The news: After 2020 saw theaters suffer delays, cancellations and closures, the first half of 2021 has been promising. The arrival of vaccines, followed by a low number of cases in early summer, heralded a return to normalcy quickly disrupted by the emergence of new variants, problems at the overseas box office and viewing habits. modified by the pandemic.
So how did the box office go in 2021, and what does that mean for the year ahead?
Franchises are the new blockbusters: Franchise films were the big box office winners in 2021, consistently drawing viewers into theaters despite the ongoing pandemic.
- Marvel Cinematic Universe movies Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings marked a successful return to the MCU, with strong opening weekends from $ 80 million and $ 75.5 million, respectively, although their box office performance was hampered by a number of issues.
- Black Widow’s debut may have been compromised by a double theatrical streaming release. But less than two months later, at the height of a delta variant wave, Shang-Chi broken opening weekend box office estimates $ 50 million, showing that the cultural power of MCU movies had not diminished.
- Franchise films Fast & Furious 9 and No time to die both suffered several delays related to the pandemic, but they still managed to make the top 10 grossing films of the year at the domestic box office, alongside all four Marvel offerings. The only movie without a sequel or franchise in the top 10 was free guy, through BoxOfficeMojo.
Franchise films have far surpassed films by famous and established directors. Ridley scott‘s The last duel crashed at the box office, and Steven spielbergis musical, West Side Story, also failed to attract enough viewers to theaters to break even.
The evolution of the economic model: While the franchise films have firmly established their claim this year, the issues that plagued the MCU show just how far the blockbuster model is evolving.
- Black Widow’s streaming debut yielded a Additional $ 60 million for Disney, but it was tainted with scandal after star Scarlett johansson the company sued, saying its contract included a traditional theatrical release. Shortly after Shang-Chi released, Disney announced it would release the rest of its 2021 lineup. exclusively at the cinema.
- To make matters worse, the Shang-Chi star Simu liu and Eternals director Chloe Zhao criticized the Chinese government, which then blocked the release of all four of the MCU’s 2021 films in the country, which Disney has increasingly used to increase box office figures.
Spider-Man breaks the rule: Outlook for Spider-Man: No Path Home, the last MCU movie of the year from Disney in partnership with Sony, looked grim as the holiday approached after the emergence of the omicron variant, and China issued another rejection. But the film managed to defy expectations, $ 1 billion at the global box office.
- After a patchy year in which the box office failed to reach pre-pandemic highs, Spider-Man’s performance at home, where it surpassed $ 500 million– and abroad shows that successful studios have a path to lucrative box office results. But they will have to depend less on China and adapt to the changing tastes of viewers who prefer to watch new films at home.