Oh, Should We Be Worried About The Box Office Again? – Screen Rant

With August 2022 reporting historically low box office numbers, the early theatrical boom of the summer has disappointingly tapered off.
After an impressive revival of theaters in early summer 2022, the disappointing performance of new movies in August could mean a bigger box office problem is still at hand. The summer season is known for being a highly profitable time for movie theaters, with the time between Memorial Day weekend in May and Labor Day weekend in September being key for blockbuster releases. While May through July saw a massive revival of theaters that hadn’t been seen since 2019, the August 2022 box office failed to continue this trend, with its biggest moment being Top Gun: Maverick breaking Avengers: Infinity War's domestic total.
At the end of June, Top Gun: Maverick became the first movie since 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home to gross over $1 billion at the box office, as well as the first (and so far, only) movie of 2022 to cross this coveted benchmark. In a surprising twist, DC and Marvel’s superhero movies aren’t the films that led the box office in summer 2022, with Doctor Strange 2 taking third place behind Jurassic World Dominion, and Minions: The Rise of Gru sitting comfortably as the fourth highest-grossing 2022 movie worldwide. July 2022 continued to see several new movies cross $100 million at the box office, which seemed to indicate that the pandemic-era theatrical woes were beginning to fade.
Related: Every Box Office Record Broken By Top Gun: Maverick
August 2022, however, has seen a notable box office slump that reflects the pre-Top Gun 2 resurgence. Considering August is usually a successful month for films in theaters, it’s surprising that so few have been released during this time period in 2022. The major releases this month were Bullet Train, Three Thousand Years of Longing, Beast, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, and The Invitation, only one of which has passed $100 million at the worldwide box office. To top it off, the final weekend of the month marked a historically low weekend at the box office that reflected similar domestic numbers to August 2020 and 2021, both of which were heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the summer blockbuster season is meant to be a thriving period for theatrical releases, August 2022 is a troubling follow-up to the June and July box office numbers.
The domestic box office total for the weekend of August 26 was approximately $52.7 million, which is the lowest since early 2022. Even worse, the number one film of the weekend was The Invitation, which accumulated around $7 million domestically – the lowest performance for a box office chart-topper since May 2021. George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing was also a big box office bomb, bringing in a meager $2.9 million in its opening weekend against a budget of $60 million. The Idris Elba-starring survival thriller Beast has brought in $36.2 million at the box office in its first two weekends, but is expected to continue to drop off in the coming weeks. Bodies, Bodies, Bodies has earned just under $10 million throughout its run, while David Leitch's Bullet Train had the only big turnout of the month with $173.6 million worldwide, but for a star-studded action-thriller, this is still a fairly mediocre performance.
After fierce competition in June and July, August was left with smaller films that featured nowhere near the same marketing levels of summer 2022’s biggest box office hits. Unless Three Thousand Years of Longing sees a better second-weekend performance, September may kick off with its highest-performing movies being ones that weren’t even released in 2022, as 1975’s Jaws and 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home are having limited re-releases beginning September 2. Despite so many movies being delayed to 2022 due to the pandemic, it seems that studios forgot to schedule blockbusters for end-of-the-season cleanups in August. Unexpectedly, most of the month’s biggest movies have been exclusive streaming releases with the likes of Hulu’s Predator prequel Prey and Paramount’s Orphan: First Kill. While May, June, and July proved movie theaters no longer had to worry about streaming taking away from box office potential, August 2022’s low-marketed and niche debuts are set to put the year’s box office in an unexpected drought until the end of September.
When considering how many summer 2022 movies made over $500 million or became official blockbusters, this season has still proven to be the most promising since the pandemic; it’s just being sadly undermined by August’s box office duds. The historically low weekend totals in August 2022 are worrying in terms of the lack of marketing for such films and studio errors in the release schedule for the rest of the year. Summer 2022 demonstrated that blockbusters were back, and the movies that succeeded didn’t have to cater to Marvel audiences.
Related: Is Thor: Love & Thunder's Box Office A Worrying Sign For The MCU?
August 2022’s inability to maintain the momentum set by June and July should be a cautionary tale for studios scheduling films for 2023, and particularly when deciding which should have exclusive theatrical releases. Had Prey been released in theaters, August 2022 may have boasted another success story, but instead the season is being closed out by re-releases. Summer 2022’s box office is certainly not worrying in itself, but August is an example of the pitfalls of bunching all the major releases within two months rather than spreading them out in a holistic effort.
The lack of any sustainable film releases in August 2022 means the box office will be in somewhat of a drought for the majority of September 2022. The re-releases of box office smashes Spider-Man: No Way Home and Jaws will bring in late-summer audiences at the beginning of September, with Avatar also having a re-release beginning September 23. The next 2022 film release that is expected to perform well at the box office is Olivia Wilde’s thriller Don’t Worry Darling, which premieres on September 23 and stars Florence Pugh, Harry Styles, and Chris Pine. As one of the two movies that Warner Bros. could afford to release for the last quarter in 2022, the studio seems to be banking on Don’t Worry Darling as an early-fall success story.
It won’t be until a few weeks later that theaters will start to pick up again, with anticipated movies like Amsterdam, Halloween Ends, and Black Adam serving as the key releases in October 2022. Halloween Kills was a shocking success story in October 2021, suggesting the trilogy-concluding Halloween Ends will perform even better with low competition. As a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson-starring DCEU superhero movie, Black Adam is also expected to clean up at the box office, and is apt to bring the 2022 box office back on track with early summer numbers.
Following Black Adam, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever releases in November, and is the MCU’s last hope to cross the $1 billion mark at the 2022 box office. Considering Black Panther was a massive success at the box office in February 2018, the sequel is certain to be a chart-topper for Disney’s 2022 releases. However, the biggest remaining competition for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Top Gun: Maverick’s number one movie title is December’s Avatar: The Way of Water, Disney's sequel to the 2009 movie that still holds the record for highest-grossing film of all time. Also premiering within these last few guaranteed blockbusters are Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans and the family-oriented Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, both of which are apt to contribute to an improvement in the 2022 box office.
Jordan Williams is a Movie/TV Feature Senior Staff Writer for Screen Rant. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2020 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Media Studies. Jordan is based in Seattle, Washington and enjoys exploring the natural beauty the PNW has to offer. She runs on coffee and classic movies, taking pride in having watched every film on AFI’s 100 Greatest Films list and every Best Picture Oscar winner.

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