This morning the Los Angeles Times ran an article titled "Movie industry hits ticket sales on the nose: It's put out some stinkers." I'm shocked.... Shocked! that someone in Hollywood has finally spoken the truth. Most studio films do stink, unless you're a 14-year-old boy with ears that have a high tolerance for explosions.
The article says that industry insiders are worried that baby boomers are avoiding movie theaters like the plague. They're right again. I'm a baby boomer and I haven't been to a movie in a theater in almost a year.
Unless it's chapter five of a franchise like Transformers, or lame remakes of classics like Arthur, nobody on the business side in Hollywood has a clue of what to do. I've got an idea: Why not take some of that development money they're throwing at Marvel Comics and invest in some of the quality scripts that are floating around. Writers are still writing great original scripts, but the studios aren't buying. They'd rather play it safe and go with something like The Green Lantern which they feel has a built in audience rather than The King's Speech or The Kids are All Right which doesn't fit their demographics.
Hate to break it to the industry, but if you're admitting that you put out stinkers, maybe you ought to re-examine those demographics. The people who go to the movies are the ones who grew up with the habit of going to the theaters, the baby boomers and their parents. My parents would love to go to a movie, but the major studios are ignoring their age group. All they have left are the independent theaters.
Speaking for the baby boomers, it's not really a movie if I have to view it on my computer or cell phone. Shrinking a theatrical release down to postcard size, the film loses a lot in translation. It's not a pleasant experience watching The Departed on a laptop unless you're flying. Or waiting at the airport for your delayed flight. I've been on flights where I've seen some of my work included as part of the airline's in-flight entertainment package. It's edited and all offensive references (even those that weren't meant to be offensive) have been removed. Not a pleasant experience for the viewer or me. So I cringe when I see someone staring at a movie or TV show on their cell phone. Writing for Verizon was not the reason I got into the business.
Speaking of television, the reason ratings are down across the board is simple: Newspapers (remember them?) have for the most part stopped printing the daily TV schedules. Again taking a cue from my parents, they'd love to watch more TV shows that hold their interest, but they, like most people their age are not adapt at using the on-screen guides provided by the cable systems. If they don't know a show that is to their taste is airing, how are they supposed to watch it? A growing segment of the population is being ignored and shut out of the entertainment industry and like it or not, they're the largest demographic with the most disposable income to spend. Attention Hollywood, not everybody was born with a screen name and Wi-Fi.
Interesting to note that the most watched episode of Saturday Night Live in the past few years was the show hosted by Betty White. The audience is out there and it's giving you a clear message, but you can't hear with those Bluetooths in your ears.
So I guess I'm glad that Hollywood has finally realized that their products and marketing stink. I just hope they remember that there are some people who were born before 1980 and they're starving for entertainment.