Malibu movie-going gone? Not so fast

“Top Gun: Maverick,” starring Tom Cruise, is one of the blockbusters leading theaters out of their slump. Photo Courtesy of Paramount

A beloved tradition has faded away. At the beginning of spring, insiders predicted the end of the go-to-the-movies era, complete with hot buttered popcorn and all the extras in sound and screen. Movie-going was an evening and experience, not just a high-octane film to watch in the palm of your hand. 

Although doom was predicted, summer blockbusters and must-see flicks like “Top Gun: Maverick,” “Elvis,” “Minions,” and the new James Bond film “No Time to Die,” proved the naysayers wrong. These and a handful of others proved that film fans were willing to venture out of their sweats and comfort of their own homes to see big pictures as they were meant to be seen. 

The same goes true of the long-awaited sequel to “Avatar,” which is due out later this year. Movie buffs have been waiting years for the follow-up and there is no doubt they will go to the cinema to see it. It’s a thriller you just cant get out of the small screen. 

The box office has been called, in part, “robust,” by some. One critic said “there should be a shrine to Tom Cruise in every movie theater.” The domestic and international box office take has been close to $1 billion. Also in the running was “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” and “The Batman,” a reboot of the comic-book franchise.

Analysts from Bloomberg expect full-year receipts to reach $7.5 billion, a nearly 70 percent increase from last year, but still down from 34 percent from pre-pandemic levels. “Quality is the difference in getting people to go to the movie theaters to go to the movies right now,” says Paramount distribution head Chris Aronson. 

Taking that into consideration, “Top Gun: Maverick” made the grade with a 97 percent “fresh score” on Rotten Tomatoes as well as an A plus rating from Cinamascore. They show that older audiences go back to their movie-going ways when the film is right. On the other side, said another prominent movie critic “the unprecedented level of concentration is dependent on a few blockbusters.” 

As for streaming, we have seen a backlash on high fees. With pricy services like Prime Video, HBO Max and Hulu, some streamers are fed up with paying top dollar on too many channels; in other words, they are cutting back. In the end, it seems there are markets for both services, but only time will tell who comes out on top.

Performances at the Getty

This week, the Getty Villa Malibu held a special performance of outdoor classical theater. Described as a visually rich and innovative reimagining of Sophocles’s classic play “Oedipus Rex,” in which the title character confronts his destiny. Up the road, The Getty Museum is hosting “The Fantasy of the Middle Ages.” If you have a passion for damsels in distress, brave knights on horseback, fully-dressed wizards, and towering castles, this show is for you. Don’t miss it until it closes mid-month.

The objects on view are from the Getty’s permanent collection as well as loans from various California collections. The assemblage includes prints and paintings, photographs and handmade books going back to the 14th century. One standout is a prayer book from 15th century. It is leather-bound with tempura paint made from an egg-based element. It is sweetened with gold leaf on parchment. For a more recent touch, you’ll find costume and background studies for movies like Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty,” as well as “The Sword in the Stone.” It’s a Renaissance Faire lover’s dream. 

To see it well-presented among a concept study for Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” with an image of the famous castle in the background has something for Middle Ages buffs of every kind. Right across the way, you will find a colorful and dramatic manuscript of Saint John and the Dragon with an elegant princess at in the back. All in all, it will take you back. The exhibit runs through Sept. 11.