Revenge of the Flop? Not Quite . . .

Two somewhat differning viewpoints on whether and why movies are having a mediocre year in 2005.

This first one challenges that very notion that 2005 is appreciably worse than 03 or 04:

Screenwriter John August (brought to our attention via The Register) reduces Hollywood angst to mere handwringing.

In a screed titled "The sky is not falling," August reveals that the recent theatrics from Hollywood are just that:

The “box office slump” is basically a myth. The Los Angeles Times (This Just in: Flops Caused Box Office Slump) included a chart which ostensibly shows the crisis, but in reality disproves it. Week by week, the black line is a little below the gray line – except when it’s above it. More importantly, it tracks very closely. A more honest chart would have also included a line for 2001, which was at the time the pinnacle of box office grosses. This summer had that beat.

The chart referenced by August shows a fairly similar pattern between 2004 and ’05:

click for larger graphic


Graphic courtesy of LATimes

While 2005 ticket revenues lag ’04 by 6%, there’s a good reason for that:  2004 saw box office revenues of $9.4 billion dollars, and attendance of over 1.5 billion. These numbers were primarily driven by enormous hits: "Shrek 2," "Spider-Man 2," "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of
Azkaban" and the surprise blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ."

What did 2004 have that 2005 does not? Mega-hits:  3 enormously successful sequels and one religous awakening. This year is off 6% not due to the number of flops, but rather, the absence of these gigantic box office mega-hits.


UPDATE October 10, 2005 6:17am 

The Onion’s take is, as usual, very funny:

Citing Slow Summer Box Office, Hollywood Calls It Quits

"Universal Studios joined DreamWorks SKG, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Paramount, and Fox Monday, when CEO Ron Meyer announced that the company is shutting down operations and ceasing all film production, effective immediately.

"In their hearts, every studio chair would like to be a patron of the arts," said a candid and reflective Meyer, speaking from his New York office on the 69th floor of Manhattan’s Rockefeller Plaza. "But this is a business, not an artists’ charity ward.""


This Just in: Flops Caused Box Office Slump
Studio execs who pinned problems on factors beyond their control now take responsibility
Claudia Eller and John Horn,
L.A. Times, October 1, 2005,0,4092331.story?coll=la-home-headlines

The Hollywood crisis that isn’t
By Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco
The Register, Tuesday 4th October 2005 20:31 GMT

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  1. Damian commented on Oct 11

    Why are we still talking about movie grosses? Attendence is clearly the measure we should be looking at, and that has been declining.

    Movie tickets have, of course, been going up in price (probably more than inflation, but I don’t have the data)…bottom line is that even if we look at grosses, we see a flatline in terms of growth. If we look at attendence, we see a decline.

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