Roger Ebert recently posted an article giving his reasons and theories as to why box office revenue had decreased in the last two years. You can find the article here.
In it he cited 6 basic reasons:
Lack of event films
High ticket prices
“The theater experience”
Others ways of watching movies
Lack of choice
Here is my response, vehement, sardonic, snarky, and somewhat snobby.
Agree on all points. Going to the movies isn’t what it used to be. When you went to a film years ago it was something fun to do a mini event. But now, the only reason is for “the event movie”, which honestly are overloaded pieces of crap because the execs put so much effort into making them event films. The individual quality of the film is subjective of course and variable. But you won’t get insight or thought from today’s audience. You’ll only get “that was effing awesome” or “that sucked”. You won’t get why. It’s like if everyone went to a great buffet where they were serving a large turkey that had been carefully cured for hours. The fat content is through the roof. The are other dishes there as well, the supporting players. And the guests gorge on it, regardless of its health content. And what do they say? “Oh that meal was great” blah blah blah. No comment on how it actually tasted, how the ingredients worked together, how each dish was complemented by its respective side dish or drink. That’s why I hate today’s public taste. They don’t care at all about what they’re watching. I would at least respect someone who likes Transformers and understands and articulates why, but that inability to do so pushes me over the edge. It’s just eating or watching without real consideration. Also, fanboys and girls suck. They’re annoying and rude during a film.
Back on topic from that dangerous segue. With Netflix, Hulu, iTunes (sort of), UltraViolet, Amazon Prime, and even buying hard copies of films, there’s little reason to pay $10 for something you see once. (Speaking form the mind of today’s audience, bot my personal reasoning.) Films are released on home video in less than four months. Streaming, however, is the “way of the future”. Doesn’t take up room. You can watch it whenever and wherever and however often you want. It’s cost effective, with subscriptions usually being no more than about $13 a month.
Movies are disappearing too fast because of that home video demand. Which is the reason I didn’t get a damn chance to see that damn masterpiece Drive in theaters, dammit. However, films like Melancholia, which can be released VOD (another reason for above paragraph) are independently produced and thus have smaller marketing and distribution budgets. Maybe make more room for these films and do a better rotating schedule in theaters?
Ebert makes a good point about art films. A) People need to grow a pair and open their minds to things like that, as opposed to bitching about it without knowing anything. (“OH MY GOD, SUBTITLES, NO!” “IT’S IN BLACK AND WHITE, OH MY GOD!”) If more art films were available in theaters, not only would that film get a larger audience but more people would be exposed to those films and thus would begin a circle of self reflection and self reflexive thought in terms of their taste. Calling something pretentious or stupid is useless if you don’t put any effort into understanding it.
I don’t really think the refreshment thing is that big of a deal. People have been sneaking in food to the theater since the dawn of time.
These ideas, theories, conjectures are nothing new. People have been citing these reasons whenever a) new technology is introduced to make home viewing better (slash “more fun) and b) whenever there’s a drop in annual revenue. Granted, home viewing hard copies have in the last couple years gone down nearly 11 percent, but the growing ubiquity of Blu-ray and its convenient “combo” packaging (with the Blu-ray, the DVD, and a digital copy) is making up for those losses. For $25, you can get all three. yes, it may be about five dollars more than DVDs were when a new film was released at Walmart, but now DVDs are about $10 cheaper and, if you wait a month or so, the Blu-ray, regardless of its combo pack, will also go down. It only took a month for Martin Scorsese’s newly refurbished-in-4k-glory classic Taxi Driver to take a step down from $20 on Amazon to a very reasonable $13. With a big name title like that, you can’t go wrong. Even the new 3D Blu-rays (which, as far as I can tell, still have yet to really catch on) offers the four formats all in one set, for about $30.
As I said, the conjectures are not new. This will be written about again eventually, within the coming months or years. If anything, studio execs should take a hint from the indicators. They should spend less time taking polls and creating useless studies and instead read more about what the public wants. Go online once in a while. Read a blog. And take note of exactly who your audience is. Even if it means feeding them something they won’t initially like, what critics, actors, writers, etc. admire is risk. Take the risk. You may be doing it for yourself and for the money, but for once, do it because it’s your job. Do it for the people who love film.