For the better part of a decade, Hollywood has been panicking over the decline in home video sales, which at one time were so lucrative the studios hardly worried about the box office. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 2003, “Income from the sale and rental of new movies, television series and classic films accounts for as much as 60% of a major studio’s profit[.]” Today, for Disney at least, that number is down to single digits. And Disney had a banner year with “Frozen.”
What does Hollywood expect, though, when the industry is producing so much disposable crap? Almost every movie is designed now for one purpose: a big opening weekend. It is all sound and fury and CGI and shaky-cam and an assault on the senses. Or it’s puerile humor that might be fun to watch in a theatre full of people but feels a little gross at home.
These films might draw young males but even they aren’t walking out thinking, “I can’t wait to own this on Blu-ray!”
These films are disposable, mainly because another one just like it is coming out next Friday night.
You buy a movie because it means something to you. You want to relive the experience; spend more time with the characters; you love the actors; you want to make new discoveries with each new viewing. I buy a lot of movies out of the fear they might go out of print and be lost forever. An unthinkable sin. I buy a lot of movies because doing so makes me feel as though I own that world. It’s mine now. And I can return to it whenever I like.
For me, at least, 2014 was a better year than most as far as the release of films I want to purchase on Bluray. I definitely want “Godzilla,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Fury,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” “The Equalizer,” and a few more. But I’m also going to wait a few months until they are on sale for $5.
I’m not spending $24.99 on a Blu-ray in the Obama economy, I can tell you that.
It wasn’t always this way. There were years I purchased 40 to 50 new releases a year. Some titles were so good, I didn’t wait for the $5 sales.
If Hollywood wants to revitalize its home video sales, they need to go back to making the kinds of movies people want to see again and again and again. The place to start would be with the rejuvenation of that extinct species that was once known as The Movie Star. I can’t tell you how many movies I would have never bought on home video if they didn’t star Eastwood, Stallone, Van Damme, Bronson, etc.
Movies no longer feel as vital as they once did. They are no longer a part of our collective and personal memories, our emotional life, and our identities. Movies are a huge part of my life but I could never again see a movie made after 1999 and be just fine.
The last 15 years have been the worst 15 year stretch in the history of Hollywood. There is not even a close second place. Just look at the Best Picture winners: Crash, The Artist, Argo, 12 Years a Slave, The Hurt Locker, Slumdog Millionaire, A Beautiful Mind, The King’s Speech, Chicago — a parade of mediocrity. Some of those titles are good, but Best Picture Winners? C’mon!
Wake up, Hollywood. Admissions also hit a 19 year low. This problem is very real and more of the same is not the solution. You’re going the way of the music industry.
John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC