For most of 2021, Hollywood looked like a dying industry. That’s a little hyperbolic, sure, but it’s not a stretch to say box office results were pitiful compared to what was seen before the pandemic. Things were not looking good for tinsel town…until the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man swept (swooped?) in to save the day. With a box office haul that is already over a billion, No Way Home‘s success has been like a shot in the arm, giving hope that 2022’s blockbusters can return to something resembling the pre-pandemic days. Time will tell, but there are at least a handful of big films to look forward to.
Starting with the first half of 2022, there are at least ten movies for genre fans to get excited about…
Okay, things start slowly, I admit. There’s nothing to write home about dropping this month unless the latest SCREAM film is to your liking. It’s not mine.
Box Office Prediction: $200 Million
Can Tom Holland carry a non-MCU film to box office success? It’s been hard for other MCU actors to carry over into other films; even Robert Downey Jr has struggled to score a hit movie, post-Iron Man. Uncharted is based on the Indiana Jones-inspired action/adventure games developed for Sony’s PlayStation consoles. It’s the latest attempt for Hollywood to make “video game adaptations” the next big cinematic it-thing. So far results have been mixed but with every attempt, it seems like we get closer and closer to a legitimately good one. Will Uncharted be the one? Based on the previews and marketing it’s hard to say (I’m leaning toward no). Will it at least be a hit? It’s got a budget of about 120 million so it’ll need at least 250 million to make a profit. I think it’ll come close but ultimately struggle to get over the hump.
DEATH ON THE NILE
Box Office Prediction: $100 Million
The last Agatha Christie adaptation, 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, was a big hit, bringing in over 300 million on a budget of just 50 million. A sequel was all but guaranteed with Kenneth Branagh returning as director and central character, detective Hercule Poirot. The previous movie was based on one of the most famous crime/mystery books ever written but were it not for the pandemic there would be no reason to think this one wouldn’t be a success to a similar degree. So far mid-budget films like this have suffered the most in the pandemic and how this one performs will be a big indicator for Hollywood as to whether they have a green light to return more to business as usual or continue to be cautious. Personally, though I have high hopes for the quality of the movie, I don’t think it will repeat the box office success of the original.
Box Office Prediction: $1.2 Billion
There’s just something reliably bankable about a new Batman movie. He’s like the James Bond of comic book films and other than maybe Spider-Man there’s not a hero with the kind of recognition, depth of interesting villains to draw from, and supply of hit stories to be inspired by that is found in the Caped Crusader. He’s the only hero on DC’s roster who is almost always guaranteed to produce a hit. Will his newest movie continue that tradition? Absolutely. Will it be the first mega-hit of 2022? Absolutely.
Box Office Prediction:
$350 Million 0 (will be airing on Disney+)
Pixar’s first theatrical release since Onward in early 2020 (which came out just as the world started shutting down) is releasing with a subdued amount of enthusiasm from the general public, but I expect that to change in the final weeks leading up to release. Pixar itself has sort of taken a back seat to Disney’s in-house animated offerings, but Luca was a delight and Soul is a tremendously underrated movie. The plot is the perfect blend of whimsical and weird, with enough hint at the expected heartstring-tugging that always makes Pixar movies a treat. I don’t know if this will be the film that returns the studio to the collective consciousness of the moviegoing public, but I do expect it to be a great watch.
SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 2
Box Office Prediction: $350 Million
The first Sonic movie was perhaps the surprise of 2020. It was fortunate to release before the pandemic shut everything down but even without that to worry about, the film was almost miraculously watchable. It was legitimately funny in places, well-paced, smartly cast, and…I dunno, it just worked. It wasn’t perfect; I gave it an 8/10 and I stand by that after rewatching it a few times, but it was a good enough foundation to build on. Based on the marketing for the sequel, I’d say the people in charge are building on that foundation the right way. The first one pulled in 300 Million mostly in the pre-pandemic era. I expect similar returns this time which, in the mid-pandemic era, is a great follow-up.
FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE SECRETS OF DUMBLEDORE
Box Office Prediction: $400 Million
Of the ten movies on this list, there probably won’t be a film as polarizing as this one. For my part, I really enjoyed the first film in this series and while I recognize the many flaws in the second outing, I still had a good enough time to give it a passing grade. Unfortunately, I was in the minority as most people found the movie too sloppy and dour to enjoy. Enthusiasm for the series has plummeted leaving the box office hopes for part three a bit suspect. The story as conceived by JK Rowling called for five movies, whether we get the fourth and fifth will likely depend on how well this one performs. There are still plenty of Harry Potter fans out there who are eager for another dive into the Wizarding World…
DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS
Box Office Prediction: $1 Billion
The long-awaited solo sequel for Dr. Strange is probably the second biggest film of the first half of the year. Personally, I have wanted this movie since Strange stole the show in Infinity War. It’s been a long six years since his first film, but he’s been sprinkled across multiple Marvel projects since then, most recently Spider-Man: No Way Home. That movie’s billion-dollar haul has only increased the already-high anticipation for this one, leading me to believe it will be a big earner at the box office. Whether it crosses the big billion-dollar line will probably depend on the state of the pandemic by May. If things have mellowed out a bit, we might see a big payday coming…
TOP GUN: MAVERICK
Box Office Prediction: $250 Million
I regard this movie as little more than an appetizer while I await the next Mission: Impossible film. The original Top Gun was pure 1980’s machoism. It is a wonderful guilty pleasure movie with a killer soundtrack…and that’s about it. Top Gun is hardly high art, but it is a ton of fun if you’re in the mood for it. It’s the kind of movie that has a certain vibe, and it’s a vibe that is very (very) hard to recapture in a sequel. I don’t expect this film to pull it off, but I do think it will do just enough to satisfy the nostalgia-thirsty fans the movie is made for in the first place.
Box Office Prediction: $600 Million
On paper, this does nothing for me. The idea seems contrived and uninspired. Movies aren’t seen on paper, though. The trailer looks like a sci-fi adventure with a retro aesthetic and that is 100% my jam. The fact that the teaser was accompanied by Bowie’s “Starman” is one of those marketing decisions that is too perfect for words. I choose to believe this movie will do more than just provide a backstory for the Buzz Lightyear action figure. I choose to believe this will be a fun, epic, moving sci-fi adventure. If it is it’ll rocket to the upper-echelon of Pixar movies for me. It almost certainly won’t hit the box office heights of the mainline Toy Story films but the name recognition alone will lift it above Pixar’s other movie this year.
JURASSIC WORLD: DOMINION
Box Office Prediction: $900 Million
The third film in what was original to be a trilogy, Jurassic World: Dominion is now being billed as the end of the World trilogy and the start of a new series of films. I really don’t care about any of it. The first Jurassic World was barely watchable as a straight movie and was only enjoyable as a meta-commentary on reboots/remakes in general. The follow-up is one of the most excruciating experiences I ever had in the cinema. It was never so bad that I could happily walk out on it, but it was also never consistently good enough to find something positive to hold onto. It was just a disjointed mishmash of ideas both boring and bad. I expect nothing better to come from the newest film. Alas, it will also probably make a stupid amount of money.
See page 2 for the second half of 2022…