NORTH BATTLEFORD — Welcome to our latest edition of Cairns on Cinema and our annual Summer Blockbuster preview.
This column happens not a moment too soon, as far as I am concerned. It has been a crazy, stressful time in my life as of late, and life has gotten to be a little bit overwhelming.
So, what do you do when life gets too overwhelming? Why, what else? Go to a movie. That’s what I did: I went to the new Cineplex Cinemas at The Centre in Saskatoon to watch The Bad Guys.
Yes, I know I’m too old for cartoons, but The Bad Guys was just the tonic that I needed to get my mind off life in general.
On that note, let me voice my outrage about the general portrayal of big bad wolves, sharks, piranhas, tarantulas and snakes compared to other members of the animal kingdom. Look at bears, for instance. Bears are portrayed as cute and cuddly, but they eat people! It’s a double standard. Same with frogs, who are also portrayed as cute and cuddly, except some of them are venomous, too! So yeah, more has got to be done to improve the lot of the marginalized members of our animal population. That’s all I have to say on that.
What I really was interested in was being able to finally see a movie at the new Centre Mall cinema that was built as an addition to the front of the mall a couple of years ago. It was a very nice cinema with lots of comfy chairs, and certainly was a first-rate experience. But I have to admit, I will miss the old Cineplex cinema that used to be inside the mall, as well as the old Rainbow Cinema that was across from it with its famed cheap ticket prices. Cheap movies are sadly a thing of the past in Saskatoon.
Now, on to the business at hand of previewing the summer blockbuster season. I think we should first acknowledge that there actually is going to be a summer blockbuster season, for a change, after all of the chaos and upheaval of 2020 and 2021.
Fortunately for the cinema chains, the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions look to firmly be in the past, and business has more or less returned to almost-normal since late last year. But there is a segment of the population who are still leery.
That is how we kick off the summer movie season: in strange fashion. Dr. Strange, that is.
Blockbuster season kicks off with the May 6 release from Disney and Marvel of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is forecast for a $160 million domestic haul on opening weekend. This resumes the Marvel movie tradition of launching around the first weekend of May, a spot that was popular in the past with the Iron Man and Avengers franchises.
The following week, May 13, sees the release of Firestarter, based on the Stephen King work, while May 20 sees the release of Downton Abbey: A New Era.
The next big blockbuster weekend is May 27 when Top Gun: Maverick rolls out starring Tom Cruise. This is a sequel to the original Top Gun that debuted in 1986, but its release had been delayed for ages due to COVID-19.
June 10, the dinosaurs are back in business as the Jurassic franchise returns one last time to cinemas with Jurassic World Dominion. Based on past performance of the franchise, this one should be a prime candidate to win the box office for the summer.
Then on June 17 it is Lightyear, reprising the Buzz Lightyear character in Pixar’s Toy Story franchise.
June 24 sees Elvis in cinemas, with a highlight being Tom Hanks in the role of Elvis Presley’s manager Col. Tom Parker.
In terms of highly anticipated releases from a box office standpoint, a few more stand out:
Minions: The Rise of Gru, is in cinemas July 1.
Thor: Love and Thunder sees Chris Hemsworth back in the title role in cinemas July 8.
July 22 sees Nope, highly anticipated due to the involvement of writer and director Jordan Peele who is known for his recent releases Get Out (2017) and Us (2019).
The July 29 weekend promises to be a competitive one. For CGI animation fans, there is DC League of Super-Pets with big names like Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart providing the voices. That rolls out July 29.
Also that weekend is the action movie Bullet Train, starring Brad Pitt.
Those are the titles which stand out for me this summer. To be honest, I really don’t see these titles here as ones that could challenge or set major new box office records, the likes of which we saw pre-pandemic. I still think we’ll see lots of good business and a full recovery at the box office this summer.
Also, it should keep movie fans occupied until the fall when some more big-name movies like Mission Impossible 7 (Oct. 7) and Avatar 2 (Dec. 16) roll out. In my view, that’s likely when we will see the big contenders for 2022’s top releases in the cinemas.
That’s about all I have for this Summer Preview, and we shall see you next time.