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Film Frenzy: Episode 12 - Is it time to push the panic button on the 2024 box office?

With a third of the year already behind us, we discuss if the 2024 box office is already at a point of danger or if the slow start is not actually a sign of things to come.

Audio transcription

"Hello everyone and welcome back to what I think is our 12th episode of Film Frenzy? I'm not too sure. Put it this way, today we're going to be talking about the box office again, right? It's actually only me and Alex here again today. Magnus isn't with us at the moment so it's just..."

"A third birthday.
A third birthday.
Would you believe?
Unbelievable. Some people celebrate birthdays, some people celebrate birthday months and that's clearly what Magnus does. But no, today..."

"He doesn't call it May, he just calls it Mag.
But no, today we're going to be talking about the box office for the simple reason that we are now a third of the way through the year. We're recording this video on March 1st.
Sorry, May 1st."

"Mag 1st, sorry. Yeah, we're recording this video on May 1st. So yeah, we're a third of the way through the year and so far the box office has been, for lack of better words, pretty shit.
So yeah, the idea today is basically, you know, is it time to press the panic button on the box office? Is 2024 already in dire need of some improvements to the box office or is it just sort of like, you know, has it just been taking its time to get going? What do you think, Alex?
Boy Kills World did like 1.5 million on its opening day, which is really bad. Like a really, like a bomb, the likes of which we've not seen for quite some time."

"I think probably going to not earn that well. And a lot of these movies now just coming out, which no one really cares. Like with the, the problem with the streaming age is that you have to make it feel like going to the cinema is the worthwhile experience, which is only really the case for a few movies. Because a lot of stuff like, like Anyone But You, the rom-com, that did really well. But to me, you can just watch that at home and you would have the exact same experience as watching it at the theatre so long as you don't check your phone, which is, you know, you know, but some people do check their phones at a theatre. I remember I was watching Doom 2 and like right at the, right before the duel at the end, he like pulls out his phone, checks the time, not even like, oh, I've got an important message. He just checks the time and puts it back. I was like, what? You're going to see this in IMAX. And you're like, oh, how long's left? What the hell? Some, like people, I don't want them in the theatres. I don't think it's time to press the panic button because if there's less people going, that means that surely it's the people that just want to see stuff in the cinema. So I don't want those people at my theatres. I don't want them there. If you're checking the phone, if you, Black Panther as well, it's the only time, I don't know if you've ever done this, but the only time I've ever been get off your phone is to a girl who's sitting opposite me at Black Panther."

"And I just like, she was just always on it, like texting. And I was like, what the hell are you doing? I was like, you're ruining the experience for me. I understand that you're like, you know, I did this as a whisper. I wasn't like, what the hell? I was like, can you not do that? Because I, if you, why are you here? So why are you here? If you want to go on your phone, can you do it at a place that doesn't actively disturb what other people are doing? And she put her phone away for the rest of the movie, but I was like, what the hell are you doing? I feel like I sound like a Trump rant, you know, when he's just like, Obama's chewing gum."

"In any case, I know how you feel about that. I think everyone's experienced going to the cinema where there's always like somebody that it's always, it's always youngsters who don't quite understand that there's a bit of like, this is like a sanctity. It's both youngsters and it's like boomer age people now. Like people in their fifties are just like, yeah, sure. I didn't give, you know, it's like, I'll pull out my phone and I understand your phone is the world, right? It's the world at your fingertips. It's enticing. It's like news and stuff. All the things that you want, it's got there in a little screen that you love, that you're addicted to, that you can't quite get rid of. Everyone's addicted to their phones, but come on, it's two hours. It's not, it's not, you know, it's not that much. And you also paid to do it. Yeah."

"You pay to be here. You know, the rules, it's like going to a swimming pool and just like, like splashing everyone. Do you know what I mean?
You know what I will say though, as well, right. Is I think that as bit with us, both of us being British people, um, our experience at the cinema is a much more repressed one than certain other places around the world. Like I know, yeah. I know. Like, for example, when you go and watch movies in America, the tiniest thing happens, they're like screaming and shouting. It's a big, exciting thing for us. We go in the cinema. No one says a word until you leave. That's it."

