Over the past few weeks a lot of huge movies have hit the big screen, and with the exception of a couple, many recent films have struggled to entice audiences into theatres. X-Men: Dark Phoenix, Godzilla: King of Monsters, The Secret Life of Pets 2, Men in Black: International and a few others, are all under performing at the box office – but why?
It’s easy to argue that the under performance is to do with bad reviews – it’s certainly the case with some of these examples – but is there a bit more to it?
I believe there is.
I believe there are too many ‘tent pole’ movies coming out too quickly and too closely together.
Take this weekend for example. In the UK Brightburn, Toy Story 4 and Child’s Play have all opened at the same time.
That’s three notable movies (all with favourable reviews), all arriving during the same weekend. OK, so not all of these films will appeal to the same audiences, but they are all in competition with each other.
I plan to see all three of these films in the coming days, but it’s going to take a bit of planning around my schedule to fit them all in. Will general audiences plan their schedules too? No, of course not.
I’m a movie fan who goes to the cinema (on average) once a week. General audiences go every once in a while – certainly not once a week.
Now it’s also worth noting that this weekend’s big three are also in competition with Aladdin, Rocketman, The Secret Life of Pets 2, X-Men: Dark Phoenix, John Wick Chapter 3, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Detective Pikachu, Ma, and Avengers: Endgame. These movies are all still playing, so general audiences have a lot of movies to choose from.
And of course, that’s just this week. Since the beginning of the year we’ve also had a huge succession of high profile films, including Glass, The Lego Movie 2, Happy Death Day 2U, Alita: Battle Angel, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Captain Marvel, Us, Shazam!, Pet Sematary, Hellboy, and The Curse of La Llorona, amongst others.
And that’s not all.
*Takes a deep breath*
In the coming weeks, expect to see the likes of Annabel Comes Home, Spider-Man: Far From Home, Midsommar, The Lion King, and Hobbs & Shaw. And this is before the likes of It Chapter Two, Rambo: Last Blood, Joker, Gemini Man, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Zombieland: Double Tap, Doctor Sleep, Terminator: Dark Fate, Charlie’s Angels, Frozen 2, Jumanji 3, Black Christmas, Star Wars: Episode IX, and Cats!
That’s a lot of big films for 2019. A lot.
I’m not complaining – I LIVE FOR MOVIES LIKE THESE – but surely this is too many?! With so much competition, in addition to the usual distractions (Netflix, Amazon, the internet, life, etc) and a restricted supply of cash, there is simply too many films to keep up with.
If studios are going to keep pumping out this amount of genre films, in such a short succession, they should expect to have huge casualties. This is something we’re already seeing this year and it’s something we’ve seen in previous years.
So, what is the solution?
For me, there needs to be some breathing room. I love these huge blockbusters, but I also like to watch small-scale, character pieces.
At present, with such an onslaught of big genre material I barely have time in my schedule for low budget tales. And when I say “barely”, I really mean “not at all”.
I don’t have time for smaller pictures and I’m struggling to find time for all of these big blockbusters too. Bad reviews hurt movies, but not having the time to watch them hurts the movies even more.
I need a better schedule, which provides time to see all of these movies without having to create a spreadsheet! I need the industry to calm down a bit.