Tom Cruise, Avatar: The Way of Water, and the Winners/Losers of the 2022 Box Office

Happy New Year, and many hopes for a great one in 2023!

Looking back, 2022 might still have pandemic wounds to clean up, but it has undoubtedly been a rebound year for studios and their mighty intentions to pull people back into the theaters. The numbers are consistent enough to showcase a year weighed more by successes and shocks than a few lulls and blunders. Even if the domestic box office total is 30% down from 2019, that’s pretty decent. This list presents the winners, losers, mixed bags, and other news in another oddity of a year. With further ado, let’s jump in.

Photo Courtesy of Variety

Big Winner: Top Gun: Maverick and Tom Cruise

Say it with me: Tom Cruise is one of the, if not the last standing bona fide stars in modern Hollywood.

Cruise has gone all out to showcase he does not fear risk, even in the best and worst times. The word is meaningless in his catalog of death-defying stunts and otherworldly attempts at engaging audiences to roll out their jaws on the floor. Top Gun: Maverick accentuates that statement, going all in on fist-pumping adrenaline and nostalgic tributes to the 1986 classic.

No, it doesn’t stop there. The sequel somehow surpasses the original in almost every manner, and when it came to execution, everyone adored its presence and went back for more.

Here are some of the stats that Maverick alone did in 2022:

-Biggest Opening Weekend for Cruise at $126.7 Million
-Biggest Memorial Day Opening Weekend of any film at $160.5 Million
-Smallest Second Weekend Drop (of 29%) For A Film That Opened Over $100 Million
-5th Highest-Grossing Film Domestically with $718.7 Million
-Stayed in the Top-Ten B. O. Weekend Lists for 21 Weekends Straight

Plus, that’s not even factoring in this sequel does not correlate with the superhero/IP brand that typically rocks the box office. And this continued to anchor the box office throughout the entire 2022 summer solely. With slightly under $1.5 billion, it instantly pulled Paramount Pictures back into the playing field. What a win on all fronts for Cruise and Co.

We’re even more anxious for Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Parts One and Two, and bring on more ridiculous stunts, Mr. Cruise.

Photo Courtesy of Pixar

Loser: Disney Animated Features

Lightyear and Strange World were features many looked forward to as family pictures are usually a safe bet and boast a longer shelf life than their live-action peers. Unfortunately, that was not the case this time, as both collapsed at the box office before they could fight through it.

Why? And no, this has nothing to do with online controversies over LGBTQ agendas.

Disney taught its viewers for the past two years that watching big-budget tentpoles “for free” or paying a fee to own at home creates a “shooting yourself in the foot” theatrical problem. The incentive of “when does the film go streaming” put Disney in a real bind as they have attempted to throw the big ones from their arsenals in the multiplex and then retreated for the small ones, including Pixar gems.

Original, inclusive Pixar features have worked in the past in front of audiences. Still, once the pandemic hit, Bob Chapek went full throttle for Disney+, sending one-to-many to the homestead, including Soul, Luca, Turning Red, Raya and the Last Dragon, and Encanto. Also, the marketing was suspiciously shallow for both Lightyear and Strange World, going so far as to bring back Bob Iger to reinstate Disney’s reputation. Add in poor reviews and Disney’s recent measures to promote culturally progressive bona fides, and you have a trusted brand (Pixar) that’s become jettisoned in today’s ever-evolving film environment.

People didn’t show up because they weren’t interested in seeing it in the cinema anymore, and that’s a damn shame on Disney’s behalf for Pixar as a whole. No wonder why they do more live-action remakes that no one necessarily wants.

Photo Courtesy of Disney/Marvel Studios

Winner: Marvel Cinematic Universe Films Still Pull Numbers

Fortunately, at least Disney knows it can still rely on its Marvel IP for several more years.

Even with more shows under its belt, the MCU brought three sequels (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Thor: Love and Thunder, and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) to the screen, and each delivered big time as expected.

Benedict Cumberbatch’s second film quickly dispatched his predecessor’s earnings due to the fallout from Endgame, multiverse building, and slick albeit convoluted cameos. Chris Hemsworth’s fourth outing provided lots of CGI thunder, rock n’ roll, and an awkward rekindling with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, who became the Mighty Thor. And the somber tone of Wakanda Forever carried throughout as many had not forgotten the late Chadwick Boseman, even though it was a lengthy watch.

