Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Box office blues

2005 has been a bad year for the movie industry. Lots of stories have been written on the topic, but I think this chart I compiled from the invaluable Box Office Mojo Web site helps make the point pretty clear. The figure on the right is the number of movies that broke the $100 million barrier in domestic box office revenues for that year (not counting foreign box office and video/DVD sales).

2005 - 17
2004 - 24
2003 - 29
2002 - 24
2001 - 20
2000 - 22
1999 - 21
1998 - 18
1997 - 16
1996 - 15
1995 - 10
1994 - 12
1993 - 8
1992 - 11
1991 - 8
1990 - 9

As you can see, 2003 was a peak year so far. But 2005 could be the worst peformer of the decade. In fact, you have to go back to 1997 to find a year that had fewer mega-blockbusters. Of course, the year is not over and there is a chance that a few more 2005 releases could cross the finish line at some future date (Walk the Line is a possibility). But there just aren’t that many more potential blockbusters on the movie industry’s bench this year.

I think one of the problems for Hollywood is that I have stopped going to movies these past few years. My movie watching for this year has been so limited that I don’t even need to update the list I made on Sept. 13 of 2005 films I’ve seen so far this year.

I didn’t realize until now how much Hollywood depends on me, but the evidence is clear. Since the birth of my first child in mid-2003, they have been on a precipitous slide downward. I’m not sure what to tell them. Perhaps if they put daycare centers at the cineplex’s it would lure more of us new parents back into the fold. But whatever they do, they need to do it quick. Now with the birth of my second child last month, I will likely be absent from the local matinees for several more years to come.

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