Analysis: Which movies audiences wanted (and rejected) in the first half of 2022

The first half of the 2022 cinematic year was marked by several intriguing surprises that could reshape trends in cinematic production and exposure for years to come.

And the winners are: For films released in theaters in the United States from New Year’s Day through June 30, here are the 10 highest-grossing films, according to data published by Box Office Mojo:

1. “Top Gun: Maverick,” $530.1 million; open May 27; Primordial PARA A
2. “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” $409.7 million; open May 6; Walt Disney Co. SAY
3. “The Batman”, $369.3 million; opened March 4; Warner Bros. WBD
4. “Jurassic World Dominion,” $310.4 million; open June 10; Universal imagesa unit of Comcast Corp. CMCSA
5. “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” $231.8 million; opened on December 17, 2021; Sony Pictures SONY
6. “Sonic the Hedgehog 2,” $190.7 million; open April 8; Primordial
7. “Uncharted,” $148.5 million; open February 18; Sony Pictures
8. “The Lost City,” $105.3 million; opened March 25; Primordial
9. “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets,” $95.8 million; open April 15; Warner Bros.
10. “The Villains,” $95.7 million; open April 22; Universal images

It’s worth noting that “Spider-Man: No Way Home” was the only 2021 carry on the list, and its combined US gross is $804.7 million.

Of the studios that released movies this year, Paramount was the big winner with three top 10 movies, including “Top Gun: Maverick.” It also marked the return of the year, as the studio canceled almost all of its fall 2021 theatrical releases for fear that the omicron variant of the coronavirus would trigger another round of theater closures – this did not happen. not produced, of course, but Paramount easily makes up for lost time.

Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. each had two films in the top 10 and Disney had one.

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What people wanted: Seven of the top 10 films were either sequels, franchise expansions or reboots – and “Top Gun: Maverick” showed audiences were willing to patiently wait for a sequel, as the original production debuted in 1986.

Two of the top 10 films came from popular franchises from other media – ‘Uncharted’ was adapted from the classic video game and ‘The Bad Guys’ was based on by Aaron Blabey series of children’s books. Only “The Lost City” was a completely original IP, albeit as a send off of Hollywood action and romance movies.

But that’s not to say audiences were only interested in big-budget knockabout retreads.

A24 “Everything Everywhere All at Once”, very quirky, ranked 15th with $64.9 million at the box office, while Crunchyroll’s The anime feature “Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie” ranked 26th with a gross of $21.3 million. While those might seem slim compared to the top 10, it’s worth noting that both films were in relatively limited release and relied heavily on word-of-mouth to generate their audiences.

What didn’t work: There were some intriguing misfires that punctuated the first half of the year.

by Robert Egger Comcast’s Violent Viking Saga “The Northman” Focus characteristics ranked 34th with $32.4 million – the film’s budget was estimated at $70–90 million. Despite strong promotion and an all-star cast, “The Northman” followed Disney’s overpriced and star-studded 2021 flop “The Last Duel” by suggesting that historical epics are much out of favor.

Audiences also weren’t eager to see action movie favorites take on eccentric roles. Sony Pictures’ ‘Father Stu’ ranked 28th with $20.8 million – call from Mark Wahlberg playing a priest did not appeal to the public – whereas Nicholas Cage self-parody vehicle “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” ranked 29th with just $20.3 million in ticket sales for Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF-A).

And audiences weren’t interested in an action movie where the main heroes were all women – Universal’s ‘The 355’ starring Oscar winners JEssica Chastain, Penelope Cruz and Lupita Nyong’o ranked 31st with an anemic $14.5 million.

The Chinese market hasn’t worked out for many American films, either due to Beijing’s deliberate refusal to screen certain American productions or because of the prolonged closure of many Chinese cinemas due to the percolation of the COVID epidemics. But some of the major releases didn’t need China to hit their jackpots – ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ surpassed $1 billion in global ticket sales without having a release. Chinese, while “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is now $950.5 million worldwide despite not being in China.

Photo: Tom Cruise in ‘Top Gun: Maverick’, courtesy of Paramount

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Kimberly B. Nguyen