Nitpicking aside, each provided a deserved inclusion in the ever-growing Marvel universe and pushed the MCU’s grand earnings past $28 billion. Even if none of the three sequels made $1 billion this year, we must be fair amidst skewed results that a Marvel feature doesn’t need to reach that milestone to be considered a success. Next year, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and The Marvels will drop in to make their statements while laying the foreground for Phase 5. It will be equally exciting and inquisitive to see where Kevin Feige wants to take us for the Multiverse Saga.

However, a word of caution for Marvel: avoid dragging out stale cliches and improve the storytelling since “Marvel fatigue” is starting to grow on some of us (if it hasn’t been already) thanks to an overabundance of content. We might still have fun with the superhero brand, but it’ll need refreshing for years. When in doubt, pump the brakes.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Loser: Black Adam Reboots the DCEU…Again

We addressed this matter in a recent post (found here), but we’ll keep it relatively brief.

Dwayne Johnson vowed a change in the hierarchy of the DC Extended Universe with his solo feature, role fans begged him to play for over fifteen years. Marketing an anti-hero that could rival Shazam and Superman was a good idea, and die-hard folks’ interests became stoked when the Justice Society would also make an appearance.

Upon execution, it was another slap in the face to a universe dealing with another case of mediocrity despite numerous endeavors to rebuild its credibility. Die-hard fans claimed this was one of the best films they’ve seen in the DC canon. Yet, the numbers reflected that they bring about toxic online cultures to try to bribe Warner Brothers that they’re A) doing the right things for fans but losing money or B) simply trolling and obstinate about letting go of the #RestoreTheSnyderVerse campaign that’s tangled with any future trajectories. Johnson’s shtick is another case of him portraying himself, and the feature offers nothing of substance.

Then, in a shocking turn of events after the film’s underperformance, Peter Safran and James Gunn will take control of DC films, promising a grand reset of the entire universe. Most, if not all, of the superhero positions will get replaced by management. All future sequels stand officially scrapped or shelved, and Johnson’s anti-hero now sits in oblivion. Everyone likes Henry Cavill, right? Yeah, he’s no longer playing Superman, which means the post-credits were a despicable waste. People also enjoy Gal Gadot’s presence as Wonder Woman, no? She’s teased that her time with the role reached its end. Jason Momoa’s Aquaman is in possible danger, and it all goes to prove this universe is in shambles.

Does common courtesy ask if Warner Brothers should have ever attempted to rival Disney’s Marvel in the first place? Yet again, Johnson will claim there’s no heat, and the beef between both sides is settled (even if he can’t get past his with Vin Diesel).

Remember that earlier in the year, former WWE rival John Cena tore it up on HBO Max with Peacemaker, and a second season is on the way. It might speak volumes about which actor has shown more flexibility in front of the camera, even if the other has done it longer.

Photo Courtesy of A24

Winner: Everything, Everywhere All At Once

One of the best films of the year and a contender for one of the best out there, the Michelle Yeoh-led absurdist drama is another case of a movie done right.

Everything about it screams genius, and in “Daniels” hands, it’s a compelling study about existentialism and the Asian-American identity. Yeoh imbues her character with energy for every scene she commands and allows her to bring some of that 90s essence back into the fold. And the multiverse stuff is fun and done way better than Doctor Strange 2‘s iffy atmosphere.

The feature is also A24’s highest-grossing film, surpassing the superb Hereditary. While that most likely will become broken down the line, there’s no denying that Everything, Everywhere All At Once is a gem to witness and one of the most significant talking points of 2022.

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Loser: Amsterdam, Babylon, Devotion, and Almost (Every) Non-IP Title That Bombed Yet Will Win Awards

Ah, crud. This note is the upsetting opposite of A24’s triumph.

It’s best not to argue about many of these features because they all have superb acting and great moments, but the weakness that permeated all these non-IP originals this year was the marketing.

In all honesty, can anyone say they saw much of the advertising of Amsterdam when films like Bullet Train, Beast, Barbarian, and Thor: Love and Thunder were holding down the forts at the cinema? Or, at the very least, could they explain the film’s premise? The same for Three Thousand Years of Longing or The Fabelmans?

True, we can’t blame it all on the marketing as COVID fears still linger. But the practicality is that people have lost general interest in prestige filmmaking. People need scintillating hooks to pull them in for an original feature nowadays or a trusted filmmaker that doesn’t generally dip their toes in an IP (like Spielberg, Tarantino, Shyamalan, and Jordan Peele). It hurts as a criticism, but it’s still a true one if you’re not on board with the superhero/adventure brands and IPs.

