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Are Movie Theaters Back?

By Matt Chieco

This past weekend at the movies, an almost nostalgic sense of normalcy pervaded. With the releases of 'A Quiet Place Part II' and 'Cruella,' all eyes were glued to the box office, and the results were nothing short of impressive – they even matched the pre-pandemic box office predictions!

Ever since the pandemic's onset, a flood of articles, interviews, and predictions had proclaimed the demise of the traditional movie theater experience, championing streaming as the inevitable future. The window for exclusive theater screenings of movies had grown shorter, and major studios like Disney and Warner Bros. announced that many of their 2021 releases would simultaneously hit streaming platforms and theaters. Yet, this weekend's outcomes might lead some to reconsider this narrative.

While COVID-19 certainly emphasized the importance of streaming, no one should underestimate the allure of the cinema. John Krasinski's sequel raked in over $47 million during its first three days, with an estimated $57 million for the four-day Memorial Day weekend. It was the perfect film to draw audiences back to theaters and keep them engaged. 'Godzilla vs. Kong' also enjoyed initial success in bringing viewers back, though it wasn't a sustained trend.

Amidst the celebrations surrounding 'A Quiet Place Part II,' another movie further cemented the notion that theaters are far from obsolete. Disney's latest live-action remake, 'Cruella,' pulled in over $21 million within its first three days and an estimated $26 million for the extended Memorial Day weekend. These figures might not be jaw-dropping in comparison, but what makes them noteworthy is the context: 'Cruella' was simultaneously released on Disney+ Premier Access. To see a movie, even with the option to watch from home, nearly hitting the $30 million mark underscores the persistent allure of the theater experience.

While the ongoing debate between watching at home versus watching in movie theaters will undoubtedly continue, the real litmus test lies ahead in this summer's movie season. With hope, the momentum generated by 'A Quiet Place Part II' and 'Cruella' will carry through until the year's end.

'A Quiet Place Part II' is now in theaters, while 'Cruella' is available both in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access.

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