Screenshot of Marvel’s trailer for the list of movies on the horizon. Hide YouTube caption
With just two weeks left before A Quiet Place Part II turns your local multiplex into a less quiet place, Hollywood has started the back-to-cinemas drumroll.
“There’s nothing like that moment when the lights go out,” growls Vin Diesel, channeling his inner Richard Attenborough into it a trailer for F9, the latest installment from Fast & Furious. “The projector ignites and we believe.”
As he says this, a jeep explodes in flames and overturns his car, and the implication is inevitable – you pretty much have to see this on the largest possible screen.
“Nobody is making a comeback like the movies,” continues Diesel. And he should know. That online appeal came just hours before the Oscars aired, as Universal was preparing to release all eight previous F&F films in theaters, one a week, to excite the F9 opening in late June.
Then came a point by Matthew McConaughey at the Oscars, who sang the praises of 150,000+ movie theater workers who took “the longest hiatus they could ever have imagined” – an indication of theater closings due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and are now looking forward to welcoming the guests again.
The point is that these are plugs not just for a movie but for the movies as well. It’s not easy to start an entire industry from one point. Tenet tried in September and hissed when the audience wasn’t ready (though it was decent overseas). Double-Oh-Seven announced premieres and then canceled them. Wonder Woman stuck to their Christmas opening date but streamed the same day. Surveys show a lot of interest, but customers didn’t show up.
So this time nothing is left to chance. Memorial Day weekend will see some mid-sized genre prequels – Disney’s live-action Cruella and the thriller A Quiet Place Part II – with the big cannons F9 and Marvel’s Black Widow waiting until just before July 4th. That gives the Hollywood studios time to sell the sizzling summer, and the pandemic-weary guests time to familiarize themselves with the idea of gathering indoors.
And perhaps even more attentive than the big chains are art houses that target an older audience. They are therefore particularly aware of the risk and the need to make auditoriums safe. Your customers will come back for a more special tariff. “Come back,” says Nashville’s non-profit film center The Belcourt with connectors for Cinema Paradiso and Hollywood Shuffle.
But nobody makes a “You really want this” Sales pitch just like Marvel. It begins with the voice of the late Stan Lee, who praises togetherness through images of a crowded city street, and then switches to Iron Man hugging Spider-Man, followed by more scenes of cinematic togetherness from a 23-film “Infinity Saga”. “” It all builds on a moment of shared movie excitement that literally saw hundreds of millions of people around the world: the climax of Avengers Endgame, when everything seems hopeless, inevitably defeats – until the soundtrack swells and reinforcements arrive at the last possible second.
And the theater audience breaks out. The image on the screen shows multiplex customers jumping to their feet at an endgame show – arguably the ideal argument for returning to the cinemas – but not, as it turns out, the real grabber in Marvel’s “Welcome Back”.
The trailer reserves that main seat for the thing next to the audience that Hollywood hasn’t had in more than a year – the thing that is finally allowing theaters to reopen – tough opening dates. While the music thunders, they glitter and flicker defiantly under the titles: July 9th for the much-belated Black Widow; September 3 for Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings; November 5th for the Eternal; December 17th for Spider-Man No Way Home and on and on through May 2023.
You don’t even have to like superhero films to find the sheer bravery “We Have You” that comforts when Gemma Chan’s Sersi looks into the distance and declares, “We are the ones who changed everything.”
Another universe, of course. The pandemic has changed everything in ours.
But superheroes are still decent role models for audiences going back to theaters. Keep in mind that some of them found masks to be very comfortable to wear long before the rest of us.