It wouldn’t be asinine to claim that franchises have sabotaged original content/independent filmmaking when it comes to numbers, but the logistics of making an ROI at the box office come down to the barebones of substantial interest and helpful reviews. It’s a shame because it proves how different viewership for a film was vastly different years ago.

At least some will have a chance to win some awards, but that’s still speculation on which will get the most.

Photo Courtesy of Universal

Winner: Minions: The Rise of Gru

Gru and his Minions aren’t going anywhere, folks. The latest spin-off sequel pulled in a stellar $939.4 million at the box office worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing animated feature of the year and setting the record for Independence Day weekend.

More family-friendly fun on behalf of Universal has stuck inside the theaters, showcasing that the animated genre is still vital (sorry, Disney). A Despicable Me 4 will be forthcoming, so Steve Carell and all will still spend more time charming us with anti-hero plans and yellow Minion schemes for a few more years.

Oh, and remember the #Gentleminions trend that had the U.K. banning big groups at theaters for some time. It was quite the influence.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Winner: The Batman Kickstarting Its Universe

Remember earlier how it was said that DC is getting a hard reset? Well, if you deviate from their universe-building, you can still progress with yours.

Yes, Matt Reeves rebooted with The Batman and successfully turned it out. It’s a genuinely unsettling, grounded superhero story for the caped crusader and gives Robert Pattinson another remarkable performance for his resume. Much like Black Panther, the release of this feature in the springtime gave it surprisingly good legs for its theatrical run, allowing it to capture $369.3 domestically and $770.8 million worldwide.

What makes it step up a notch compared to other Batman tales (outside of Christopher Nolan’s) is its ability to recognize the class conflict/social inequality themes consistently. Poverty and inequality shape the land of Gotham, and the foes encountered give the dark knight depth and perspective in fighting for the will of the people.

Thanks to its performance and reception, a shared universe will get launched with two sequels planned and several spin-off series in development at HBO Max. Sorry, Ben Affleck, this is how things turned out on your side, but we did get something worthwhile under Reeves and Pattinson.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Loser: Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Ending The Wizarding World Franchise’s Future

It was tempting to put Johnny Depp or Ezra Miller on this list (we’ll get to them later). But both individuals are not the main reason the Fantastic Beasts series’ third (and possibly final) feature collapsed.

Significant damage was done in the second chapter, one that gave away character-focused fantasy for a loose retread of the first’s “new young wizard faces off against magical Hitler” story is woefully wrought. Opening with $43 million this time compared to $62 million for the predecessor and $74 million for Where To Find Them in 2016 speaks at multiple issues. The wrong artistic voice has been crafting this franchise, and Warner Brothers had no choice but to press on to set up two more features.

On top of that, Depp had to quit as Grindelwald due to abuse allegations, Ezra Miller got in hot water before the film became distributed, and folks remain polarized over J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments in 2020. So, the only thing left that would pull folks towards the viewing was seeing Mads Mikkelsen take on the role of Grindelwald.

It barely made its money back at $405.2 million, but it is the lowest of the Wizarding World series and a stark contrast that over ten years ago, Harry Potter 7.2 was on top of the world. Hence, The Secrets of Dumbledore retroactively became a (dull) trilogy capper and didn’t have enough magic to conjure up a fourth and fifth project.

Photo Courtesy of Universal

Winner: Nope Makes Jordan Peele 3-0

There is something genuinely special about Jordan Peele’s films. Sure, he may not boast the bankability of Shyamalan or have a resume like Spielberg or Tarantino (yet), but he makes an impact on delivering. Get Out and Us proved his rising as an upcoming filmmaker, and Nope ambitiously brought some of that spectacle back to the cinema.

It feels fresh and darkly beautiful in a film with echoing elements from Jaws, Signs, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and about a dozen other features. Peele wraps it around that he’s speaking about the parable of cinema, one that’s difficult for folks to break from due to the undue consequences of working in such a colossal industry. And yet, he still has time to bring along great scares, an ample supply of comedy, and stellar performances from Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer.

Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is also eye-gazing and something that has us refusing to not look away at the alien flying in the clouds or the horrific incident on the Gordy’s Home sitcom. So you get everything from this masterpiece and then some.

Even if the total gross ($171.4 million) isn’t something that’ll make records, it demonstrates that Peele’s original features have become “events” alongside Shyamalan’s, Spielberg’s, and Tarantino’s. We can’t wait to see what he wows us with next.

