The box office hasn't returned to pre-COVID-19 numbers at all. While big hits like Avatar: The Way of Waterand Top Gun: Maverick spiked box office numbers, films like Babylonand Shazam: Fury of the Godswere failures that devastated the industry.
Despite the highs and lows of theatrical releases in the past year, movie theaters are recovering. Gower Street Analytics released a new study at CinemaCon this year that showed revenues in 2023 will reach $32 billion. Although that isn't near the pre-pandemic levels of $42 billion, that number is still a significant increase from 2022's revenue of $25.9 billion (according to Gower Street Analytics).
The Super Mario Bros. Movie has been a beacon of light for theaters as it kicked off 2023 with a bang by bringing in over $146 million in domestic revenue and $878.1 million at the worldwide box office, making it the highest-grossing film based on a video game.
As we prepare for another year of great films at our local theaters, let's look back and see what movies saved theaters in 2022.
'The Super Mario Bros. Movie'Credit: Universal Pictures
What Movie Saved Theaters in 2022
At the 2023 CinemaCon, Variety checked in with multiple cineplexes in the U.S. to ask a variety of questions. One of these questions was, "What movies was the saving grace for exhibitors?"
Cinemark Ceo Sean Gamble stated that Top Gun: Maverick was a film that drew all audiences to the theater and outperformed what anyone was expecting. The excitement of the moviegoing experience created momentum that followed multiple theatrical releases throughout the rest of the year, with Smile becoming a surprise hit that generated over $200 million at the worldwide box office.
"It was made for streaming, but released theatrically by Paramount and generated of $200 million in worldwide box office," Gamble said. "It's a small film that delivered significant results."
'Top Gun: Maverick'Credit: Paramount PicturesAtlas Theaters VP and owner Gabriel Saluan and University Mall Theaters owner Mark O'Meara agree that Top Gun: Maverick saved the box office, but Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor and RagTag Cinema executive director Arin Liberman believe thatEverything Everywhere All at Oncestands out.
"it captured a diverse range of moviegoers," Liberman said. "We had almost an equal distribution of age ranges."
For Taylor, these "out of nowhere and surprise the heck out of everyone" types of movies are the ones that become memorable and instant classics as they stand out in a sea of tentpoles and children's films.
'Air'Credit: Amazon StudiosAs for O'Meara, the recent success of Air has led him to believe that more mid-budget movies with great stories will always succeed at the box office. Mid-budget films have been absent from theaters for a long time. As people slowly start to return to theaters for entertainment, films that do not cost a lot to make and do not have an extremely high risk will start to do well again, just like they have always done.
What film do you think saved theaters in 2022? Let us know in the comments below!