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After Barbenheimer and the strikes, Hollywood changes course

After Barbenheimer and the strikes, Hollywood changes course


“Barbenheimer” is a tough act to follow. But as Hollywood enters a new summer movie season, armed with fewer superheroes and a landscape significantly altered by strikes, it's worth remembering William Goldman's classic quote about what works: “No one doesn't know anything.”

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  • Summer 2023 brought a new craze for cinema
  • But before the industry could achieve victory, another crisis loomed with the two Hollywood strikes, which shut down most productions for months.
  • In June, after a stellar debut at Cannes, Kevin Costner will begin rolling out his epic two-part western Horizon: An American Saga.
  • John Krasinski also delves into the inner world of children with his ambitious live-action hybrid “IF” (May 17, in theaters)

Four decades later, that may still be true. Yet one thing Hollywood has learned from releasing films during the pandemic and strikes is how to pivot quickly.

The summer of 2023 brought a new enthusiasm for cinema, with the fortuitous counter-programmings of “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer”, and surprise hits like “Sound of Freedom”, which helped the season's box office of surpassing $4 billion for the first time since 2019. But before the industry could achieve victory, another crisis loomed with the two Hollywood strikes, which shut down most productions for months.

Films find their way after the strike

As a result, theaters lost big summer titles like “Mission: Impossible 8,” “Captain America: Brave New World” and “Thunderbolts” through 2025. But they gained a gem in “The Bikeriders” from Jeff Nichols (June 21), about a 1960s Midwest motorcycle club as studios moved films to the summer slate. “Deadpool & Wolverine,” which was once scheduled to kick off the summer movie season on May 3 like many Marvel films before it, now sits happily on July 26, patiently waiting to dominate the summer charts.

“I love being there, in the middle of summer,” said director Shawn Levy. “It’s a juicy moment.”

The launch weekend instead belongs to an original film about a different kind of superhero. “The Fall Guy,” starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt, is part romantic comedy, part action comedy, and part love letter to the stuntmen who make movies spectacular. It's a real audience pleaser that could revive a season that feels, in some ways, like a throwback, with full-throttle shows (“Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” “Twisters”), comedies (“Babes”), IMAX. marvel (“The Blue Angels”) and even a Kevin Costner western.

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer has experienced the ups and downs of summer movies over the decades, with blockbusters such as “Top Gun: Maverick” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean” films.

This season he has three very different offerings on the schedule, two are fourth installments of the popular franchises “Beverly Hills Cop” (July 3, Netflix) and “Bad Boys” (June 7, theaters) and one was planned for the streaming but tested. so much so that it is currently being screened in theaters (“Young Woman and the Sea”, May 31).

“People just want to be entertained,” Bruckheimer said. “It’s really up to us to make the good films that they want to go see.”

The $4 billion goal

A Hollywood summer lasts 123 days, from the first Friday in May to Labor Day Monday in September. Before the pandemic, $4 billion represented a normal summer return and theaters could count on between 37 and 42 films to open on more than 2,000 screens. The outlier was 2017, with just 35 films released on more than 2,000 screens and grossing $3.8 billion. That makes last summer's $4 billion haul with 32 large-scale exits (45% of the $9 billion domestic haul) even more impressive.

This summer is also expected to feature 32 wide releases and more than 40 films that will be released in more than 500 theaters. Notably, only two of them are Marvel films (“Deadpool” and Sony's “Kraven the Hunter”) and are the only superhero films on the schedule until the “Joker” sequel in the fall.

“People are going to see movies, not box office, and this is shaping up to be a really strong summer from a moviegoer perspective,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.

On the way to the originals

“The Bikeriders” was the one that predicted an awards season rollout, with a boost from the Telluride Film Festival's stellar reviews hailing the rotating stars for Austin Butler and Jodie Comer. But as the release date approached, it became clear that the strikes weren't going to resolve in time for a press tour.

“It was kind of like walking on frozen glass for three months,” Nichols said. “I was on tour doing press and trying to create this energy on my own. Let me tell you, it's not the same as Austin Butler.”

