The hit film is making a comeback this summer

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After more than a year of benchmarking its biggest shows, Hollywood is once again ready to dazzle.

From F9 and In the Heights to The Suicide Squad and Black Widow, there will be a constant stream of blockbusters populating multiplexes across the country for the first time since March 2020. For a streaming weary audience, the promise of air conditioning, popcorn, soda from the fountains, 60-foot screens, and cutting-edge sound could be a welcome respite from the living room and virtual surveillance nights. Not to mention the always romantic concept of the shared experience.

For beleaguered cinemas, this is not a moment too soon.

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The modern summer movie season, which runs from May through Labor Day, consistently accounts for over $ 4 billion in revenue and accounts for about 40% of the year’s revenue. Last year, summer revenue was $ 176 million, down 96% from 2019. Although theaters have been ramping up operations for some time, this summer will prove to be the biggest test decisive to date whether habits have irrevocably changed during the pandemic.

In some ways, the schedule looks like a revamp from last summer. Many of the most anticipated releases were supposed to come out a year ago, including John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place Part II, May 28, the big screen adaptation of Lin’s Tony-winning In the Heights (June 11). -Manuel Miranda, the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious series, F9 (June 25), Marvel’s Black Widow (July 9) with Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson’s action adventure Jungle Cruise (July 30 ) and the reboot of Candyman by Nia DaCosta (August 27)).

in the heights Noah Catala, from left, Gregory Diaz IV, Corey Hawkins and Anthony Ramos in a scene from In the Heights. (Images by Macall Polay / Warner Bros via AP)

In the heights, director Jon M. Chu had to convince Miranda that it was worth the wait for a theatrical release. Miranda wanted to immediately let people know about her happy musical about bodega owner Usnavi (Anthony Ramos) and his friends in Washington Heights. But Chu knows how important a global release is for films with under-represented castings. Like Crazy Rich Asians, In the Heights features strangers in key roles who are ready for an escape with the right platform.

“We had big dreams for this,” Chu said. “Being able to do it on the largest scale possible meant a lot.”

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And that’s not the only Blue Sky blockbuster in the peloton. the Fast Furious The series has always been about creating a fun theatrical experience, and F9 not only brings back a fan favorite – Han from Sung Kang – but also literally sends cars into space. It is expected to be one of the biggest hits of the season.

“Whenever I get together with Vin (Diesel) and everyone to make these movies, we don’t even talk about the plot or something like that, but the feeling. I just remember as a kid, in the summer, saving enough money to go to the movies and share that experience with a bunch of strangers, ”director Justin Lin said. “When that moment comes and everyone laughs or claps together, it’s magic.”

Before the pandemic, going to the movies in summer was a ritual. Audiences made up for it last year by screening retro summer hits in drive-ins. Now, it’s a wildcard whether the promise of an “event movie” will motivate audiences to return to theaters, especially if something is available to watch at home as well.

space jam release Lebron James in a scene from Space Jam: A New Legacy. (Warner Bros. Entertainment via AP)

Space Jam: A New Legacy Director Malcom D. Lee called his film “the embodiment of a popcorn movie.” The sequel to Michael Jordan’s 1996 photo shows LeBron James now sharing the screen with classic Looney Toons characters.

Those looking for a more R-rated experience can thank James Gunn, who made movie stars with the once obscure Guardians of the Galaxy, and who is now ready to do the same for “misfit and Z-level supervillains.” by The Suicide Squad. He had his choice of DC characters and turned down Superman for Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport, and John Cena’s Peacemaker.

Gunn was inspired by one of his favorite genres: the war capers of the 1960s. Think, The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare.

“Reinvigorating that genre by just using those crappy supervillains as the protagonists was very appealing to me,” Gunn said.

the suicide squad A scene from The Suicide Squad. (Jessica Miglio / Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. via AP)

There are plenty of other options as well, including a host of reputable documentary titles, from Morgan Neville’s Roadrunner: A Movie About Anthony Bourdain (July 16) to The Beatles: Get Back by Peter Jackson (August 27). There are family movies, like Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (June 18) and Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (July 23) and horrors like The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It (June 4) and Don’t Breathe 2. (Aug. 13). You can see Matt Damon trying to save his daughter in the drama Stillwater (July 30) or watch Gael García Bernal start to age quickly in M. Night Shyamalan’s Old (July 23). Ryan Reynolds is in two big action movies, The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard (June 16) and Free Guy (August 13). There’s even an epic Dev Patel-led version of a classic Arthurian legend, The Green Knight, on July 30.

the green knight Dev Patel in a scene from The Green Knight. (A24 via AP)

“I’m really happy that our film was one of the shortlisted because I really want audiences to have the chance to see it on the big screen,” said The Green Knight director David Lowery. “It was obviously meant to be seen that way, but it’s also a weird movie and I think the idea of ​​having that experience in a movie theater with other people is going to be really, really exciting, especially after a year. away from the big screen. “

Some studios have recently cautiously rolled out bigger movies with decent results, like Godzilla vs. Kong. But after seven weeks, even this sock freak is still shy of breaking the $ 100 million mark domestically. And it’s unclear what the new criteria for success will be or whether a film has a chance of achieving something close to pre-pandemic expectations. The latest movie Fast opened for $ 98.8 million in 2017. Black Widow was once set for a launch of at least $ 90 million. So far this year, the largest national opening was just over $ 30 million.

For moviegoers, it has also become difficult to keep tabs on changing dates, delays, and cross-platform releases. Some summer-ready titles, like Top Gun: Maverick and the new James Bond, No Time To Die, don’t wait until later this year to debut. Jurassic World: Dominion has been pushed back until 2022. And changes are still underway, with some offloading titles to streaming services. Sony sold its Camilla Cabello and Billy Porter directed “Cinderella” to Amazon Prime and its Kevin Hart as a single Fatherhood picture to Netflix.

jungle cruise Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt in Jungle Cruise. (Frank Masi / Disney via AP)

Even films with theatrical debuts will either have unique hybrid release plans or shortened cinema windows. All Warner Bros. titles including In the Heights, The Suicide Squad, Space Jam will be available for free to HBO Max subscribers for 31 days as well as in theaters. Most Disney movies, including Cruella (May 28), Black Widow, and Jungle Cruise, open both in theaters and on Disney + as a premium rental of $ 29.99. Their Pixar title, Luca, will go straight to Disney +, free for subscribers, on June 17. And Sundance’s CODA will be released in theaters and on Apple TV + simultaneously.

For theaters and studios, there are many unknowns. Are theaters even on people’s reopening priority lists? Will there be a $ 100 million opening weekend soon? Will there be a $ 250 million opening weekend again? Filmmakers don’t try to care about that. But everyone feels moved that the cinema can finally return to normal.

“I think about it all the time,” Gunn said. “I can’t wait to sit in a theater with a group of people and watch movies again. It is a real joy of living. It’s a magical space for me and has been since I was little.

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