Operating successfully would be near impossible without the financial boost of major blockbuster releases, according to regional cinema managers.
2022 films like Top Gun: Maverick, Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks and the highly anticipated Avatar: The Way of Water are crucial calendar "tent pole movies" for theatres still recovering from pandemic shutdowns.
"There's probably 20 movies a year that you make a profit on," Forum 6 Cinema Wagga manager Craig Lucas said.
"Everything else, you're just paying the bills."
The Top Gun sequel released in May became the fifth highest grossing film shown in the 26 years since the NSW Riverina cinema first opened.
Mr Lucas said cinemas like his had relied on major releases in an unpredictable year.
"There's a lot of turmoil in this industry at the moment," he said.
"You can normally set your clock and your calendar to what you knew was going to happen.
"But all that certainly is just out the window."
2022 figures from Box Office Mojo illustrate the Australian box office's reliance on not just Hollywood action blockbusters but recognisable intellectual property.
Headlined by Thor: Love and Thunder, the year's best weekend of almost $21 million was recorded in early July, with the Marvel film topping the charts for four straight weeks.
"Your decent blockbuster will stay at number one for a number of weeks," Mr Lucas said.
Other major grossing weekends came in May with Top Gun: Maverick's opening (over $16 million), in June with Elvis' opening (over $16 million) and in May with Doctor Strange 2 (over $13 million).
Weekends grossing $5 million or less throughout the year are ones noticeably without any major blockbuster debuts.
Top Gun: Maverick screened for more than two months at Warrnambool's Capitol Cinema on the Victorian Great Ocean Road.
Cinema manager Greg Gent said smaller movies paid the bills.
"The bigger ones like the Marvel movies in recent times have been wonderful," he said.
Mr Gent also echoed that 2022 had been challenging for consistent ticket sales.
"I think we're still in a bit of a hangover from the COVID-19 period - we've had a couple of good months this year but everything else has been reasonably flat," he said.
Even previously popular intellectual property could prove to be a let down, with the most recent Black Panther sequel under-performing.
That unpredictability had made managing staffing levels a challenge for the cinema industry.
"There are certain times when we've got essentially no staff on and we get caught out with people lining up at the door," Mr Gent said.
"Whereas other times, we've got plenty of staff ready to go and nothing happens."
Forum 6 Cinemas Tamworth manager Grant Lee had his eyes firmly on the release of the latest Avatar film.
"We're expecting it to do wonders," Mr Lee said.
Top Gun: Maverick did so well for the NSW New England region cinema that it not only screened for nearly five months but will be returning soon.
"It's the blockbusters that we need," he said.
"Without those, it would be very hard to operate."