Blockbuster Pileup: Can ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘Barbie,’ ‘Indiana Jones 5’ and ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ All Survive in the Same Month? – Variety

By Rebecca Rubin
Film and Media Reporter
At the end of last summer, Flix Brewhouse faced a dire situation, albeit one that wasn’t unique to the Texas-based movie theater chain. There weren’t any movies to show in August.
“We were going to A24 or Briarcliff Entertainment saying, ‘Does anyone have anything we can put on our screens?” recalls Chris Randleman, the company’s chief revenue officer.
That’s not the case this summer as exhibitors grapple with a different reality. Can several back-to-back blockbusters succeed at once? Or will the glut of big movies cannibalize each other?
Those are the big questions as popcorn season kicks into high gear with the arrivals of Harrison Ford’s “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (June 30), Tom Cruise’s “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” (July 12), Greta Gerwig’s neon-coated “Barbie” (July 21) and Christopher Nolan’s atomic bomb drama “Oppenheimer” (also on July 21). All of those films carry big budgets and require outsized ticket sales to turn a profit.

“It’s complete day and night,” Randleman says. “In the last two years, if something failed, we didn’t have anything for six weeks. Now if something tanks, you move onto the next one. That’s the way Hollywood always worked.”
The hope is that all of these films will find their audiences. However, Paul Dergarabedian, a senior analyst at Comscore, calls the month-long stretch between “Indiana Jones 5” through “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” one of the most competitive periods in recent memory.
“This will be a stress test for the theatrical marketplace in the most important moviegoing season of the year,” he says. “The stakes are incredibly high.”
So far, Hollywood’s attempts this year at counter-programming have been disastrous. But that’s because audiences didn’t have an overwhelming desire to watch “The Flash” or Pixar’s “Elemental,” not because those movies were scheduled too close together.
Even as the box office recovers in fits and starts, there are signs that even in the pandemic era, several films can work at the same time. A prime example can be found in last summer’s debut of “Jurassic World Dominion,” which scored a mighty $145 million opening, even as Cruise’s enduring hit “Top Gun: Maverick” pulled in $51.8 million in its third weekend. Another weekend in the middle of 2022, four movies — Baz Luhrmann’s biopic “Elvis” and Blumhouse’s thriller “The Black Phone,” in addition to “Maverick” and “Jurassic World Dominion” — each grossed $20 million or more in the same Friday to Sunday frame. It’s a sign that this summer’s crop of newcomers can co-exist beyond their opening weekends — so long as ticket buyers care to see them.

“It’s all about quality,” says Armand Daiguillon, who owns Paradigm Cinemas in South Florida. “Everything looks good on the horizon. But if the movies aren’t great, people will wait a month until they are available on streaming.”
Movie theater owners believe the range of offerings will appeal to moviegoers of all demographics. “It’s the right mix of movies to not only survive but thrive off one another,” says Randleman. He’s particularly high on “Barbie” because pre-sale tickets at his theaters have already been surging. “I think it’ll be the true breakout of the summer,” he adds. “Everyone can survive. We have enough screens.”
Daiguillon of Paradigm Cinema, however, is cautiously optimistic about a potential pileup. “It would have been better if they separated things a little more,” he says. “We have a whole summer. These movies are all back-to-back in the same month.”
He’s particularly concerned about the space between family offerings, like “Ruby Gillman, Teenage Kraken,” which opens shortly after Pixar’s “Elemental,” and Disney’s “Haunted Mansion,” which arrives just a few weeks later.
“I wish there was at least another week between the kids stuff,” Daiguillon says. “Theaters do a lot of business with summer camps. If all the movies come out at once, there’s nothing for them to see later on.”
At least, Hollywood didn’t forget about August, which is ripe for a sleeper hit. On the calendar, there’s the animated “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” R-rated comedy “Strays” and “Meg 2: The Trench.” Those movies aren’t (yet) part of franchises as big as “Mission: Impossible” or from filmmakers as beloved as Gerwig or Nolan. But “The Trench,” for one, is the sequel to 2018’s disaster epic “The Meg,” which grossed $530 million worldwide. Says Randleman, “Never bet against a shark movie.”
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