What Americans Say Are Their Most Anticipated Summer Movies of 2023
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Now several years removed from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, this summer movie season marks a critical moment for Hollywood — one that should look “normal,” relatively speaking.
Experts say theatrical sales in the United States could hit $4 billion this summer, up from $3.4 billion last year and just shy of the total from summer 2019, the last blockbuster movie season before the pandemic ravaged the industry. This year’s domestic box office has already improved 37% compared with the same period in 2022, per Fandango.
The month of June “will probably be the best month we’ve had at the box office since the theaters reopened,” Bruce Nash, founder of the box-office tracking site The Numbers, told Morning Consult. (As of early May, 67% U.S. adults said they feel comfortable going to a movie theater, per Morning Consult data.)
Unsurprisingly, franchise sequels will lead the way this summer, according to a Morning Consult survey conducted earlier this month. More than half of Americans are interested in going to a theater to see Harrison Ford’s final portrayal of the titular archaeologist in “Indiana Jones and the Dial Destiny” (51%), while 50% said they’re interested in seeing “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Meanwhile, 44% of respondents each said the same of “The Flash” and “Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One.”
‘Indiana Jones,’ ‘Spider-Man’ Poised for Big Box-Office Hauls
Horror movies also receive lots of interest
- “The Flash” (44%), “Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One” (44%) and “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” (43%) rounded out the top five.
- “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” was the top film among Gen Z adults (67%) and millennials (64%), while “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” was the top film among Gen Xers and baby boomers. Nearly two-thirds of Gen Xers (63%) said they’re interested in seeing the 80-year-old Ford don the iconic fedora hat one last time.
- “The Flash” ranked highly among millennials (55%), Gen Z adults (51%) and Gen Xers (51%) despite controversy surrounding Ezra Miller, the lead actor accused in recent years of several crimes, including burglary, assault and grooming.
- Nearly half of women (47%) said they are interested in seeing “The Little Mermaid,” the film with the highest interest among female respondents.
- Three of the top 13 films were horror — the only genre other than action to have more than two movies appear in the list’s top 20. Fourteen of those 20 summer films are parts of existing franchises, while just six are original stories.
Horror Movies See Slight Bump in Theatrical Interest From Last Year
Action remains moviegoers’ preferred genre
- Action (76%) and comedy (74%) were the top genres in terms of theatrical interest this summer, matching historical trends.
- Interest in drama dropped 5 percentage points among adults year over year, from 75% in 2022 to 70% this year.
- Interest in horror saw a slight year-over-year bump among adults, from 48% to 51%. Gen Z adults were most likely to say they’re interested in watching horror films in theaters at 69% — 18 points higher than the general population. In recent years, younger audiences — especially Gen Z adults — have driven interest in the genre. Horror sequels premiering this summer, like “Insidious: The Red Door” (59%) and “The Nun 2” (48%), ranked the highest among Gen Z adults compared with any other generation.
Who will win summer 2023 at the box office?
There’s still a big question as to whether or not any of these films can clearly stand out this season. “Is there going to be a movie that breaks through everything and becomes the movie that everyone has to go see?” Nash said.
While “Top Gun: Maverick” was the obvious winner at last summer’s box office, earning $127 million in the United States in its debut weekend, Nash said this summer is likely to be more competitive. Legacy sequels like “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” and “Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One” have audience’s attention, as do Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” which are set to square off in theaters on July 21. Nash argued it should be a solid summer for family-friendly films like “The Little Mermaid,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and Pixar’s “Elemental.”
“You can’t really count any of them out,” he said.
The May 11-14, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,202 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-2 percentage points.
Saleah Blancaflor is a data reporter at Morning Consult covering the business of entertainment. @saleyley
Adam Epstein is a senior editor at Morning Consult leading coverage of brands, sports and entertainment. @aepstein