The success of Thor: Love and Thunder is key to its box office success

July is not only the biggest cash register month since 2019, but also the closest “normal” month since COVID began.

July is typically the busiest month of the year at the box office (June or December are the only others that come close). This July should be by far the best month we’ve seen this year so far. This would come after June set a record for the domestic box office, the best in two and a half years. With only two days left in the month, total revenue for the month should reach approximately $970 million.

Before COVID, June typically grossed over $1 billion, and that goes back to the 1980s when adjusted for inflation. Even now the theaters are not back to normal. This month’s 84 per cent share compared to June 2019 is the best ratio to the last ‘normal’ month since cinemas reopened after lockdown, although it’s only about three-quarters of a typical intake compared to the larger figures from June 2018

Our June preview suggested that June could hit $1 billion at best. To do this, “Jurassic World: Dominion” (Universal) and “Lightyear” (Disney) had to perform as expected, and “Top Gun: Maverick” (Paramount) had to hold its ground after its strong opening. The total came close because Dominion hit its mark at around $315 million during the month, although Lightyear fell well short of the mark at under $100 million.

But most of all, June’s big win is down to “Maverick” boosting its original numbers by over $360 million. Even with a below-average total, June’s performance is more impressive, seeing just four new broad studio releases that month, far fewer than any normal month in recent memory. Hit films fared better due to less competition, but the lack of more alternatives, well beyond the disappointing “Lightyear,” is the main reason why earnings don’t reach higher levels.

“Elvis” (Warner Bros.) and “The Black Phone” (Universal) got off to a good start this past weekend, with the latter in particular having the potential to add $75 million or more in July. But “Maverick” will do even more, perhaps up to an extra $150 million if it hits its projected domestic output of $650 million or more.

All in all, films already released could potentially add $350 million to the July total, but the responsibility for making July a stellar month rests with the six new wide releases.

Tom Cruise plays Captain Pete "loner" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

“Top Gun: Maverick”

Paramount Pictures

A step up: July will have two more broader releases than the studios provided in June. Crucially, three of them – “Thor: Love and Thunder” (Disney), “Minions: The Rise of Gru” (Universal), and “Nope” (Universal) – will do well enough on their own to easily top 1 get a billion dollars.

“Thor” opens on July 8th, giving it four weekends within the month. Based on how much better Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was compared to its predecessor, this fourth standalone MCU film is expected to top each of the three previous Thor entries (“Ragnarok” is currently with total $315 million the best ).

Both its calendar placement (like “Doctor Strange”, it has a summer date unlike its predecessor) and its desirability as an entry in the main universe Marvel storyline are seen as advantages to increase its prospects. A $150 million opening is expected. Earning $300 million during the month seems like a conservative forecast. How much more the film can notch will be key to whether July hits $1.2 billion — or even more.

lighting "Minions: The Rise of Gru"

“Minions: The Rise of Gru”

NBC Universal

Minions: The Rise of Gru (Universal) starts this week with a big question mark – was Lightyear sui generis or will animated theatrical releases all be spoiled by Universal and Disney, making them available early at home regularly? It is expected to open around $75 million. The sequel to the Despicable Me spinoff, the fifth film overall in the franchise, has higher potential.

The 2015 Minions, which opened over Easter weekend, grossed $115 million. This points to a positive side of the current forecast. But the relatively weaker performance of most animated films following the COVID shutdown — at least in part due to Disney’s early streaming of top titles and Universal placing them on PVOD no later than their third weekend in cinemas — is a cautionary tale.

Ironically, if The Rise of Gru grossed over $50 million as expected, Universal won’t place it on PVOD until after the fifth weekend at the earliest, based on its current deal with theaters. The film also benefits from the quick drop for Lightyear, with less competition in the animated family space.

Two later animated titles — Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank (Paramount/July 15) and DC League of Super Pets (Warner Bros./July 29) — may have limited impact. But neither is expected to be as strong, and the latter, with its opening last weekend, will not be a big factor in July’s overall gross. However, the three films together give a sense of whether “Lightyear” was a fluke.



Screenshot/universal images

July 22nd’s Nope has the potential to be the biggest non-franchise release of the summer. After “Get Out” and “Us” (both grossing $175 million domestically, both spring releases), Jordan Peele’s genre films are close to franchise status. This will remain a question mark until the film is shown (it features UFOs, but not much else is known). It’s probably the third-biggest opening film of the month (probably over $50 million).

Another intriguing non-franchise opening this month is Where the Crawdads Sing (Sony/July 15). There was a time when an adaptation of a best-selling crime novel like this one (“Gone Girl” grossed $168 million domestically as of 2014) was a surefire hit.

Its appeal includes older viewers who have recently returned to the cinema. It lacks well-known stars, however, leaving the book and word of mouth once opened (and possibly checking attention beforehand) to boost it. It remains the biggest uncertainty of the month.

Other notable titles, though more limited at first, include two from Focus Features: “Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris” (July 15) and “Vengeance” (July 29).

This overall lineup has potential. The comparable July 2019 had The Lion King and Spider-Man: No Way Home, both grossing over $350 million a month. Toy Story 4 added another $163 million to his bounty. “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” initially grossed $55 million.

If this July performs relatively well compared to 2019 like June, it will bring in $1.1 billion. Most of our last monthly reports were a bit too optimistic. In this case, however, it seems very likely that this number will be exceeded.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/06/thor-love-and-thunder-box-office-preview-1234737445/ The success of Thor: Love and Thunder is key to its box office success

Lindsay Lowe

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