Box Office Report Card 2022: The likelihood that the box office would ever recover from the pandemic was seriously questioned two years ago.
In 2021, the James Bond sequel “No Time to Die” and “Spider-Man: No Way Home” offered glimmering signs that movies weren’t truly a thing of the past. But it wasn’t until 2022 that movie theatres started to reclaim their rightful place in Hollywood.
Additionally, for the first time in a very long time, films other than superhero movies supported the box office. In fact, the highest-grossing film of the year was “Top Gun: Maverick,” a follow-up to a film that debuted nearly four decades ago.
Meanwhile, films like Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy biopic “Elvis,” Universal’s star-studded romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise,” and A24’s independent “Everything Everywhere All at Once” demonstrated that audiences are open to bold moves in cinema.
James Cameron Removed 10 Minutes of Gun Violence from “Avatar 2” Because It Made Him Nauseous: “I Don’t Want to Fetishize Guns” Anymore
However, such annoying but unavoidable flops return with the sincere comeback of movies. And there were some real monsters this year. The future of family movies is seriously questioned in light of Disney’s “Lightyear” and “Strange World” failures. The well-reviewed films “Bros” and “She Said” also emphasize the difficulties faced by mid-budget fare.
It's the most wonderful time of the year: @Slate Movie Club week, w/ @BilgeEbiri, @bealoayza & @davidlsims as my co-Clubbers. In my first post, I talk about my Top 10 list & revisit a film I really wish I had loved enough to put on it, Jordan Peele's Nope: https://t.co/IcDTlMndGh
— Dana Stevens (@thehighsign) December 26, 2022
According to Comscore, the domestic box office generated $7.4 billion overall in 2022. These ticket sales are still down 33% from the $10.6 billion made in 2019, which was the last year the box office operated normally.
That’s mainly due to fewer films being produced by studios throughout the year, but the drop cannot be entirely attributed to COVID-related production delays. It might also be a sign of a shift in customer behavior.
Variety examined how the big studios performed at the global box office during the previous 12 months before the year comes to an end.
Highs include “Avatar: The Way of Water” ($955 million and counting), “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Thor: Love and Thunder,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” ($955 million and counting).
Lows include “Strange World” ($54 million), “Death on the Nile” ($137 million), “Lightyear” ($226 million), and “Amsterdam.”
Takeaways: How much a few years and one pandemic can change things? Disney was unstoppable at the box office in 2019, shattering records with seven blockbusters that made an astounding billion dollars.
None of its films have reached that specific milestone as of this point in the year, but “Avatar: The Way of Water” will soon cross $1 billion. Fair enough, only two other films this year were able to accomplish that feat, but you’d think with three Marvel films scheduled for release, at least one would have a shot.
Disney has persevered through a string of embarrassing big-budget flops in addition to successfully relaunching established franchises. Particularly troubling is the fact that Pixar, long the gold standard of family-friendly content, hasn’t connected with audiences in a while.
Disney spends a considerable fortune developing and selling their movies, so the bar for success is extremely high. Of course, Disney’s misses still beat most studios’ biggest victories. Superheroes will be just fine in 2023, but the remainder of the slate will present a challenge for the studio’s newly reinserted CEO Bob Iger.
“Top Gun: Maverick” ($1.488 billion), “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” ($402 million), “Smile” ($216 million), “The Lost City” ($190 million), “Scream” ($140 million), and “Jackass Forever” ($80 million) are some of the highest grossing films.
“Babylon” ($5.3 million and counting) is a low point.
Takeaways: It’s difficult to underestimate Paramount’s astonishing box office comeback. After being written off in the early pandemic days, the studio experienced a nearly perfect stretch with back-to-back hits in every genre (the good times were slightly tainted by “Babylon”).
