How the Average Moviegoer Votes with Their Wallet
Over 48% of the U.S./Canadian yearly box office income is from moviegoers that frequent the theatres one or more times in a month, (source: M.P.A.A. theatre market statistics 2016,) so it’s safe to say that the rest of the money made comes from blockbusters. The top five highest films on opening weekend, of all time in North America as of March 2019, are: Avengers: Infinity War, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Jurassic World, and The Avengers. (source: Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; List of highest-grossing openings for films.) Now to those 48% of North American moviegoers, what films get made most frequently in Hollywood and abroad rest significantly on your shoulders. I say ‘your’ but I myself am one of those people. Original films will never go away, but the politics behind what movies get made, are given bigger budgets, and why have mostly to do with statistics. It is unfortunate that such an art form ought to be reduced to numbers, but when films bring in 11.4 billion dollars yearly in North America alone, greed follows. (Being outdone however by the separate Art Market with its yearly gross of 63.7 billion dollars.)
What this means in nutshell is that we vote with our wallets. The average moviegoer isn’t an art major or film historian, just on odds alone, which means that refined taste isn’t the thing being taken into consideration; it is entertainment. A film can be utter trash to film critics, but consumers might find immense pleasure in it if it’s successful in being entertaining. Writing, acting, directing, cinematography, editing, sound mixing, and colouring drop to the wayside when figures show that skimming the barrel of talent to deliver passable comedy, horror and action can be as easy as reducing them to primal formulas. Examples of this can be found in such gems as: Daddy’s Home, Insidious: The Last Key, and Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, (and the series as a whole.) It may not be evident to all, but once you make a mental note of the elements that go into a movie as listed earlier, many movies can be found to be just products. Different things stick out to different people. I notice amazing stories to lackluster ones. My friend knows when an action scene supersedes most. Another has an eye for great cinematography. I wouldn’t ask or wish for people to become film critics in lieu of enjoying what they are watching, I would only ask to take notice. Be mindful of when a moment or element in a film sparks your interest; was it the set design? The action choreography? The dialogue? The slow build up of tension? Subtle looks by a character as they go through arches? Things like this are important in keeping good movies alive in Hollywood.
This won’t change what films break box office records, but if we all found out what we really enjoyed when we went to the movies, we might have a better chance at improving the experience overall. Wait to stream Illumination films if your kids want to see it. Refuse more Taken sequels. Show with your involvement and lack-there-of what people want and expect when they go to the movie theatres, because it’s not just about the crowd and over-priced food. We all gather to be whisked away into another world, put into a dramatic situation, or feel fear without the real threat. It’s escapism, appreciation, or both. It’s an art form, and in my humble opinion, deserves to be crafted as such.