Author: Blake Hodges
Right this moment in America there are thousands of movie projectors firing up to show a film, yet the seats are vacant of the type of customers that will soon hold the greatest amount of purchasing power: millennials. This is a problem. First, this is a problem for movie theaters that are just now starting to jog after limping through the 2008 recession. Second, this is a problem for all of those who enjoy a quality movie. The movie industry is suffering from a crippling problem and the millennials are the only ones who can play the part of the hero in this story.
So the question becomes: why are the people most likely to walk headfirst into a wall from looking down at their phones the only hope for saving the movie industry?
Open a tab and go to Rotten Tomatoes right now. You’ll see five movies opening this weekend and one of those is a reboot. If only 20% of the movies opening this weekend is a reboot then what is the big deal? Glad you asked. The other four movies have received little to no advertising. Movie studios seem to believe that reboots are the way to the promise land and push them more than any other film. Furthermore, a quick look at the top box office section of Rotten Tomatoes right now would reveal and even worse predicament. Five of the current weekend’s top grossing films are sequels, two are reboots, one is based off of a video game, and one is based off of a book. If we use the math that our high school algebra teacher swore really would come in handy in the real world, we see that only one freshly written movie exists on the top ten grossing films list right now: Central Intelligence.
This article is being published on July 21st 2016, yet I would be willing to wager that if you are reading this many weeks or months into the future the situation would be no different. Huffington post reported that more than half of the top 25 grossing films of 2014 were sequels, remakes, or reboots. All signs indicate that history will repeat itself in 2016.
The movies are making money though! I’m sure this thought is on loop in your mind right now as the obvious rebuttal to my presented conundrum, yet I really don’t care that these movies are making money now. Focusing on the present tense is the quickest way for an industry to find itself extinct in a few years. This fact is even more true in the entertainment industry.(looking at you Blockbuster). Millennials are going to the movies less and less each year. The New York post reports that movie goers between the ages of 18 to 24 dropped from 8.7 million in 2012 down to 5.7 million in 2015. In a few years the theaters could quickly find themselves as much of a ghost town as Blockbuster Video.
In addition to facing the problem of continuously cramming as many unoriginal movies down the pipeline as they can, the movie industry is facing a second problem: books to movies. The Harry Potter movie franchise was done well and brought in a sea of paying customers. Studio executives got wide eyed and started to make as many books into movies as possible. Sadly, the book to movie experience started to go down the easily predictable path of decline. The Twilight movies brought in a score of fans and the Hunger Games franchise was superb. While movie executives thought they were at the base of a money-making mountain, they were vastly mistaken. The book to movie conversion started at the apex of the mountain and went down rather than up. The current Divergent series and Maze runner movies are the testament to how badly movie quality has gone down in the quest to produce as many book to movie translations as possible. Once again the movie industry is hitting the same problem: unoriginality.
The third problem dragging the movie industry under is the rise of social media stars. Millennials can pick of their phones and check out quick, fresh content from Snapchat from their favorite content producers without even getting out of their seats. While the movie industry has done everything it can to strip every drop of originality out of Hollywood as possible, the social media world has filled in the gap. When given the option of watching original content in their own home for free or trudging to the theater to pay for redone movie scripts, the choice is obvious for millennials.The millennial view seeks out fresh, explorational worlds and characters. How crazy is it that social media stars are starting to out do million dollar budget film houses?
The fourth and final problem the movie industry is facing is that of easy access to lower cost competitors. A Netflix and Hulu account can each be purchased for less than ten dollars a piece. An entire month of entertainment is now less than the cost of a single movie ticket. The millennial view clearly sees the value created by Hulu and Netflix as higher than than of a two hour film. With easy to access streaming that plays when you want it compared to movie screens that have concrete times of attendance, millennials are choosing the easiest path to entertainment. Any movie released now that wants to be viewed by millennials must be worth an entire month’s worth of streaming.
If you Google “percent of millennials going to the movies” right now, a slew of articles will surface showing how millennials aren’t going to the theater. The New York Post went as far as to say that millennials are killing the movie industry. What we’ve discussed today isn’t a big discovery. The irony is that the group of consumers accused with killing the movie industry is the only group that can bring it back. And I’m not talking about bringing back the money. Any group can purchase more. The millennials are the only group that can also bring back quality to the theater because they won't be satisfied with reboots and reruns.