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What the #1 box office movie of a year says more about us

31 Oct

The current #1 movie of the year 

 The #1 movie of each box office year has a lot of things in common with each other. It’s not just the type of movie they are: it also has a lot to do with us, the consumer. For example, how quickly we see a movie and the atmosphere in which we like to see movies says a lot about our culture now.

Opening Weekend

The opening weekend has become more essential to box office numbers than ever before. Spiderman in 2002 became the first movie to make $100 million, making $114 million. After Spiderman the opening weekend record has now been broken 5 times, and there are now 22 movies that have made $100 million in their opening weekend. This year’s #1 movie became the first movie to ever make $200 million in an opening weekend. All 5 movies that have broken the opening weekend record were the #1 movie of their year.

So what does that say about us, the consumer?

Instant Gratification 

We now live in a time where we can get any information we want almost right away. Movies still, despite a decline in attendance, highlight this trend. We need to see things as quickly as possible, and looking at the past #1 movies of a box office year it’s clear our demands need satisfaction right away.

This also applies to us. The internet provides you with quick information, such as this year’s #1 movie or box office predictions for The Hobbit. You can just hop onto the internet, and you can find a site like mine that will tell you this information. Here’s a question, though: why do we still see movies in theaters at all?

With our desire for instant gratification, how come most people don’t run to the internet to find a pirated copy? Why do we still mostly choose to see movies in the theater?

Theater Experience  

I mean we have to pay to see these things, so what do theater screens have that our computer screens don’t? Another interesting question is, if we hate when people talk at the movies, why don’t we stay at home where there’s a guarantee of silence?

The point I’m making with these questions is that the movie theater experience has a strong appeal. Pirated movies aren’t ending theater going altogether for some reason. For one the screens are bigger at a movie theater; the picture, and sound qualities are better as well. So seeing a movie in Imax which features an even larger screen, even bigger picture quality, and even better sound would definitely enhance the experience.

It’s an interesting feeling when you have a great theater going experience; sometimes it is almost an out of body experience. One thing about a good experience at the movies is the crowd is silent but active at the same time. This means that the audience is reacting to what’s on the screen pulling us in more instead of pulling us away. When this happens together, we join  as one. We immerse ourselves into the screen and for 2 hours nothing else has our attention but whatever world we have chosen to go to.

Budget Explosion

What else do such #1 movies of the year as Avatar, The Avengers, Pirates of the Caribbean have in common? A budget of over $200 million. This compares well with our need for a theater experience because we as consumers value quality theaters and quality production values.  The film’s production quality amplifies the theater quality, and those two can often morph into an overall quality experience.

Art Form

Film I would say is the greatest art form of the last century, and we value the power of a good movie. When we see a great movie, it can–as I said before–create an out of body experience. We as consumers value quality over anything else because what good are good special effects without a good story?

So these factor into what the #1 movie of a box office year says about us as consumers: we value an instant quality theater experience.

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Predicting a Weekend at the Box Office

17 Oct

How much will Paranormal activity 4 make this weekend? This Friday I’m going to give my first forecast and you can provide your own forecasts based on the information available. I’ll go into depth on my opinion of the franchise and when diminishing returns of audience excitement will begin to take place.

Box Office Inflation

4 Oct

What movie has sold the most tickets ever? Looking at the all time box office grosses shows Avatar is currently the highest grossing  film of all time grossing 760 million dollars. In terms of actual physical money made, Avatar is the highest grossing film. If you were to look at tickets sold, Avatar is unlikely to be in the top 20 of all time ticket sales.

The record for most ticket sales belongs to an earlier movie, Gone with the Wind. Avatar‘s 760 million dollars was in theaters in 2009 and 2010. Gone with the Wind was released in 1939. If released when Avatar was, it would’ve made around 1.5 billion dollars: double what Avatar made.

In 1939 the cost of a movie ticket was on average 23 cents, and the average ticket price when Avatar was released in 2009 and 2010 was $7.50. In 1939 Avatar would’ve made 22 million dollars, while Gone with the Wind made 190 million dollars. Some other movies that easily sold more tickets than Avatar are The Sound of Music, Star Wars and Titanic.

The key issue with ticket price inflation is it has led to huge box office numbers but far lower movie attendance. Since 2005 movie attendance has decreased each subsequent year except one, while box office profits have hit record highs.

When Gone With the Wind came out for 23 cents, you got both the movie and they would play some sort of short subject movie and a newsreel. Gone with the Wind was too long for this, but most other movies playing in a theater at that time would show the main movie people came to see, along with a completely different movie called a B movie. The issue here is simply people used to get a lot more for a lot less when they went to the movie.

Why so Expensive?

28 Sep

Ever wonder why you’re spending almost thirty dollars on just yourself when you go to the movies? That is the current state of moviegoing, as it seems moviegoing is evolving into the equivalent of a pricey sporting event.  The moviegoing experience has changed; everything is expensive when you go to the movies.

Starting at the ticket booth, the price of an adult movie ticket for a non-3D movie is $11 and kids are $8.50. This is for non-3D and as everyone knows every movie is in 3D. Most 3D movies cost $15 for an adult and $11-12 for kids. This is the movie studio hiding reality from the public. The reality they’re hiding is if you wait six months before seeing the 80th Ice Age movie, you’ll save $20 dollars per person.

Most have caught on to this reality, which has culminated in movie attendance hitting all time lows. To hide this from people, they convert almost every movie into 3D, usually after it’s done filming, which often creates a bad effect that annoys the viewer instead of inspires.  This gives the movie studio an excuse to raise the price and inflate the box office numbers.

Since every movie is in 3D and most of them are lazily put together, viewers now demand non-3D versions of movies be offered and usually 60% of viewers choose this version over the more annoying expensive 3D version.

After buying your $10-15 ticket, you decide you want to get some food before you go in. Say you buy a medium popcorn and medium coke. That’s $10 at least; half of what those products would cost anywhere else. This isn’t the movie theater trying to screw you: it’s the movie theater trying to pay its bills.

Most believe the combination of movie tickets and concession pay for everything. However, the movie theater doesn’t own the movie they’re showing. The movie studios that paid for the movie do. So they take a majority of the box office sales that the movie made at the theater. On opening weekend alone, movies studios take 100% of the box office and then the percentage lowers after each subsequent weekend.

In the movie box office world, most movie studios only care about opening weekend because on average 25-30% of a movie’s total box office revenue comes from opening weekend.

There are ways to improve the theater going experience to make it at least worth spending all this money. First, if the movie is 3D, don’t sloppily convert into 3D film the movie in 3D. Films such as Avatar did this and Avatar is now the highest grossing movie of all time.

Second, make original movies.  How many Ice Age movies do you think people want to see? After a while people will get sick of it. So it’s obvious the movie studios are the ones who can improve the moviegoing experience that we all love so much.