It was just one year ago that Marvel Studios’ Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings blew away historical precedents and set a new Labor Day record with its $75.4 million three-day and $94.7 million four-day debut.
After a full year of continued theatrical recovery, though, the industry will somewhat ironically revert back to the “norm” of the coming September holiday as a barren landscape for high profile releases.
As supply chain issues, VFX backlogs, and a host of other factors have long signaled this would be a stretch of struggles on the calendar for theater owners, late August and early September will be almost entirely reliant upon the prowess of holdovers from late summer as major studios have little to offer. The recent delay of Warner Bros.’ Salem’s Lot to a 2023 release — once positioned as the September 9 opener after this coming Labor Day — was the final gut punch to what modest optimism there might have been.
This Friday, August 31, will now be anchored by two non-major studio releases — UAR’s Three Thousand Years of Longing and Focus Features’ Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. — alongside Sony’s re-release of Spider-Man: No Way Home and Universal’s IMAX and 3D re-issue of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.
In terms of wide distribution, release strategies and marketing for all three remain somewhat up in the air as studios understandably aren’t looking to heavily spend on these low key offerings until much closer to release.
Speculatively, studios could rally to re-release other films close to this time frame, though, even if not on Labor Day weekend itself. The incredible staying power of Top Gun: Maverick this summer is enough justification for Paramount and IMAX to re-distribute the sequel across the latter’s network of theaters once content dries up in mid-to-late August.
Similar arguments could be made for the likes of other IMAX beneficiaries that have performed well this summer, such as Jordan Peele’s Nope (filmed for that format specifically).
PLF auditoriums at-large would benefit from a quick revisit by this year’s biggest hits ranging from The Batman to the aforementioned Maverick, Elvis, Jurassic World Dominion, The Black Phone, Minions: The Rise of Gru, Marvel’s Doctor Strange and Thor sequels, and others.
Indeed, the selection shouldn’t be limited to just this summer’s pics, but perhaps PLF and IMAX exclusive content from years past. After all, there is truly no way to experience those premium-boosted movies in the same way again (not even in standard theatrical auditoriums). For example, Universal already has E.T. slated for an August 12 IMAX release a few weeks ahead of Jaws.
What better time than now for a studio like Warner Bros. to give moviegoers across North America and the world, not just in cities like Los Angeles and New York, the chance to see something like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy in IMAX again (or the first time)? It would be timely, too, as The Dark Knight Rises just celebrated its 10th anniversary on July 20.
Sure, grosses for most proposed re-issues aren’t going to be earth-shattering, but every little bit helps, and there is a growing volume of PLF content not available to the masses after seven or fourteen days of initial release.
While that opportunity and others like it are there, it remains to be seen what actually transpires. This is, after all, a relatively short window that’s only going to feel like a long slog as the industry grinds through it until October. Studios and theaters may just end up having to dig in with specialty titles and whatever revenue lingering summer releases are still able to generate for a few weeks at summer’s end.
Ultimately, barring unexpected surprises, it’s unlikely that more than one or two films will earn $10 million over the three-day Labor Day weekend — and even one or two might be asking too much. As such, long range forecasting is going to be light on numbers, literally and figuratively, for the next few weeks.
The good news: This has been expected for awhile, and it’s a far cry from the type of situation that led to theaters worrying about when or if they’ll get new content during the heights of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
Momentum will come again, sooner rather than later, as we get into the fall calendar and backend of the third quarter.
Long Range Box Office Forecast & 2022’s Upcoming Calendar
(as of 8/4/22)
|Release Date||Title||3-Day (FSS) Opening Low/High Range||Pinpoint % Chg from Last Week||Domestic Total Low/High Range||Pinpoint % Chg from Last Week||Distributor|
|8/12/2022||Bodies Bodies Bodies||A24|
|8/12/2022||E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial (40th Anniversary IMAX Re-Release)||Universal Pictures|
|8/12/2022||Mack & Rita||$2,000,000 – $5,000,000||-20%||$6,000,000 – $18,000,000||-17%||Gravitas Ventures|
|8/12/2022||Summering||Bleecker Street Media|
|8/19/2022||Beast||$10,000,000 – $15,000,000||$31,000,000 – $49,000,000||Universal Pictures|
|8/19/2022||Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero||$11,000,000 – $16,000,000||$20,000,000 – $35,000,000||Sony / Crunchyroll|
|8/26/2022||The Invitation||$8,000,000 – $13,000,000||$20,000,000 – $35,000,000||Sony Pictures / Columbia|
|8/26/2022||Fear||Hidden Empire Film Group (HEFG)|
|8/31/2022||Three Thousand Years of Longing||United Artists Releasing & MGM|
|9/2/2022||Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.||Focus Features|
|9/2/2022||Jaws (IMAX and RealD 3D Re-Release)||Universal Pictures|
|9/2/2022||Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Version||Sony Pictures / Columbia / Marvel Studios|
|9/9/2022||Barbarian||20th Century Studios|
|9/9/2022||Brahmastra Part 1: Shiva||Disney / Fox Star|
|9/16/2022||God’s Country||IFC Films|
|9/16/2022||Running the Bases||UP2U Films|
|9/16/2022||See How They Run||Searchlight Pictures|
|9/16/2022||The Silent Twins||Focus Features|
|9/16/2022||The Woman King||Sony / TriStar Pictures|
|9/23/2022||Avatar (2022 Re-Release)||Disney / 20th Century Studios|
|9/23/2022||Don’t Worry Darling||Warner Bros. Pictures|
All above figures represent best and worst case scenarios for how each respective film is currently tracking based on existing market conditions and projected model fluctuation before release. These are not final forecasts.
Additional pinpoint opening weekend and domestic total projections are available to clients. For more information on forecasts, pricing, and availability, please contact us.