Scott Hardie | July 6, 2005
It's better than reading constantly about Live 8, but the topic of the current box-office slump in Hollywood is beginning to irk me. If you haven't heard, Hollywood has earned less money than the comparative 2004 weekend for the last nineteen consecutive weekends, in what is being called the worst slump in the industry's history. What vexes me is not the slump itself, since it lets me sit back and watch expensive, atrocious-looking movies bomb that never should have been greenlit in the first place, like "Bewitched" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded." And I don't really mind reading about the slump, since (as I mentioned elsewhere) it is finally getting studio executives to admit that A) nobody wants to see shitty movies and B) pre-show commercials are driving down attendance.

What bugs me about all this slump chatter is how just plain illogical it is. How does Hollywood come off of a blockbuster, record-breaking year like 2004 and consider itself to be mired in a terrible slump if 2005 is only almost that good? Isn't that line of thinking self-defeating, since it would require a endless escalation of box-office returns to sustain success? I realize that all businesses are judged by their rate of growth, but seriously, "only" hundreds of millions of dollars per film does not spell unmitigated disaster. Just this weekend, "War of the Worlds" earned $112 domestically and $204 international, the biggest opening weekend of any Paramount film, any Steven Spielberg film, and any Tom Cruise film in history. These are not people who make flops – Tom Cruise has literally never made an unprofitable film – but tell that to the industry, which glances back at last year's record-shattering returns for "Spider-Man 2" and sighs wistfully. Whatever piece-of-crap movie eventually does end the slump is going to be unjustly remembered for it, just like the "Lost in Space" remake is remembered for dethroning "Titanic" from its months-long perch at #1 even though it did nothing other than play in a large number of theaters nationwide. This slump is statistically interesting in the same way that any ongoing, uninterrupted streak is statistically interesting, but it is not indicative of a serious problem in the industry by any means.

Aaron Fischer | July 7, 2005
Gas prices are up. My house is comfortable. I have an HDTV and lots of DVD's. I don't NEED to go to the cinema anymore. Plus movies are released so quickly on DVD, I don't mind waiting. Plus the theatres don't have beer! I think the American public is starting to realize the benefits of home theatre.

Scott Hardie | July 7, 2005
All great points. Why don't most exhibitors sell beer, anyway? Too expensive? I only see it at the "deluxe" theaters, or the ones pretending like they're deluxe so they can charge you eleven bucks a ticket. And I think you're on to something, Aaron, about the DVD coming out so soon after the theatrical run. I think they do it to save on advertising since the film is still fresh in people's minds, but they're diminishing their theatrical returns in the process. (George Lucas recently predicted that movies would soon become available simultaneously in theaters, on DVD, and on the Internet, but all I see in that future is really cheap-ass movie productions.)

Amy Austin | July 7, 2005
Yeah, not that we've been watching any DVDs lately, but we did get a 48" flat screen not too long ago that makes Starz and even the crap on the air seem not so bad -- I think we've only paid once or twice for movies at the theater this year! Not only are all of Aaron's points good reasons for us, but this house-buying thing has taken up a whole lot of time, money (*especially* in gas!), and inclination for us. We want our house more than we want to go to a movie. And with the house we are now offering on (third time should be a charm!), we will probably be even less inclined -- this one is a little more "out in the country"! I doubt that we will even want to leave our new house (for a little while, anyway), and with a mortgage and gas up the way it is, this can only be a good thing!

Scott Hardie | July 7, 2005
I've noticed your Netflix rentals haven't changed for a while. Lost interest? No time?

Amy Austin | July 7, 2005
Heheh... yeah, sort of -- E has so little time in the evenings anymore, and I've been all too content to just watch DirecTV for some time now... even when there's only crap on! ;-) He recently put our account on hold, just to save us the monthly charges for a bit until we move and get settled in/set up again (we've paid for about 6 or 7 months of absolutely no activity now!), but because the ones that are out haven't even been found & returned yet, we just got charged again and will continue to do so until they are returned! (I know... ridiculous on our part, but yes, time/priorities is a factor at the moment.) We will probably get active again by September/October... right around the time Ed's leaving for Iraq and I get lonely and bored. :-(

Scott Hardie | July 7, 2005
I figured it was something like that. And I understand. I go through spurts too. I'm working my way through a TV series on DVD myself right now and haven't watched a movie on DVD in several weeks. But the upside of having no TMRs to write means I'm hungrier for participation on TC. :-)

Amy Austin | July 7, 2005
Heheheh... cool.

Kris Weberg | July 7, 2005
Heh. Half the theatres in North Carolina sell beer.

As to your other question, Scott, it's stocks. Corporations have a legal responsibility to increase shareholder value. Stock prices only go up when profits continue to grow, because investors don't want their stocks to remain stagnant in value (i.e., depreciate w/regard to inflation). So a good year in 2004 means you need an even better year in 2005 or you're not "doing well" in terms of your sole responsibility as a corporation. The execs and spokesfolks aren't upset at how much the current films are making, they're worried about answering to the Board.

Want to participate? Please create an account a new account or log in.

Other Discussions Started by Scott Hardie

Mixing Flavors

There's a Sarasota restaurant called J. Ryan's that specializes in mixing flavors. The special today was coconut shrimp with key lime sauce. Go »

Making a Murderer

Once again, I find myself wondering whether to finish a Netflix series. I have now watched three episodes of Making a Murderer. Go »

How Automatic Battles Happen

Some players seem to get automatic battles all the time in Pirate Paradise. Others wait for extended periods before getting any. Go »

It's Not Like They Wear Armor Anyway

Kelly found naked Klingons. I would say "so the web has come to this," but the web came to this sort of thing years ago. Go »

Coming Attractions

Write-in poll: What future movie do you most want to see? This could be one week or one decade in the future, doesn't matter, as long as it's actually getting made. Go »


In recent days, there's been controversy over Google+ being further integrated into Gmail, in that people who know you on G+ can send a message to your email inbox. Go »