"Apart from the only time I've had like an American ish movie experience was when I was watching Avengers end game, which was like a five year, five years, a couple of days ago at the time we were recording this. And there was there when spoiler alert, Iron Man died. There was a woman, I can't remember if I told you there's a woman like uncontrollably sobbing, like absolutely like, like I, well, I hope it was a woman. Um, uh, when, when the, the, the cap hammer thing, that was another big one. Oh yeah. People were like, and the, the big, um, when they all came through the portals at the end. Yeah, that was, yeah, that was one where everyone was like, but like audible gasps. But yeah, Iron Man death was like sobbing, like absolutely inconsolable."

"Like it was like someone who just walked up and shot her boyfriend sitting next to her.
Like absolutely like, but at the time I wasn't like mad about it. There was someone who was snoring, uh, during a very late night showing of guardians three, which I kind of get daytime showing and I would have forgiven it as well, to be fair, but, uh, but no, no, it is a, we're all valid points, but the reason why we want to talk about this today is right."

"Is that because recently I think it was both Kung Fu Panda four and Godzilla X Kong, the new empire, both surpassed $500 million at the global box office, right? Yeah. Huge things to celebrate, you know, breaking half a billion dollars is a big deal, regardless of how, you know, where the box office is to make a half a billion dollar film is still really good, especially since in both of those films, if I'm right, say neither one of them had like enormous budgets, like, you know, like gladiators, maybe, but I think it was about 120 million. I don't think it was that much for Godzilla because again, you've got to remember with Godzilla and Kong, right? They literally had no big actors, like Dan Stevens is the man in that film and maybe Brian Tyree Henry or his name is, I think. So, um, they probably saved a lot of money on the sort of casting thing there. But the point is, is that both those movies did really well. And when they passed that $500 million marker, I was like, I thought I'd do a bit of research, see how the box office is performing. And it turns out it's performing absolutely horribly. So in 2024, so far, again, we're a third of the way through the year. There have been only eight movies that have surpassed $100 million at the box office. Now of those eight, three of them have surpassed $200 million with them being Kung Fu Panda, Godzilla, and then Dune part two is 700 million. So that means there are five movies that are between the hundred and 200 million mark with that being Ghostbusters, Frozen Empire, Bob Marley, One Love, The Beekeeper, Mean Girls, and then Madam Web, right? So that just shows the state of the of the box office because there are like, you know, three or four films in there that you probably look at and go, oh my god, they're the biggest movies of the year. Everything else, nothing has surpassed $100 million. Now, it might not sound like a big deal to be in, you know, only a third of the way through the year. That's what the state of the box office is. But in 2023, which was another like objectively bad year compared to where the box office was pre-pandemic, over 50 films generated more than $100 million. Now, if you put that as like a comparison point, that would mean that around 16-17 movies will have needed to hit the $100 million mark by the end of the first third of the year, of which this year were eight. So it's half as many movies already. Now, you could go out there and say like, yeah, you know, the summer's always really busy and later this year we're gonna have some bangers. Like, it'll offset it. I can't think of any that apart from Deadpool and Wolverine. What have we got? I mean, you would expect movies like, you know, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes. Oh, hell yeah. I can't believe I forgot about that. Yeah, there's gonna be Furiosa."

"There's loads of big ones coming out later in the year like Mufasa. Venom will probably make, if Man on the Web can make $100 million, then Venom can probably make $3 trillion.
But no, there are a lot of big movies that are coming out. But do we really think that in eight months there's going to be $4,200 million earners, judging by the state of the box office at the moment? Like, I can't see it. I really cannot see it. I think that this year is going to be one of the worst years for the box office in a while, which is really shocking because 2023 objectively was not a good year either. You know, pre-pandemic, we're talking like 2019, um, there was nine $1 billion movies. Yeah. $1 billion movies. Obviously the pandemic in 2021 and 2022 a little bit different because they were still coming out of that pandemic era."

