Box office year 2005

It has been a bad year for the US movie box office.

Now everybody jumps to conclusions. Me too. Of course the theatre owners point to everything but themselves. I think they share much of the responsibility for their demise.

People stop going to the movies, and theatre owners blame the bad Hollywood product for it. Maybe they should buy some diversity instead. Maybe -gulp- they should take some risk? Only few theatres have more character than a chain restaurant. Most of them are generic as it comes. And then they show dismal ads.

Cinema also lost the arms race in quality: For the average consumer the picture at home can look as good as it does in the cinema. And this is mostly pre HD DVD we are talking about. The audio at home already is as much 5.1 as it can be in a cinema. Plus that the volume will be always right, and there is no talking person next to you. Or if there should be then that is your own choice, and there is always the pause button.

During the 50s TV took away the cinemas monopoly of showing moving images. Colored movies got a boost from this, but Hollywood and the theatres went one step further: They changed their own format to widescreen. This was costly for production and theatres. But seperated the movi experience from the pale 4 by 3 Black and white TV set. Content adopted to what worked well in cinema. Some Movie genres surrendered to “I Love Lucy” and the likes,
new ones like the Cinemascope Western thrived.

Nothing like this happens right now. The movie theatres have the same whinning tone that we heard from the recording industry for years. They seem equally unable to adopt. Media habbits are changing. Games, DVDs, Internet are booming.

Just like the recording industry the Theatres blame piracy for their demise. Which is the classical looser argument. It’s not going anywhere. It does not help to search your audience for camcorders.

Theatres would have a chance though: They could make movie going an experience. Something that is fun and cool. With bad projection, bad seats and dirty theatres you will loose against any big screen TV. If movie theatres don’t make the show an event again, then they will go away. With the advent of color TVs in the early 70s many cinemas in Europe started showing porn in their struggle. I don’t think that this strategy would help US theatres right now.

If (young) people would start dressing up to go out and to the movies then theatres would have a market that nobody could take away from them. People want to celebrate an evening. Current multiplex generic mall type popcorn outlets are not the right offering for this.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.