Is Cinema coming back?

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Scream VI, released on March 10, 2023, as an addition to the “Scream,” franchise. It made over 150 million at the box office and is one of the biggest horror movies of 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Nadia Ferjani)

The film industry hit a decline when COVID-19 broke out. Production companies were unable to film, movie theaters shut down, and people turned to streaming services to watch movies. The aftermath has been messy, but cinemas are seeing a noticeable increase in the quality and quantity of movies returning to their screens.

The Impacts of COVID-19

Going to the local theater and getting the popcorn and soda to see the new film starring your favorite actors has always been a cherished activity for Americans. However, when the pandemic started, quarantine prevented people from going out to see any new movies.

In 2019 there were 1.2 billion movie tickets sold in the United States. However, in 2020 this number was reduced by one billion due to the pandemic. This lost the box office almost 10 billion dollars; due to this the average price of tickets increased from $9.16 to $10.40 in less than two years. (The Numbers.)

The price increase only made it harder for theaters to sell tickets as people would rather pay a similar price a month for a streaming service with an abundance of movies and shows than a ticket for a single movie.

Other Hardships in the Cinema Industry

Though COVID-19 is the main reason for such a decline in all aspects of the cinema industry, COVID-19 can not take full blame. The general quality of movies has also just gone down.  While it’s hard to pinpoint a direct reason for the decline in the quality of movies, some that could be considered are the vast number of movies makes it harder to come up with an original idea that will perform well, and the Writers Guild of America (WGA) writers’ strike that’s taken place which postponed the release of movies that have been ready for years.

An example of an original idea flopping would be The Tomorrow War. Released in 2021 and starring notable actors such as Chris Pratt and J. K. Simmons. The budget for the movie was 200 million, however, it lost 180 million dollars at the box office. 

When original ideas, that are made by legit production companies, such as Paramount Pictures, and even have notable actors in them lose millions of dollars, large production companies take note and become discouraged from making original productions (which is why remakes are performing the best now). 

The WGA is a company that employs over 12,000 writers in America, these writers are the ones who create content and ideas for companies like Disney, Sony, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros Recently a strike ended that involved writers stopping all work and actors stopping all participating in filming and promoting (2023 Writers Strike-Parade.) Which cost over 6 billion in business impacts and lost wages in production-heavy states like California and Georgia. (WGA Strike.)

Though the WGA strike took place in 2023 from May to September, the problems writers faced started way before that. In 2022, production companies such as Disney and Warner Bros were laying off writers and cutting wages.  According to WGA itself,  “A significant development in the 2020 season – which impacted all TV series writers – was a 24% decline in total jobs on television series from the prior year.” (WGA Inclusion Report). This only further damaged the industry. 

The Return of Cinema:

According to USA Today the WGA strike came to an end in September because production companies agreed on a “three-year contract deal,” that will increase the pay for workers, who will receive health and pension contributions. 

Following the writer’s strike ending, multiple movies that were postponed, because actors and writers refused to promote them during the strike, were finally released. Such as “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.” Which was the number-one movie in the world the following two weeks after its release. 

Aside from the new “Hunger Games,” the movie “Wonka,” was released on December 15 worldwide and has already made 150 million dollars at the box office. 

What the new “Hunger Games,” movie and the “Wonka,” movie have in common is that they are both extensions of prior existing pieces of films. “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” is a prequel to the famous “Hunger Games,” series, and “Wonka,” is a remake of a childhood favorite movie. 

In 2023, notably, a lot of the big hits in cinema being released are either remakes or appendages to existing popular media. Such as Barbie, which currently sits as the number one movie of 2023 according to IMDB.  

Lyla Carpetto, a sophomore, stated, “I hadn’t gone to the movie theaters for like two years until Barbie came out, and I went with friends.” 

Another example is Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse, which made over 650 million at the box office. 

Daisy Whitfield, a senior working at the Regal at Brier Creek said: “Most of the movies that have recently come out are like sequels, such as Spider-Man, Trolls, Saw X, The Nun, Creed, have had like really big turn-ups.” 

The reason for this can be linked back to what was stated earlier, that production companies have taken notice of the fact that original ideas are less likely to succeed. So, while the cinema industry is working to build itself back up, it has to go back to what worked before, which is why remakes and films adjunct to popular media are being released so copiously. 

Whitfield continued: “For Creed III and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse we would have rows of people still until we stopped showing it… they’d have more people than the other theaters.” 

Theaters have sold over 800 million tickets so far in 2023, and with the release of “Wonka,” on December 15 that number should increase drastically. Only 4 million tickets away from recovering back to what it used to be in 2019. It is safe to say cinema is coming back. 

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