Why People Aren’t Going To The Movies

Just kidding we love movies…

But listen to this for a second, In in the early 1890’s, moving pictures were discovered and the movie was born. It was a fascinating moment in history. Nothing had ever been invented like this and storytelling had evolved from spoken word to moving recorded images. People were enamored by this new experience, and in less than 10 years of this new medium, film studios were born. 

Audiences had to go to the movie theatre, because it was the only way to watch movies. It was a novel experience and demand was high. In fact people would go almost every week. Going to the movie theatre was a true American pastime, and by the 1950’s, the movie industry became the 3rd largest retail business in America. Fast forward to the 1970’s and Steven Spielberg’s JAWS created the “blockbuster” and turned movies into stadium like extravaganzas and set ablaze the golden years of commercial American filmmaking and distribution. 

Fast forward again to present day 2016, the worst year on record for anything.Film studios are literally crying and have no idea what to do because well, economics. Movie attendance has gone down year after year, while ticket prices have gone up at the same pace. We could spout endless metrics to prove our case, but you can go here, and then here, and even here, to really get the lowdown. 

Hollywood studios have played a blame game and they have no one else to blame but themselves. They’ve equated the issue of declining box office numbers to disruptive companies like Netflix and Amazon, high ticket prices, and “millennials” + “gen z” being distracted by mobile tech and other fun toys. While some of this may hold true, breaking it down, there is a direct correlation between the quality of films being released, and their effectiveness in the box office. People are SMART, they want good movies and great experiences.

Hollywood as an industry can’t rely on sequels anymore. In fact, more than half of them didn’t even work this year. From Alice in Wonderland to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s become more about the money, and not the heart and story. Unfortunately, global expansion doesn’t up the quality of the films either, but further dilutes them, see World of Warcraft as an example. That’s why companies like Netflix are dominating. They don’t create things in a vacuum. They have data on their customer to an almost unnerving degree, then they give full creative control to the people who author the compelling stories, birthing shows like Stranger Things, The Get Down, Narcos and House of Cards among many others. Shows they know people want to watch. 

In any case, studios need to pay attention to three things. The proliferation of technology, making things easily accessible, and most importantly, GREAT STORIES. They should listen to audiences through new platforms like Scriptd, maybe even get audiences to the movie theatres for free through new apps like FreeBird Rides.

You may read this and say DUH. It’s pretty obvious, but no one has yet course corrected. We’re not saying all movies are bad, there are bunch coming out we feel are fresh, like Silence directed by Martin Scorsese or even Passengersstarring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt. It’s award season, as we say in Hollywood. Still, great movies are few and far between. If you’re in the the film industry, hold yourself to a high standard, tell great stories and find your audience where they are, take care of them and provide a unique and fresh experience. They’ll love you for it and spend money, time and attention to enjoy what you’ve created.

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