Photo Courtesy of Lionsgate

Loser: Moonfall Is A Disaster Film, And Unfortunately, A Disaster

Roland Emmerich might have earned the title of “master of disaster,” but Moonfall is one hell of one.

Coming off with one of the most expensive budgets ($140 million) for independent work, it seemed doomed to fail already as most of the cast and production were not proven draws, the marketing needed to be more substantial, and the story could have been better. Even with a winter storm impacting the midwestern U.S. during its release, it still doesn’t protect the film from losing over $135 million once it wrapped up in theaters.

Like most of the pandemic has taught us, films need a solid hook to pull audiences. It was an exciting idea but only did a little when Lionsgate prepped the film for release. But, of course, folks were still much more into Spider-Man: No Way Home hanging around in theaters than this disaster feature jumping in.

It’s another bomb in Emmerich’s arsenal and another movie we’re leaving hidden in a stash of them.

Photo Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Winner: Sonic The Hedgehog 2

Who knows if Jim Carrey officially retired after this film, but at least he could make a top dollar off its earnings.

The video game sequel did well this year with $402.7 million under its belt, nabbing records and giving families plenty of fun in the theaters. It’s the highest-grossing video game film domestically and the fourth-highest-grossing video game film ever. It’s also Carrey’s highest weekend opening and broke the record for pre-ticket sales for a video game work.

As for the film itself, it’s another case of silliness with Sonic and his friends while remaining loyal to the source material. The addition of Tails and Knuckles all provide great fun, and we now have glimpses at the third outing coming in December 2024.

We’ll be in store for more fun, and fingers stay crossed that Carrey can tag along at least once more.

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Winner: The Horror Genre

Horror paves the way if we’re talking about a genre that has become reliable in drawing people into the cinema.

While there are still some franchise ones like Halloween Ends and Scream, originals performed exceptionally well in scattered parts of the year. Terrifier 2, X, The Menu, Pearl, Smile, Nope, The Black Phone, and Barbarian performed outstandingly well, legging out when blockbusters were quieting down or not released yet. Most of those films also exceeded expectations and should be getting recognition once the awards season heats up.

This year’s horror films contributed nearly $650 million domestically, almost 9% of the market share. That may sound small in theory, but remember that horror has been on an upward trend for the past eight years, and there are no signs of slowing down in the future.

Photo Courtesy of Universal

Winner and Loser: Jurassic World Dominion Becomes 50th Film to Break $1 Billion Yet Sabotages Its Grand Finale

Well, let’s get it out of the way: congratulations to the (final?) entry in the Jurassic Park series and for making $1 billion on its way out for the existence of dinosaurs. It’s another triumph for Universal, who propelled past $3 billion globally this year.

However, the Jurassic Park series finale that started fantastically with Spielberg has come to a whimpering endpoint. It becomes more of the same every ten minutes and shoots itself in the foot with a confusing narrative and frantic action. Unfortunately, there are too many missed opportunities that the writers were probably spinning their heads over the nostalgia factor, which is the feature’s only selling point.

Dominion is a severe case of sputtered chaos with all its big moments and no emotional beats hitting their stride, like a discount Marvel/The Fast & Furious fare. By the time the credits roll, the only pat on the back comes to remembering a bygone era when we were chasing the cinematic high of Spielberg’s first outing and then every other follow-up, forcing audiences to continue suspending disbelief.
There’s no meat left on the bone to pick here, only relics that will get lost in the fog when we talk about franchise burnout (akin to Terminator/The Hunger Games).

Photo Courtesy of Variety

Loser: Amber Heard Loses Trial Against Johnny Depp

Depp v. Heard was a grinding process that further shed light on both individuals.

Johnny Depp won back his fan support and stature upon winning the defamation case as he sued his ex-wife for false claims of physical abuse that had damaged his career for several years. His moments in court were quite comical for such a devastating matter, but he remained audacious in ensuring his voice came heard by the world to clear his name. Whether it remains if he’ll return to iconic roles on camera is up to him, but he can rest now knowing his side has come out, and he can peacefully work on different projects. The same cannot be said for Amber Heard, though, as she lost the most of anyone in the televised trial. The matters brought forth by her side seemed to damage her reputation and credibility, as words came back to bite her regarding her allegations, adultery, failure to follow up with promised donations, and acting career.

