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Box office ‘really is’ returning to pre-pandemic levels, analyst says

Paul Dergarabedian, Comscore Senior Media Analyst, sits down with Yahoo Finance Live to talk about the opening weekend projections for Marvel's "Thor: Love and Thunder", along with the box office numbers for other summer blockbusters.

Video Transcript

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Marvel's latest release, "Thor, Love and Thunder," is in theaters now. The fourth "Thor" film bringing in $29 million in previews yesterday. Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian is with us now to break down those numbers and more from the summer box office. Good to see you, Paul. So how is "Thor, Love and Thunder" stacking up against its Marvel counterparts that always bring it at the box office?

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: Well, Rachelle, it definitely is a great start for this movie. And if you look back at "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," that movie had $36 million in Thursday previews. It went on to open with $187 million. So with "Thor" at $29 million in previews, I think we're looking at $150 million plus domestically this weekend for "Thor." So it's just going to be another slam dunk for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

DAVE BRIGGS: As good as Natalie Portman's arms look, what have the reviews been? I'm seeing some mediocre scores out there. Have you seen it?

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: David, I have not seen the movie. And it's interesting because the Taika Waititi "Thor, Ragnarok," which was very different from the first two "Thor" films, much more comedic, really, resonated very strongly. I think this one, though, it's-- I think because it's the second time out where we're seeing those comedy elements, maybe that's why the reviews aren't that great. But with Marvel, reviews don't really matter. It seems that if you want to be part of that Marvel Cinematic Universe, and you're a fan, every movie as a must see title, Dave. I really think so.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: I, for one, am all in. I loved "Thor, Ragnarok." I'm all in.

DAVE BRIGGS: Good to know.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And I love Christian Bale. And his performance in this is supposed to be absolutely fantastic. So in terms of sort of the other thing--

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: How cool is that--

RACHELLE AKUFFO: Yes.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: Yeah, I'm sorry to interrupt, but, like, to have Christian Bale in the movie is just, like, mind blowing, like, right? The acting talent that's in this movie is pretty incredible. Sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt you there, but I got so excited about Christian Bale being in that movie.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: I don't blame you.

DAVE BRIGGS: So 68% on Rotten Tomatoes is the audience-- is the critic score. 84% is the audience. Overall, though, Paul, what is the health of the box office? Is it back to near pre-pandemic levels?

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: It really is. And this is great news for the industry. If you look at how well, obviously, "Doctor Strange" kicking off the summer of 2022 in grand style, that film is now at $410 million domestically. "Top Gun, Maverick," over Memorial weekend, that film was at almost $600 million domestically and over a billion worldwide. That's Tom Cruise's biggest movie ever. And then, of course, "Jurassic World, Dominion" is at $341 million. I mean, these are positively pre-pandemic numbers.

And while the full year won't get to $11 billion plus, as we traditionally see, I think we could be at $7 and 1/2 or $8 billion. We're making that big comeback. It's taken a while, but people love going to the movies. This "Minions" movie has become an absolutely interactive happening, as we used to say in the '60s, in movie theaters as audiences are really getting into that spirit of being in that communal environment of the movie theater. It's positively electric to go to a movie theater right now.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And it's interesting because "Minions" isn't one of those movies like, say, a Marvel, where it's a cinematic masterpiece, where you really need the big visuals. So it's interesting to see "Minions" doing so well. What are some of the other titles coming out this summer that you're keeping an eye on?

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: Well, I think, obviously, "Nope" from Jordan Peele is a big one to look out for, always an event when Jordan Peele makes a film. And his name at the top of the marquee is a brand. And people know that if you go to a Jordan Peele movie, it's going to be something interesting and different and mind blowing.

And then, of course, we're going to have the next Brad Pitt movie called "Bullet Train." That opens in August. And then we have a lot of movies from now until the end of the year coming out, including "Black Panther, Wakanda Forever," and "Avatar" later this year.

So the movie theater, I'm even hesitant to say that the movie theaters are on the road to recovery. I think they're basically recovered. Now we got to play catch-up with how slow things were at the beginning of the year because there was only one big movie per month at that point. Now we've got five or six movies in the top, and all performing very well.

We hadn't seen that in a while. It was always one movie right at the top dominating for weeks on end. Now we've got a much more balanced and-- a marketplace and a lot of equilibrium in terms of that box office. That's a great sign that we're back to some sort of normal after two years of a huge downturn for movie theaters.

RACHELLE AKUFFO: And we know during that downturn, a lot of people turned to streaming. We then also sort of saw they split openings, where some would premiere in the movies and streaming as well. You expect that to decline, then, as we see more people coming back to the box office.

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: Definitely. I mean, I think the day and date strategy worked during the pandemic. Obviously, with theaters closed, what's your option, right? If you're a studio, you have to put that content on the small screen on streaming services.

But as we've seen over the course of the pandemic, and then especially now, a movie theater first exclusive release gives a movie the best shot not only at huge revenue generation around the world, but that cultural resonance that makes a film like "Minions" become like this huge, popular movie among teenagers and older audiences for whom you wouldn't think this-- "Minions" would be the kind of movie they'd go out and see.

And then you have a film like "Elvis," which is appealing to younger and more mature audiences, "Top Gun" bringing out more mature audiences. Families are back. And it's great news for theaters. And we're going to see independent films, I think, coming back to the forefront in terms of popularity after a long hiatus. So that's good news as well.

DAVE BRIGGS: I, for one, am psyched to see "Thor" this weekend. Comscore's Paul--

PAUL DERGARABEDIAN: Do it.

DAVE BRIGGS: --Dergarabedian, good to see you, sir. Enjoy the weekend. Thank you.