Like $500 million in trouble.
At least, that’s how much less people spent going to the movies this year than last year. And that includes the fact that ticket prices went up.
Again, that’s despite blockbusters like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II,” “Transformers 3″ and “Breaking Dawn, Part I.” – each part of a mega-successful franchise that has raked in billions.
But apparently it wasn’t enough. Three weeks ago, in the face of highly-pepped movies like “New Years Eve” and “The Muppets” – the box office reached its lowest take since September 2008.
So now, the question becomes: why?
The New York Times recently asked this question and came up with some general assumptions:
“What has gone wrong? Plenty, say studio distribution executives, who point to competition for leisure dollars, particularly among financially pressed young people (the movie industry’s most coveted demographic); too many family movies; and the continued erosion of star power. “
Most importantly, they say, is the absence of young movie-goers:
“‘As bad as the economy is for adults, it’s worse for teenagers,’ said Phil Contrino, editor of BoxOffice.com, by way of an explanation. ‘Because they have less disposable income and because they are more plugged in to audience reaction on Facebook and Twitter, the teenage audience is becoming picky,’ he added. ‘That’s a nightmare for studios that are used to pushing lowest-common-denominator films.'”
It makes sense.
Movie tickets average $8 and that’s a lot, especially for teenagers working for minimum wage (as I did back in the day) or young professionals looking to enjoy an evening out.
I know when I go to the movies, I read a bunch of reviews first, gauge social media reaction and then make a decision. Once, I also checked how long each movie was because I was not about to spend $10 on a ticket for a movie that lasted an hour and 20 minutes.
I don’t have an answer to this dilemma. It’s easy to say “lower ticket prices,” but could it really be that simple? Just charge $6 and people will suddenly flock to theaters again?
Again, I don’t know.
What do you think? What could the movie and theater industries do to get people back into movie theaters?