One single data point sums it up.
“Spider-Man: No Way Home” collected $260 million in the United States and Canada on its opening weekend. Total ticket sales for the two countries totaled $283 million, according to Comscore. That means “No Way Home” made up 92 percent of the market. “Nightmare Alley,” which was released on the same weekend, played to virtually empty auditoriums. It took in $2.7 million.”
92 percent of the market. It’s a staggering figure that shows just how dead movie theaters are.
Blockbusters had been swallowing up more and more of the theater marketplace with the entire industry increasingly built around $100 million and then $250 million and then $1 billion massive movies with less room for midsize movies. Combine that with the pandemic and you have movie theaters built around a handful of huge blockbusters and nothing else. Literally.
Between Friday and Sunday, the Spider-Men remained the biggest domestic draw, taking in roughly $81.5 million. The animated “Sing 2” (Universal-Illumination) was second, with $23.8 million in ticket sales. Warner Bros. failed to generate much interest in “The Matrix Resurrections,” which took in a feeble $12 million in third place; it was also available on HBO Max.
“The King’s Man” (Disney), the third movie in Matthew Vaughn’s action-comedy series, collected $6.4 million, a result that one box office analyst described as a franchise “collapse.” (“American Underdog,” a faith-based sports drama from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company, managed $6.2 million on Saturday and Sunday alone.)
The movie theater is disappearing. The number of movies that people will go out and spend 20 bucks for has dropped sharply and is becoming a limited roster of event pictures. It means people going out a few times a year, if even that, to movie theaters, instead of a weekly or biweekly ritual. If the theaters want to survive, they need to seriously reexamine their relationship with studios like Disney and Warners that are far more invested in their streaming platforms and cinematic universes than in the basic economics of the movie theater.
That would require reconnecting with Middle America, with older and more traditional audiences, instead of waiting for another event movie.