The cinema the movie theater has become a contentious space for the films themselves. Only the great studio stories, the franchises, seem to reach a threshold of profitability that allows them to approach what once passed for box office meant for a film to be profitable or not.
The boom in consumption via platform forced by the pandemic has changed the movie windows in a way that will surely never happen again before, affecting, as we commented here, especially mid-budget films.
The result, at least for now, is a still bearish theatrical market, with films such as Thor: Love and Thunder which also show that the public has become accustomed to certain current gimmicks.
A box office that does not recover
Despite grossing nearly $760 million, the Norse god’s third film fell from its first to its second week by more than 60% at the box office. A drop that can be interpreted as the fact that the most die-hard fans went to the cinema in the first few days.but that, afterwards, the public knows that there would not be much left for its release on Disney Plus, something that has happened.
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All of this also translates into the fact that despite hits that seem to recall pre-pandemic times such as. Top Gun: Maverick, the overall box office, remains as of mid-September 40% below where it was in 2019.
For all the pessimism about streaming in the wake of Netflix’s latest results, something that has carried over to its stock, it is undeniable that its situation remains a winning one. People are spending more time watching streaming stories than they did before the pandemic. According to Nielsen, streaming now accounts for about 32% of total TV viewing globally. This is up from about 26% a year ago.
It definitely doesn’t look like we’re back to normal yet. Or perhaps, it is that we are facing a new normal where not only are viewers aware of the new set of windows, but also with a separation in opinions between critics and viewers that has never been so far apart.
With critics increasingly detached from fans
Two films from this year serve to illustrate this. Uncharted it may not have been a great movie, but viewers rushed to see it in the theater and the critics trashed it.
With Jurassic World Dominion passed similar. Lucas Shaw, analyst at Bloombergrecently compiled the score difference of the last few years in the top-grossing movies. The result: on average the difference is 5 points, but this year it had gone to 20.
What happened? Audiences gave the top 10 films an average score more than 19 points higher than the critics, by far the biggest difference this century.
There was only one year in which the year’s top-grossing films were liked more by critics than by audiences: it was in 2005, where critics gave higher scores to more than half of the films released in 2005, led by King Kong, The war of the worlds y Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It’s striking how different the top 10 movies of the year were then compared to now. There is only one comic book movie (Batman Begins) and two sequels (Harry Potter y Star Wars).
Ten years later comes another weird year. In 2015 critics thought all blockbusters were good. The new installments of Star Wars y Mission: Impossible received good reviews, as did The Martian. The only film to score below 60 from the critics is Minions. It was also the only film to get an audience score below 60.
The franchising of the blockbusters of the last few years and that these were the first to dare to step into theaters. The most obvious cause of this dissonance seems to be the fact that they have more facilities to attract the public. Also, that apparent dichotomy that still seems to exist and will surely continue to exist between streaming and the big screen. We are still living in very convulsive times for cinema. Time will tell what remains of all this and what does not.