Arthur Brandoch Darwin Petersen asked...
How is this the worst box office summer in 20 years? Was The Dark Knight Rises not enough to float the boat? I guess Avengers was not part of the summer?
I think you answered your own question. Because for every mega-hit like The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers there was like 5-10 films, many of them big budget wannabe-blockbusters that either flopped outright, or did well, but not great.
This is because overall ticket buyers are at their lowest number since 1993.
Fewer people are going to the movies and the problem at the root of it all is Hollywood's case of juvenile dementia.
You see the prevailing marketing wisdom since the 1980s dictates that all sales pitches must be made to young people. Young people are only just setting their preferences for products and services. Thus if you market to them while they're young, they will be your loyal customer forever.
In the movie biz this translates into youth-oriented product placement in the sort of films that are believed to attract young people.
That means big loud movies with lots of special effects that that they hope kids will see repeatedly and buy all the related merchandise.
The problem is that these films have huge costs, that require huge, near record setting, ticket sales just to break even. And if the movie doesn't click big with the youthful zeitgeist, you can forget about selling the related merchandise.
No kid wants a toy or a t-shirt from a flop.
The other problem is that kids these days don't view movies the way my generation did. They have the internet, games, and online social networks to fill their time, are more jaded to deliberately targeted marketing campaigns, and don't really appear to appreciate the communal "big screen experience" the way older members of the audience do.
To alleviate the risks inherent in spending hundreds of millions of dollars targeting the most fickle facet of the population the studios do two things:
1. Cut back on the number of films they release each year so that they mostly release wannabe "blockbusters."
2. Put those blockbusters on as many screens as they possibly can. The average "blockbuster" mega-wide release of the 1980s played on around 2,000 screens. Nowadays they're playing on up to 4,000-4,500 screens, and all points of media are fully saturated with advertising.
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This creates more problems than it solves.
If the movie doesn't become a smash on its opening weekend, the theaters are stuck with a film people don't want to see, and have to scramble to find something to take its place.
Also, audiences who aren't in the mood for a big FX-heavy sci-fi fantasy flick have a hard time finding alternatives because all the screens and ads are all about the blockbusters. So they stay home and watch the more mature and more often more entertaining offerings being found on television.
And that's how you have the worst Summer at the box office in almost 20 years.
Any more questions?