‘Spider-Man’ throws cinemas lifeline as they venture into the unknown
Indeed, the first box office returns of the third film “Spider-Man” were like a psychological balm for a film industry put in crisis as for its future. More serious dramas and movies were already migrating to streaming, but even titles designed to appeal to the popcorn-selling crowd struggled as theaters sought to recover.
One blockbuster won’t be enough to turn back time or make people forget the scary headlines about the latest variant of Covid. Still, seeing “Spider-Man: No Way Home” early at an industry screening – normally a more jaded assembly than an opening night crowd – brought back some of the peculiar joys associated with watching movies. films in a common frame.
At key moments there were screams, cheers and grateful laughter – loud in places, more muffled in others where the references were surely playing a subsection of the audience. After attending screenings for months in sparsely populated theaters to allow for social distancing, the experience felt like a reminder of how certain types of films benefit from sharing.
Audience reaction did not match “Avengers: Endgame” in its agitation, but it recalled that moment at the start of the pandemic when video circulated of an audience raving during its climactic streak.
While there have been some successes during the pandemic, there is a growing sense that the film industry may never fully bounce back to where it was in 2019. But something like “Spider-Man” is a reassuring sentiment nonetheless. that hunger for what theaters offer may not be entirely replaced.
Back when one of the network’s last big hits, “The Big Bang Theory,” was cut short in 2019, series producer / co-creator Chuck Lorre suggested that those writing obituaries for the sitcom were doing it prematurely.
At this point, the success of “Spider-Man” looks like a welcome spike on an unsettling ECG – a short-term jerk for filmmakers and moviegoers, not a lasting rescue.
But for this weekend, anyway, as millions of people flock to the movies, it’s nice to see the pipes still working. In this, “Spider-Man” has pulled theaters out of a lifeline, though their spider-sense should tingle about what awaits them as they leap into the unknown.