"But then 2023, we have two $1 billion earners. And so far this year, we haven't had one, which again, we're only a third of the way through the year. How many did we get in 2022?
I saw there was quite a few in 2022 because there was Avatar, there was Top Gun Maverick.
Yeah. It felt like we were back. Yeah, there were a few good ones there, yeah. And in fact, I mean, there were in total $4,100 million earners in 2022, which, you know, again, we're still like coming off the back of the pandemic at this point. It's not necessarily about going to cinemas and people not wanting to go to cinemas in 2022. It's more just that it felt like there wasn't many movies because of the production obviously been shut down and they had, you know, that was the problem that was facing 2022 more so than anything. But 2023, we were back to sort of more of a normality thing. And we didn't really necessarily see it translate in numbers in the box office compared to pre-thingy. So you think to yourself, 2024, surely that's going to be the next step forward to getting there. And so far, we are so far off the mark that it makes you really concerned about the future of the box office. So I don't know. What do you reckon? Is it time to press that panic button? Should we start setting off the warning klaxons? The box office is dead."

"Long live streamers. Maybe, but also maybe we're just in a bit of a like a dip between peaks because the Marvel engine has shut down now. Deadpool and Wolverine will likely make possibly, probably a billion dollars because people want to see that movie. They want to see Deadpool again. They want to see Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. They don't really care about the plot. No one really cares about the wider connection to the MCU storyline at the minute because there's nonexistent. It's all just a mess. And so maybe they can bring it back with this new Fantastic Four era or whatever. I don't know if they can. I think it's over. I think the comic book movie being the sort of thing that always comes out, always makes money, always does well, that era is sort of over now. And the next chance that you're going to get at it is James Gunn's DCU because people want to see Superman. And that'll be a test. If people don't go to Superman, it's over. It's absolutely over for comic book movies. And we talked about this before about video game adaptations being the new thing. And if that is the case, or it might be something else, it might be something that we're not even sure of yet that's going to be a consistent moneymaker. We just don't have that this year, I think. We don't have something that you go, okay, well, even if all these new idea-ish movies don't work, we've got this machine that will keep pumping out movies year on year on year because Marvel's only got one this year, and it's Deadpool. And it's not even really seen as an MCU thing. It's like a Deadpool movie."

"And so, I don't know. I think there's always the chance that it'll come back. But again, the problem is you've got to not just look at people because studios are releasing Dune 2 came out on digital quite recently, and it's only been in the cinema since March.
Now, I don't know about you, but I remember going to the cinema as a kid, and- You have to wait six months. Yeah, six, seven months."

"Six to eight months for a DVD release, and you would still see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is the one I remember seeing as a kid because I'd be like, I've seen it, mum. Why the hell is it still on the cinemas thing? Because obviously, as a kid, you just think once you've seen it, everyone's seen it, and they can wipe it off the board. But it would be like four months after it released, and it would still have loads of showings, and that income is still really important because even if it's not in IMAX, people would still probably want to go see Dune 2 again in cinemas because it feels like a theatrical experience more than it does something that you can get a good enough vibe from watching at home."

"And that is where the blame lies, I think, is people going, okay, stream is the new norm, let's kill cinemas for it. I think that's the one thing that we've seen, isn't it? That we haven't seen production giants necessarily figure out the balance between theatrical and home cinema experiences because I think there does need to be that break. As much as I understand that it probably does rake in a lot of money for them to, you know, like Wonka was a big one, right? It came out in December. I don't feel like it did really well in cinemas. It made like 600 million dollars, and then it came, and then it went to, like, you could watch it at home in late January. I was like, well, that's such an immediate turnaround, it's unbelievable. And I get that it generates revenue like that, but surely it doesn't necessarily generate more revenue because then you lose all the theatrical stuff. I mean, granted, then I suppose you sort of bundle all the marketing together, right? Because you're marketing the film for the cinemas and then pretty much straight away for home video on demand and stuff like that. So I guess that it kind of does, like, bring that together. But you're- they're drastically reducing the lifespan of these projects, whereas before it'd be like, here's a trailer, the movie's coming out in eight months, you watch the movie in cinemas, it's in cinemas for two and a half months, and then you have to wait eight months until it's on DVD or whatever rental. Now it's like, here's the trailer, the movie's out in five, six months, it's on home video thing in a couple of months after that, and that's it."

