Why are Marvel movies and other superhero-based films continuing to do a killing at the box office during this pandemic, when most other movies are either becoming financial bombs in theaters or barely making their budgets back? I’m sure industry experts are doing their best to figure that one out, but honestly, I think that answer is rather simple, and I don’t believe it’s what everyone else thinks the reason is, that being the fear of going to the theater and getting COVID.
Here’s why I say that. Spider-Man: No Way Home, another Marvel movie, just made $253 million on its opening weekend, and had a total global opening of $587 million, off a $200 million budget. Obviously, people are going to the movies with numbers like that! Personally, I sat in a very crowded 2pm showing of the new Spider-Man movie the other day, so I know people are going to the theaters in droves, but only for certain movies.
But take Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake for example. It cost $100 million to make, yet only earned $11 million on its opening weekend and $3 million on its second weekend. It was well-reviewed and well-liked by those who saw it, including me, but is most likely going to become a financial disaster when all is said and done.
And how about this interesting fact? Did you know that five of the six top grossing films of 2021 have been Marvel/superhero-based films with Spider-Man: No Way Home being in 1st, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in 2nd, Venom: Let There Be Carnage in 3rd, Black Widow in 4th, and Eternals in 6th?
So why are superhero films continuing to draw such large numbers at theaters when so many other films aren’t? My theory? People really need a serious escape right now from the stark reality of the life we are still having to live in, an escape of good winning over evil. Presently, I think people see this pandemic as an evil in our world and they are desperate for this evil to go away once and for all. What better way to feel amazing in a bleak pandemic-stricken world where isolation and worry surround so many of our thoughts than to go see a superhero film where good triumphs over evil. It does help to improve the mood for so many!
Look, people aren’t going to overcome any of their fears and worries during this pandemic by attending dark movies like Nightmare Alley, or artsy movies like House of Gucci, even when big-named stars are attached to them. For most movie-goers presently, having a plot that takes them out of this world and into another, where they can eventually leave a theater feeling more hopeful and uplifted because evil was conquered by humans that could be just like them, that’s what people want right now.
To further make my point, rounding out the top ten of this year’s box office are F9: The Fast Saga in 5th, No Time to Die In 7th, A Quiet Place Part II in 8th, Free Guy in 9th, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife in 10th. I saw each of those movies in the theater as well, which all dealt with some form of good triumphing over evil, where fantastical elements that really aren’t grounded in our current reality were present, (like Ludicrous and Tyrese Gibson going into outer space in a Fiero for example in F9!!!).
The reality is people want to escape the drama of this world and see a huge win over evil rather than watch something where the focus leaves them negatively charged. Why would the general movie goer want to go see any film presently that keeps them in their head and makes them feel more depressed and down, when their everyday world is already filled with so much of that right now. The fact is people want heroes currently to save the world from itself and so they’re looking for that in the theater and are willing to brave the pandemic for those types of movies. For the rest of films that aren’t superhero-based, well streaming has become the best solution for most now where they can hide in their own feelings in the comfort of their own home.
So, while Hollywood continues to try to figure this out in a world that has most definitely changed since this pandemic began, I decided to leave everyone with my own silly movie concept that might just work in these crazy times to become a box office hit.
Plot: A pandemic has hit our world even worse than COVID and has been around for a few years now. 1 in 3 dies from it by the time they reach 18 years old. But those who get sick and survive emerge with amazing new superhuman abilities and never get the virus again. Vaccines are available now to prevent any further deaths and can stop the virus even during a person being sick, yet they will also suppress any superhuman abilities from ever manifesting. Actor Timothy Chalamet and Actress Zendaya are the two lead characters, Eli and Ivy, who come from very different families in Chicago. Eli doesn’t believe in vaccination, but his entire family does due to all the losses they’ve endured, none having every survived without vaccination. Ivy’s family on the other hand are all unvaccinated due to their strong spiritual beliefs, including her father who almost died from the virus but survived and developed his own superhuman ability. He keeps his ability in secret though like most others do because most have vaccinated and those who haven’t and survived have become shunned in society, being blamed for why the virus is still around. Vaccination status is still kept private though and Ivy’s father works for Eli father’s company as a lead foreman for the largest construction company in Chicago. Eli works in the corporate office and occasionally is sent onto job sites for assessment. When one day he’s sent to Ivy’s father’s job site, a major accident occurs where Ivy’s father is forced to reveal his ability to save Eli’s life. Eli’s father fires him though over his superhuman status, knowing he was unvaccinated, even as his son protests his decision. When Eli decides to visit Ivy’s father’s home to apologize and offer help in any way he can, Ivy answers the door. Eli’s heart flutters as he lays eyes on her beauty for the first time, but Ivy slams the door in his face knowing who he is and what his father did. When Eli knocks again, Ivy reopens it choosing to hear out what he has to say. Eventually her heart will find a place for him, just in time for when they both succumb to the virus. Will they vaccinate to ensure their love’s survival, or will they take a chance to hopefully become a superhuman couple?
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson