Apr 11, 2023 - Economy

Big movies draw audiences back to theaters

Data: Ycharts; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Ycharts; Chart: Axios Visuals

Audiences swarmed theaters for “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” — boosting hopes that the traditional way of seeing movies is back in favor.

Why it matters: The pandemic forced movie studios to turn to streaming in a way it hadn't before and audiences stayed home. "And theaters had no leverage to fight the changes,” Variety’s Rebecca Rubin has noted.

Driving the news: AMC on Saturday saw its highest day of sales in the U.S. since theaters reopened.

  • Attendance at Cinemark on Saturday was the largest on a single day since Christmas 2019.

What they’re saying: "The narrative has been 'Why would you want to come to the theater anymore [when] you’ve got all these streaming options at home,’” Eric Wold, senior analyst at B. Riley Securities, told Axios.

  • “[Super Mario Bros.] shows that when you have a great film come out [that] you have to see in the theater for some amount of time, people will come out … The movie going experience is still there.”

Yes but: A few good hits may not be enough to totally revive the theater-going experience.

  • The domestic box office is still down 20% in gross sales compared to the same time in 2019, which is in line with the gap in the number of wide-release films since 2019.

What to watch: Disney’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” and the newest installment of “Mission: Impossible” are among this summer’s most hotly anticipated releases.

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