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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Summer 2021’s movie season

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Grishma Rana
Movie theater in 2021. Photo by Grishma Rana / Mass Media Contributor

Summer will be over in a few more weeks, bringing not only the return of pumpkin spice but the end of the summer movie season. Every year the major film studios give us blockbusters to go see in theaters, with many of the biggest releases landing in summer. Well… every normal year at least. Last March, when the pandemic started, plans of all sorts were thrown up in the air. The film industry was no exception. So, with theaters open once again over a year laterare things looking up, down, or all-around indeterminable for the future of summer blockbusters?
Let’s get this out of the way, theaters are not the same as they once were before the pandemic. For example, comparing this past weekend to the same weekend two years ago before Covid, there is an extremely significant difference in total weekend ticket sales. This weekend’s 64.1 million dollar earning is notably much lower than the 108.7 million being made in its 2019 counterpart.
The reason behind these numbers is no mystery. We are still in a pandemic. While getting the vaccines may help put many people’s minds at ease, news of the delta variant and ICUs once again being filled with new COVID cases has certainly convinced many to be cautious. That means that places like movie theaters, where people gather indoors for hours, are likely to be avoided by the cautious.
In other ways, however, things don’t seem all that bad. The movie “Free Guy”, which just had its second weekend, dropped 34 percent compared to its opening weekend. Let’s compare that to Turbo, another Ryan Reynolds movie that came out before the pandemic. Turbo dropped 36 percent—only a two percent difference. A non-sequel/original movie succeeding in the box office is a notable thing, especially with things the way they are.
What about non-original movies? Marvel Studios has made billions of dollars adapting comic books for the big screen. In 2019 alone, the three movies they released (“Captain Marvel”, “Avengers: Endgame”, and “Spider-Man: Far From Home”) collectively made over five billion dollars. Marvel Studios has released just one movie in 2021 so far, “Black Widow”. Its opening weekend set a record for movies released during the pandemic, making 158 million dollars. However, on its second weekend, the movie dropped 69 percent. It should be mentioned that the film was released on Disney+ with Premier Access on the same day as it went into theaters, so that certainly was a factor in how things turned out.
Nonetheless, it is a testament to how unpredictable things are at the moment.
Things are bound to change even more this fall. This past weekend, “Paw Patrol”, a movie based on the popular children’s cartoon, ended up second place in the box office. While that may point to children’s movies being successful releases, soon studios will be extremely hesitant in releasing them this autumn. This is because many children remain unvaccinated, so with kids going back to school soon, movies like “Hotel Transylvania 4” are skipping theaters and heading directly to streaming as a precautionary measure. “The Addams Family 2” is doing something similar with its same-day release theatrically and as a rental.
Overall, things are looking up, with movies like “Black Widow” managing to land an opening weekend with over a hundred million dollars. But, let’s not jump the gun here. If the latest summer movie season has shown us anything, it’s that we can only expect the unexpected. “Black Widow” can set records and then drop fast. A movie starring Hugh Jackman—”Wolverine” and “The Greatest Showman” star—can make only two million dollars at the box office (as it did this weekend, putting it at ninth place). The days of sure bets are behind us. We’ll just have to wait and see if they’re ahead of us also.

About the Contributor
Kyle Makkas, Humor Writer