It comes as the theater industry is reigniting, with the overall box office from January through Labor Day up about 25% from last year.

However, it still lags from 2019 levels by 13%, and the fall movie season looks to be a tepid one, even with Swift’s concert movie on the calendar.

Already, films such as Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment’s “Dune: Part Two” and Sony’s “Kraven the Hunter” and the “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” sequel have all departed for 2024 as writers and actors strike against studios.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Universal Studios and CNBC.

Source link

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top