Why are there so few movies in theaters these days?

After Bullet Train, the Sony action movie starring Brad Pitt, hits theaters next week, the list of films for August, September and October is deserted. It’s hard to find any blockbusters in the mix. In fact, there aren’t many movies that could go beyond $50 million at the box office until Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which doesn’t debut until November 11th.
The film shortage comes in a year already well behind Hollywood’s pre-pandemic release. According to the data, there have been 63 nationwide releases in North America so far in 2019. Komskor (SCOR). This year there are 39 of them, which is 38% less than three years ago.
Despite lagging behind, 2022 has largely held its own. Ticket sales are about 30% below pre-pandemic levels in 2019, which is pretty good given the lack of movies in theaters.

So where are all the films? There is still a lot being produced and released, but a lot of it is either heading straight for streaming or being put on hold because the industry is experiencing the same problems as the rest of the economy.

In short, Hollywood has supply chain problems.

Slow down in Tinseltown

“A number of long-standing issues related to backing up supply chains and production lines have impacted various films,” Sean Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com, told CNN Business. “It’s important to remember that in most cases, studios plan their release strategies from six months to a year or more.”

While summer films were “a resounding success” in theaters, the industry is “still trying to catch up with audience sentiment and expectations for new content on the big screen,” Robbins added.

Think back two years ago when studios delayed movie releases almost every day as the coronavirus pandemic rocked Hollywood. The echoes of these decisions are still being felt today.

There’s another reason movie theaters may be missing the normal amount of movies: streaming.

As streaming becomes more of a priority for media companies, studios are now supplying both theaters and streamers. Some films that seem ideal for theaters, such as 20th Century Studios’ Prey, the next installment in the Predator franchise, are heading exclusively to streaming rather than the big screen. In fact, a lot of 20th Century Studio and Searchlight Pictures movies are now just being sent to Hulu.

“It’s no secret that studios are looking to diversify their distribution strategies, while streamers are looking to expand content offerings and compete among subscribers,” Robbins said.

A live streaming strategy makes sense for many films. And “a big-budget film sent straight to streaming may initially have a low box office ceiling,” Robbins added. Otherwise, “there would be no point in cutting off this lucrative revenue stream.”

Silver lining

While there may not be as many hit films in theaters over the next few weeks, there will still be movies worth watching.

There are smaller films, such as the A24 horror film Bodies, Bodies, Bodies, which will premiere on August 5, the convoluted Don’t Worry Darling starring Florence Pugh and Harry Styles, which will be released on September 23, the romantic comedy Bros “. September 30th, Halloween Ends, the next and arguably last installment in the Halloween franchise, October 14th and Black Adam, a superhero movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, October 21st.

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Any of these films can surprise and find the viewer.

There will even be blockbusters from the past hitting theaters with IMAX re-releases of ET: Alien in August and Jaws in September.

Also, due to the lack of films in theaters, this summer’s hits like Top Gun: Maverick and Minions: The Rise of Gru may continue to increase ticket sales.

So cinemas have a few silver linings in the next few months. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Wakanda Forever, Hollywood’s next big hope for blockbusters, seems to be drifting away forever.

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