A recent survey showed that this year’s summer movie attendance clunked 16 percent. The problem here is that summer box office sales make up roughly 40 percent of annual movie revenue. Given the movie industry’s dependence on the summer months this is a very ominous sign. It’s been well over ten years since a summer has been this bad. So what exactly is the root of the problem? Here we’ll try to take a guess:
1. Audiences are getting tired of remakes and rehashed movies.
If you do not agree with this, then ask yourself why Netflix is investing $7 billion in original programming. Yes, they know it is a risk, but they currently have a mix of old and new, so they know something about their audience’s likes and dislikes. But even when Hollywood opts to remake a retro film the result if often embarrassing. Two examples of lazy writing and directing efforts in the classic Psycho remake and The Planet of the Apes demonstrate why people prefer to look for something else to do, summertime or not.
2. Too much dependence on CGI and special effects.
On the one hand, CGI can make an average movie awesome. But when directors and writers depend on the visual part of the movie carrying it to success without a meaningful storyline, the wow factor will soon disappear as will the paying audience. The last Star Trek attempt, Star Trek Beyond (2016), has already made it on to Amazon Prime’s movie list it was so mediocre. A ton of visual effects had viewers asking if there was any real meaning to the special effects. Trekkies realize the underlying success of TOS was its storylines that challenged our imaginations — with a minimum of special effects.
This one word will continue to be the bane of Hollywood’s attempts to get people into the theaters. Combined with the cheaper and advanced viewing technologies, there is no reason to spend whatever the going rate is for a ticket and sit in a room full of rude, annoying, and generally inconsiderate people. The better choice is to plop down on a couch — alone or with company — turn on your 60 inch screen, and watch your favorite movies when you want, with a refrigerator close by. There is something to be said about going to the air conditioned theaters during the hot summer days, if only to save money on electricity. But a movie has to be worth watching. The alternative is to load a classic favorite and not worry about the money.
4. Failing to make adult movies.
No, this is not about more sex or violence. It is amazing that Disney cartoon movies fare better at the box office than movies that are intended to be watched by adults who are reasonably intelligent. Most adults know what sex is, so nudity or simulated sex is relevant only within the context of the storyline. Violence is made to be so graphic that most people are indifferent to it, in real life and on the movie screen.
Steven King’s It has caught the attention of moviegoers. When you read the reviews the focus is on the characters in the movie, not the violence, though it does have its share of it. People don’t get scared by the violence but by what they imagine, whether it is real or not.
Hollywood needs to get a clue and stop living in the 20th century. Times have changed, so wake up. Stop trying to reinvent the past and get some sense of creativity. It can be a win-win.