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Hollywood's 2024 story

Alex Garland’s highly imaginative Civil War and Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers were successful releases in their own rights but their box office exploits cannot be compared with those of the studio ‘re-quels’ and rehashes - The Garfield Movie, for instance, triumphed in spite of negative reviews.
Last Updated : 05 July 2024, 21:21 IST

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In 2023, Hollywood sprung into prime action following the pandemic lull and delivered strong proof that the big-screen experience is still very much in vogue.

The ‘Barbenheimer’ hysteria swept over the whole world on the one hand while other titles like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, Fast X and a few surprise entries such as Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour reinvigorated the business and set the right platform for 2024 to take over. 

However, the much-discussed WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes resulted in a significant shift in the plan and studios were soon compelled to change their release roster for the year. Consequently, the first half of 2024 is reeling under this impact and the industry as a whole is now keenly looking forward to the remaining six months to bail it out of trouble. 

An Unusual Summer

One of the biggest impacts of the dual strikes, which were justly organised between May and November 2023 by writers’ and actors’ unions against studios, is the reshuffling of the release strategy. 

A Hollywood summer typically lasts about 125 days between May and September and it is during this period that the industry schedules its marquee movies of the year. Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman-led Deadpool & Wolverine was originally slated to kick off the summer but the work stoppage caused by the strikes forced the Walt Disney Company to push the May 3 release to July 26, 2024. 

Deadpool 3 now claims the spot previously owned by Captain America: Brave New World, which will hit theatres in February next year.

All the shake-up eventually led to the less formidable ‘The Fall Guy’ taking ‘Deadpool 3’’s original place. The former film, despite starring Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt and receiving positive reviews, buckled under the pressure and emerged as a box-office disappointment.

Similarly, Paramount Pictures has pushed the release of the second part of Mission: Impossible 8 from June 28 this year to the end of May next year. Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe has delayed the release of every film slated for this year to the next, and a film like ‘IF’ (directed by John Krasinski and starring Ryan Reynolds), which was originally billed to arrive during 2023 Thanksgiving as a family entertainer, was tasked with headlining the summer season of 2024 instead. 

The ‘six-month gaping hole’ because of the strikes also resulted in a dip in the volume of releases, with Associate Press informing that only 32 films would battle it out this summer as opposed to the usual average of 40 releases.

A slack start

That said, it’s not common for Hollywood to hit the ground running every calendar year. A quick study of the trend suggests that January is spent mostly on recalibration after the holiday rush — with films like Mean Girls (reboot) and The Beekeeper keeping the ship steady in 2024 — whereas things get truly rolling by February or early March with the help of a major franchise vehicle.

If 2018 and 2019 had Black Panther and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World working their charm, the Robert Pattinson-led The Batman series made the first big bang in 2022 while Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania exploded as expected the following year. 

This year, though, the template failed to work with Sony’s latest Spider-Man outing Madame Web failing colossally and sending a chill of worry down the industry’s spine. It came down to the outlier once again as the biographical drama ‘Bob Marley: One Love’ (releasing on the same Valentine’s Day weekend) outgrew its expectations and soothed the pain a little. 

Denis Villeneuve’s Dune: Part Two, Kung Fu Panda 4, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire and Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire, which came out in March 2024, then became instrumental in bringing back the bucks. What those films also confirmed is that the franchise model always boasts the upper hand while competing with original work. 

Alex Garland’s highly imaginative Civil War and Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers were successful releases in their own rights but their box office exploits cannot be compared with those of the studio ‘re-quels’ and rehashes - The Garfield Movie, for instance, triumphed in spite of negative reviews. Quite perhaps, this could be the reason why two of Hollywood’s best voices, Doug Liman (Roadhouse) and Richard Linklater (Hit Man) collaborated with streaming giants earlier this year. In the same vein, one saw stars Anne Hathaway (The Idea of You), Nicole Kidman (A Family Affair), Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F) and many others finding comfort in the OTT space.

‘Inside Out 2’ and ‘Bad Boys 4’ to the rescue

But just when things began to look lacklustre, the month of June shimmied its way into focus with not one but multiple tent-pole films. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence scored a big hit with Bad Boys: Ride or Die with the animated family entertainer Inside Out 2 going on to earn the first billion of the year. 

A Quiet Place: Day One saw Michael Sarnoski take over the reins from John Krasinski and secure a hit to close the first half of 2024 on a high, with expectations now cranked up for what’s in store.

A24’s horror flick Maxxxine, the disaster epic Twisters, and M. Knight Shyamalan’s serial killer movie Trap are set to enthral audiences over the next couple of months. The cream of the crop, though, will arrive a little later as Transformers One (starring Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and others), Todd Phillips’ Joker: Folie a Deux (starring Joaquin Pheonix and Lady Gaga), Robert Zemeckis’ Here, Ridley Scott’s Gladiator 2, The Lord of the Rings: The War of the Rohirrim and Mufasa: The Lion King lineup enticingly to close off the year. Brace yourself then!

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Published 05 July 2024, 21:21 IST

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