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Thursday, August 11, 2022

What can Hollywood do to prepare when it doesn’t know who is watching what and when?

Labor Day Weekend is often seen as a time for the entertainment industry to take stock and reassess. What signals are being sent by moviegoers after the summer’s big-budget entertainment and before the fall’s Oscar hopefuls? What are they saying?

Reading the tea leaves of the box office is similar to pontificating on the symbolism in works of fiction: Any hypothesis that is even somewhat reasonable will work. However, studio executives need something, anything, to guide them as they make billion-dollar decisions about which seasons to produce in the future.

As a result of the coronavirus epidemic, once-reliable audience habits have been thrown off balance, and ticket sales for many films have been decimated by the availability of films immediately on streaming platforms. Films are increasingly being released solely on streaming services such as Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Apple TV+, and others, rather than in theatres, yet these firms refuse to provide significant audience statistics.

According to polls conducted by the Nationwide Research Group, a movie industry publication, in late August of American moviegoers, about 67 percent of respondents said they felt comfortable (“very or considerably”) sitting in a movie theatre. Disney has cited coronavirus concerns as the reason for making movies like “Jungle Cruise,” “Cruella,” and “Black Widow” available in properties on Disney+ at the same time as they were released in theatres (although Hollywood has speculated that the real reason — or at the very least an equally important one — was to increase the popularity of Disney+).

According to Comscore, which aggregates box office data, audiences rushed to see “Shang-Chi,” which was on track to gross $83.5 million from 4,300 theatres throughout the United States and Canada from Friday to Monday, according to the company that collects the data. The well-reviewed picture, which is noteworthy for being Marvel’s first Asian-led superhero extravaganza, brought in an additional $56.2 million from overseas audiences. The production of “Shang-Chi” cost nearly $200 million.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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