‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and IMAX Scarcity
Plus: A David Simon project assigned!
Consider this a PSA: If you want to see Top Gun: Maverick in IMAX, you better get tickets soon.
Like: right now.
As the worldwide leader in giant screen technology recently noted on Twitter, the biggest, loudest movie of the summer has less than a week left on the biggest, loudest screens at your multiplex:
And, anecdotally, I will say that the good tickets are disappearing at a pretty rapid pace. If you want to go to an evening screening this weekend at a reasonable time in a reasonable seat, you might already be out of luck. Some of you may have to pull a Don Draper and sneak out of work next week for a mid-day showing if you want to see it dead-center.
I mention this not to shill for IMAX (though I do love IMAX) and not to shill for Top Gun: Maverick (though I do love Top Gun: Maverick) so much as to note that the theatrical experience is in a slightly weird place at the moment. There are both too many screens and too few.
I say there are too many screens because that is the only explanation for Morbius getting thrown back onto 1,000 screens for no particular reason aside from hitting a completely arbitrary domestic box office figure of $75 million. I find it hard to believe that Sony Pictures actually thinks the “It’s Morbin’ Time” memes (Google it) are going to lead to a genuine box office resurgence, but maybe they can justify a sequel to themselves if they eke out a little more cash.
There are, simultaneously, too few of the really big ones, by which I mean IMAX, Dolby, and other so-called premium large format (PLF) screens. To focus specifically on IMAX: As of November 2021, there were just 362 IMAX screens in the United States, a fairly small portion of the 43,646 screens overall open in North America. As the theatrical experience turns to emphasize the experience part of that phrase, IMAX and its competitors in the PLF space are more valuable to audiences and movie theaters alike than ever before.
As a result, those screens are in high demand, turning over almost week-to-week (or every other week) when a new, big blockbuster comes out. The reason Top Gun: Maverick is going to cede its position to Jurassic World: Dominion has nothing to do with quality or consumer demand: it’s all contractual, every blockbuster wants a turn on the big screen.
Which brings me back to my point: If you want to see Top Gun: Maverick in the biggest format possible, you better do it soon.
If you’re trying to convince a friend or a loved one or a stranger on the street to see Top Gun: Maverick with you, forward them this email. They need to share our sense of urgency!
This week I reviewed The Bob’s Burgers Movie almost solely to see if it works for someone who has never watched the show.
On the special members-only bonus episode of Across the Movie Aisle, Peter, Alyssa, and I talked about what makes a great summer blockbuster.
I hope you listen to my interview with Geoff Edgers about the late, great Norm Macdonald. In addition to talking about everyone’s favorite dry Canadian, we discussed the art of profiling and the importance of paywalls.
Make sure to read Bilge Ebiri’s interview of Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski, who discusses the technical complexities of shooting in a cockpit and seems pretty open to the idea that Maverick is, well, you know. Maybe sorta kinda … well … you know.
Warner Bros. is basically stuck with Ezra Miller—the Flash movie is already in the can and they need it to be a huge hit—but the framing of this piece is mildly weird. I don’t really think “on the one hand, Miller checks off some diversity boxes; on the other, Miller is nuts and could commit assault at any time against anyone for any reason” is a great case for the troubled actor. Regardless: Miller needs some help and hopefully the studio can help with that.
The Entertainment Strategy Guy makes a bold prediction in his latest for The Ankler: all medium-to-big budget movies, including those from Netflix, will get a reasonable theatrical run in the near future. A 45-day theatrical window for Knives Out 2 would be a paradigm shift for Netflix the likes of which we haven’t seen since they went all-in on original productions.
Assigned Viewing: We Own This City (HBO Max)
I’m assigning David Simon’s latest because a.) it’s the 20th anniversary of the debut of The Wire, one of the five best shows HBO has ever produced, and b.) we’re going to be talking about it on Across the Movie Aisle next week. Also, because c.) the miniseries has wrapped up and I think it’s one of the rare shows that benefits from being binged, in part because of the temporally complicated narrative structure weaved by Simon and co-writer George Pelecanos.
Also also, because very few actors are as fun to watch as Jon Bernthal. Indeed, like Poochie before him, I found myself wishing for more Jon Bernthal every time Jon Bernthal wasn’t on the screen. From his square jaw to his Limp Bizkit-inspired haircut/goatee combo to his clipped mid-Atlantic accent that calls to mind the early days of D.C.’s preeminent talk radio hosts, the Sports Junkies, everything about Bernthal in this show is fantastic.
What’s wrong with watching a blockbuster from the front row end seat, huh? That’s how we watched Rocky back in the day!