Box Office Blahs: Blame It on (Fill in the Blank)

Via Technology – Industry News, Policy, and Reviews, “Box Office Blahs: Blame It on (Fill in the Blank)“:

“LOS ANGELES — Hollywood ticket sales took a little swan dive in 2005. Why? The consensus hypothesis appears to be that the movies were — brace yourselves — not good.”

The article offers that the industry is suggesting many ideas, but the one that struck me is this idea that the bad movies are to blame. This meme has been going around, but I don’t buy it. I mean, yeah, okay there are some pretty crappy movies out there, but I don’t think anyone is really taking into account just how crappy and annoying the cinemas have become. They’ve gotten with tickets and extras more expensive than going out to eat at a decent restaurant, they’re taking every possible chance now to shove advertising in people’s ears and eyes … and the cinema is very simply no longer a place of enjoyable shared experience. Why would I want to travel to a place where I’m herded with other people like cattle through a gauntlet of increasingly Las Vegas inspired large box buildings divided into tiny screens? The minute that HD DVD, in some format or another hits, I am going to be sorely pressed before I take to effort to pay through the nose for an annoying cinema experience. As for the meme, the article makes the connection that bad movie is conflated with movies that didn’t make money.

I worry that there’s a red herring there. I think it’s self defeating to focus on only movies that sell bazillions of tickets, because with that goal there’s bound to be worse attention paid to the craft of the films.

The article points out that the $220 million spent to make King Kong only got a 5-day return of $66 million. Looking at Box Office Mojo, That’s $14,049 average per screen. Now I feel a lot better about the performance of Serenity making only $10 million in the first weekend. That’s $4,610 average per screen for Serenity. King Kong looks like it will break even in release, whereas Serenity did not. I think both of these are really movies that people didn’t think they needed to see on the big screen.

Having watched Serenity on DVD a couple of times, there are definitely details that are not easy to see on a smaller screen, but it’s still a good movie that should have done a great deal better. I want to believe that it would have done better if it weren’t for (Fill in the Blank).