Ed Driscoll

HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE: The Internet Movie

HOLLYWOOD SUICIDE: The Internet Movie Database’s “Movie/TV News” page has this today as its lead story:

Forget Nemo! Find the Audience
Analysts were still scratching their heads Monday, puzzling over the lackluster performance of the box office over the past four weeks. Despite featuring some of the most expensive films ever produced, ticket sales for the summer are off more than 7 percent from a year ago. “We’ve had four weekends in a row when business was down from the year before,” Exhibitor Relations chief Paul Dergarabedian told today’s (Tuesday) New York Post. “Every week, we’re looking for a film that will pull us out of the slump.” The Associated Press observed today that the box-office picture is in an even worse state if the increase in ticket prices is taken into account. Nevertheless, the box office has seen one stand-out performer. Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo has now earned $274.9 million and appears set to surpass the $312.9 million earned by the The Lion King, which currently holds the record as the most successful animated film of all time.

“Analysts were still scratching their heads Monday”? Well, let’s try to help them out before their supplies of Neutrogena T-Gel run out. The Hulk got terrible word of mouth, as did Hollywood Homicide and The Matrix Reloaded. And it’s word-of-mouth that ultimately drives summer movie business. A film can have a blow-out first weekend, but it won’t have “legs” unless those audience members tell others that “you have to see this movie!” In contrast, the Pixar movies, with their combination of 15-minutes-into-the-future computer technology and family friendly plots, have built up an enormous amount of goodwill among audiences.

But it didn’t help matters that beginning around January of this year, the rest of Hollywood began what seemed like a systematic effort to alienate 80 percent of its audience. The Oscar ceremony only reinforced how out of touch Tinseltown is. Going to the movies, with its ever-increasing amounts of screaming children, ringing cellphones, and talking audiences, and films with soundtracks pumped ever louder to drown them out isn’t much fun. And at eight or nine dollars a ticket, plus three dollars for a large bag of popcorn, or a large soda, the cost of a night at the movies is greater than purchasing a DVD for keeps, with all its ancillary material, audio commentaries, and other bells and whistles.

Is it any wonder that the average man looks at all this, and decides, “the heck with this–I can build my own home theater, rent DVDs, and see what I want, when I want it, without all the hassle?” Or I can buy a DVD–for less than it costs to take my family to the movies?