Hollywood faces major test in October with Bond release, ‘Venom’

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  • Several big movie releases are packed in October, from “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” to “Dune”.
  • The month will test whether the US cinema market can support as many tentpole films.
  • Some Hollywood releases will also open in China after the exclusion of “Shang-Chi”, but the real test will come later.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

After multiple delays, some of the biggest Hollywood movies of the year will finally see the light of day in October.

But their triumph is not guaranteed in a pandemic-damaged film market, even after the success of Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” which grossed the nation nearly $ 200 million and is became this year’s highest-grossing film in the United States since it debuted on September 3.

Hollywood is about to find out if national theaters can handle multiple tentpole releases in a row. He will also find out whether Chinese audiences, which overtook the United States last year as the world’s largest cinema market, crave foreign blockbusters at a pivotal time for Hollywood-China relations.

Some of the most publicized October releases include:

  • Sony’s “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” – in US theaters October 1
  • MGM’s “No Time to Die” – in US theaters October 8 / China October 29
  • Universal’s “Halloween Kills” – in US theaters and on Peacock October 15
  • Warner Bros. ‘ “Dune” – in US / Chinese theaters and on HBO Max October 22

The month will also see the release of “The Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark” in theaters and on Max this weekend and Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel” on October 15th.

Needless to say, this will be a big month for movies – maybe. It all depends on whether public participation outweighs lingering concerns about the coronavirus and day-to-date streaming strategies.

A photo of Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in "Dune."

Timothée Chalamet and Rebecca Ferguson in “Dune”.

Warner Bros.


Theaters are moving towards recovery

“Shang-Chi” has proven that there is always an appetite for going to the movies. But the film has faced little competition since opening earlier this month. Even some of the summer’s top-performing films at the domestic box office – from “A Quiet Place Part II” to “F9” to “Black Widow” – have been shown.

Theater owners believe the secret to success is twofold: release movies, then make them exclusive to theaters.

“The studios’ choices are: get a decent return on your movies now, stream them straight and sacrifice the entire box office, or keep delaying until the industry dies,” said John Fithian, head of the National Association of Cinema Owners (NATO). Insider in a recent interview.

Fithian predicted that “Shang-Chi” would have stronger legs at the box office than “Black Widow,” which Disney released in theaters and at Disney + simultaneously. The numbers suggest he was right.

But what happens in October will tell Hollywood if all of those aforementioned movies – even the cinema-exclusive ones like “Let There Be Carnage” and “No Time to Die” – can thrive when packaged in a month, in a market. where even some of the most successful big budget tents failed to reach pre-pandemic success levels.

If they are successful, Hollywood might feel more confident in releasing its remaining scheduled films this year. Otherwise, movie studio executives can go back to the drawing board and consider delaying the movies again, like Paramount did with “Top Gun: Maverick,” or streaming them to theaters simultaneously.

Here’s how the predecessors of those films fared at the box office:

  • “Specter” (2015) – $ 880 million worldwide / $ 200 million nationally / $ 70 million opening weekend
  • “Venom” (2018) – $ 856 million worldwide / $ 215 million nationally / $ 80 million opening weekend
  • “Halloween” (2018) – $ 255 million worldwide / $ 159 million nationwide / $ 76 million opening weekend

While movie studios have tempered their expectations during the pandemic, these numbers still put a lot of pressure on these films to perform at a respectable level – particularly “No Time to Die”, with its massive budget of. $ 250 million. Foreign markets may take over, as they did before the pandemic, but the larger foreign market may not be as reliable for Hollywood as it once was.

no time to die

Daniel Craig as James Bond in “No Time to Die”

MGM


China is a big question mark

Before the pandemic, Hollywood relied on China – then No. 2 in the theatrical market – to boost its blockbusters on a global scale. But the story of the return to the region is more about China’s own film industry.

So far this year, only two Hollywood releases are currently in the top 10 of the Chinese box office: “F9” and “Godzilla vs. Kong”. Since the pandemic, from which the Chinese theater industry has recovered faster than in the United States, local Chinese films have performed exceptionally well, at levels Hollywood film studios can only dream of right now.

And “No Time to Die” and “Dune” could leave Hollywood still holding its breath.

Movies could run into problems at the Chinese box office, according to Stanley Rosen, professor of political science at the University of Southern California, who specializes in Chinese politics and cinema.

“No Time to Die” will be released in North America and other international markets before China (and the James Bond franchise is not a staple in the region; “Specter” earned $ 83 million there). And “Dune” will be broadcast simultaneously on

HBO Max
. Both situations invite hacking, which Rosen says is a “big deal in China.”

But he said the real test for Hollywood in the region is Marvel.

China has ruled out “Black Widow” and “Shang-Chi,” denying Hollywood a chance to see if the Marvel brand, which traditionally performs well in the region, can still do so. (“Avengers: Endgame” is China’s most lucrative foreign release ever.)

Marvel’s upcoming film, “Eternals,” also faces release issues due to earlier comments from Chinese-born director Chloe Zhao, who said that “there are lies all over” the country in a 2013 interview. Rosen is optimistic about the film’s chances, even given the controversy over Zhao.

“China wants to be the biggest movie market in the world and COVID has done it for them,” he said. “But you have to keep some Hollywood products because people want them.”

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