2021 Winners and losers in film

2021 Winners and losers in film

2021 was another challenging year for the film industry. Many films that were supposed to come out this year still have yet to be released, and many of the ones that did come out were still delayed much past their initially planned release date. However, that’s not to say that it was all bad. Some companies thrived and filmgoers still had a few solid releases amidst a sea of otherwise middling titles. These are the winners and losers of 2021.




Disney continues to dominate the realm of the multiplex with the big-budget, fan-pleasing Marvel films. Undoubtedly though, their greatest success this year was Disney+, the well-priced streaming services catering to everyone from families with young kids to the Star Wars and superhero-loving man-children. While its long-term viability is suspect, given the initial “honeymoon” period is over and some people only interested in shows like The Mandalorian have moved to other services, it’s unlikely that it’s going to go away any time soon. Compared to other relatively new streaming services, such as Paramount+ or Apple TV+, it’s a massive success.


Another big winner in the streaming space is HBO Max, whose mix of simultaneous streaming and theatrical releases and a massive archive of hit TV shows and movies ensured it was never going to fail. While more expensive than competitors, what other streaming service can claim it has some of the biggest releases of the year available to watch in your home?

Home Theater Owners

2021 is the year that 4K streaming became the standard for new releases, meaning a nice home cinema set-up is no longer dependent on physical media like Blu-Rays. In many cases, it’s possible to get a better experience at home than at the movie theater. For those still interested in physical media, 2021 also brought a number of outstanding releases to the 4K UHD format, including new remasters of classic films like The Ten Commandments.

Anime Fans

The best film to come out in 2021 (so far) is the final entry in the long-running Evangelion Rebuild series, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. Unlike most other films with extensive delays or a huge level of hype, Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 not only met expectations but also exceeded them. Even beyond this single release, there were several high-profile releases that seemed to generally please fans and were readily accessible to Western fans. For those so inclined, it’s easier to access anime than ever.




Sure, Disney had a pretty good year, but its shortcomings are all too clear. Concerns about the long-term viability of Disney+ aside, the Marvel film cash-cow seems to finally be drying up. The first big film starring an entirely new slate of heroes, Eternals, was both a critical and commercial flop that’s already been forgotten. Unlike the similarly underperforming Black Widow, the pandemic cannot be used as a scapegoat. F9 proved that a movie can still break records if people are suitably interested in seeing it. Outside of the Spiderman films, the future of Marvel seems somewhat doomed, given how each film needs to make back at least double its production budget to just break even.

Movie Theaters and the Mid-Budget Production

While a better year for surviving theaters than 2020, people are just less interested in going to the movie theater than they were in the past. Outside of big blockbusters, there’s no reason to go see many films on the big screen. Mid-budget films like The Last Duel completely flopped, despite the warm critical reception and bankable cast. In the past, these kinds of films would sustain cinemas in between the big tentpole releases. Unfortunately, their lack of box office success means there will be less of them made and those that are will be relegated to streaming services.


Most movies that came out this year were either not very good or simply forgettable. Films like Malignant and Cherry seemed more interested in garish stylistic tricks than telling a good, believable story. The worst movie of the year, Tom and Jerry, makes one wonder what producers and filmmakers think audiences are interested in. Hopefully, 2022 will serve up some superior productions, but I’m not holding out hope.