Crowds are returning to theaters but there aren’t enough new films for them to see. In the wake of the omicron wave of COVID, many studios pulled back substantially on what they are allowing to be shown on the silver screen. In particular, families have had no options for over two months.
Scream, Uncharted, Dog, The Batman have all become bona fide hits, maintaining staying power even as the newest blockbuster opens. Including genres that are traditionally frontloaded like horror and video game franchises, the market is proving for the first time since the pandemic began, it is willing to give business to several films at the same time.
All of those movies cater to teenagers and young adults, though. For kids, the last new film aimed at them was Sing 2, debuting just before Christmas. Rogers Cinema, which owns Houghton’s only theater, is currently showing Hotel Transylvania: Transformania, a movie originally debuting in January on the streaming service Amazon Prime. It had to do so with no marketing campaign behind it and limited awareness. Disney was supposed to put out its latest Pixar film this past Thursday, but debuted it exclusively on Disney+ online.
Even as Wall Street sours on the streaming model, studios continue to lock up more and more of their content for the medium exclusively, at the expense of turning away potentially lucrative theater runs. Netflix, Disney, Time Warner, and Viacom have all performed worse than the overall market. Paramount+ and Peacock have announced billions in losses from their respective streaming sites recently, with no end to the red ink in sight.
Until films like Lightyear or Sonic find their way to theaters only later this year, Rogers Cinema will have to continue to be creative when finding options to show aimed at children. Movies skewing towards older adults have also been slow to come back, and similarly, are scarce on the upcoming slate. Without shows for a variety of audiences, the box office will continue to struggle to reach pre-pandemic revenue levels.