As Jimmy McMillan might say: “The movie ticket prices are too damn high.” At least, that’s what consumers said to Hollywood this year–that and “most of the movies sucked.” The Los Angeles Times writes that the number of movie tickets sold in the U.S. and Canada is expected to hit 1.26 billion in 2017, which is well below 2016’s 1.31 billion. It’s the fewest amount of tickets sold in a year since 1995, when Toy Story and Batman Forever reigned supreme.
What’s going on here? It’s true that there were a few huge breakout successes this year. These include Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Wonder Woman, and Girls Trip. But more than a few of this year’s most anticipated movies–including Alien: Covenant and The Mummy–flopped.
However, the long-term decline in attendance reflects systemic challenges facing the industry. Audiences are spending less time going to the movies and are consuming more entertainment on small screens and through streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon that are spending billions of dollars on original video content.
At the same time, while higher ticket prices have helped to offset attendance declines, they have made consumers pickier about what movies they’re willing to go see. And those increasingly discerning consumers turn to social media and Rotten Tomatoes to decide what’s worth their time and money.
It seems that as ticket prices continue to get higher and higher, the only way to pry people away from their streaming services and smartphones–and into multiplexes–is by, well, giving them original, non-retreaded content.