It may be high time for Hollywood, more specifically all the major studios within, to reshuffle their deck in terms of what types of films are released in the summer season. Additionally, some recent decisions seem questionable at best when it allows for audiences less incentive to get their butts into theaters during an initial release of a new film. I’ll get to all of this with more granularity and more, but I offer into the record, this very hot off the presses article from Variety.com: http://variety.com/2017/biz/news/summer-movie-business-1202519863/ .

One of the more stand out quotes from that article is from analyst Jeff Bock who attributes the box office slumber to too much reliance on sequels this summer, minus ‘Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2.’ He went onto directly mention that the advent of digital streaming could be fragmenting audiences even more. Case in point, the more Hollywood offers ancillary methods for people to watch first run films sooner, what motivation does that give folks to get their asses in the seats at mainstream theater chains? I would argue it gives them little to no incentive. You see, this secondary market of getting the DVD/Blu-ray and digital streaming versions of films out has been increasing their release windows over the past ten years. I can remember, prior to streaming mind you, when one would have to wait roughly six plus months to rent a copy of a newer film. Now, that window has shrunk down to about three months. And if that isn’t enough, online retailers such as Amazon.com now highlight newer film’s releases for pre-sale on their site when the film is still technically in theaters!! That’s beating the drum pretty hard to the consumer that essentially says, “hey, don’t worry, I’ll be available to you sooner than you think,” so inevitably that plants a seed in one’s brain that missing a film on the big screen isn’t such a big deal anymore.

And speaking of screens, let’s face it, the emergence of robust and affordable home theater setups is also killing box office numbers in Hollywood. Why deal with the non creature comforts of your local movie theater when you can deal with the more ingratiating environment of your living room? Sure, some theater chains, like AMC, Movie Tavern and Alamo Drafthouse, offer real food and alcoholic beverages to add in a new layer to the movie going experience. However, it’s at great cost. When you can nab yourself a six pack of Guinness for roughly two dollars more than the price of one at one of these theaters, why bother?? And if that isn’t enough, as mentioned in the Variety article, streaming content has all but taken over the hearts and minds of consumers. It’s more about “when is the next season of _______ going to be out??” and less about “when is the sequel to ______ coming out?.” So, it doesn’t take a high-level financial analyst to collate what’s working against the Hollywood box office at this point in time.

But is this fixable? I’m not so sure the bleeding can be stopped as long as newer content is so readily available to consumers at home. From Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix to the latest announcement that Disney and CBS are throwing their hats into the streaming content ring, that could prove to be the final knockout blow for the theater experience, among the other obvious concerns. It makes me think back to when Steven Spielberg, speaking a few years ago, more or less said the movie theater experience will have to morph into that of a Broadway show. Meaning, less films per year will be released and the ones that are will be treated like a production at Radio City Music Hall, i.e. you’re gonna PAY if you want to be apart of that limelight. Regardless, how this all plays out in the coming years will solidify which way the pendulum has swung for the next generation. Nuff said.

 

 

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