As the summer box office sets off alarm bells, do audiences realize the crisis movies face in the coming years?
Me would posit that this summer's underperforming movies have less to do with state of The Movies and more with those particular movies. Who could have predicted that building action movies around erratic criminal and elderly man could have backfired? Spiderverse and Mario did well at box office not because of recognizeable IP but because those movies were *good*. Teenage Kraken look like off-brand Luca from Wal-Mart bargain bin, and Elemental might be great but it what you would get if you asked AI chatbot to give you plot of Pixar movie. Yes, streaming is competition for eyeballs and some people find it easier to watch movie at home. But these movies also uninspired retreads, and when something feel fresh and original (and me was astonished to degree which Spider-Man reboot running concurrently with different Spider-Man reboot felt fresh and original), people will get excited about it. (Look no further than runaway success of Everything Everywhere last year)
And that have always been not-so-secret sauce Hollywood never seem to be able to figure out recipe to: make *good* movies. People not will automatically go to movie because of familiar IP or big-name actor, or genre trends, people want to go to movie that is *good*. It not always that simple, but it usually that simple.
"do regular people realize that their choice to stream movies at home is not actually a viable future for Hollywood in the way Hollywood itself pretended it was when pivoting in that direction five years ago?"
This whole article has kind of a weird framing that it's somehow the audience's fault for movie studios making terrible decisions? I went to my first movie since the start of the pandemic a few weeks ago, and as much as I know it makes me sound like an old man, I couldn't believe the ticket was almost $20. That's a whole month of many streaming services (or multiple months of some streaming services)! I don't really feel much sympathy for studios which have always tried to find a way to gouge us thinking they could gouge us in new ways with streaming only to have that blow up in their dumb faces. Movies aren't going anywhere, they'll be made as long as the technology to film things exists. But if we can no longer get $300 million dollar movies based on decades old franchises, I don't know how much of a loss that really is.
Is "Auds" an actual term?
I guess I'm the person this article is about, because going to the movies is something I scarcely think about doing anymore. Right now there are quite a few things in theaters that I kind of want to see - Indiana Jones, Spiderverse, Flash, Asteroid City - but whenever I have some free time and consider going to see something, I usually just decide "Eh, I'd rather not". A lot of it is the cost. $15 just feels like a lot for a ticket, even if it doesn't strain my budget that much more than $8 did. And a lot of it is the people. I'm generally not willing to see shows at times that are going to be crowded. Some of that is residual COVID fear but mostly it's unwillingness to risk having my experience ruined by chatters and phone lookers.
There is definitely something that is lost by not seeing a movie in the theater, and I am sad for that, but I think a big part of the way forward is day one streaming releases. I'm willing to do pay per view, but they have to fix the pricing model. I'm not willing to pay multiple times the price of a ticket to stream just because I'm one person and not a family of four.
My baseless optimism/hopeum makes me believe in a "if you build it they will come" strategy, where if studios just continued making studio comedies and drama/thrillers for theaters again (at very reasonable budgets), audiences will eventually start to be reconditioned back from home-viewing and start to buy tickets again. This probably wouldn't start bringing profits right away, but maybe is necessary for long-term rebuilding of a healthy theatrical movie industry. This year has shown there is not endless supply of interest in IP-driven blockbusters, and they are too expensive to be failing at the rate they are.
I did quite like The Movies That Made Us! The editing format is kinda silly and sometimes annoying, but still a nice watch and good for learning some interesting factoids. Would be curious about American Gladiators.
Movie theaters should lower ticket prices for films that have either been out for a week or two and/ or underperforming. Something along those lines as people might be more inclined to see a film if it’s a little cheaper. Then again this might open up a whole debate what constitutes a film being discounted if at all.
I do think Disney+ made a huge mistake bringing their blockbusters to streaming so soon after being in theatres. Since Endgame I'd already got a fair bit of MCU fatigue but knowing that I'd just have to wait 2-3 months to see it at home for "free" killed it dead for me.
But I agree with all the other commenters here, it's a quality thing combined and also massive amounts of superhero-fatigue.
On quality: Top Gun Maverick was a great film and did gangbusters at the box office. Across the Spider-verse is a great film and has done really well. Quantumania? The Flash? Dial of Destiny also got mixed reviews (although I still might see it). Surely the lesson, especially relevant right now, is that your budget is better spent on good writing than amazing effects?
On superheroes: I think we're in the equivalent of when Westerns started to fade in the 60s and 70s after being THE dominant genre. We've had every possible combination of superhero movie, we've had the grim/dark serious ones, the fun zippy/quippy ones, the genre-bending "it's really a 70s thriller or a heist movie" ones, the out-and-out comedy ones, the parody ones where you can't tell if it's a parody or just a funny one, the "what if superheroes were...bad?" TV shows and films.
The genre is about played out and needs a rest. It's not a surprise then that you have to be as creative as Spider-verse to break through
I don't know if I fully buy this premise. I suspect you could go to any summer in the last 50 years and find big blockbusters that flopped, and other big blockbusters that were successful. Good movies do well, bad movies not so much. It was ever thus. I'm not too concerned about it. The only point I do think is clearly correct is the Pixar/Disney streaming factor, which is that parents of young children in particular are averse to the high cost and hassle of taking the whole family to a theater, so they are much more likely to wait for streaming now that they've been trained to expect Disney/Pixar animated films to be available on Disney Plus in a short period of time. Whereas the Super Mario Bros Movie is a Universal picture, so it has a slow roll-out of theaters first, then a pretty expensive VOD phase, and won't be free on streaming for quite a while and who knows which service it will end up on when it does. So people did take their families to see that one. Plus Pixar has declined in quality enough that adults no longer find it to be essential viewing.
I love going to the movies. I have an AMC subscription and go almost every week. I never watch movies at home. That said, I go Friday afternoons and rarely see more than a handful of people in the theater with me. I don’t know how this is sustainable and it makes me sad.
(I liked the Indiana Jones movie. Tell the GenXers to go.)
Glad to get your take on this, Myles! This inspired me to see just how much of an outlier I've become since covid as I've gotten more and more movie-pilled, with the Big Picture podcast and Letterboxd as my enablers.
I've seen all of these films in theaters this year: Dial of Destiny, No Hard Feelings, Asteroid City, Spider-Verse, Past Lives, You Hurt My Feelings, BlackBerry, How to Blow Up a Pipeline, Air, M3GAN, Tar, The Fablemans, and Avatar. I also saw re-screenings of Fellowship of the Ring, Boyz n the Hood, and Boogie Nights.
Not sure what caused my shift from regular oblivious audience member to someone interested and invested in the health of the movie business, but I hope the audiences come back!
There's only one solution: let Hollywood studios buy back the movie theater chains
I watched the 30 For 30 documentary on American Gladiators and didn’t know about the Netflix one. I wonder how they compare to each other!