"It's done. So, I don't know, I think they definitely need to figure out a way to do it.
Don't get me wrong, I like being able to watch a movie that I haven't seen in cinema at home.
Yeah. I've never bought one of those full price ones, personally. You know, the, like, home video premiere thing, and they cost like- I accidentally bought Pushin' Boots The Last Wish. I'd already seen it in cinemas. I just love it so much. I wanted to show my family it, because I was like, oh, you guys will love this. And I clicked on buy instead of rent. And so I spent, like, 17 quid instead of three. So that was a day where, you know, traffic was calling. But apart from that, yeah, I've personally never done it. I'd rather wait until they're rentable or, you know, make a- They run streamers in the time it used to take them to come out on DVD. So if you're paying your subscription cost for Disney Plus or whatever, and like Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes we were talking about before, I give it like six months before you can watch it on Disney Plus. Yeah. And Disney's generally one of the ones that takes the longest to come to as well."

"Yeah. Prime Video. They get those MGM films on Prime, like, instantly. They don't wait, they skip a heartbeat. They don't mess around. They need you to watch Prime Video because otherwise, like, that's the thing with Prime Video is that it's the one that probably the most people just have because you want to have Prime for, like, the easy deliveries and stuff like that on Prime Day. But it's the thing that I feel like wants you to watch it the most because it always puts loads of money into, like, Fallout and Rings of Power and all these things. And Netflix puts, like, a lot of money into its stuff as well. But it never feels like Netflix is like, please watch our stuff, please, please. We need you to. Whereas Amazon's like, we're bringing out the boys, bringing out Invincible, we're bringing out Fallout, we're bringing out Rings of Power, we're bringing out Wheel of Time. Not all of them are bangers, but they're huge series. They're massive projects and they need you to watch because otherwise it all goes down the toilet for whatever reason, even though it probably wouldn't. Yeah. And that's another thing as well, isn't it, that these days, before we went into the pandemic, there was a very distinct separation between the theatrical production giants and the streamers. Yeah. Now the production giants own a lot of the streamers or they're, like, partnered. They're hand-in-hand. Yeah, like, Disney has 20th Century and Disney Plus, right? So that's all that. And they have Hulu and all that other stuff included as well. Amazon, MGM Studios came together and that's what Prime Video is. Paramount has Paramount Plus. I'm trying to think of another production giant. Lionsgate has their own one."

"They have Lionsgate Plus, don't they, as well? They have all these different, like, smaller services that most of us probably don't pay for, let's be real. There's too many of them. I think you get Lionsgate Plus with a Prime Video in the UK. Yeah, probably. They probably bundle a lot of them together. I think you do. They do bundle a lot of them. It's a bit like Game Pass comes with, like, EA Play and stuff like that. Who the hell pays for EA Play on its own? Yeah, that's a good question. That's another one of those people I've talked to. But no, I think that's the thing."

"Because they're all bundled together and because there's so much close, sort of, collaboration between streamers and theatrical releases these days, it takes the weight out of theatrical stuff so much that it's, like, you can understand why the box office is struggling. And it is struggling.
It's desperate right now. And again, I've always said that this year that I think that there's probably, like, maybe two films that are actually going to contend and potentially be billion dollar earners. And I'm confident that it'll either be Deadpool or it'll be Mufasa the Lion King, because I know that those films just, like, they just attract these audiences, right?
It's like The Little Mermaid. Well, The Lion King itself made the billion, didn't it? Yeah, it's like the ninth highest grossing film of all time. It's massive. And it's like, you've seen the film before. This one's worse. Like, absolutely worse. And the whole, like, live action, they call it a live action remake. It's all CGI. I don't know, like, I understand they make money, but they're just the most soulless, devoid of any creativity things."

