(Pacific Rim. From Empire Magazine)
Okay, maybe not cancel it entirely but either tone it down or spread it out. I read somewhere that moviegoers are suffering from apocalypse fatigue. I don’t remember who wrote it, but I think it’s the best way to explain the problems so many high-profile, big-budget movies are having this summer. Just last week, my 10-year-old son asked me to find him a movie. I rattled off a list that I thought he’d love–all big, FX- filled actioners. He shook his head and said he wanted to see something funny.
Now I realize this is just one kid on one random day, but I think it speaks volumes about what’s happening at the box office. My son likes COOL movies. He liked Pacific Rim, but it wasn’t his first choice for that night’s movie; it was mine. He loved the Dark Knight movies and the Avengers, and I still couldn’t get him anywhere near Man of Steel. I think he’s just had enough.
I chalk it up to supply and demand. An over supply of summer extravaganzas is taking its toll. On everyone. Even I’m not wowed like I used to be. The FX that used to take my breath away are becoming too common. FX-driven movies are coming out one per week now, and the market just can’t support it. How could it, when the costs to take a family to the movies is through the roof. People need to decide where they’ll spend their money, which means, what?–a couple of movies over the summer. Max?
So what then? What happens to the glut of over-expensive movies competing for a finite audience. It’s no surprise movies that cost over $100 million to make are struggling to break even. I don’t think there’s enough money to go around, and even if there was at one time, today it’s spread to thin.
Maybe that’s why movies released during traditionally down times do so well. The Hunger Games in March, etc. Times have changed since Titanic hit theaters, but James Cameron released Avatar at the same time of the year–Christmas. Naturally, we’re seeing more ‘tent-pole’ movies coming out between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I’ll bet it won’t be long before those releases start to struggle as much as the summer ones.
Supply and demand. Ain’t it a b*tch. The marketer in me says Hollywood should damn conventional wisdom and give me a release date without competition for a week or two on either side. The summer’s more risk than reward. Those Star Wars days are over, folks. Look at those years and compare the number of films released. Not many big, must-not-fail films. Before you go ahead and hit that comment button, I haven’t forgotten the importance of the films’ quality. That’ll have to wait for another post.