Research Blog

Can the ‘Big 5’ movie studios deliver at the box office this summer?

Nearly 16 months after the COVID-19 pandemic halted in-person movie-going, studios are hoping pent-up demand will feed box office numbers this summer.

The summer blockbuster season typically begins Memorial Day weekend and runs through the end of July, even early August. The box office grossed $368.5M in June 2021, which sounds impressive when you compare it to last year’s total of $3.67M when most theaters around the US were closed. However, it still pales in comparison to typical June numbers which easily top $1B.

*Data from Box Office Mojo by IMDbPro

June 2021 was still limited as not all movie theaters around the country were open at full capacity for the entire month. Two big holdouts, New York and California, officially removed all restrictions on June 15, meaning July will be the first month without seating restrictions since February 2020. Movie studios and theaters alike are hoping July will have a strong showing, starting with Independence Day weekend.

The next 6 weeks will feature some majorly awaited tent-pole movies, while the last couple weeks of August, i.e. the summer doldrums, tend to be avoided for big releases as families take their final vacations before the school year begins. The beginning of the school year gives way to lighter crowds and therefore fewer blockbuster movie releases, or those that didn’t perform well with test groups.

Here are the major films being released by each of the “Big 5” studios for the rest of the summer. It’s important to be aware of these as they will impact volatility and stock performance.

Studio parent - NBCUniversal (Comcast, CMCSA)
Major film studio unit - Universal Pictures

June 25 - F9: The Fast Saga (Wide release, IMAX)
July 2 - The Forever Purge (Wide)
July 2 - The Boss Baby: Family Business (Video)
July 16 - Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain (Limited release)
July 23 - Old (Wide)
July 30 - Stillwater
August 20 - Finch (Cancelled)
August 27 - Candyman (Wide)

Studio parent - WarnerMedia (AT&T (T), pending Discovery, Inc merger (DISCA))
Major film studio unit - Warner Bros. Pictures
Secondary Studio - New Line Cinema

July 1 - No Sudden Move (Video)
July 16 - Space Jam: A New Legacy (Wide, Video)
August 6 - The Suicide Squad (Wide, IMAX, Video)
August 20 - Reminiscence (Wide)
September 3 - Reminiscence (Video)

Studio parent - Walt Disney Studios (The Walt Disney Company (DIS))
Major film studio unit - Walt Disney Pictures
Secondary Studio - 20th Century Studios

July 2 - Summer of Soul (& Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Wide, Video)
July 9 - Black Widow (IMAX, Wide, Video)
July 30 - Jungle Cruise (Wide, Video)
August 13 - Free Guy (Wide)
August 20 - The Night House (Wide)
August 27 - The Beatles: Get Back (Cancelled)
September 3 - Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (Wide)

Studio parent - ViacomCBS (VIAC)
Major film studio unit - Paramount Pictures

July 13 - A Quiet Place: Part II (Video)
July 23 - Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (Wide)
August 20 - PAW Patrol: The Movie (Wide)
August 31 - Bugsy Malone (Video)

Studio parent - Sony Pictures (Sony (SNE))
Major film studio unit - Columbia Pictures
Secondary Studio - TriStar Pictures

July 16 - Escape Room: Tournament of Champions (Wide)
July 30 - Nine Days (Limited, Wide release on Aug 6)
August 13 - Don’t Breathe 2 (Wide)
August 13 - The Lost Leonardo (Wide)

The next opportunity to hear about summer box office success and future plans will be during Q2 earnings calls, the season officially kicks off in 2 weeks. AT&T is slated to report on July 22 before market open (confirmed), Comcast on July 29 BMO (confirmed), Walt Disney on August 3 after market close (unconfirmed) and Discovery on August 4 BMO (unconfirmed).

We’ll also be looking out for results from major movie theaters, especially AMC Entertainment which has gotten caught up in the meme stock frenzy.

IMAX Corporation (IMAX)

-       July 27 BMO (unconfirmed) - Q2 Earnings announcement

AMC Entertainment (AMC)

-       August 5 AMC (unconfirmed) - Q2 Earnings announcement

Cinemark Holdings (CNK)

-       August 6 BMO (unconfirmed) - Q2 Earnings announcement

National CineMedia (NCMI)

-       August 9 AMC (unconfirmed) - Q2 Earnings announcement