2021 is going to be a pivotal year for the theatrical industry, and by next summer we should have a much better idea of whether or not things will ever return to the way they were in a pre-Coronavirus world. Wonder Woman 1984 may have scored the biggest opening at the domestic box office since the first weekend of March, but less than $17 million being viewed as a success perfectly illustrates how low expectations have become.
Of course, there was another new release that took second place behind Patty Jenkins’ blockbuster sequel, but Tom Hanks and Paul Greengrass’ Western News of the World could only muster up a little over $2 million despite the movie gaining solid reviews and some awards season buzz.
Internationally, meanwhile, Netflix holds the distribution rights to the pic, marking the second consecutive Hanks effort to be a streaming exclusive in some fashion. And while the beloved actor wasn’t happy about his last film, Greyhound, being sent straight to Apple TV+, in a recent interview, he admitted that “adult movies” may not have much of a future in cinemas and blockbuster franchises like the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be the key to the revival of theaters around the world.
“A sea change was due, anyway. It was coming. Will movie theaters still exist? Absolutely, they will. In some ways, I think the exhibitors, once they’re up and open, are going to have the freedom of choice of what movies they’re going to play. Big event motion pictures are going to rule the day at the cinemas. News of the World might be the last adult movie about people saying interesting things that’s going to play on a big screen somewhere, because after this, in order to guarantee that people show up again, we’re going to have the Marvel Universe and all sorts of franchises.”
Warner Bros. might be sending their entire slate of 2021 projects to HBO Max the same day they hit theaters, but Tom Hanks is right. The rest of Hollywood needs to keep their biggest movies with the most earning potential as theatrical releases only, convincing people to head back to the big screen in huge numbers and kickstart the resurgence we’ve all been waiting for. After all, following all of the delays as a result of COVID-19, 2021 is shaping up to be the most stacked year in history at the multiplex.