Why The Blockbuster Is Here To Stay | Picturehouse Recommends

Post-pandemic, huge movies are back with a vengeance. We highlight the big-screen delights 2023 has to offer.

James Luxford

23 Feb 23

The lights go down, your popcorn is at your side. You and a room full of fellow movie fans get ready to be taken on an unforgettable adventure. There is nothing quite like the experience of seeing the biggest movies at the cinema, and after the threat posed by Covid-19, 2022 proved that the blockbuster big-screen experience is here to stay. And don those sunglasses because 2023 is looking even brighter.

Hollywood's most beloved heroes made dramatic returns last year, wowing crowds who flocked to get a piece of the action. After 13 years, James Cameron made a triumphant return with the visually ground-breaking Avatar: The Way Of Water. Another sequel was even longer in the making, Top Gun: Maverick, in which Tom Cruise returned to his famous character in a story adored by critics and audiences alike. Throw in three webslingers in Spider-Man: No Way Home; a new vision of The Batman; and the meeting of generations in Jurassic World: Dominion and we were left breathless by the exhilaration on offer.

"Cinema's recovery from the pandemic shutdown has been pretty remarkable, and especially in the UK," observes Charles Gant, box office/awards editor at Screen International. "What was encouraging about 2022 is that it wasn't just a couple of giant hits – there was a whole range of titles landing in the £30-to-£50m box office space, and that augurs well for continued growth in 2023 and beyond."

Picturehouse Members definitely agree, with an enthusiastic response to our poll on the most anticipated films of 2023. All-action sequels Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One and Indiana Jones And The Dial Of Destiny took fifth and fourth place, while Greta Gerwig's colourful take on Barbie came in at third. It's the epics that take the top spots, however, with Denis Villeneuve's sci-fi spectacular Dune: Part II in second, and Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer at the very top.

It's a varied list of exciting movies, but one that characterises the diversity on offer. "Films by Greta Gerwig, Christopher Nolan and Denis Villeneuve are always key staples for the Picturehouse audience – you could probably pencil them into 2023 end-of-year top tens now," remarks Chris Harris, senior programmer at Picturehouse. "The Picturehouse audience has shown a keen interest in these three directors from their very earliest work, so it's a match made in heaven that such accomplished filmmakers are helming three of the biggest and most anticipated films of 2023."

The fun doesn't stop at the top five. There's also the chance to see Timothée Chalamet swap dunes for chocolate in prequel WonkaAquaman And The Lost Kingdom coming ashore; and potential new hits like Dungeons & Dragons: Honour Among Thieves. "We continue to see audiences embracing films that cleverly fuse genres (Everything Everywhere All At Once), make existing genres feel fresh and timely (horror flick M3GAN) or are simply films that command to be seen on the big screen," Gant says when looking at current movie trends. "Original stories are harder to predict but Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer has to be top of that list. I am feeling confident for Taika Waititi's Next Goal Wins – the documentary of the same name told a great story and this film is being positioned for next year's awards season."

There are so many titles that have us buzzing for many different reasons. Whether it's to laugh, cry or gasp at what unfolds, how we watch the biggest blockbusters is just as important. "There are more ways to watch films than ever before," Harris says, "Yet time and again we're seeing Picturehouse audiences opt for the cinema instead of their living room. You just can't beat seeing films on a big screen, and our audience knows that."   James Luxford

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