There have been a lot of stories in the news recently talking about how Hollywood is surprised by how low turnout has been at the movies this year. They can't seem to understand why. Here are a few reasons why this 'mysterious' lack of turnout is happening:
1. Money: Earlier this evening, I went to the movie theater to go see 'Serenity'. Now, normally when I go to the movie, I tell them I am a student so I can get the student rate. At the theater I normally goes to, this means I can get in to an evening movie for $7.00. The normal adult price is $8.75. I will not pay $8.75 or more for a movie. Movies are way too expensive to see in the theaters these days. The cost of movies and the cost of food at the concession stands are way too high. Think about this very common scenario. You decide to take your significant other out on a date to the movies. Ok, so that's 2 movie tickets, 2 sodas and a bucket of popcorn to share. 2 tickets = $17.50 ($8.75 x 2), 2 sodas = $6.00. A bucket of popcorn is $5.00. That is a total of $28.50 for just the two of you. Add a couple of kids into the mix and that cost easy doubles to something like $60! Now how about this alternate scenario: Rent a movie from the video store ($4.00). Go to the supermarket and buy a box of microwave popcorn ($2.00) and a couple of sodas from the deli ($2.00). Your $28.50 date has just dropped to $8.00. Compound that with the fact that you can buy the movie on DVD for $15.00 (less than the cost of two adult movie tickets) and it's pretty clear that movie theaters are overcharging themselves right out of business. A lot of people can't afford to blow $30 (or $60 if you have kids) on a night out at the movies. It's cheaper to just rent/buy the DVD and stay home. Why do you think movie sales are dropping and DVD sales are through the roof? What does Hollywood need to do to fix this problem? Simple. Make it cheaper to see a movie in the theater than it is to rent one. If all movies were $4.00/ticket and the food prices were dropped considerably ($1.00 for a soda, $1.00 for popcorn), I think Hollywood would find a flood of people watching movies - even the crappy ones (see below).
2. Quality: Or lack thereof. Most movies that come out in the theaters these days, downright suck. I've been going to movies all my life. I swear over the last 5-10 years, the quality of movies produced has declined to the point that a bad movie is more common than a good movie. Special effects do not make a good movie. All 3 of the Star Wars prequels were practically an orgy of special effects, but the acting and story were both so bad, that I couldn't enjoy them, despite the 'wiz-bang' special effects. Honestly, those movies grossly overdid the special effects. I'd gladly trade 99% of the special effects in the movie for a really good story. Why is the quality of movies so bad these days? I think it's because there is such a huge quantity of them. All these SuperMega Movieplexes with 24 screens everywhere means there are many, many times more screens available for movies. They have to make something to fill this glut of screens so they produce anything, no matter how bad. Most of the movies made these days would never have been made 20 years ago when the average movie theater had 8 screens or less. I think if they got rid of a LOT of these monster movie theaters, it would force an increase in the quality of movies produced.