by Ken Bakely
Off the news that last weekend (August 25 – 27) delivered the worst domestic box office returns in 16 years, heads have been spinning all over the industry. This particular example is justifiable: in addition to the usual end-of-summer slowdown, viewers across the country tuned into the latest “Fight of the Century” (a title which seems to be doled out at least five times in a decade), and the United States’ fourth largest city has been battered by flooding of biblical proportions. Simply put, the movies are at the very bottom of our collective priority chains. Next week is expected to be as bad, or worse. Should I belabor the point by adding that the eighth most popular title at multiplexes this weekend was a simulcast of the Mayweather/McGregor match?
But such poor numbers, while explainable in the moment, have made me think about ongoing trends which have changed how we perceive going to the movies. Once an unassailable pastime, right up there with baseball, our options have been divided up. Why drive out to a theater, spend $12 on a ticket, and sit with patrons who may not recognize basic public decorum? If you want a communal viewing experience without the hassle, consider how many people were watching and live-tweeting Game of Thrones this past summer. Think about the content available on streaming platforms. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu add new stuff all the time.