by Nolan Leahy
This summer had some pretty phenomenal films. War for the Planet of the Apes offered stellar performances by Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson; Wonder Woman blew up on the Internet for being one of the most inspirational films for women in today’s society; and Dunkirk’s beautiful cinematography gave a believable recreation of the dark World War II event. Despite these highly acclaimed films, Hollywood’s summer box office has received the lowest amount of ticket sales within the last 25 years, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Multiple screening companies have seen a massive drop in shares since Memorial Day. Regal Entertainment lost 28%. Imax owners had their shares drop by 18%. AMC has also lost 45% of its shares.
Reasons for the box office flop seem to be varied.
Initially, when taking a look at the top grossing films of the summer, there’s a noticeable trend. Many of the top-grossing films are science fiction or fantasy sequels to what has come before. In fact, the top three are Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Spiderman: Homecoming. Each of these three are a continuation of what’s come before in their specific superhero universe, and some are growing tired of the consistent sequels of supers.
Several journalists have explained their hero film fatigue by saying that superhero films have gotten stale. The superhero films seem to be coming out too often, and many of the films that are coming out are featuring more than one hero, which allows for less character development. The worst part is that it’s feeling like a bit of a gimmick at times with what heroes star in between their own films.
For instance, if someone is a fan of Iron Man but isn’t a fan of Spiderman, the person might go ahead and see Spiderman: Homecoming just because Tony Stark makes an appearance. At this point, it feels frustrating that Marvel is making more excuses to go see these movies based off a given character’s fandom rather than displaying an exceptional trailer, no offense to Spiderman. With this sort of mentality coming out of Hollywood, it could be a contributing factor in why theater seats remain empty, though a local Ball State Student thinks there’s a different reason.
James Rossman Jr. is a senior at Ball State with a major in Telecommunications with a video production focus. He’s an aspiring filmmaker who’s absolutely passionate about the big screen.
“A lot of people complain how much money it costs for a ticket… People also complain how much the concessions are. Little do people know that the movie theater chains do not make any money off of the tickets what so ever.”
He’s definitely not wrong about the ticket and concession prices at the theaters. According to David Lieberman, a writer for Deadline, “High ticket prices were the biggest culprit.” This was two years ago, but what he’s saying is aligning with Rossman’s statement. According to a PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) report back in 2015, 53% of those who responded said that ticket prices were the main cause of empty seating.
Currently, an adult ticket to see The Hitman’s Bodyguard at the Muncie local AMC Theater costs roughly $9.19, and that’s before getting $6 small popcorn or a $5 small soft drink. The prices are rather high, and people are asking whether or not a movie is worth seeing immediately upon its release. Options such as illegally pirating movies or waiting for them to come to streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu are also alternatives that may seem more appealing, especially considering the lack of lines and no risk of sitting with bothersome viewers.
Hollywood will need a comeback to get the people’s interests back. A strategy to get people back into the theaters is the recently introduced Moviepass, a monthly $10 subscription fee to see an unlimited amount of movies a month in select theaters.
“Hopefully that will get more people into the theaters and seeing films again,” Rossman said. I do too, because a world without the local big screen is yet another reason to keep us all cooped up at home.
Image: USA Today