Fans of Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Edgar Wright, Pablo Larraín, Chloe Zhao (wearing her Nomadland hat), of any other “grown-up” filmmaker and of musicals (anyone?) – look away now. For you, the UK box-office charts for 2021 make for sobering reading.
The Top 20 was dominated by blockbusters and comic-book adaptations, by family films and deathless franchises.
Between No Time To Die at #1 and PAW Patrol: The Movie at #20, only A Quiet Place Part II (#14) offers anything like non-“event” filmmaking. West Side Story, House of Gucci, Last Night in Soho, Spencer – even in a partially locked-down pandemic year, their ticket take was at best, heroic, at worst, meagre and worrying.
It’s in part evidence that even slightly older movie-goers are still wary of returning to the pictures. And of the fact that even a cinematic titan like Spielberg can’t reboot a wide love for musicals. These days, the only Sharks or Jets we like are being ridden by Jason Momoa or blasting off to Pandora.
Little wonder, then, that in 2022, the theatrical experience will be dominated by big-screen spectacle and proven IPs. That means superheroes (and supporting baddies) galore (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, The Batman, Aquaman 2, Thor: Love and Thunder, Morbius, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, The Flash) and franchise returns (Avatar 2, Jurassic World 3, John Wick: Chapter 4, Top Gun Maverick, Mission: Impossible 7).
As forewarned by 2021’s box office hits and misses, in the bums-on-seats-takes, even Baz Luhrmann’s keenly-anticipated Elvis might be outgunned by DC League of Super-Pets. Yelp.
Still, at least cinemas will be actually, properly open all year. Won’t they?