Can Movie Theaters Move Past the Blockbuster-or-Bust Era?

CinemaCon 2022: Film industry is confident that audiences interested in smaller films will return

Can independent and lower-budget movies fill theaters? (Warner Bros., 20th Century)

Amid the defiant optimism for the future of movie theaters that defines the annual CinemaCon convention, there’s always talk about a big challenge facing the industry in the year ahead. Before the pandemic, it was streaming. Last year, it was COVID-19. This year, it’s about selling tickets for films that aren’t franchise blockbusters.

The $6.3 billion grossed in North America since the start of 2021 — well short of the $11 billion-plus earned annually prior to the pandemic — has largely been driven by Marvel films like “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” and “Venom: Let There Be Carnage,” along with other franchise films like “No Time to Die,” “F9,” and “The Batman.”