My take: Box office down 5% in 2014

My take: Box office down 5% in 2014
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My first comment would be a question: only 5%?

But let’s introduce the subject.  Variety summarizes it here.

Without Iron Man, Batman or James Bond to bolster ticket sales, the overall box office plunged 5.2% in 2014, topping out at $10.3 billion domestically. Audiences cooled to Hollywood offerings, voting with their feet as attendance dropped by an estimated 6% to 1.26 billion, the lowest figure in nearly two decades.

(And note: that shrinkage in attendance is against a world population that has grown from 5.7 billion in 1995 to 7.2 billion today.)

Author Brent Lang points to entertainment competition, especially among the under-25 set, from digital devices and television.  No doubt he’s right about that.  He also quotes industry analysts who think movie promotion could be done smarter.  Sure, why not.

He never gets around to the central reason I hardly ever go to a movie in a theater anymore, however, and that’s financial constraints.  I’m betting most of it maps back to that, one way or another.  People don’t have the money to be frequent, less discriminating moviegoers.

The 12- to 24-year-olds at whom Hollywood aims most of its movies have the least money of all.  They’re also the most likely to make use of alternative forms of digital entertainment.

The 25- to 45 folks have kids and very busy lives.  They do go to see movies, especially the ones geared to teens and children, but it’s expensive to do it, and it’s just a bigger deal in a family budget now than it was a decade ago.  Couple that with it being a big deal in a family schedule, and you get a more selective approach to the whole proposition.  I don’t know anyone with kids who isn’t seeing fewer theater-run movies than they used to.

Then there’s the over-45 crowd, with more spending money and maybe more leisure, at least on average.  This is the demographic that views movie-going as an event, something fun and social to do like taking in a game, or visiting a museum or an antique-car show

I think I speak for many in this demographic when I say that there are hardly any movies these days that can get me to the theater.  I don’t know who half the actors are, and have zero interest to begin with in the incessant stream of plotless “action” blockbusters (or the faddish cult-themed series featuring vampires, demons, or “hunger games”).

But I’d actually go see Jason Statham or Vin Diesel before most of the “comedies” and dramas rolling off the line today, which seem to rocket around between overly political and preachy, unbearably raunchy, or just idiotic.  And yes, I’m talking about the arty highbrow flicks the critics love, as well as the universally deplored clunkers.

Anyway, I might go see Jason or Vin, if I had money to burn.  But I don’t.  That’s what it all comes back to.  Oh, and big multiplexes are simply awful.  Someday, when I have a chauffeur, a personal security team, and the perpetual guarantee of at least two good friends with the leisure to make the trip with me, maybe I’ll get in the business of seeing movies in complexes with the size, population, and ambiance of Shanghai on New Year’s Eve.

But today, the mental impediments to going to the theater, starting with the cost, are almost always stronger than the attraction of the movie.  It will come out on DVD soon enough.

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer

J.E. Dyer is a retired Naval Intelligence officer who lives in Southern California, blogging as The Optimistic Conservative for domestic tranquility and world peace. Her articles have appeared at Hot Air, Commentary’s Contentions, Patheos, The Daily Caller, The Jewish Press, and The Weekly Standard.

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