‘Doctor Strange’ conjures up a big premiere as theaters gear up for a vital summer

(CNN Business) — After the pandemic ravaged its business, the film industry is hoping for a comeback. The good news for theaters is that they couldn’t ask for a better movie for the start of summer.

Marvel’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” hits theaters this weekend. It’s one of the most anticipated movies of the year from the most trusted brand in Hollywood.

The film, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch, opens in more than 4,000 theaters and is expected to make between $160 million and $180 million in North America. Some industry analysts believe the film could break the $200 million mark on its release, making it the ninth film to achieve this milestone.

The film earned $36 million on Thursday night. That start could create some momentum when theaters are at their strongest since the start of the pandemic.

“It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of this summer”

The summer of 2020 was a historic disaster for Hollywood.

Movies were scarce (if not nonexistent), theaters struggled to light marquees, and the US box office took in $176 million, according to Comscore (SCOR).

That: $176 million in total for the entire summer, which is $4.1 billion less than the summer of 2019, or, to put it another way, less than “Doctor Strange” could do this weekend alone. Last summer it rebounded, but still lagged behind pre-pandemic figures, posting a domestic income of $1.7 million.

So far this year, the box office is showing signs of recovery with hits like February’s “Uncharted,” March’s “The Batman” and April’s “Sonic The Hedgehog 2” leading the way.

This summer could further boost the good vibes at the box office.

“It’s hard to overstate the importance of this summer for the movie industry,” Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN Business. “We’ve seen a clear demand for big movies to return to theaters, but this summer is the best test yet.”
Robbins believes this summer’s top-grossing movies may “approach or perhaps exceed pre-pandemic standards.”

Beyond Marvel’s blockbusters, including “Doctor Strange” and “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the summer is filled with all sorts of movies that could turn out to be hits.

There’s “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to the beloved action movie starring Tom Cruise, “Jurassic World: Dominion,” the next installment in the dinosaur saga, and “Elvis,” a biopic about The King starring Tom Hanks. . There are also two remarkable family movies, Pixar’s “Lightyear” and “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” and there’s “Nope,” Jordan Peele’s latest horror flick.

It’s not just about money

“We are moving away from a point where the pandemic alone can be blamed for poor yields,” Robbins said. “This summer may show how much balance there can be as the industry adapts and improves.”

This is important not only for this summer’s box office, but could influence the rest of the year as well.

“Summer has always been critically important to theaters, and the success of these important 18 weeks sets the tone for results for the entire year,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, told CNN Business. .

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He noted that summer is “traditionally responsible for an average 40% of the annual box office.”

But this year summer is not only a matter of money, but of symbolism.

The pandemic is still going on and theaters have a long way to go before they really recover. However, there are reasons for optimism.

“The success the industry has had so far this year is great news for theaters that have spent the last two years methodically and patiently building blocks of normalcy,” Dergarabedian said. “This was all to come up with something close to a normal market for summer movies in multiplexes, and we may finally be getting there.”

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