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August 20, 2005

Who’s Blame is it Anyway?

Who’s to blame for the dismal summer movie season … moviemakers or movie marketers?Year-to-date box office sales are half-a-billion dollars less than last year and there is a lot of finger-pointing going on in Hollywood.

Moviemakers are blaming marketers for the box-office slump. They say Hollywood marketers have abused the heavy-up television advertising tactic to the extent audiences have grown tired of the relentless hype machine.

Movie marketers are blaming the changing consumer habits. They say their core consumer (12 to 34 year olds) are spending more time playing videogames, surfing the internet, and using their cell phones than going to the movies.

Movie theater owners are even getting to the action by blaming moviemakers. Theater owners are say this year’s movies are just not as good as last year’s movies.

I side with the movie theater owners and place the blame on the moviemakers.

If moviemakers make truly remarkable films, people will remark about them and audiences will flock to see them. Case in point … CRASH, a remarkable movie people remarked about this summer. I saw it because my sister-in-law remarked to me how much I would like the film because it depicts an honest look at racial relations.

So … who do you think is to blame for the summer box office slump? Moviemakers or movie marketers?


Further Reading:
  • Hollywood Reporter | Movie Theater Owners Fight Back at Studios
  • Wall Street Journal | Summer’s Flop Spur Movie Studios to Reassess TV Ads (sub. req’d)
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    I've seen all the hysterical stories about the decline of the movie industry. (Those poor, poor downtrodden Hollywood folks. How will they ever afford the next Vertu phones and Prada bags and Jimmy Choo shoes and ... oh wait, I forgot ... they get all ... [Read More]

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    I've seen all the hysterical stories about the decline of the movie industry. (Those poor, poor downtrodden Hollywood folks. How will they ever afford the next Vertu phones and Prada bags and Jimmy Choo shoes and ... oh wait, I forgot ... they get all ... [Read More]

    Comments

    The making is the bulk of the marketing, right? Maybe the movie marketers should adopt your Doc persona and do a bit of diagnosis. Cuban is trying to reshape entertainment delivery in ways that are responsive to changing market conditions. That's probably vastly more productive that focus grouping n-stage movie content for a tweak here & there. More radical changes baked into the whole process of concept to delivery, I'm thinking, is what you'd write up on your chart.

    I see the blame on the theater experience as a whole (theater owner & moviemakers). As I mentioned in my Mass Market vs Individual Customer post, if Netflix-DVD-at-home is a good enough movie watching experience, there's little incentive to go someplace where the movie watcher is less comfortable and has less control.

    Maybe it's the $8 bags of popcorn, $5 Cokes, $4 candy bars. Or, maybe it's just the incessant cranking our of formulaic schlock, i.e. the music industry, revisted.

    This is not about marketing at all. It's a case study in complacency, entitlement, and lack of common sense.

    Also, half of America sees now Hollywood as HOLLYWIERD. The pursuit of a naive utopian political agenda by it's biggest stars is tantamount to market suicide, alienating half its customers. That stuff catches up with you.

    I'd place blame mostly on the shoulders of the moviemakers. Some of the stuff that's come out this summer just looks like a big snooze and has received horrible reviews from critics and moviegoers alike. Dukes of Hazzard and Fantastic Four, two of the summer's supposed "blockbusters", are examples of this.

    I'd have to also partially blame changing consumer habits, as I know this is largely the reason for my own decreased movie theatre excursions. I used to go to the theatre anytime something came out that I wanted to see, based on the previews. But now, I tend to think, if it's good enough that I'll watch it 2 or 3 times, then it's worth just buying it when it comes out on DVD. Only if the movie looks so good that I can't wait till it is out on DVD, will I go to the theatre. Plus, HDTV/TiVo has changed a lot of consumers' habits. Why even bother buying or renting the DVD when you can tape it for free?

    I just realized that we/they may be missing another major factor affecting would-be movie goers: High gas prices. This is hurting the average household pocket book pretty severely now, more than we know. People are having to trim luxuries and outings from the budget, I'm sure that must include fewer trips to the theater in the SUV, especially if there is nothing playing you just HAVE to see.

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