Put down that choc-top and step away from your popcorn. And don’t even think about reaching for that ridiculously large soft drink container.
Yes, I fear that movies are going to be put on hold again for at least the first half of 2021.
You see, Wonder Woman 1984 didn’t exactly have a wonderful performance at the box office.
In about a month, it has scratched together $US35.8m in American box office takings. To put that in perspective, the original took $US38.2 million on its first day of US release.
Sure, WW 1984 was also a marketing exercise for Warner Bros and its American-only streaming service HBO Max.
With its Christmas launch, it hoped to snare tens of thousands of new subscribers.
We don’t yet know whether it succeeded or not.
But we do know that movies without that streaming option are not going to fling themselves off a financial cliff like so many celluloid lemmings.
I’m not sure what $US35m buys these days in the movie business. I suspect that’s barely enough to cover the Botox and teeth-whitening bills for the American stars.
Obviously more people are needed back in the cinemas. But the vaccine program is going to take months to make it safe for the key movie-watching demographics to return to the cinemas in virus-riddled countries such as the US and UK.
When everything got postponed last year, April was the month of choice for many blockbuster releases, presumably to tie in with the Easter holidays. Yet that’s barely three months away and the vaccine program isn’t going to hit enough arms around the world by then.
Naturally we have to vaccinate the over-80s against COVID-19 first. But what sort of movies are they going to want to watch?
Sure, they will recognise the name James Bond — but they won’t accept a 007 that waxes his chest hair. And his lack of sexist one-liners is outrageous.
Then there are superheroes. Basically that’s Batman for them. But they want to see Batman in a fabric onesie, not some armoured suit — and when he punches a villain, it needs a “Kapow!” sound effect, not blood splatter.
So most films face a simple choice. Lose a revolting amount of money, postpone, or rewrite things massively to appeal to the over-80s demographic.
Naturally the last will be tricky. Horror-thriller The Quiet Place II might struggle to fit in a few musical numbers and still maintain the continuity of a story about killer aliens that hunt by sound, for instance.
Cinemas will also have to ditch the popcorn and Cokes for jumbo-sized cups of tea and giant containers of biscuits. The concept of a late-night matinee will also have to change, because dinner is at 5pm.
Still, at least the ushers won’t have to worry about the audience using technology to record what’s on the screen. The grandkids might have asked them to but that won’t be footage of a jungle from the new Jumanji. It’ll be a two-hour study of the hairs in grandad’s left ear.
So I think we can reluctantly predict no blockbuster movies at the cinemas for another six months, at least.
Either that or they’re going to have to find some way to get old footage of Doris Day and Steve McQueen into every new movie.