Wednesday, February 13, 2008

From a consumer's point of view, the writer's strike wasn't so bad

The writer's strike wasn't such a bad thing because I constantly feel attacked by pop culture. Sometimes, I feel like I have to see the latest episode of Heroes or The O.C. or some reality show to catch up with what's going on and I don't have time to do it all. Sorry, Mr. Trump, I wanted to see your Celebrity Apprentice, but I couldn't afford to catch more than half an episode so far. The writer's strike gave me a chance to stop, catch my breath, and catch up on whatever shows I wanted to watch at my own pace. I think the networks feel like they must constantly suffocate us with pop culture so that we don't find other non-TV-related hobbies to take up.

Honestly, the idea that we constantly need new movies and TV shows in the theater is something decided by the entertainment industry, not us.

More specifically, the idea that the general public needs approximately 3-5 large scale releases added into circulation, is one created by the movie theaters, not the general public. Adding 3-5 large scale releases decreases the circulation of 3-5 other pictures and often bumping them out of your local theater. Ordinary moviegoers might go to the movies two times a month. I go about 3 and I'm blogging about films. I saw about 31 pictures from 2007 in a movie theater between March '07 and February '08 (I saw about 4 more on DVD or hotel pay-per-view) and I had the advantage of working in a movie theater where I was often too tired at the end of the shift to do anything but plop down in front of a movie screen.

My point: Keeping up with films is not what drives people to the movie theater. People don't have time in their schedule, usually to see all the films they want to see. Even though you might want to go just because have a friend who's a film buff (and this wouldn't be me, but one of my film friends) who's like "You have to see this! How could you not have seen this?" and you don't want to dissapoint him/her, you usually can't keep up with all the films you want to see in a theater before they run out.

To compound matters, half the films worth seeing usually come out in the same month: December. There were approximately seven or eight films I wanted to see that came out in December. Last week, I worked my way to seeing Charlie Wilson's War and I still have to see Juno and There Will Be Blood. That would be nice if the movie theaters let the Christmas films run for a few months because people still probably want to see all of them. To some degree this is happening: The Christmas season films last longer in movie theaters than films from any other release period of the year, but still, Oscar-quality films are being gradually pushed out by film output from the first couple of months like Underworld: Evolution, Freedom Writers, Are We There Yet?, the Pacifier, Norbit, Epic Movie, Failure to Launch, The Shaggy Dog, Date Movie or Wild Hogs and films this year like Meet the Spartans, 27 Dresses, and Rambo. Occasionally, a film like V for Vendetta, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Erin Brockovitch, and 300 will be a surprise hit, but the movie business doesn't really care about the period from January to April. The movie studios will make most of their money in the summer months and they'll produce the really good films that will be remembered for years to come between October and December (making September another awkward filler month). They only release movies between January and April as filler during this time. These films are the equivalent of the bench for a sports team that takes the court as the stars are resting.

The studios figure they might as well put something out while waiting for the blockbusters or quality films to come out, but they shouldn't be too quick to relegate their proverbial star players to the bench until they're all used up. The average moviegoer did not get a chance to see The Kite Runner, The Great Debaters, No Country for Old Men, Charlie Wilson's War, Juno, There Will Be Blood, Atonement, The Savages, and Persopolis and while the box office numbers are indicating declining performances for all these films each weekend, these films will still have an audience of people who will go out of their way to see them. Studios shouldn't underestimate that

No comments: