ELLY GRIMM • Leader & Times
A new season is upon the area, which means it is also time for a new season with a full slate of new movies.
Backing up slightly, Mitchell Theaters owner Brian Mitchell said the fall and winter was a good time for the movie business.
“Fall was when we started REALLY getting a good slate of movies again, but starting at Thanksgiving and then throughout the winter, there was a bit of a dip. We did have a few particular hits during that time including 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' and 'Avatar: The Way of Water,' but we did notice a dip during that time period, which happens,” Mitchell said. “Then it was about February and March when we started seeing some stronger releases and started seeing higher numbers with the movie, and I would say that all started with 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie,' that was HUGE for us. We met our expectations, but we didn't really have sky-high expectations this time around because we were still waiting on some pandemic-delayed movie releases, so our schedule wasn't as full as usual, which meant we had some slower weekends because of the lack of strong product. That first weekend in March, when we had those three big releases, that restarted the trend of us getting two or three new movies per week for our customers like what we'd seen before. We had movies like 'Creed III' and 'John Wick: Chapter 4' and some others that REALLY over-performed, which showed us people still want to get out and go to the movies when there are good ones in the theaters.”
With the spring and summer season set to start soon, Mitchell said there is a lot to be excited about.
“May is absolutely jam-packed, it's going to start off with 'Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 3' and 'Book Club: The Next Chapter' and 'Fast X,' all of which I'm expecting will do really well. I have to admit I'm also really looking forward to 'The Little Mermaid' – the previews look amazing and I have a daughter who watched it quite a few times when she was growing up, so I think that'll do really well for kids and adults,” Mitchell said. “Then, in June, we've got 'Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,' Pixar's 'Elemental,' 'Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,' 'Oppenheimer,' Greta Gerwig's 'Barbie' film, and 'The Marvels,' among many others, so this summer's actually got quite a few good movies that will be coming out. That increased movie slate is driving people to return to the movies, and having more movies available is just a great thing overall. I'll go back to 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie,' that's been the most recent family-friendly release since 'Puss in Boots: The Last Wish' came out around the Christmas season. The demand is there, people want to go see movies in the theaters if there are good options available. That's the most positive thing because after 'The Super Mario Bros. Movie,' we'll have family-friendly options with 'The Little Mermaid' and 'Elemental,' so there's a good family movie out every few weeks, and then nestled among them are the other bigger releases we'll be seeing. And coming out of COVID-19, that's been a great move to make and I hope that trend will keep going.”
With the movie business continuing to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell said he hopes to continue seeing increasing numbers as time goes on.
“I hope to see things go back to the way it used to be with the theater experience, seeing a movie in a crowded, dark auditorium with other people who are laughing/crying/screaming at the same things you are. It's all about that sense of community – you can watch movies at home and/or on TV, but there's something about watching a movie in a theater with other people that just can't be beat,” Mitchell said. “There's been a lot of talk about whether or not this will get us back to pre-pandemic numbers, but I don't think that will happen for a while, and we have to have realistic expectations for everything. I think the numbers will continue growing as people continue to go out and about again, and there are those movies I mentioned that prove people DO still want to go out to the movies. Something else I've noticed is some of the streaming services will be releasing some of their movies in the theaters because they know people want to get out and about again to the movies instead of continuing to stay home. I think streaming will be prevalent as time goes on, but that shift back to theatrical releases is coming about. I know there are still some simultaneous releases VOD and theatrical, but that's definitely slowed down more recently, so I don't think that'll be going away anytime soon either.”
Overall, Mitchell said, he is looking forward to seeing people at the movies this spring and summer.
“We haven't run out of popcorn for people or candy for people even with the supply chain issues, but I know that's starting to get better, and like I said earlier, the supply of movies is getting better, so we're looking at a great spring and summer blockbuster season,” Mitchell said. “It's definitely getting fun to go to the movies again, and I can't wait to see how this season ends up.”