Later in June, after a splashy debut at Cannes, Kevin Costner will begin rolling out his two-part western epic “Horizon: An American Saga,” set during the Civil War. And as always, there are plenty of breakouts at Sundance all summer long, from Jane Shoenbrun's “I Saw the TV Glow” and “Didi” to “Thelma” and “Good One.”

Price for the whole family

Family movies often go into hyperdrive in the summer, capitalizing on long days away from school. This year there are plenty, like “The Garfield Movie” and “Despicable Me 4,” re-releases of Studio Ghibli classics and streaming options (“Thelma the Unicorn”). But perhaps none has more anticipation than “Inside Out 2” (June 14, in theaters), which meets Riley as she enters her teenage years as a new set of emotions unfold. bring down Joy's party, including anxiety, envy, boredom, and embarrassment. .

“This age gives us everything we need and everything we love in a Pixar film,” said director Kelsey Mann. “It’s full of drama, it has potential for a lot of heart, and I could also make it really funny.”

John Krasinski also delves into the inner world of children with his ambitious live-action hybrid “IF” (May 17, in theaters) about imaginary friends left behind and two humans (Ryan Reynolds and Cailey Fleming) who can still see them. .

The allure of horror

Audiences looking for the adrenaline rush of horrors and thrillers are spoiled for choice, including “MaXXXine,” the conclusion to Ti West's accidental Mia Goth trilogy (“X” and “Pearl”) which begins around July 4.

The aspiring Goth actress traveled to Hollywood where a killer stalked Hollywood starlets during the home video boom of the 1980s.

“We recreated the seedy side of Hollywood in a hopefully charming way,” West said. “It's definitely a pretty crazy night at the movies. A great rocking, fun movie.”

On June 26, audiences will also be able to delve into the beginnings of “A Quiet Place” with a prequel set on “Day One” starring Luptia Nyong’o and “Stranger Things” Joseph Quinn. Director Michael Sarnoski said he wanted to explore “the scope and promise” of a Quiet Place film in New York. Later, Fede Ivarez brings his sense of horror to “Alien: Romulus” (August 16), which takes place between the first two.

M. Night Shyamalan is also back with a thriller set at a pop concert (“Trap,” Aug. 9) and his daughter, Ishana Night Shyamalan, makes her directorial debut with the spooky film “The Watchers.” (June). 14) with Dakota Fanning.

“It’s very suspenseful and unexpected,” Ishana said. “And it’s really designed for the experience of being in a theater.”

The stars are flowing

Much to the dismay of theater owners, big summer movies have also existed on the big screen for years. And the streamers have movie and show stars with festival favorite “Hit Man,” Anne Hathaway romance “The Idea of ​​You,” Jerry Seinfeld’s star-studded pop-tart flick “Unfrosted” and a Mark Wahlberg/Halle Berry action comedy “The Union.” “.

They also have franchises: “Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F” (July 3) was a film that had been in development since the mid-1990s, but was given new life when Paramount licensed the rights to Netflix.

“We raised our hands to make sure we had the right franchise and kept the integrity and fun of the original,” Bruckheimer said.

This episode adds an emotional component in which Eddie Murphy's Axel Foley reunites with his ex-daughter (Taylour Paige). It also sees the return of Justice Reinhold, John Ashton, Paul Reiser and Bronson Pinchot and adds Kevin Bacon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

On August 9, Apple TV+ will also offer “The Instigators,” a new action comedy starring Matt Damon and Casey Affleck as normal guys attempting a heist. “Midnight Run” was one of their touchstones.

“The script was so funny and I really wanted to embrace it,” said Doug Liman, the director.

But also, no one knows anything

Remember, anything can happen with summer movies.

We can pretend we knew “Barbie” would be the biggest movie of the year, but would we have bet that an R-rated drama about the father of the atomic bomb would have grossed almost three times as much as Barbie's last film? Harrison Ford? Indiana Jones? Or that a $14 million crowdfunded film from a new studio about child trafficking with almost zero promotion would gross over $250 million?

“Nobody knows something is going well,” said Kevin Walsh, producer of “The Instigators.” “The film business is so unpredictable. You never know what's going to work or not. But you have your tastes. And following your tastes and instincts in this business is everything.”




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