Much finger-pointing can be done now, but largely as a result of the strikes that shut down Hollywood last year, the release calendar is a barren wasteland in the first chunk of 2024. And, frankly, it’s somewhat sparse at points later in the year as well. Theaters have had a rough road to recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic, and this is a downturn they cannot afford. Ticket sales are down 10% so far this year compared to 2023, and February currently looks like it could be just as bad as January — if not worse. The problem remains the same: Without new movies, theaters can’t reasonably succeed.
But what we’ve seen recently is audiences are ready to come back to theaters when properly motivated to do so. That’s why “Wonka” is now staring down the barrel of $600 million worldwide. It’s why “Migration” has hung around. It’s why “The Beekeeper” has become a hit, ridiculous premise and all. It’s also why the 2024 Oscar nominees saw a healthy uptick in ticket sales recently. People want to go to the movies, it’s just that Hollywood isn’t giving them much new to watch right now.
So, what can be done/could have been done to amend the situation? If I were given the keys to Hollywood, I would have moved some releases up from April and March to earlier in the year. If I operated a major streaming service, I would have taken chances by putting planned direct-to-streaming movies in theaters. If I was a studio that had a classic movie celebrating an anniversary in the early part of the year, I would get it back in theaters to celebrate that anniversary. Anything is better than nothing.
We spoke more about this on today’s episode of the /Film Daily podcast, which you can listen to below:
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