Hollywood’s finances are collapsing, and it brought this on itself
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Hollywood is experiencing a disastrous winter. People aren’t going to the movies, opting instead to stay home. Obviously, part of the issue is streaming, which has upended the old business model. However, one cannot ignore the fact that today’s movies are awful, whether because they’re mechanical, recycled garbage, or because they’re preachy, painfully woke garbage. Watching a couple of movies from 51 and 50 years ago, respectively, will help you appreciate just how bad most modern movies really are.
Here’s the news from The Hollywood Reporter:
Domestic box office revenue year-to-date of $581.2 million is running 43 percent behind the average haul during the same time period in 2016-19, when movie ticket sales clocked in as high as $1.08 billion, according to data provided by Comscore for Jan. 1-Feb. 4.
Of that, January clocked in at $513.6 million, compared to $599 million in 2023 (a breakout hit last year was M3GAN, with more than $83 million in ticket sales domestically, while Avatar: The Way of Water contributed more than $210 million). Outside of the COVID-era years, $513.6 million is the lowest showing for January in more than 25 years.
These are not happy figures for Tinsel Town.
As noted, one of the obvious problems is competition from people’s own homes. They’ve already prepaid for Max (the old HBO), Paramount, Disney+, or any other streaming service to which they subscribe. Those are sunk costs, so staying home and watching movies on TV is much better than to shlep out to the theater. Add in the fact that two tickets are the same price as a one-month streaming subscription and that you don’t have to pay the babysitter, and going to the movies seems like an almost foolish thing to do.
And yet I went to the movies just two weeks ago because there’s a movie playing that I knew would be better on the big screen: Godzilla Minus One. This Japanese production, which cost only $10-15 million to make, has already raked in almost $110 million. That’s because it’s an absolute gem of a movie. Instead of focusing on ever wilder and more clinical special effects, this monster movie has actual character development. It’s no wonder that both critics and viewers on Rotten Tomatoes have given it a 98% rating. It’s the kind of movie that deserves to be seen in a big way and, obviously, people will pay for the pleasure.
The same was true a few years ago for Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick, which garnered a 96% Rotten Tomatoes rating from critics and a 99% rating from viewers. The movie had a huge budget compared to Godzilla Minus One ($170-177 million versus $10-15 million) but brought in almost $1.5 billion dollars!
What ties these two movies together is that their plots aren’t shoddy. The writers didn’t just dig into the recycling bin. Instead, they came up with fresh ideas, which the directors then presented in fresh, fun ways. And importantly, neither movie had a goal other than pure entertainment. They weren’t trying to shame or indoctrinate the audience. They weren’t posturing as important, “high brow” fare. Instead, they were clever, fun, and visually exciting films that benefitted from everything a movie theater can offer.
That’s really rare nowadays. The DC, Star Wars, and Marvel universes, like some giant fungi, have taken over Hollywood and sucked the life out of it. Big-budget movies have interchangeable actors, interchangeable plots, loud noises, and way too many computer-generated special effects. They are what artificial intelligence would do if artificial intelligence were making “blockbusters” (and that’s assuming, of course, that AI isn’t already doing the job). And the less said about the woke movies (whether comedies, dramas, or children’s fare), the better.
Hollywood was always about making money, but it once understood that it made money by offering a quality product that truly entertained people. I was reminded of that last night because The Sting is playing on TCM. It is a wonderful movie: the plot is remarkably clever, the actors are confident and without modern anguish, and the production values are just lovely.
Marvin Hamlisch’s score makes the movie, too. Nowadays, soundtracks are just mash-ups of pop songs, rap, screeching ballads, and really loud orchestral noises to bolster computer-generated action. Hamlisch, however, took Scott Joplin’s lovely (and, by then, forgotten) ragtime melodies and orchestrated them in unforgettable ways that tenderly or humorously support every scene.
The Sting entertains.
And then there’s Blazing Saddles, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary on February 7. That movie, more than any other artsy, intellectual, “meaningful” film, shattered the stupidity of racial prejudice. Mel Brooks had no fear about mocking everything, so there were no sacred cows. Within that context, he could freely ridicule the patently wrong idea that a person’s skin color is a value by which he or she should be judged.
The left, unsurprisingly, wishes Blazing Saddles would go away.
Incidentally, there will never be a “transgender” Blazing Saddles. Good comedy works because it exposes the truth behind our myths and prejudices. It’s what’s left once the sacred cows have been exposed as mere plastic idols.
Because “transgenderism” is itself a very fake cow (or bull), anyone who believes in it cannot mock it. That’s why, if you want to see a funny movie poking holes through that risible belief system, you need to check out The Daily Wire’s Lady Ballers. It’s not as good as Blazing Saddles (it’s a little too earnest), but for a first effort from a studio that’s ramping up, it’s pretty damn good.