‘F9,’ the next ‘Fast and Furious’ installment, will be the first major post-pandemic test for the movie theater industry

summer blockbuster
Universal Studios.

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Summer is here, which means it’s once again time to enter a dark, over-air conditioned space and stare at a screen for three hours.

At least that’s what the movie theater industry is hoping. After a debacle of a year in 2020 due to the pandemic, the lucrative summer movie season unofficially kicks off this year with “A Quiet Place Part II” and “Cruella,” which will hit US theaters Memorial Day weekend.

Early indicators for movie theaters are looking…better, relative to the utter collapse some predicted last year. The ninth installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise, “F9,” debuted in international markets this weekend and brought in $162.4 million, $135.6 million of which came from China. That’s the best opening of a Hollywood film since the pandemic began.

When “F9” hits the US box office on June 25 its performance, plus the success of the previously mentioned blockbusters, will help us learn more about the state of the theater industry.

What we already know

North American movie theater revenue plunged to $2.2 billion in 2020 from $11.4 billion in 2019 as the pandemic caused theaters to shut down for months. Closures were especially painful during the summer season, which brings in about 40% of the year’s total haul. Last summer, theaters grossed $176 million, a 96% decrease from 2019.

Now, even as the credits begin to roll on the pandemic, most film executives recognize that the future of moviegoing probably involves some moviegoing, some moviestaying. Every major studio outside of Sony now has an affiliated streaming service.

But how much of each is in the equation? No one knows the answer yet. This year, many movies will be released in theaters before coming to your small screen, but others will be rolled out in theaters and on streaming simultaneously, or they’ll ditch the theater part altogether.

Looking ahead…some of the year’s most anticipated releases include “In the Heights” (June 11), the new “Space Jam” (July 16), “The Suicide Squad” (August 6), and a “Candyman” reboot (August 27).

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Read the original article on Business Insider