For the first time in three years, the fall movie industrial complex is lurching back into high gear. Festival red carpets are rolled out. Oscar campaigns are primed. Long-awaited blockbusters, like “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Avatar: The Way of Water,” are poised for big box office.

However, after the tumult of the pandemic, can the fall movie season just go back to way it was? Many are hoping it can. After two springtime editions, the Academy Awards have returned to a more traditional early March date. The Golden Globes, after near-cancellation, are plotting a comeback. Some movies, too, are trying to recapture a before-times spirit. At the Toronto Film Festival in September, Rian Johnson’s “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” has booked the same theater “Knives Out” premiered to a packed house almost exactly three years ago.

“Seems like yesterday,” Johnson says, laughing. “OK, a few things have happened.”

After an all-but-wiped-out 2020 autumn and a 2021 season hobbled by the delta and omicron COVID-19 variants, this fall could, maybe, just maybe be something more like the normal annual cultural revival that happens every fall, when most of the year’s best movies arrive.

“We’re all, I think, just trying to will it into existence as at least some version of what we knew before,” Johnson said. “As with everything, you kind of just have to dive into the pool and see what the water’s like. I’m really hoping that at least the illusion of normalcy holds. I guess that’s all normalcy is.”

However, “Glass Onion,” with Daniel Craig’s Benoit Blanc in a new mystery, is also a reminder of how much has changed. After “Knives Out” was a box-office hit for Lionsgate, grossing $311 million worldwide for Lionsgate, Netflix shelled out $450 million to snap up the rights to two sequels. While exhibitors and the streaming company discussed a larger theatrical release for “Glass Onion” — a surefire hit if it did — a more modest rollout in theaters is expected before the films lands Dec. 23 on Netflix.

The balance between theatrical and streaming remains unsettled, but after a summer box-office revival and an evolving outlook for streaming by Wall Street, theatrical moviegoing — with its billions in annual ticket sales and cultural footprint — is looking pretty good. For the first time in years, moviegoing has a strong wind at its back. Or, at least it did until an especially slow August sapped momentum due largely to a dearth of new wide releases.

“If you look at how many movies we had compared to what business we did, we were operating at 2019 levels,” said John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners. “We had 70 percent of the supply of wide-release movies in the first seven months, and we did 71 percent of the business we did in the same period in 2019. Moviegoers are back in pre-pandemic numbers, it’s just we still need more movies.”

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