New releases are heating up the summer box office.
“A Quiet Place Part II” scared up some big numbers for a sequel released late last month following the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was a success. It outgrossed the original for opening, which is very rare. Normally, it’s the other way around,” said Stephen Mann, CEO of Mann Theatres, which owns the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter. “The comments on the picture have been just fantastic. I mean people really love the picture a lot. It’s held up well.”
Theater operators nationwide hope box office revenues continue to climb as more Americans are vaccinated and the number of COVID-19 cases continue to decline, which some moviegoers and Hollywood studios view as reasons the entertainment industry is rebounding.
The release of director John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place Part II” was delayed from last year like many other major motion pictures due to the pandemic and studios’ reluctance to release big-budget films to theaters with limited capacity due to restrictions on social gatherings.
“Then we came back with a one-two punch and opened the new one from Warner Bros. called ‘The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It,’ which was kind of along the same lines … and that opened up very strong,” Mann said Thursday, June 10.
“A Quiet Place Part II” opened ahead of Memorial Day with $48 million at the U.S. box office, the best showing since the onset of COVID-19, according to Variety. A spinoff to the Paramount Pictures film is scheduled to be released in 2023.
“This weekend, we are opening two new films as well, including ‘In the Heights,’ which the word on is very, very good. Now, it’s not for everybody. It’s a musical, but the word-of-mouth on it has been good. The reviews are great,” Mann said.
“In the Heights” is a musical with music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who created and starred in the Broadway musical “Hamilton,” which was later filmed and shown on Disney+.
“Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway” was released Friday after numerous delays from its original February 2020 release date due to the pandemic. The live-action/computer-animated adventure comedy is a sequel to the 2018 hit starring Rose Byrne, Domhnall Gleeson and Sam Neill.
“We need family movies, you know, in the Midwest. Our audiences are really family-driven — they really are — so I’m looking for good things out of ‘Peter Rabbit 2,’” Mann said. “Sony put on a presentation for us. It’s cute. It’s a cute picture, so I have high hopes for that.”
The U.S. box office plummeted 80% and global revenue dropped 71% last year amid the pandemic, so theaters are looking forward to the release of new films such as “Black Widow,” “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” “F9: The Fast Saga,” “Top Gun: Maverick” and “No Time to Die.”
“Down the line, we’ve got the new ‘The Fast and the Furious’ sequel, you know, ‘F9’ coming out June 25, which should probably be the big picture of the summer,” Mann said.
Star Vin Diesel has even appeared in commercials for the eighth sequel — which had five previous release dates in the U.S. between 2019 and 2021 in part because of the pandemic — encouraging people to watch it in theaters.
“We’ve got ‘The Boss Baby’ sequel, which is an animated film from Universal on July 2. And then you’ve got the big one from Disney on July 9, ‘Black Widow,’ so, you know, just the early part of the summer, you know, certainly looks good,” Mann said.
“Black Widow” is a superheroine movie starring Scarlett Johansson, who appeared as the comic book character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The feature film was delayed three times from an original May 2020 release date due to the pandemic.
“The best thing that’s happened to us is the distributors finally are not jockeying films around. Now, they haven’t moved any back, they haven’t moved any up. … It’s settled down the last month. Everything is in place, which is good,” Mann said.
The National Association of Theatre Owners is a trade organization, and it conducted a survey that was promising, according to Mann.
“‘In the Heights,’ which is a musical picture, they had a survey that was done … and of the people that want to see it, 86% of them haven’t been back to a theater since the pandemic started, so that’s a good sign,” Mann said.
The National Association of Theatre Owners represents more than 35,000 movie screens in all 50 states. The association conducted surveys on how comfortable people felt about watching a movie in the theater during the pandemic.
“In their latest survey on that, it came back that it was only 5% that said they weren’t comfortable coming back to a theater,” Mann said, noting the vaccines have done a lot for the industry.
Warner Bros. will continue to roll out its movies simultaneously on HBO Max and in theaters at least through 2021, a measure it took because of the pandemic.
“The business is starting to come around,” Mann said. “We’re not back to 2019 numbers, but every week it’s starting to get better, and I see no reason for it not to continue to do that.”
For a listing of new movie release dates, visit bit.ly/3iEgnSO.