Thinning out the crowded summer film schedule

My main man Mich and I usually go to the movies together on the weekends.

So I go to him today, “Hey, we’ve got to see Riddick this weekend.” Turns out he’s not as big a fan as I am.

“Really? What else is playing?” he asks.

I flip through the Fandango app, “Nothing, in fact the next couple of weeks are blank.”

And that conversation immediately drew me back to an article posted Sunday on the New York Times, “Huge Summer for Hollywood, but With Few Blockbusters.”

From the article:

Ticket revenue in North America for the period between the first weekend in May and Labor Day totaled $4.71 billion, a 10.2 percent increase over the same period last year, according to analyst projections. Attendance rose 6.6 percent, to about 573 million. Higher ticket prices contributed to the rest of the growth.

That’s great for Hollywood, but here’s the problem:

Studios released 23 films that cost $75 million and up (sometimes way up), 53 percent more than in the same period last year.

The rest of the article talks about the struggle theater owners face trying to find room for all of these would-be blockbusters, and how a crowded schedule cuts into profits for everyone.

Yeah, it also leaves me with nothing to see after Riddick this weekend.

I can see where these owners are coming from. If I’m running a 10-screen operation and Fast 6 is cleaning up on four screens, why would I want to pull it down from even one of them to make room for After Earth, a movie you knew weeks out was going to be dead-on-arrival?

So I get that. And I’m sure those owners are also angry that so many of these “blockbusters” turned out to be terrible.

I mean, movies like After Earth and R.I.P.D. and even Lone Ranger were getting killed in the weeks leading up to their release. If I’m a theater owner seeing that much bad buzz I’d be saying, “Thanks but no thanks.”

Maybe if so many of the summer movies weren’t awful, the article would have put a different spin on Hollywood’s scheduling dilemma.

Personally, I didn’t think the release schedule was that bad (the flicks are a different story). For the most part, all of the movies I wanted to see were spaced about a week apart, or a few weeks if you count the time between Fast 6 and Man of Steel.

It did bother me that Warner Bros. put Hangover 3 up against Fast 6, forcing me to wait for Hangover to show up on-demand.

Oh yeah, there was some space between Hangover and Man of Steel, but I’m a busy guy. Besides, I had to make time to see Fast 6 again.

As the numbers show, having too many movies on the summer slate isn’t a threat to business, because the good movies will always be seen.

But, if the scheduling thing is such a problem, and if there’s a good movie that they’re afraid will get stomped by a superhero picture or — lordy — a Grown Ups sequel, try putting it out sometime other than summer.

Why not release it on-demand the same day and take a chance that people will spend money to watch it at home? I’ll bet the Red 2 crowd could have stayed on the couch for that one.

Or, or… stop making movies nobody wants to see.

By the way, if theater owners think this was a crowded summer, wait until 2015. They better start adding on some extra screens like now.

Published by

Jason R. Latham

Jason R. Latham is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer and owner of STRUT Stories, LLC, a digital storytelling studio specializing in content strategy, copywriting, and social media management.

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