Movies love a back story. This summer, it’s their turn.

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This summer at the movies, Tom Cruise is back in the cockpit of these iconic aviators. Doctors Grant, Sattler and Ian Malcolm return for another ride with the dinosaurs. Natalie Portman picks up Thor’s hammer. And Jordan Peele is about to terrify us with the unknown. Again.

Hollywood is showcasing some of its biggest and most trusted cast members for the 2022 summer movie season, which unofficially kicks off this weekend with help from Marvel and Disney’s ‘Doctor Strange and the Multitverse of Madness’ and unfolds until the end of August. It’s an uncertain time for the film industry, as studios and exhibitors are still making up for losses incurred during the pandemic and adapting to new ways of doing business, including shortened release windows, competition from streaming and the need to power their own services. And everyone wonders if cinema will ever return to pre-pandemic levels.

But although the pandemic lingers, there is optimism in the air.

“We’re still waiting for older audiences to come back. But it really feels like we’ve turned a corner,” said Jim Orr, head of domestic distribution for Universal Pictures. “It feels like audiences want to come out, want to be in theaters. I think it’s going to be an amazing summer.”

Studio executives and movie stars chatted with theater owners and exhibitors at a convention in Las Vegas last week, proudly touting films they believe will bring audiences back to theaters this week. after week.

Expectations are particularly high for “Top Gun: Maverick,” which Paramount Pictures will release on May 27 after two years of pandemic postponements. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer says he never once gave up trying to release ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ — a full-throttle action movie made with lots of aerial photography, practical effects and up to six cameras inside the cockpits of fighter jets — exclusively in theaters.

“It’s the kind of film that embraces the experience of going to the theatre. It takes you away. It transports you. We always say: We’re in the transportation business. We transport you from one place to another, and that’s what ‘Top Gun’ does,” Bruckheimer said. “There is a lot of accumulated demand for certain films and I hope that we will be part of it.”

The film industry has already had several notable successes over the past six months, including ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’, now the third highest-grossing film of all time, ‘The Batman’, https://www .texarkanagazette. com/news/2022/may/05/movies-love-a-comeback-story-this-summer-its/ “The Lost City” and, although smaller, “Everything Everywhere All At Once”. The hope is that the momentum will only pick up in the coming months.

Before the pandemic, the summer movie season could reliably produce more than $4 billion in ticket sales, or about 40% of the year’s revenue according to Comscore. But in 2020, with theaters closed for most of the season and most releases pushed back, that total has dropped to $176 million. Last summer showed a marked improvement with $1.7 billion, but things were barely back to normal – many opted to delay releases further or employ hybrid strategies.

Now everyone is refocusing on the theater, even if the slates are thinner. Ticketing service Fandango recently surveyed more than 6,000 ticket buyers and 83% said they plan to see three or more movies on the big screen this summer. And, not insignificant, Netflix also announced its first loss of subscribers in 10 years last month and expects to lose two million more this quarter.

“Finally, it’s movie time, with blockbuster after blockbuster after blockbuster after blockbuster,” said Adam Aron, president and CEO of AMC Theatres, the nation’s largest theater chain. He touted franchises like “Doctor Strange 2,”https://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/2022/may/05/movies-love-a-comeback-story-this-summer-its/”Top Gun 2 ,” https://www.texarkanagazette.com/news/2022/may/05/movies-love-a-comeback-story-this-summer-its/”Jurassic World: Dominion” (June 10) and “Thor: Love and Thunder” (July 8), “new cinematic concepts” like Jordan Peele’s “Nope” (July 22) and “Elvis” (June 24) and family offerings from “Lightyear” (June 17) to “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (July 1).

“It’s a bold statement, but this summer could potentially be on par with 2019, which would be monumental for the film industry,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for Comscore.

Analysts predict “Doctor Strange 2” could open to $170 million this weekend, double the first film. Marvel and Disney then follow that up with the new Thor, which picks up with Hemsworth’s character traveling with the Guardians of the Galaxy after “Endgame” and wondering “what now?”

