inside film

Why older viewers could be the saviours of cinema

Cinemas are welcoming back audiences with open arms, writes Geoffrey Macnab. But with older viewers hesitant to return and indie films being squeezed out, a night at the movies might never be the same again

Friday 14 January 2022 06:30
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<p>Rita Moreno in the 2021 version of ‘West Side Story’, which had underwhelming numbers at the box office</p>

Rita Moreno in the 2021 version of ‘West Side Story’, which had underwhelming numbers at the box office

Cinemas are back in business. Almost two years after the start of the pandemic, debt-ridden film exhibitors who’ve been keeping their projectors in mothballs are suddenly making very bullish noises about their prospects for 2022. These exhibitors have just seen Spider-Man: No Way Home spin its way to ticket sales globally of more than $1.5bn in spite of the Omicron surge. They’ve also been encouraged by the intense debate among Hollywood studio bosses about just what to do with movies. The studios may have made huge recent investments in VOD platforms but most have concluded that their highest budget offerings need to be seen on the big screen.

True, the curse of Covid still lingers. Pixar announced last week that its latest animated feature, Turning Red, will premiere on the Disney+ platform in March. The title may have a grim, ironic resonance as exhibitors contemplate their balance sheets after months of empty auditoriums. This, though, is likely to be one of the last of the studio blockbusters to bypass cinemas.

Later in the year, Hollywood will be bombarding audiences with massive new releases. The Robert Pattinson version of Batman; Morbius; Doctor Strange: In the Multiverse of Madness; Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore; Top Gun: Maverick; John Wick 4; Jurassic World 3; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever; The Flash and Thor: Love and Thunder are just some of the big franchise films that should be hammering their way onto screens near you.

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