‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘Thor’ And ‘Jurassic World’ Sequels Top Fandango Summer Movie Poll

Fandango just dropped one of their periodic seasonal “most-anticipated films” polls in advance of the summer movie season. The “Moviegoing Trends & Insights Study” of more than 6,000 ticket buyers has some promising news, including that 83% of those polled plan to see at least three movies in theaters this summer, and that 93% swear they are going to see more than just superhero movies. That’s a comforting notion, but it’s worth noting that the survey only includes the top ten “most anticipated movies” of the summer, as opposed to what we sometimes see in terms of “most-anticipated male performance” or related sub-categories.

That’s probably because, quite shockingly, there just aren’t that many huge films opening between May and August of this year. With news that Sony’s The Man From Toronto is heading to Netflix instead of an August theatrical release and word that Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is shifting from October of 2022 to June of 2023, the common refrain is again that theatrical is essentially being starved for continuous content. April has been the first month since arguably October of 2021 with a regular weekly slate of “big” movies.

There are two “big” releases in May (Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness and Top Gun: Maverick) with one hopeful adult-skewing biggie (Downton Abbey: A New Era) and one cult animated property (Bob’s Burgers) right in between them. Nothing remotely “big” is opening on the first weekend of June while June 24 features both Warner Bros.’ Elvis (which is premiering at Cannes) and Universal’s buzzy The Black Phone (which is screening at Cinemacon next week).

Around them are Jurassic World: Dominion (ranked number three on this poll but still my bet for number one) on June 10, Lightyear (which just dropped a new trailer) on June 17 and Minions: The Rise of Gru on July 1. Thor: Love and Thunder opens on July 8 followed by Where the Crawdads Sing and Paws of Fury (an animated riff on Blazing Saddles) on July 15. Jordan Peele’s sure-to-be-huge Nope drops on July 22, followed by David Leitch’s Brad Pitt-starring Bullet Train along with the animated DC League of Super-Pets on July 29.

And… that’s it. There are currently zero (0.0) big movies opening between Bullet Train on July 29 and New Line’s Salem’s Lot on September 9. Yes, August has its share of studio programmers like Easter Sunday, Aubrey Plaza’s Sundance favorite Emily the Criminal, Paramount’s kid-targeted Secret Headquarters and Sylvester Stallone’s Samaritan, but there’s nothing on tap to be the next Suicide Squad, the next Straight Outta Compton or even the next Hitmans Bodyguard.

Even in a summer selling itself as a comeback season, the pickings are slim for “big” theatricals. Whether it’s due to a production gap due to Covid, projects being shuffled to (or prioritized for) streaming, release date delays (like Black Adam shifting from July 29 to October 21) and a combination thereof (see also: Lionsgate selling Jennifer Lopez’s Shotgun Wedding to Amazon), the “top ten biggest movies of summer” conversations are essentially “the ten movies of summer.”

Could Universal and Blumhouse’s Firestarter (also going to Peacock) surprise on May 13? Sure. Will audiences who swear they want to see more than superhero movies could show up for Where the Crawdads Sing (based on a novel that spent 150 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list) instead of seeing Thor 4 again? In a sane world, think pre-2016, when audiences showed up for more than just the court-appointed franchise-specific tentpoles, some of these smaller releases (like the “Idris Elba versus a lion” thriller Beast) would just be more than just longshots.

I imagine almost everyone’s summer box office betting pool will contain some combination of these ten most-anticipated films in varying order because that makes up most of the season’s wide theatrical releases. The results at the top aren’t exactly a surprise, as Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder are tops, followed by Jurassic World: Dominion. Top Gun: Maverick and Minions: The Rise of Gru are the last two big “supposed to open in 2020” flicks, so that’ll be an end of an era right there.

Peele’s Nope (starring Keke Palmer, Daniel Kaluuya and Steven Yeun and whose trailer plays like a barnburner in IMAX) will be the biggest-grossing live-action original or even new-to-you adaptation (Bullet Train is based on a novel) of the year. Heck, I wouldn’t be remotely shocked to see it end up in fourth place domestically for the summer. Sony hopes Bullet Train plays like Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation whereby a strong late-July opening lets it play as the last biggie of summer up until Labor Day.

Nope and Bullet Train exist alongside The Lost City as the year’s best hopes for non-franchise theatricals, and strong showings for Elvis (starring Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker) and Downton Abbey: A New Era will be seen as a sign that older audiences will still show up in the desire arises. After 1.5 years of “older audiences aren’t going to the movies,” I will laugh/cry if Downton Abbey 2 gets anywhere near its $100 million-grossing predecessor. But yeah, I’m still betting on the dinosaurs over the superheroes, at least worldwide.

  1. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
  2. Thor: Love and Thunder
  3. Jurassic World Dominion
  4. Top Gun: Maverick
  5. Minions: The Rise of Gru
  6. Lightyear
  7. Elvis
  8. Nope
  9. Bullet Train
  10. Downton Abbey: A New Era

The Fandango study also reveals that:

– 93% of moviegoers buy concessions (up from 84% the prior year), with popcorn and soda being the most popular items.

– 93% are interested in seeing various types of movies in theaters this year.

– 89% indicate that moviegoing is their favorite activity outside of the home (ranking higher than dining out, shopping or sporting activities).

– 85% say premium formats (like IMAX or Dolby) make the moviegoing experience more enjoyable.

68% feel movies released only in theaters are of a higher quality than straight-to-streaming titles.

In the study, moviegoers were asked about their top influences for deciding which movies to see on the big screen:

– 95% look for their favorite genres.

– 93% select films based on their trailers.

– 91% ask for recommendations from families or friends.

– 90% want to see their favorite stars on the big screen.

– 90% pick the latest installment of a favorite franchise.

– 88% search for positive ratings and reviews.

Fandango’s moviegoer study was conducted during the first quarter of 2022 with 6,000 participants who all had purchased at least one movie ticket over the past 12 months. The demographic breakdown of the group was 72% ages 18-54, with 58% identifying as female, 41% male and 1% non-binary. Sixty-one percent described themselves as Caucasian; 21% Latinx/Hispanic; 8% Black/African American; 8% Asian/Pacific Islander; and 5% other. There were a few respondents who identified with multiple ethnicities.

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