Mitchell Chapman: Local theaters have benefited from COVID relief funds, but box office continues to limp | Chroniclers
In June, I wrote a column about the great need to support our local cinemas, which were ravaged not only by a paltry flow of releases but also by restrictions imposed by the government during the various stages of the reopening of the State. It happened just over a month after COVID-19 vaccines became available to the public, with great hope that enough people would get the vaccine to help us end the pandemic.
That hasn’t happened – the pandemic is alive and well, and as such, the box office is not yet complete, with domestic and global revenues pale compared to 2019. To put With that in mind, in 2019 nine films grossed over $ 1 billion at the box office – all American films, including four comic book / superhero films (“Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man ; Far From Home “,” Captain Marvel “and” Joker “), four family films based on classic Disney properties (” Frozen II “,” Aladdin “,” The Lion King “and” Toy Story 4 “) and a movie “Star Wars” (“Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker”).
Fast forward to 2021, and not a single movie has made $ 1 billion so far this year. The closest film to reaching this mark is the Chinese film “Hi, Mom”, which won over $ 820 million, the closest American film being “F9: The Fast Saga”, which won around $ 716 million. of dollars.
This does not bode well for both local and national cinemas that rely on the big tentpole films to stay in business, nor for the studios that produce them, which now face the harsh reality that, unless the box office does not become healthier, blockbuster films costing $ 100-200 million to produce are simply not viable products. James Bond’s latest film, “No Time to Die”, is a prime example of the hole the studios found themselves in. Variety reports that due to its huge budget – between $ 250 million and $ 300 million to produce and around $ 100 million and above for the market – and the cost of several delays, “No Time to Die” will most likely have to make $ 800 million just to break even, which means it’ll have to top the highest-paying American movie of the year just to come close to making money.
This unfortunately illustrates why blockbuster films have become scarce this year, as many films were ordered before COVID-19, when studios felt comfortable approving lavish budgets due to the box’s remarkable strength. office at the time, and many now have no hope of meeting the pre-COVID-19 projections or, as in the case of “No Time to Die”, of having thin windows to make a profit.
This highlights the longevity of the pandemic increased by those who still refuse to be vaccinated, as the presence of the virus is a critical factor when considering seeing a movie in person. As long as the virus remains in circulation, many will see theaters as an unnecessary risk, especially as platforms like Disney + and HBO Max will continue to offer same-day streaming of movies currently in theaters.
The Eagle reported in July that Phoenix Theaters, owner of the Beacon Cinema in Pittsfield, received $ 617,054 in COVID-19 pandemic funds from the US Small Business Administration, and other Berkshire theaters have also benefited from the money from COVID relief, as have many theaters across the country. But if the box office continues to limp, more theaters will have to close their doors forever.
The draws for “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” (he set a new Labor Day weekend record), “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” (highest paying opening weekend pandemic) and “No Time to Die” (highest grossing opening weekend of all James Bond films) shows promise and hope for the box office and the theaters that depend on it, and I think there’s reason to be optimistic about upcoming titles like âSpider-Man: No Way Homeâ and âThe Matrix Resurrectionsâ. But unless the nation is able to reach a point where it can put the pandemic behind it and recover, the box office will continue to be a shadow of what it once was.
Regardless, the industry will undoubtedly feel the economic toll of the pandemic for years to come, especially since nearly all studio films are a multi-year investment and investors will take time. to regain the same level of comfort they had. before March 2020.
Please continue to support your local theaters, as the pandemic is far from over, and it is not known if and when the global box office will come to life again.
Mitchell Chapman is an Eagle Page designer / editor and columnist.