Monday, February 26, 2024

From Avatar 2 to the Barbie phenomenon: Italian seasonal takings are a riot of big brands

From Avatar 2 to the Barbie phenomenon: Italian seasonal takings are a riot of big brands

So many sagas, so many franchises, so many certainties and not much Italy in the top 10 of seasonal film box office receipts, which closed with the triumph of Avatar – La via dell’acqua and Barbie by Greta Gerwig. But a looming shadow: the Hollywood strike has triggered a nervous breakdown that is (already) infecting the autumn and winter programming…

From Avatar 2 to the Barbie phenomenon: Italian seasonal takings are a riot of big brands

August 1st, together with the holidays, the final data also arrived which closed the film season 2022/2023. A year of outings (perhaps too many?), a year which, after the Covid restriction crisis, seems to have raised its head again, showing signs of renewed participation. Also because, judging by the top 10 of the Italian box officewhich runs from 1 August 2022 to 31 July 2023, there is very little room for surprises, and all films – with the exception of the only Italian title – are part of sagas, franchises, big brands.

Avatar The Way Of Water 6

Avatar: The Way of Water. a scene from the movie

A set that underlines the current nature of things: today the Italian public goes to the cinema when there is an event that attracts attention. The much underlined cinematographic experience, the one that defeats the programming and makes any type of competition useless, unbalancing (by a lot) the very perception that the spectator may have towards the cinema.
If the season finale strengthens a plus sign from the point of view of receipts, compared to the previous bad two years, it is almost above all due to the first three classified films: Avatar – The way of water by James Cameron, released at Christmas 2022, grossed 44.7 million euros. An important figure given the changed habits of the audience, so much so that it ranks sixth among the most watched films ever in Italy.

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Super Mario Bros. – The Movie: A moment from the movie

The first novelty, although linked to a brand, is in second place: Super Mario Bros. The Movie was the spring title, recording a good 20.3 million euros in receipts in just a few days. A film that brought both adults and children to the cinema, as was the case with the phenomenon of the year: Barbie (here the opinions of the editorial staff). Greta Gerwig’s film turned audiences pink, finishing in second place with €19.18 million. It narrowly missed Super Mario in the season box office, no doubt it will surpass it in the yearly box office.

Fast X, Marvel and little Italy

Fast X Vin Diesel Jordana Brester

Fast X: Vin Diesel e Jordana Brewster in una scena

If the first three positions include two original titles, albeit linked to a marked recognition (both Barbie and Super Mario Bros are part of our memories, and memories are the perfect palliative for the dark times we live in), from fourth place down, excluding the Italian production, there are only films related to the sagas. As many as six films are sequels or live action remakes. In fourth place there is Minions 2 – How Gru becomes very evil, which grossed $14.7 million. On the fifth here The little Mermaidwhich came close to 12 million euros (without the certain arrival on Disney+ would it have done more? Who knows…), followed by 11.8 million euros Fast X.

Fast X, the review: All roads lead to Rome

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: a scene from the trailer

A curiosity: if the Marvel universe was a guarantee until a few years ago, this time the first MCU film is “only” seventh: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 by James Gunn grossed 10.9 million instead Black Panther – Wakanda Forever, eighth, only 8.4. A drastic drop, due to several factors: the arrival of the films on Disney +, the significant change of course, the fluctuating quality of Phase 4 (excluding the excellent Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) or a saturation like that? Without a doubt, we can speak of saturation with respect to Italian productions: in 2022, 251 films of Italian production or co-production were distributed, only one (!) managed to enter the top 10 of the season: The big day with Aldo, Giovanni & Giacomo, which grossed €7.2 million. To close the round, here Creed III: Michael B. Jordan’s directorial debut grossed $6.8 million at the box office.

The shadow of the Hollywood strike

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Indiana Jones and the Quadrant of Destiny: Harrison Ford in a close-up

As written at the beginning, the top 10 of the season’s box office is a precise thermometer that marks the temperature of our industry. The case of Italian productions, then, is symptomatic: the public, barring exceptions (represented by the “author” factor, as in the case of Nanni Moretti, Roberto Andò, or by the “star” factor, such as The eight mountains with Alessandro Borghi and Luca Marinelli), and with discrete results, rarely opts for home-grown titles, which instead seem to have much more success in streaming. The reason? The post-Covid room, in the Italian imagination, is elitist of the aforementioned experience, marked by three or four strong titles. A partly misleading vision, because the cinematic experience – and we often remember this – is not alone Avatar 2, but every story that deserves to be transported to the big screen. Another reflection, not obvious, concerns the supporters: they could enter the annual ranking, but surprisingly they were cut out of the top 10 for 2022/2023. Two titles in particular made noise: Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destinywhich travels for around 6 million euros, placing itself just thirteenth in the top of world collections, and the mediocre collection – given the expectations – of Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning – Parte Unowith just 4 million.

Actors strike: why Hollywood is protesting

Mission Impossible Dead Reckoning Parte Uno 2 4Vuwknr

Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Parte Uno: Tom Cruise in una scena

Between winners and losers, however, a cumbersome shadow hovers. If takings have laboriously recovered (even worldwide), settling at a less than excellent but still acceptable dimension, the actors’ strike is seriously disrupting the newfound peace, leading Hollywood into a nervous breakdown which, in a chain, threatens the big autumn, winter and even spring outings as in the case of Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse (postponed to a date to be determined). The first to pay the price Kraven – The Huntermoved to August 2024, Poor Creatures!postponed from September to December, e Challengers by Luca Guadagnino, who sensationally misses the opening of Venice 80 with release postponed to April 2024. A domino effect theoretically equal – if not worse – to that faced by cinemas during health closures / restrictions. With one substantial difference: two such implosions, a few months apart, may not be supported by Italian, as well as global, exhibitors.