Without a doubt, 2020 will forever remain one of the strangest and hardest ever for the film industry. The coronavirus pandemic stopped production on every significant film in production, pushed back the release dates of nearly every major blockbuster, shutdown theaters everywhere, and, as a result, quickened the transition to streaming releases. It’s hard to imagine what Hollywood would look like in a world without COVID-19, but many industry experts recently tried…
A Hollywood Without Coronavirus
With so much news this year, you might have missed just how bad the coronavirus hit Hollywood. Many many blockbusters, like Ghostbusters: Afterlife and the upcoming Dune adaptation were pushed back until 2021, provided theaters reopen. Meanwhile, the theater shutdown ensured movies that should have been massive hits, like Tenet and Hobbs & Shaw failed to earn big numbers. While the year started with some massive hits, like Bad Boys for Life ($427 million) and The Invisible Man ($130 million), COVID-19 quickly tanked films from the top down.
However, believe it or not, Shawn Robbins, one of Hollywood’s most notable box office analysts, still thinks that 2020 would have been a harder year for the industry, with or without the pandemic. Of course, the coronavirus certainly made things a lot worse. But, Robbins believes that, while big blockbusters still would have taken the top spots, they would have brought in less than expected. “Top Gun: Maverick, Eternals, and Dune have always had/have breakout potential,” he said. “In general though, I’d have expected Black Widow to win the year globally, Wonder Woman 1984 domestically, and F9 (the ninth Fast & The Furious film) internationally. One of the takeaways, in my opinion, would have been mild franchise fatigue and/or diminishing returns on brands that are becoming slightly overexposed with modern audiences, but a crowding of films earning very similar amounts throughout the year.” Others have different opinions, though!
Female Superheroes Lead The Way
Of course, Robbins’ is only one opinion. While Jeff Bock, another senior box office analyst, agrees that 2020 lacked big releases like a Star Wars or Avengers film, he believes 2020’s movies were meant to pave the way for new franchises. “Wonder Woman 1984, Minions: The Rise of Gru, F9, Black Widow, and Eternals. While not the slam-dunks we saw in 2019, these were solid prospects for hitting $1 billion worldwide,” he said. Not only would they have brought in the big bucks, but they also would have created solid franchises for years to come. Now, they might have a hard time launching.
Similarly, senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian agrees: in another world, female-led films would have taken the top spots. “In my view the films that boasted female superheroes were the most intriguing and had the greatest box office potential with both Black Widow and Wonder Woman 1984 generating massive buzz and pre-release interest,” he said. “Of course, blockbuster brands like James Bond, Fast & Furious, Minions & Pixar [Soul] would all have landed somewhere in my Top 10 for 2020 and of course Tom Cruise is always a box office top gun.”
Unfortunately, 2020 also brought the industry another blow: Warner Bros. announced they would bypass theaters next year, releasing all their tentpoles directly on the streaming service HBO Max. Only time will tell if 2021 will be a time of recovery for the industry or something else…