Box Office Bulletin: Disney, Paramount Ratings on 2022 Movies

TECHNOLOGY
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Two years ago, there was serious concern that the box office would bounce back from the pandemic. In 2021, “Spider-Man: No Way Home” and the James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” provided glimmers of hope that movie theaters were not, in fact, relics of the past. But it took until 2022 for theaters to truly re-establish their value to Hollywood.

And for the first time in a long time, it wasn’t just superheroes that held up the box office. In fact, the year’s top-grossing film was “Top Gun: Maverick,” the sequel to a film that opened nearly four decades ago, while Baz Luhrmann’s brilliant biopic “Elvis,” Universal’s star-studded romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise” and A24’s indie “Everything Everywhere All at Once” proved that there’s a real opportunity for bold swings to resonate with audiences.

But with the heartfelt return of movies comes those pesky but inevitable flops. And this year, there were some doozies. The failure of Disney’s “Lightyear” and “Strange World” has cast serious doubt on the future of family movies. Meanwhile, the highly rated “Bros” and “She Said” highlight the challenges facing mid-budget fare.

Overall, the domestic box office has taken in $7.4 billion so far in 2022, according to Comscore. Those ticket sales remain 33% short of the $10.6 billion generated in 2019, the latest normal box office period. That’s in part because studios released fewer movies throughout the year, but the decline can’t just be attributed to COVID-related production delays. It may also indicate a change in drinking habits.

Before the year ends, Variety took a look at how major studios fared at the global box office over the last 12 months.

disney

tall: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($955 million), “Thor: Love and Thunder” ($760 million) “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” ($800 million and counting), “Avatar: The Way of Water” ( $955 million and counting)
lows: “Death on the Nile” ($137 million), “Lightyear” ($226 million), “Amsterdam” ($31 million), “Strange World” ($54 million)
note: B-
Apprenticeship: What a difference a few years and a pandemic can make. In 2019, Disney did no wrong at the box office, breaking records with an incredible seven billion dollar blockbuster. At this point in the year, none of its movies have hit that particular benchmark, though “Avatar: The Way of Water” will cross $1 billion at any given time. To be fair, only two other movies this year managed to reach that milestone, but you’d think with three Marvel movies on the schedule, at least one would have a fighting chance. In addition to winning over pre-existing franchises, Disney has weathered a number of embarrassing big-budget mistakes. It’s especially troubling that Pixar, once the gold standard of children’s fare, hasn’t touched consumers for quite some time. Of course, Disney’s mistakes still outweigh most studios’ biggest wins, but Magic Kingdom spends good money to make and market its movies, resulting in high levels of success. Superheroes will be fine in 2023, but when it comes to the rest of the roster, the studio’s newly reinstated CEO Bob Iger certainly has a lot of work ahead of him.

Paramount

tall: “Top Gun: Maverick” ($1.488 billion), “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” ($402 million), “Smile” ($216 million), “The Lost City” ($190 million), “Scream ” ($140 million), “Jackass Forever” ($80 million)
lows: “Babylon” ($5.3 million and counting)
note: ONE
Apprenticeship: It’s hard to underestimate Paramount’s unlikely box office recovery. After being canceled in the early days of the pandemic, the studio enjoyed a near-perfect run (the good times were slightly marred by “Babylon”) with back-to-back hits across all genres. It’s especially impressive that Paramount’s 2022 slate appealed to lovers of rom-coms, slapstick and classic American action, with “Jackass Forever” and “The Lost City” catering to demographics that previously struggled to appeal to audiences. And, of course, there’s the blockbuster “Top Gun: Maverick,” Tom Cruise’s decades-long production sequel, which was unlikely to be a winner. However, it has become inescapably popular, and not just among fans of the original. Anyone who pays attention to pop culture felt the need to check out the hype, taking the film to $1.488 billion globally and making it the highest-grossing release of the year. Tom Cruise, box office gods salute you.

sony

tall: “Uncharted” ($401 million), “Bullet Train” ($293 million), “Where the Crawdads Sing” ($140 million), “The Woman King” ($92 million)
lows: “Morbius” ($167 million), “Father Stu” ($21 million), “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” ($87 million), “Devotion” ($17 million), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” ($9.5 million)
note: B
Apprenticeship: Sony spent much of the year on a high with “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which debuted in December 2021 but continued to sell tickets through the summer. With its 2022 offerings, the studio has taken some risks that have paid off, such as the video game adaptation and franchise starter “Uncharted,” the Viola Davis action epic “The Woman King,” and the literary adaptation “Where the Crawdads Sing”. Jared Leto’s comic book movie “Morbius” wasn’t a total disaster, as it cost $75 million, but that’s hardly enough currency to deserve sequels and spinoffs that rival Disney’s adventures in the MCU. And “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” joined the list of underperforming family films of the year. “Devotion,” budgeted at $90 million, which Sony distributed but did not finance, was the only sore failure. By keeping budgets in check, the studio helped prove that there’s still room for originality at the box office.

Universal

Tall: “Jurassic World Dominion” ($1.001 billion), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” ($939 million), “The Black Phone” ($161 million), “Ticket to Paradise” ($165 million), “Halloween Ends” ($104 million), “No” ($171 million)
lows: “The 355” ($27 million), “The Northman” ($69 million), “Bros” ($14 million), “Easter Sunday” ($13 million), “She Said” ($10 million), ” The Fabelmans” ($10.5 million)
note: B+
Apprenticeship: Universal has gone for volume and variety in 2022, releasing far more movies from a much wider range of budgets and genres than their studio big brothers. However, the results were decidedly mixed. Universal’s flagship franchises “Jurassic World” and “Minions” delivered the box office hits they were supposed to, becoming some of the year’s biggest hits and propelling the studio to more than $3 billion worldwide. And horror movies like “The Black Phone” and “Nope” proved irresistible to audiences. But Universal’s efforts to extend to more artsy or adult-oriented fare have failed to reap dividends. Oscar-bait movies like “The Fabelmans” and “She Said” were flops — and their commercial meltdown is disturbing because, more often than not, critics thought they were really good. Quality, it seems, is not enough during a pandemic that refuses to go away.

Warner Bros.

tall: “The Batman” ($770 million), “Elvis” ($286 million), “Don’t Worry Darling” ($86 million), “DC League of Super-Pets” ($220 million)
lows: “Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore” ($405 million), “Black Adam” ($389 million)
note: B-
Apprenticeship: It wasn’t a very happy time to be in the house the Warner brothers built. With a new corporate leader at Warner Bros. Discovery, the studio embarked on a wave of cost-cutting, layoffs, and canceled projects that made it a pretty stressful place to work. So how did the studio fare amidst all the turmoil? OK. “The Batman” delivered the goods, with director Matt Reeves finding a new avenue for the oft-told tale of a masked avenger. “Elvis” has become one of the rare adult-oriented films to really hook up at the box office, while “Don’t Worry Darling” has ridden a wave of off-screen drama to must-see status while also providing us with some of the memes of 2022. -able moments (Miss Flo and Spitgate, we’re looking at you). But elsewhere, things didn’t go according to plan, with two franchise hopefuls leaving. “Fantastic Beasts” seems to have lost its magic touch, while “Black Adam” was a waste of time and a treasure that left DC’s new bosses opting out of Dwayne Johnson’s antihero.