Picture this: It’s summertime in the mid-2000s. You’re stocked up on candy and popcorn. And ready to sit in a massive air-conditioned room. You can only be headed to one place: the movie theater. If that visual struck a chord, that’s because the hottest movies of the year came out between Memorial Day and Labor Day in our childhoods.
Those days might feel like forever ago. In part because COVID-19 has turned movie-going into movie-sitting-at-home. Even during the popular blockbuster summer season. But experts say the film industry might be going back to its pre-COVID ways. Our "Skimm This" team talked to Rebecca Rubin — a film and media reporter at Variety — about the changes in Hollywood. And what movies to check out this summer. Listen to the full convo below. And keep scrolling for more.
How summer turned into blockbuster release season
Summer blockbuster season all started when Stephen Spielberg's “Jaws” hit theaters in June 1975 (and scared people from swimming in the ocean). The movie became the first to earn $100 million at the box office. And since its premiere, Hollywood has spent a lot of marketing dollars to make sure other summer releases would be just as successful.
“Traditionally summer is one of the busiest times of year to go to the movies. And that's because people are on vacation, kids are out of school,” Rubin explained. “That period, from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day, is really the time of year that studios are ushering out their biggest movies because people go more often than they normally would.”
She also told us that box offices would reportedly earn up to 40% of their annual revenue during the summer. Until the pandemic hit.
“People haven't been going to the movies as much as they were pre-pandemic. And so studios were holding back a lot of their big movies. And then by the effect of that, people weren't going to the movies as frequently because there just wasn't as much to see,” she said.
But now that much the country seems to be going back to ‘normal,’ Hollywood is too.
The most anticipated movies coming out this summer
“Hollywood studios and movie theaters are hoping that people who have spent the past two years watching movies and TV shows from home are feeling tired of that and burnt out by that and wanting a different experience,” Rubin told us.
We've already gotten a preview of what this summer movie season could bring. Enter: Marvel’s latest movie “Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” It had a record-breaking opening for May. Raking in at least $185 million, and becoming the second biggest domestic movie launch since the pandemic. It's also the 11th biggest opening weekend in North American history.
“It’s the first big return to summer blockbuster season that we've seen since the pandemic has begun…And what was very exciting to people who work in the movie theater business is that that movie made as much money as it probably would have in pre-pandemic times,” Rubin said.
Before you ask: Yes, Marvel movies typically do well at the box office. But studios are optimistic that success for certain kinds of movies will lure in movie-goers to see other blockbusters this summer. So we asked Rubin what other movies are expected to be summer hits.
"Top Gun: Maverick"
The details: It’s the sequel to the OG “Top Gun” from 1986. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (aka Tom Cruise), one of the Navy’s top pilots, is put on assignment to train graduates “for a specialized mission.”
Release date: May 27
Why you don’t want to miss it: Rubin pointed to the fact that we all love nostalgia. And that studios are going all-in on that. Which brings us to…
"Jurassic World Dominion"
The details: It’s the final film in the “Jurassic World” series. This one begins four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed and dinosaurs live all over the world. And we’ll finally find out whether dinosaurs or humans will be the top predator. Expect to see familiar faces like Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum from the original ‘90s film.
Release date: June 10
Why you don’t want to miss it: Did we mention, nostalgia?
The details: Surprise…this one’s all about the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley. Baz Luhrmann (who directed “Moulin Rouge” and “The Great Gatsby,”) directed this one. Austin Butler will be playing the heart throb. Tom Hanks is playing his manager.
Release date: June 24
Why you don’t want to miss it: You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’s never heard of Elvis. “Since so many people are familiar with his music, that could be a big one to get people to theaters, because right on the name alone, you don't have to explain to people what the movie is going to be about,” Rubin said.
The details: Jordan Peele, director of “Get Out” and “Us,” is back with another psychological thriller. The details are on the DL, but we know that Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya (also in “Get Out”) are starring in it.
Release date: July 22
Why you don’t want to miss it: Peele’s movies have generated a lot of buzz in the past. And Rubin mentioned that if “Nope” gets the same attention, “there could be a resurgence of people going to the movies.”
Whether blockbuster season is back forever, or it’s just a summer fling, remains to be seen. In the meantime, we’re ready for the entertainment that Hollywood is about to bring.
PS: For more on this topic, check out our “Skimm This” episode.
PPS: The Walt Disney Company is a minority investor in theSkimm
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