Just five years ago, the summer blockbuster season stretched lustily over more than half of the calendar year. From early March to mid-September, barely a week has passed without a splashy new studio project – from Kong: Skull Island, a spectacular and star-studded remake of the original King Kong, in early spring, to the… chilling horror It in the autumn.
In 2022, however, the sprawl is more of a hunch. Has it already started or have we already missed it? Recent box office figures suggest audiences are returning to cinemas in droves – at least when it comes to big, shiny, summer movies. After a month of release, Top Gun: Maverick is poised to enter the UK’s all-time top 20 and topped $1 billion worldwide this week. Jurassic World Dominion is thriving, despite uniformly abysmal reviews. On its opening weekend, Elvis outsold A Star is Born and even nearly stepped on Bohemian Rhapsody’s toes.
So how does Hollywood plan to capitalize? Good question: in general terms, the next two months seem Siberian vacant. Yes, there’s more Marvel next week, in the form of Thor: Love and Thunder strapping. And August features two intriguing originals: Bullet Train, starring Brad Pitt as an assassin crossing Japan by rail, and Nope, the enigmatic alien abduction of Jordan Peele. But three big releases in eight weeks isn’t the enthusiastic rebound of all movies the industry has been touting for the past two years.
The pandemic is partly responsible. Jurassic World was the first blockbuster to resume filming in 2020, while Top Gun was a pre-Covid holdover, but, in general, major studios don’t have the slate of ready-to-go movies they normally would.
Things are especially bleak for families with young children, who only have five movies to get through the summer holidays. Pixar’s Lightyear and Illumination’s Minions: The Rise of Gru are already here, while The Railway Children’s Return and DC League of Super-Pets (a cartoon about Superman and Batman’s dogs) follow in July, then August, Tad The Lost Explorer And The Curse Of The Mummy – the third in an occasional series of animated parodies of Indiana Jones of Spain, whose not exactly thrilled predecessors were consigned to the February and October semesters.