The year 2014 was a pathetic year for Hollywood, as far as moviegoers’ attendance is concerned. Domestically, the number of Americans who attended theatres dropped by roughly 6% to 1.26 billion last year, the lowest in nearly 20-years. In terms of revenue, the overall box office tumbled 5.2%, collected a paltry US$10.3 billion (£6.7 billion; RM36.2 billion). In comparison, the year before – 2013 – was a record breaking year.
There’s no doubt that without blockbusters such as “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” or “Transformers: Age of Extinction”, things would be even uglier. Even with movies such as Mockingjay-Part1 and Spiderman, it wasn’t impressive when you compare with the previous installments. So, what has gone wrong with Hollywood blockbuster movies?
Apparently, there’re serious problems with moviegoers, going by 2014’s yardstick. According to Nielsen, young Americans, aged between 12 to 24, saw fewer films in theatres during the first 3-quarters of the year. The troubling signs are – even during record breaking year in 2013, frequent moviegoers between the ages of 18 to 24 fell by a record 17%. It seems theatres are fast losing its shine in attracting young chaps to spend money.
It’s not difficult to understand why theatres are losing its attraction with young moviegoers. Unless you’re living in cave, you should find tablets, smartphones, streaming and piracy downloading not only cheaper but also fun and convenience. Technology allows people to watch movies wherever, whenever they like, perhaps under the Starbucks roof with cuppa lattes. Theatres are no longer the cool place to catch some entertainments.
Any proofs on this theory? Well, take for example the 88-second trailer for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” on YouTube. The trailer was seen by more than 40 million users in less than 72 hours, mainly by Twitter and Facebook users. This speaks volumes about how young moviegoers interacting with digital contents. As for the controversial “The Interview”, it was downloaded illegally 750,000 times using BitTorrent.
But the biggest threat to Hollywood blockbusters is the contents. Gone were the days when producers could insult audiences’ intelligence with low quality acting, predictable storyline, lousy script-writing, overly dependency on CGI and of course, high ticket prices. Who wants to pay US$27 for a ticket, popcorn and a soda just to see 20 minutes of commercials played before the film even starts, when you can download it for free?
Sometimes, American blockbusters were so pathetic that television series were miles better, as far as storyline goes. Theatres have to understand that when people pay to watch their films, they expect the contents or materials to be compelling and provocative, at least compared to television series. You need extraordinary movies to get people out of their houses to spend money in theatres.
Fortunately, this year – 2015 – will see moviegoers pampered with big-budget sequels. Young moviegoers are spoilt for choices, with at least top-10 movies that they should watch, in theatres. There’s little doubt that Hollywood should do better than last year and make tons of money. But whether the moviegoers attendance would do better than 2013 remains to be seen.
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