While the simple act of “going to the movies” will likely exist forever in some form or another, the current slate of Hollywood offerings isn’t exactly living up to expectations. According to a July 2017 New York Times report, film production studios had been diverting eyes from a slump in sales in the U.S. and Canada by pointing to numbers out of China. That’s because Hollywood cross-promotes its films to overseas markets as a way to add additional revenue to a movie’s overall box office earnings. The problem is, a once booming market made possible by Chinese movie-goers appears to be slowing down as well. The Times notes that 24 Hollywood-made movies earned $1.76 billion from Jan. 1 to June 30 of 2017. During the same period last year, 22 Hollywood movies earned $1.73 billion. Read another way, that’s a 1.7 percent increase and a far cry from what Hollywood executives would like to see.
As a specific example, the Times says “Transformers: The Last Knight” made $45 million in the U.S. for Paramount. In China, the figure was $120 million. Encouraging, right? Not so fast, says modern entertainment expert Gary Nerlinger.
“Ticket sales are down in the U.S. and production companies having to count on millions of movie-goes in different countries might not be the wisest of decisions,” said Nerlinger, a respected leader in the field of cable television, movies and digital data. “If Hollywood doesn’t want to end up like cable TV companies, who are seeing millions of subscribers cut the cord, then they better step up and start producing films that ask more of audiences.”
By “asking more of audiences,” Nerlinger means less popcorn-munching escapism and more think-pieces. It doesn’t have to obscure art house movies, but explorations of significant historical events could be just the ticket – if you’ll excuse the pun. For example, the July 2017 release of World War II film “Dunkirk” earned a respectable $106 million on its opening weekend alone. Nerlinger says these types of films should be studied if studios want to encourage more people to “go to the movies.” The alternative is cheaply-produced, low-earning flicks, re-boots of classic films, and another entry in the “Transformers” saga.
“To be frank,” says Nerlinger, “the last thing we need is more of the same. Thinking outside the box is almost always a sure-fire way toward success.”