Speaking of Heard’s career, the situation has continued to prolong the release date of Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, and it appears her role will remain minimal. Even when folks have clamored that she gets fired and step down, Warner Brothers executives have commented her role will be limited as she didn’t have chemistry with Jason Momoa. Outside, she only has one other production (In The Fire) to release and nothing else on deck.

Even when finally settling the case with Depp, the fallout and future don’t bode well for Heard, and unlike Will Smith, it appears that her career may not ever rebound from this situation.

Photo Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Loser: “The Slap Heard Around The World,” Starring Will Smith

Welp, it was going to mentioned whether you forgive Will Smith or not (or have some other conspiracy about why such a moment occurred).

For a refresher, Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage at the 94th Academy Awards after the latter made a joke about Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s shaved head, which she had been shaving due to alopecia. The moment completely overshadowed the rest of the ceremony, and even though Mr. Rock did not press charges, it left a lasting impression on both men.

Chris Rock has gone back to the comedy route without much lollygagging, but Smith’s reception has more of us raising eyebrows. Smith resigned from the Academy membership and then got banned for ten years from future events. Bad Boys 4 and Fast and Loose were temporarily put on the back burner, and any other future projects incorporating his involvement were halted.

The fallout is not going to roll away in a week. Tom Cruise had to take a moment between Mission Impossible 3 and Tropic Thunder and then five years towards Knight & Day before rolling on Ghost Protocol. Mel Gibson had a drunk driving incident in 2006, and it took four years until Edge of Darkness to rebound himself. Again, not all levels of sin stand equated, but it speaks that folks need time to heal, and there’s not enough evidence for Will Smith to come off as “canceled.”

According to surveys, most young adults have/are coming to forgive Smith, while older audiences remain skeptical and against him. There is a bit of tragic irony in Smith’s hands, while Rock now has this memory that’ll stick out there for ages. Yes, the Academy has had much polarization since its inception, and the ban for Smith might’ve been unjust in retrospect. However, Smith’s distribution of his Emancipation film before Christmas didn’t exactly pull folks back to him over a blood-curdling era of slavery and savagery.

Even when clutching that Oscar, something went wrong for Mr. Smith, and there’s hope he can remove the image and make amends to all, whether Chris Rock wants to be involved. He has done some noble rehabbing, but everyone needs more time.

Photo Courtesy of Paramount

Big Winner: Paramount’s Rebound

It’s hard to underestimate Paramount’s rebound since they became written off during the pre-pandemic times for failing to provide profitable blockbusters and good products. Instead, they enjoyed a near-perfect stretch in one year with hits in every genre.

Top Gun: Maverick became inescapably popular, winning over audiences and critics with an impressive $1.488 billion globally. But not to be overlooked, Sonic The Hedgehog 2 ($402.7 million), Smile ($216 million), The Lost City ($190 million), Scream ($140 million), and Jackass Forever ($80 million) all catered fun and sensation for audiences alike. Heck, even Paramount+ pushed up with more products and shows that can start combatting the big ones in Disney+, Hulu, and Netflix down the line. Some recommended choices on their streaming service this year are South Park The Streaming Wars, and Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe.

The only gripe was the release of Babylon, which will be the one real low in a year full of successes for Paramount. But credit where it’s due, Paramount has brought itself back into the fold and can hopefully rebuild itself for the following years. So they’ll be banking on Scream 6, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, and Mission Impossible 7 for 2023.

Photo Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Winner: Universal Pictures Volume and Variety Trumped Several Box Office Losses

Universal had a different overwhelming success than Paramount in 2022, but it still offered up a fair play of big hits and received significant results while passing $3 billion worldwide.

Despite its poor reception, Jurassic World Dominion waltzed away with $1.001 billion. Minions: The Rise of Gru ($939 million), The Black Phone ($161 million), Ticket to Paradise ($165 million), Halloween Ends ($104 million), and Nope ($171 million) all gave other goods. Stretching into the more arthouse and adult fare didn’t reap as much return, with the likes of Bros, Easter Sunday, The 355, The Northman, and The Fabelmans all tanking.

There is enough money at play that Universal earned more than Sony, Warner Brothers, and even some parts of Disney for it to qualify as a win. Sometimes, experimentation can lead to the best results, even if not all work. Quality control will have to be something the studio needs to keep in mind for 2023.

Fortunately, they will drop the likes of Fast X, The Super Mario Bros. Movie, Oppenheimer, and Cocaine Bear. So be on the eyes for their lines of attack for the multiplexes.

Photo Courtesy of Sony

Loser: Sony Getting Bullied by the Internet Over Morbius

This situation is plain hilarious and somewhat imprudent on behalf of Sony.

