“A Quiet Place II” is coming out later this month, and it’s one of the biggest blockbuster films to hit movie theaters since the pandemic began.
The film’s release has been a year in the making. It was supposed to be released at the beginning of 2020, before the coronavirus outbreak, but now it kicks off the summer 2021 blockbuster schedule.
But will it bring people back to the theater?
Movie theaters across the country — from AMC to Cinemark to Regal — have been open since late last year. It’s just that they haven’t had any major movies to show. There were some hits like “Tenet” and “Mulan” in 2020. But it wasn’t until 2021 that some of the newer blockbusters started to drop at the box office.
“Godzilla vs. Kong” and “Mortal Kombat” are two other major films to be released, though they’re also being shown on HBO Max. So they’re not theater exclusives. “Spiral” — the Chris Rock reboot of the “Saw” series — quietly made its way to theaters, too. These films didn’t have a ton of hype around them, though they do represent the beginning of movies coming back to theaters.
“A Quiet Place II,” though, will be the first theater-exclusive blockbuster that has some hype around it. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski are two major actors. The film is a sequel to the 2018 box office hit so it’s got all of the makings of a classic summer film.
But will “A Quiet Place II” be enough to bring people back to theaters?
Movie theaters and safety
Safety is key. And safety in 2021 begins with the coronavirus vaccine. Right now, 60% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, a sign that the nation is slowly getting closer to the end of the pandemic. Depending on your state, there’s a good chance the people in your movie theater will have had at least one dose of the vaccine. That means transmission will be low and the risk will be limited. Of course, vaccination rates vary by state, so transmission rates might be higher in your area.
At the same time, movie theaters have made moves to make sure people are safe. The National Organization of Theatre Owners announced the Cinema Safe pledge in 2020 that encourages theaters to keep things clean and safe. Theaters are promoting their hand sanitizers, better air circulation and social distancing. Face masks are still heavily recommended in movie theaters, even as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its face mask guidance to say that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear face coverings in most indoor or outdoor settings, as I wrote for the Deseret News. You’ll want to check your local movie theater’s COVID-19 guidelines and protocols to see what precautions you’ll need to take.
Although we’re getting closer to normal, can you imagine sitting in a theater — one or two seats away from someone else? Can you imagine sitting in a room for two hours with someone who potentially could be infected with COVID-19? Even if you’re vaccinated, even if they’re vaccinated, doesn’t it seem odd for us to return normal?
“A Quiet Place II” is unique in the sense that it’s a film based around aliens that feed off people making sounds. The film is centered around silence, making it a somewhat ideal film for people to see during a pandemic, in a way.
Derek Thompson, of The Atlantic, suggested that movie theaters are relatively safe because you don’t talk or make noise during a film. You’re quiet, so there’s less chance of virus particles spreading, which happens through coughing, sneezing, singing and talking. So imagine seeing a film that’s centered around the lack of noise. Don’t you remember when you saw “A Quiet Place” for the first time? I do. The theater was so quiet. You waited for every jump scare. It was a movie without much noise, so none of us in the audience made any noise, either. So there probably won’t be much talking, so transmission could be low.
Of course, this is all theory and speculation as we continue to learn more about the virus. But all signs point toward it being a safer environment.
Do people want to return to movie theaters?
Questions about the return to movie theaters have existed for a while. I’ve written about the subject a lot.
Those questions started with “Tenet” — which dropped in summer 2020. It was the first big film to come out during the coronavirus pandemic. Many eyes pointed to the film to see how it would perform — looking to see if it was a sign that people would want to see movies during the pandemic. The film underperformed in many eyes — likely since COVID-19 cases were rising and the COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t a thing yet. It didn’t help that major movie theaters in New York and Los Angeles remained closed, too. “Tenet” was projected to earn between $650 million and $825 million, according to Forbes. But it only earned $363 million, per Box Office Mojo.
When “Godzilla vs. Kong” came out in early 2021, there was a heavy implication that people were eager to return to movie theaters. People flocked to see “Godzilla vs. Kong” — a film they could have watched at home on their own television — which led to a $390.2 million global opening at the box office with $80.5 million coming in the United States, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“The film’s performance has been a boost for the battered film and exhibition business and underscored the pent-up demand among moviegoers to return to the theater,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“A Quiet Place” was a hit film in its own right. The film garnered $188 million in U.S. box office numbers in 2018. The film earned $50 million during its opening weekend, too, according to Box Office Mojo. And so far, the sequel has received generally positive reviews. One scan of the Rotten Tomatoes page reveals the film is getting the thumbs up from many critics. And the reviews point toward the movie creating an enjoyable experience in theaters.
“The focus is broadened with diminishing returns, but ‘A Quiet Place Part II’ still manages to conjure up enough thrills to make it worthwhile,” according to Empire magazine.
The review from BBC News specifically pointed to how the film is made for theaters. It’s something you’ll want to experience in the cinema.
“This is a film that is undoubtedly more effective in the dark, with a top-notch sound system and a huge screen, than it would be on a laptop or a television,” according to BBC News’ review. “If ... you are willing to venture out of your home and into the outside world, you could hardly ask for more suitable or more exhilarating entertainment.
Krasinski, director of “A Quiet Place II,” canceled the film’s original release for that very reason — it’s something to see in theaters.
“One of the things I’m most proud of is that people have said our movie is one you have to see all together,” Krasinski wrote when he delayed the film’s release. “Well due to the ever-changing circumstances of what’s not going on around us now is clearly not the right time to do that. As insanely excited as we all are for you to see this movie, I’m going to wait to release the film until we can all see it together. So here’s to our group movie date.”
The bottom line ...
So now, with a theater-exclusive film, the question remains — will the appetite be there? Krasinski — you know, Jim from “The Office” — sees his new film as the potential starting point for people returning to the theaters. Of course, he wants people to see his movie.
But even Krasinski doesn’t know how this will turn out. He told The New York Times that he has no idea how fans will react and whether or not people will go to the theater to see it. It’s all up in the air.
Our guess is as good as his.
“I have no idea what’s going to happen with the box office,” he told The New York Times. “What’s most important to me is that if you want to see this movie, I’m going to show it to you.”
“Talk to me three months after release and I’ll be like, ‘What happened? Why did I say any of that?’”