Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bang for the buck

I just read in Entertainment Weekly that movie attendance this year is down 2.1 percent from 2009. In the article they quote a moviegoer as saying that he's watched lots of Netflix, but nothing in the theatre has been worth the ridiculous prices.

Yet interestingly, the article also claims that movie ticket prices have increased less than many other prices. When one accounts for inflation, the national average ticket price of $7.85 is actually cheaper than the 1967 average, which would be $7.99 in today's dollars. Thus, the article suggests that the real reason viewers are being pickier is because they're feeling the economic pinch more of late.

That's of concern to studios that need to get people buying tickets and not waiting four or five months for the DVD. Every now and then an Inception comes along that convinces everyone they MUST see it in the theatre, but those are becoming few and far between.

However, this also means that there's a premium on scripts that will put asses in the seats at the multiplex. So the challenge falls to you, the writer, to do that. Get an idea that's multiplex-bait and the studios will fall all over themselves to win a bidding war for your spec.

So how do you do that? Pure spectacle isn't the answer. It works sometimes, but if stunning visuals did the trick alone, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World would have been tops at the box office. But then if just having sharp writing was the answer, you'd think that Easy A might have been a bigger hit than $57 million.

So what's the X-Factor. Better yet, what's your X-Factor? What do you do with your scripts that make you feel you're giving bang for the buck


  1. This is a great question and article. I'm not sure I know how to answer the question. There are films I look at and think: "That movie is never going to make it!" and it ends up turning in $100 MM in its first two weeks. Then of course, you have your Scott Pilgrim's and you feel as if the rest of the world is just crazy for not wanting to see it.

    The best I could do with my writing is make sure that it includes everything, if possible, that the movie going audience likes in a film...or at least, what I think the movie going audience likes in a film. Because if I knew, I'm sure smarter minds out there in the film industry would have known by now.

  2. In the UK, ticket prices are still too damn expensive and this has reflected in sales.

    In June 2010, a report by The Guardian stated that box office sales were less than a third of those from the previous period a year ago. Granted, The World Cup must have had a bearing on this, but surely this is quite a dramatic drop.

    The average adult ticket at an Odeon cinema is currently £9.75. That's $15.37. At a less common Vue cinema it's £7.60/$11.98.

    Add another few pounds onto this for 3D movies.

    I can't afford to see more than one new release a month.

    Dire times.