The Successes and Failures of Summer 2022 in Movies

From Minions: The Rise of Gru to Elvis, the movies of Summer 2022 were wide-ranging in terms of their themes, genres, and admittedly, their quality. As the movie industry attempts to rebuild the general public’s enthusiasm for the theatrical experience (something especially exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic) many movies over the summer were majorly improved by mouth-watering popcorn and reclining, cushy seats. Ready to sink into the cinematic experience with Austin Butler, Tom Cruise, or three yellow pill-like creatures, certain movies of this summer have created a slight incline in the interest in movies, possibly for the worse of the prosperity of the film industry. 

The summer began with the A24 film, Everything Everywhere All at Once, a black comedy set in an infinite amount of sci-fi multiverses starring Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu. This film explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships. While the emotionality of Evelyn (Yeoh) and Jobu (Hsu)’s relationship is delicately woven and will leave a crowded theater in tears, the constant abrupt cuts between each dimension, make this film a manic (sometimes unfocused) and extensive viewing experience for the majority of the time. However, this movie was a suitable launch into the upcoming summer. 

When discussing the biggest movie of the summer, Top Gun: Maverick wins by a landslide. As of September 2022, the global box office haul stands at $1.4 billion and places the film as the 5th highest-grossing movie of all time. This is probably because of its mass appeal to older viewers who have nostalgia for the 1986 classic, as well as a younger audience enthralled by the fast planes and Miles Teller. While it might not be the most “scholarly” or culturally relevant film, this movie is point-blank, a good time, and embodies everything a quintessential summer movie should.

Perhaps the most involved film experience one can have is dressing up in denim overalls, a pantone yellow top, and metal goggles to venture out to the theater for the showing of Minions: The Rise of Gru. This film was a phenomenon, so much so that the viewing experience overpowered the movie itself. From GentleMinions, (according to Urban Dictionary, “a trend born on TikTok where boys dress in formal attire and attend a showing of, Minions: the Rise of Gru, looking nothing less than absolutely dapper”) to just the international fascination with Kevin, Bob, and Stuart, this movie was a success not just in its Box Office numbers, but also in its encouragement of the cinematic experience in theaters.

Finally, Elvis, starring Austin Butler, is a melodramatic and chaotic musical biopic, following the tumultuous and heavily publicized life of Elvis Presley. This film, directed by Oscar-nominated director, Baz Luhrmann, is a choppy explosion of colors backed by Elvis’ bluesy tunes. While Butler’s scarily accurate portrayal of Presley will almost certainly guarantee him a Best Actor nomination at this year’s Oscars, the film is successful at capturing moments, rather than scenes. At some points, it exceptionally encapsulates the extreme power of Elvis and his iconic aura, but overall its back-and-forth pacing leaves its audience exhausted and slightly unsure of the details they thought they knew about the star’s life. However, it is attracting large crowds (seemingly just for Butler’s seductive performance), therefore cinemas must view this as a key opportunity to profit off of the public’s interest while they can. 

While there were many other films released over the summer (most of them from the Marvel franchise), these were the most impactful on the basis of getting the public back into theaters. The summer of 2022 was jam-packed in many aspects, but in regards to film, it was inconsistent in the quality of the films released, though successful in increasing ticket sales.