“Thor is just trying to figure out his purpose, trying to figure out exactly who he is and why he’s a hero or if he should be a hero,” said director Taika Waititi. “I guess you could call it a midlife crisis.”

The film brings back Portman’s Jane Foster, who becomes The Mighty Thor, Waititi’s Korg and Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie, and adds Russell Crowe as Zeus and Christian Bale as Gorr the God Butcher. Waititi said it was the craziest film he had ever made.

“It’s a great, really fun and weird little band of heroes, a new team up for Thor with Korg, Valkyrie and The Mighty Thor,” Waititi said. “And, in my humble opinion, we have probably the best villain Marvel has ever had in Christian Bale.”

But superhero movies alone aren’t a healthy or particularly compelling cinematic landscape. There must be options for theaters to survive.

“Our business can’t be limited to tentpoles and branded IP. We really need to continue to offer as broad a list as possible,” Orr said. “We have something for every segment of the public. The public wants it and the exhibitors want it.”

Universal prides itself on its diverse summer lineup that includes some dinosaur mast, family entertainment, thrillers and horrors, comedies like “Easter Sunday” (August 5) and Focus Features period charmers like “Downton Abbey : A New Era” (May 20) and “Mrs. Harris goes to Paris” (July 15).

Blumhouse powerhouse producer and director Jason Blum hopes Scott Derrickson’s supernatural horror “The Black Phone,” starring Ethan Hawke in a rare villain role, will be the “non-superhero movie of the summer.” when it hits theaters on June 24.

There’s more to come to theaters than just franchises. There are literary adaptations, like “Where the Crawdads Sing,” starring Daisy Edgar-Jones, nonstop action rides like “Bullet Train” (July 29), starring Brad Pitt and Sandra Bullock, Baz’s drama Luhrmann on the life and music of Elvis Presley, a tiny shell mockumentary (“Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” June 24), Regency-era fun in “Mr. Malcolm’s List” (1st July) and creepy hair like “Watcher” (June 3), “Bodies, Bodies, Bodies” and “Resurrection” (both August 5).

“Annihilation” writer-director Alex Garland also has a new thriller, “Men,” which hits theaters May 20. Jessie Buckley plays a woman who retreats to the English countryside for some peace after a personal tragedy only to be faced with more horrors from the men of this quaint town, all of whom are played by Rory Kinnear.

As someone who makes original and thought-provoking films for the big screen, Garland is a bit worried about the film industry and the seismic shifts happening below the surface that are “part cultural and part economic.”

“Whenever an interesting movie comes out and underperforms, I feel a kind of gnawing anxiety about it,” Garland said. “If the only films that make money are for younger audiences, something cultural changes. Something changes in the types of films that are funded, why they are funded.”

“It almost seems old-fashioned or actually rather boring, but I think there’s value in filmmaking,” he added. “A movie like ‘Men’ works differently in a theater. Not being able to stop it until it’s finished means it has a qualitatively different effect.”

Streaming companies, meanwhile, are still going strong. Netflix has a huge summer slate of over 35 movies, including spy thriller “The Gray Man” (July 22), directed by the Russo Brothers and starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans and “Spiderhead” ( June 17), with Chris Hemsworth. There’s a documentary about Jennifer Lopez (“Halftime,” June 14), an Adam Sandler basketball club (“Hustle,” June 8) and a Kevin Hart/Mark Wahlberg buddy pic (“Me Time,” June 26). august).

Some of the most interesting titles from this year’s Sundance Film Festival are also being streamed, including “Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” (Hulu), “Cha Cha Real Smooth” (Apple TV+), “Emergency” (Amazon, ) and “Am I okay?” (HBO Max).

“Streaming has its place in the world, but it’s not the only thing in the world,” said Blum, convinced that there is still an appetite for theaters. “There were people saying the movies were over. I never thought about it, but I was worried about the demand that was left. But it looks like this part of our world isn’t going away anytime soon.”

For Bruckheimer, the equation is perhaps even simpler.

“It’s all about movies. It’s always about movies. If there’s things people want to see, they’re going to show up,” Bruckheimer said. “I always use the analogy: you have a kitchen in your apartment or house, but you like to go out to eat. You want a different meal.”

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