Covid has been a horror story for the entertainment industry in general and cinemas in particular but a horror movie may just have single-handedly saved things.
A Quiet Place II hit American cinemas on what was its Memorial Day long weekend and raked in an incredible $US57.7 million. To put that in perspective, the original movie took about $US50 million in its non-Covid opening weekend.
And this for a movie that required you to have seen the original — and to like the idea of watching humans being dismembered by aliens that hunt by sound.
It’s all very well having been vaccinated against Covid but even a 1.5m social distancing space isn’t going to help if someone has pooped their pants at a jump-scare.
Meanwhile Cruella, the somewhat spotty prequel to 101 Dalmatians, took $US26 million, while also being available to rent for an extra $30 on Disney+.
Now, there’s two key questions we can take away from this.
The first is how much did Cruella make on Disney’s streaming service.
Disney is not saying — but I hope it wasn’t a huge amount. Because Disney’s image might be all about family-friendly entertainment but its accountants are like the monsters from A Quiet Place.
Of course I’m not suggesting they like the taste of human flesh — although we probably can’t rule that out entirely — it’s more they hunt the sound of money.
If they think there’s more cash in cinemas than streaming, then I have no doubt they will backflip into cinemas, despite earlier movies to pump up Disney+.
Secondly, we need to see what happens in a few weeks when Fast And Furious 9 hits cinemas. There are hopes that can hit $US100 million in its opening weekend — or at least go close.
Until a film hits that magic $US100 million mark, there’s still going to be doubts about the viability of cinemas.
Two US cinema chains went under during the 14-month pandemic shutdown. The biggest chain, AMC, is reportedly $US1 billion in debt.
That’s a lot of popcorn and fizzy drink you need to sell, even to a nation as overweight as the US.
But if F9 hits that mark — or at least goes close enough that a blockbuster such as Shang Chi, Venom 2 or Top Gun Maverick can hit the mark, then things are back in business.
It means we’ll begin to see more movies flowing through in early 2022 and a shift away from putting everything on streaming services.
Still, there are some massive markets that are still a year or more away from opening. India, Mexico and Brazil, for instance, are still in a mess.
Also, A Quiet Place II opens in the UK this weekend, which will give some idea of how that box office is going. Hint, not as well as the US.
Is it just me or can you tell how bad things are by how crazy Boris Johnson’s hair is.
Then there’s Victoria.
On a per capita basis it’s not as big as, say Los Angeles. But Melbourne thinks it’s the most important place in the world, so obviously Hollywood will take its cues from there.
So things are looking up for cinemas. But in the meantime expect cinemagoers to be pursued by both movie production accountants and desperate cinema popcorn bar staff with as much ferocity as a Quiet Place monster chasing a fat kid with a noisy toy.
Originally published as Could this horror movie hit save world cinema?