Hollywood’s future has been changed forever. As expected, the December 2021 theatrical release of Spider-Man: No Way Home did not disappoint. When No Way Home finally arrived in theaters after two years of uncertainty, box office failures, vague streaming statistics, and a slew of delays due to tent poles, it set a new record for box office success. Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, and Tobey Maguire’s three Spider-Men drew in the biggest crowds since Avengers: Endgame in 2019.
Director Jon Watts’ threequel surpassed $2 billion at the global box office, making it the highest-grossing film of 2021 and the third most successful movie in North America ever. Heaviest-grossing domestically is Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens and Avengers: Endgame.
In spite of China’s refusal to release the film and ongoing COVID concerns, including an Omicron variant that spiked one month after the film’s release, all of this success was achieved. When Warner Bros. released all of their movies in theaters and on HBO Max and theater-only windows were reduced to 45 days by Disney, Universal, and Paramount, this combined production between Sony and Disney was given the “old school” theater treatment. For as long as people keep coming to see it, No Way Home will remain in theaters.
Sadly, No Way Home is a one-of-a-kind film for theater aficionados. As a result, the film industry and the way movies are distributed may have to change. When it comes to making money, movie studios have changed their definition of a “cash cow”. Marvel Studios has been responsible for five of the ten highest-grossing films each year since 2012.
When The Avengers was released in 2012, Marvel Studios’ film universe had a profound impact on the industry. Before seeing the four Avengers films, it was an obligation to see Ant-Man and the Guardians of the Galaxy in order to keep up with the overriding storyline that would be told over seven years in four separate films.
In the past, sequels were a sign that a studio wanted to cash in on the success of its predecessor. Having Spider-Man as a sequel to Captain America, and so on, is a game-changer in the MCU. There has never been another studio in Hollywood history that has produced as many interconnected films set in the same cohesive universe.
Avengers: Endgame (briefly) set the record for the highest-grossing film of all time at the global box office in 2019. Almost two years after the outbreak of a pandemic, No Way Home has cemented Hollywood’s future.
Tom Holland’s third Spider-Man film was “years in the making,” just like Endgame. With the use of villains such as Green Goblin, Doc Ock, and Electro in marketing, it was clear that Hollywood’s future would never be the same again. Spider-Man’s 19-year run on the big screen was brought to a close with this epic conclusion to a trilogy in the ever-expanding MCU. That’s the hook: a film featuring three distinct incarnations of Spider-Man in real-time.
This is well-known in the entertainment industry. For example, take a look at Jurassic World: Dominion. Trilogy wraps up, now marketed as the final chapter in Jurassic Park’s saga. Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill are among the original cast members who will reprise their roles in the upcoming sequel to Jurassic Park. Blasts from the past will also be a part of The Flash, which is scheduled for release in late 2022. Additionally, Michael Keaton will reprise his role as Superman in yet another multiverse adventure.
The Multiverse of Madness is bringing Professor X into the MCU. Twenty-two years ago, Patrick Stewart made his debut as Charles Xavier in X-Men. Rumors surrounding Benedict Cumberbatch’s sequel film include Tobey Maguire reuniting with Sam Raimi, Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool debuting in the MCU, and the return of a new Wolverine.
As blockbuster filmmaking enters the 2020s, studios have figured out this formula. Obi-Wan Kenobi will begin streaming on Disney+ in late May thanks to the comeback of Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen.
The director of Infinity War and Endgame, Joe Russo, recently addressed this trend, citing the “corporate agenda”:
“it’s their job to turn the money printer on. It’s the creative’s job to say, ‘Well shit, I don’t know if I want to watch that.'”
Companies like Disney, ViacomCBS, NBCUniversal, and Sony are all focused on making money by producing high-quality content. A global event film with recurring characters and potentially catastrophic stakes is the current recipe for a successful Hollywood future.
In 2020, when COVID-19 spread around the world, movie theaters became even less crowded than they already were. The global box office took in a record $38.8B in 2019. There will be just 7.9 billion people in the world in 2020, a 79.5 percent decrease.
For many years, as streaming services like Netflix and Amazon grew in popularity and home theater equipment became more affordable, movie theaters began to lose their appeal to the general public. From 2001 to 2007, Gallup found that the U.S. population saw an average of 4.8 movies a year in theaters, and only 32 percent said they never went to the cinema. When it came to movie theater attendance, 61% of Americans skipped the cinema in 2021; the average was down to just 1.4 films per person.
Everyone in the United States saw fewer than two films in 2013. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s Peter 2 and 3 are still taking a bite out of the box office with their latest film. In North America, No Way Home has become the third-highest-grossing film of all time. In 2021, only four out of ten people went to the movies.
It has already grossed more than $2 billion worldwide, making it the world’s highest-grossing film without a release in China. Nearly $200 million was made in China by Spider-Man: Far From Home last year. Nonetheless, this film was an exception to the rule in the year 2021. Shang-Chi and The Legend of the Ten Rings earned $224.5 million at the domestic box office, making it the second-highest-grossing domestic film of the year. During its opening weekend in North America, No Way Home raked in $260 million.
This was the first film to open without an asterisk in nearly two years because of a pandemic. Global pandemics make it difficult to imagine that this film would have done as well without them. Moviegoers packed theaters, endorsed the collective experience, and reawakened many people’s desire to have a cinematic experience together.
A lot was revealed about Hollywood in the future thanks to the movie 2021. When people feel safe, they’re less likely to go out and watch a movie. Many people would rather watch a movie on one of their streaming services than go to a movie theater. As the cost of large, 4K TVs decreases, the studios will keep promoting direct-to-consumer films, such as those on Netflix, Disney’s Pixar films, and Warner Bros.’ Batgirl, a big-budget comic book movie destined for HBO Max., will be released exclusively on Disney+.
Although upcoming 2022 films like The Batman, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Top Gun: Maverick, Jurassic World: Dominion, and Black Adam all have the potential to make money at the box office, as do The Flash, Aquaman, and The Flash. After a year of uncertainty, Jon Watts’ No Way Home demonstrated that and gave studio execs the confidence to release big-budget, star-driven, event movies to theaters again.
Direct-to-consumer movie libraries will be expanded as companies can compete in the Streaming Wars, but theaters will not go away. Been irrevocably altered by the pandemic? Yes. Lacking in the ability for studios to make significant profits? The answer is an unequivocal no.