October Insights from Cinelytic

Goodbye Summer…Hello Fall

Historically speaking, box office expectations tend to ease up following the summer, as the fall and winter seasons that are collectively referred to as “awards season” give way to a focus on dramas that are more likely to garner nominations. That being said, there is usually still a slate of crowd-pleasing blockbuster and tentpole titles that round out the end of each year. 2022 is no different, as three such titles still await release in the remaining months from two of the industry’s major film studios: Warner Bros. Pictures and Walt Disney Studios.

Last month, we at Cinelytic analyzed the four blockbuster titles looking to stand out during the upcoming awards season and forecasted them on our platform. The point of this exercise was to showcase what the end of the year may have in store for movies that appeal to mass audiences. The films included the now released HALLOWEEN ENDS, this weekend’s BLACK ADAM, BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER and James Cameron’s next big swing at once again making history at the box-office, AVATAR: THE WAY OF THE WATER. A summary of our domestic box office (DBO) projections were featured last month in a Variety article highlighting the Q4 box office offerings.

Two of these anticipated films represent the next two releases in the box office dominant superhero genre. Warner Brothers has taken it upon themselves to grant perennial box office star Dwayne Johnson his own superhero franchise in the form of BLACK ADAM, and Marvel fans are curious to see how BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER will turn out following the untimely and unexpected passing of Chadwick Boseman, the titular star of the preceding and groundbreaking film. Our projections show that while the next Marvel release may not match the performance of its predecessor, it will once again have the upper hand over the next installment within the DCEU, which is understandable given the fact that BLACK ADAM does not have the type of fan base that the BLACK PANTHER franchise has already established. As for December’s follow-up to highest grossing film in history, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER, while still projected to achieve historic numbers, is projected to pull in a domestic cumulative gross that will be lower than its iconic predecessor, likely in part due to the 13-year gap between the two films.

The Accuracy of Previous Projections

As we await the performance of the aforementioned and upcoming releases, it’s important to also analyze how other recent projections from our platform compared to actual figures. Last May, our Insights highlighted the four most high-profile live action films released in the first true summer blockbuster season since 2019.  Other than our numbers for TOP GUN: MAVERICK, which exceeded all insider expectations to now cement itself as the 11th highest grossing film of all time, Cinelytic projections for the DBO performance of the summer slate proved to be strikingly accurate, and we correctly predicted that a lucrative and welcome summer season was fast approaching the industry. As highlighted in the table below, the platform forecasted DBO revenues of US$390m, US$375m and US$353m for DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS, JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION and THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER respectively, totaling US$1.118b. Meanwhile, the actual figures for these three titles were US$411m, US$376m and US$343m respectively, totaling US$1.130b. This represents just a 1.09% discrepancy in regard to total DBO gross revenue when comparing Cinelytic projections to actual performance on these three summer blockbusters.

 To further evaluate and compare the performance of these welcomed box office success stories, we used our proprietary OTT demand data to analyze the continued success of these titles after their initial theatrical runs. This data captures 125m daily P2P transactions globally for a yearly total of 35b transactions. For this exercise, we utilized this data to compare the first seven days of streaming performance for all four titles:

The graph above shows that DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS was the overall best performing title when it comes to home viewing, displaying a significant pop on its second day of release and capturing an average of 13.9% of the total viewing market share throughout its first week. While the accompanying Marvel release THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER also enjoyed a noticeable increase on its second day of viewing and showcased a comparable trendline, it never managed to capture above 20% of the total market share and had a lower seven-day average of 12.8%. JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION was simultaneously the weakest and most consistent amongst these titles, never realizing a significant increase or drop throughout its first week and averaging 11.1% of the market share. The most interesting realization from this graph is how successful TOP GUN: MAVERICK still managed to be on streaming despite seemingly drawing the entirety of the North American viewing audience to movie theaters upon its initial release. While the film did see a significant drop in its market share performance on its fourth day, it still averaged the second highest market share capture at 13.8%.

Will the Momentum Continue?

The last year has offered relief to the major studios that were anxiously awaiting the return of true global success at the box office for their big budget titles. SPIDERMAN: NO WAY HOME and THE BATMAN kickstarted this resurgence near the start of 2022, followed by DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MUTLIVERSE OF MADNESS, TOP GUN: MAVERICK, JURASSIC WORLD DOMINION and THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER providing monthly reminders through July that moviegoers around the world were comfortable returning to cinemas again. After a couple of down months in August in September, it seems as if cinemas are due for another influx of audiences through the end of the year. Between the three upcoming blockbusters and accompanying dramas about to be released throughout the same months, it seems as if the full range of viewer demographics will be making their way to cinemas. That being said, it remains to be seen whether or not the upcoming awards friendly titles slated by both major and independent studios will complement the aforementioned blockbusters in such a way to result in total box office revenues that remind the industry of more lucrative pre-pandemic times. Please keep an eye out for our November Insights for a detailed analysis into this very matter.