A fun companion piece to our annual Great Performances feature that highlights craft accomplishments in 2022 like the cinematography in Nope, the editing in Moonage Daydream, the score of Babylon, and so much more. https://t.co/bLKwz6U7Oi pic.twitter.com/tXoDkjAqus
— Brian Tallerico (@Brian_Tallerico) December 27, 2022
It’s particularly notable that Paramount’s 2022 slate catered to viewers that historically struggled to draw crowds, with “Jackass Forever” and “The Lost City” appealing to fans of rom-com, humor, and traditional all-American action.
And of course, there’s the colossal success of Tom Cruise’s long-awaited sequel “Top Gun: Maverick,” which wasn’t always a lock to win. However, it inescapably gained popularity, and not just among devotees of the original.
Everyone who was paying attention to pop culture felt compelled to see what all the fuss was about, which helped the movie earn $1.488 billion worldwide and become the highest-grossing release of the year. The gods of the box office salute you, Tom Cruise.
Highs include “Bullet Train” ($293 million), “Where the Crawdads Sing” ($140 million), “Uncharted” ($401 million), and “The Woman King” ($92 million).
Lows include “Morbius” ($167 million), “Father Stu,” “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” “Devotion,” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which each earned under $10 million.
Conclusions: “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which debuted in December 2021 but continued to sell tickets through the summer, allowed Sony to enjoy a good portion of the year.
With its 2022 releases, the studio took several chances that paid out, including the literary adaption “Where the Crawdads Sing,” the action epic starring Viola Davis, “The Woman King,” and the video game adaptation and series starter “Uncharted.”
The $75 million budget of Jared Leto’s comic book film “Morbius” kept it from being a complete flop, but it’s not enough money to support sequels and spinoffs that can compete with Disney’s MCU outings. Additionally, “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile” was added to the list of the year’s worst family movies.
The only excruciating failure was the $90 million budgeted “Devotion,” which Sony distributed but didn’t finance. By controlling spending, the studio contributed to the argument that innovation is still welcome at the box office.
“Jurassic World Dominion” ($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) are some of the highest grossing films of all time.
Lows include “The 355,” “The Northman,” “Bros,” “Easter Sunday,” “She Said,” and “The Fabelmans” ($27, $69, $14, $13, $10.5 million, respectively).
Takeaways: In contrast to its big studio siblings, Universal released significantly more movies in 2022, with a much wider range of budgets and genres.
But the outcomes were distinctly inconsistent. “Jurassic World” and “Minions,” two of Universal’s greatest properties, produced the blockbusters they were expected to, becoming among the year’s biggest hits and helping the studio surpass $3 billion internationally.
Additionally, horror movies like “The Black Phone” and “Nope” won over crowds. However, Universal’s attempts to diversify into more arthouse or adult-oriented entertainment were unsuccessful. The financial failure of Oscar contenders like “The Fabelmans” and “She Said” is distressing because, for the most part, reviewers thought they were truly fine movies.
Quality doesn’t appear to be enough in the face of a pandemic that won’t go away.
Highs include “Elvis” ($286 million), “Don’t Worry Darling” ($86 million), “The Batman” ($770 million), and “DC League of Super-Pets” ($220 million).
Lows include “Black Adam” ($389 million) and “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” ($405 million).
Grade: B- Key points: At the Warner brothers’ home, things were not very joyful. The studio has seen a wave of cost reduction, layoffs, and canceled projects under the leadership of Warner Bros. Discovery, which has made it a rather difficult place to work.
So how did the studio do in the thick of everything? OK. Director Matt Reeves’ “The Batman” met expectations, bringing a novel perspective to the well-told story of a masked assassin.
While “Don’t Worry Darling” rode a wave of off-screen drama to must-see status and gave us some of 2022’s most meme-able moments (Miss Flo and split gate, we’re looking at you), “Elvis” became one of the few movies geared at adults that truly connect at the box office.
However, things didn’t go as planned elsewhere, and two franchise hopes fizzled out. While “Black Adam” was a waste of time and money that led DC’s new bosses to decide to move on from Dwayne Johnson’s anti-hero, “Fantastic Beasts” appears to have lost its mystical touch.