"And it's like, oh, well, now we'll have a prequel about Mufasa. I don't care. And I know that, like, they'll make loads of money on it anyway, because people just don't, like, especially in cinema, I feel like gaming, because it's so, you're so invested in gaming. A lot of gamers are very clued into the industry as a whole. Yeah, yeah. You know, they read their Game Reactor, they watch their GRTV News. They love it. And so they will know sometimes, very rarely, but sometimes they can vote with their wallet and change things. Whereas the movie audience doesn't really ever get clued in. They just see what's on the cinema and they go, okay, we'll go in. And I think movie audiences are getting smarter, but they're not necessarily all getting smarter. They're still, the average moviegoer still would not give a flying rats about Dune 2, but they hear Lion King."

"I know that. I know Disney. I remember Disney. It's like the member various from South Park.
You remember Disney? I remember Disney. I remember Lion King. And then they go, okay, I remember that. I'm going to go see that. And the machine keeps turning. Maybe that's the new thing. Maybe that's the new MCU. It's just Disney remake universe. We'll have like Mufasa and the Little Mermaid teaming up in the Disney Avengers. Yeah. I mean, we say universe, like there's been so many of them at this point that I don't know how many they have left to remake. Remember the dark universe? I do remember the dark universe, yeah. We say the dark universe. It never really got off the ground. It was just the mummy. Massive universe that. But no, it's definitely an interesting point. And I think there's also something to say as well about the way that movies are released. I think that we've seen it so far this year that I think that a lot of sort of indie projects that people wouldn't normally watch don't do well in cinemas at all. The ones that do do well tend to do well only in the US, in the domestic market. You know, there's some ones like, for example, the Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, which is a Guy Ritchie film. So I would have assumed that it would have at least had like a decent effort in the UK. Yeah. And it had 97% of its earnings came from the domestic market. And it earned 16 million dollars. So you have to wonder what happened with that film, why they marketed like that. There's other little ones like the Lisa Frankenstein film that had a 99% domestic earning rate. So there's something going on with the box office and the way that things are arranged right now and the way that things are handled, because it's not sustainable. And I think that, you know, maybe we'll pick this up in a couple of months at the halfway mark. And unless something significant has happened, like May's a big month for movies. Yeah, a lot of big movies. There's one big movie and then there's the others competing for second place. Yeah. You're referencing Rise of the Planet of the Apes or Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes there. But there are like, you know, there's Furiosa, the Fall Guy, If, the Ryan Reynolds, Johns Krasinski directed thing, the Garfield movie."

"Like there are a lot of like, objectively big movies, right? Regardless of what films. Garfield will make money, I think. I think it will bomb. Will it? I said it'll make money and then I immediately questioned myself because I was like, kids love Garfield. And I was like, no, kids love Garfield in the 1950s. Who loves Garfield now? It's a very valid point. So I don't know. We'll pick this up. Why aren't there any new kid characters? Do you know what I mean?
Like there's no, like Spongebob is 25 years old. Have you not heard of Jojo Siwa? Excuse me."

"There's Bluey, Bluey, Bluey, that guy, there's a Bluey. When's there going to be a Bluey movie?
Because that's the thing that's popular with kids, right? Bluey Skibney Toilet and Cocomelon. We need movie adaptations of all of them. And then we'll have the box office back.
You heard it here first. Alex's formula to save in the box office. But no, yeah, we'll talk more about this most likely in the future. Maybe we'll do it in the halfway park will do it at the two third marker in the end of August. I don't know. We'll talk about it all soon. So stay tuned for more about that. And otherwise, this has been episode 12, I believe, of Film Frenzy. So, yeah, we'll see you all on the next one. Alex, a pleasure as always."

"Take us out. Goodbye."

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