While they did have some fair share of wins under their belt in terms of Uncharted ($401 million) and Bullet Train ($293 million), nothing hit as preposterously brutal as Morbius. The standalone superhero feature under Sony’s Spidey Universe was about as dreary as anyone could’ve predicted. The poorly written movie probably came from the team that did the Fantastic Four reboot in 2015. Earning $167.5 million on a $75 million budget doesn’t warrant a sequel or further progression with the character itself.

And then, Sony had the functional audacity to bring it back to theaters to bomb again. Whether they were leaning into online trolling, this move means Sony was aware the feature got crap reviews and numbers and didn’t come close to Tom Hardy’s ball game in the Venom films. At this point, Jared Leto’s character needs to meet with Spider-Man to warrant his future than needing to try and cameo in Venom 3.

Offering up the vampire anti-hero for comical reasons adds plenty of value, but for a valueless character? What did Sony have to lose in this instance? More time and money in demonstrating their Sony rights to Spider-Man should probably surrender to Disney because they aren’t competing against the Avengers brand. (Plus, the post-credits are the most offensive kind of unearned fan service.)

We hope that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and Kraven the Hunter will change our minds in 2023.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Mixed Bag: Warner Brothers and Their Behind-The-Scenes Shenanigans

There are a few highs and lows that hit Warner Brothers this year. While The Batman, Elvis, and DC League of Super-Pets set out to do their jobs well, the same can’t be said when Fantastic Beasts 3 marked the end of the Wizarding World series, and Black Adam forced DC to get a massive overhaul.

And that’s not even considering the numerous times Ezra Miller got himself arrested or involved in nefarious activities that influenced the reception of The Secrets of Dumbledore and postponed the release of the much-hyped The Flash. The company also canceled Batgirl when it finished, sparking outcry and condemnation as they lost $90 million. And a bunch of layoffs and further cancellations also occurred when the studio tried to redo its entertainment and television assessment (primarily on HBO Max).

Again, all these factors must make it a stressful time to work or be involved in some capacity when the future of one major brand requires fixing. Warner Brothers got some tokens of appreciation but did feel the wrath of their failures this time, settling them in the most perilous position of all major studios’ performances in 2022. Oh yeah, remember the (alleged) onset conflicts that occurred off-camera for the Don’t Worry Darling; Shia LaBeouf and Florence Pugh send their regards (or not).

Let’s hope they rebound in 2023 with Magic Mike’s Last Dance, Creed 3, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Barbie, Meg 2: The Trench, The Nun 2, Dune: Part Two, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.

Photo Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Winner: Avatar: The Way of Water

It took thirteen years, but the sequel finally arrived with great optimism and fan expectation.

James Cameron has gone all out in reinviting viewers to the world of Pandora and already has plans for three more follow-ups (which will be happening). So while it doesn’t have the most standout story or a relatively light runtime, its visuals and technicalities are so delightful that people even have syndromes watching the films now.

The film is easily on pace to become the highest-grossing film of 2022, outplacing Top Gun: Maverick. It should end its run at around $2 billion, quieting Cameron’s nerves about the potential for financial losses. It’s the 51st film in history to reach $1 billion and will most likely become the sixth film to cross $2 billion. It also doesn’t have crazy competition for the first few weeks of 2023, so it should have more time to bring in dividends while legging out over the winter season.

In more good news, Disney knows it can still ride high and wide for the future with the Avatar IP and the Marvel multiverse agendas. So they’re stocked up for the next five years comfortably.

Photo Courtesy of Marvel Studios

Winner: 2022 Continues to Bring Numbers Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels, So It Asks 2023 To Continue The Trend

Keep the numbers rolling, box office analysts ask. They want the pandemic to be ancient history, alongside every other individual in this world.

While it was mentioned at the beginning of the article that the box office is 30% down from 2019, we’re close to getting back on pace with historical numbers and titles ahead. Yes, streaming services are still in the fold, but the year has felt very much on the theaters’ side in terms of grossing money. No matter what anyone says: the cinema is the place to behold films.

2023 has a lot of blockbusters in store, ranging from Universal’s Fast X to Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 to Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Reckoning Part One to Warner Brothers’ Dune: Part Two. We should prepare ourselves for the best and worst but will remain confident the gargantuan products will deliver.

Roll out the popcorn and soft drinks, folks, and let’s hope 2023 gets us one step closer to returning to our entertainment normalcy.

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