I read an article yesterday listing the 47 movies in the past 25 years that revenued one billion dollars or more. That's Billion with a B. Not a typo.
First I was a little mind boggled that there were 47 films that brought in that much money. Perhaps I'm naive (no maybe about it, I am not worldly) but Wow!
Once I recovered from wrapping my feeble brain around that idea, I went on to see what films were so powerful, so amazing, so damned good that they garnered that kind of cash. I was more than a little surprised.
Well I wasn't completely surprised. There were a few of the Harry Potter films of course, some of the Star Wars franchise and one of the Lord of the Rings series. Titanic was listed of course and that was the only one that I guessed correctly. But from that point forward it was almost entirely animated films and super hero stuff. Y'know, Iron Man, Spider Man, Captain American, Transformers and that ilk. Are you surprised? I was.
Now I have definitely seen the Lion King and I'm pretty sure I saw at least one Iron Man and one Transformers film but I'm not positive that I saw them in the theater. It may have been at home on TV or DVD. Still I saw them and so I suppose that counts toward the revenue. But I was so surprised to see that the majority of the films listed were, technically, kids movies.
Which is not to say that I have never watched a "kids" movie on purpose. I absolutely have. AND enjoyed it. But it's not my usual fare. And I can only assume (though one should never) that is the case with most adults. So the logical conclusion here is that the predominant demographic for movie theatre attendance are folks who are not old enough to vote.
Kids are the ones who coughed up the biggest piece of that One Billion dollar Plus pie? Seriously? Kids? Or the parents of those kids? More likely I suppose.
Movie theatres have always been a big draw for young people. I remember reading and hearing stories about the Saturday Morning matinees from about 1930 to 1960. Theaters were madhouses stacked chockablock with unaccompanied minors who, for a quarter gained admission, with enough money leftover for a snack, a newsreel, a cartoon, a cliff-hanger serial film that would ensure the seats would be filled again the following Saturday and a main feature. The main feature might be a Western, an Abbott and Costello piece, A Lewis and Martin comedy or perhaps a Tarzan film. Kids went crazy in those few hours of relatively unsupervised freedom. And parents enjoyed a kid-free Saturday morning.
Evening theatre watching was more for adults. Casablanca and Gone with the Wind and The Great Escape were definitely not children's films. But they were exquisite. Entertaining films of course, but also strong, powerful, captivating films that people who didn't throw their popcorn or jujubees at fellow movie goers could enjoy.
And of course there were Drive-in Movies as well. I remember those from my childhood. It wasn't very often, but occasionally we would go to a drive-in as a family. My father and grandmother in the front seat, my sister, mother and me in the back. We kids were always amused when the ticket booth guy would peek into the car and say, "2 adults and 3 kids". Every Time. The movie was almost always either Haley Mills or Jerry Lewis. So, yes, basically , kids fare. I do not recall my parents every going to the movies, just the two of them. Hmmm.
When my boys were young, we lived right around the corner from a Drive-In Theater. I think we only went a couple of times to see a movie but it felt much the same. The big heavy speakers that fitted onto the car window, the playground under the big screen and the concession stand (my favourite part). This particular Drive-In acted as a Flea Market on weekend days, but transformed at night back into the Drive-In movie. We went far more often to the flea market part frankly. I recall the price of the drive-in theatre being low, the films being, at best, second run and the concessions being awesome.
But then those days passed into history, the prices of movie tickets skyrocketted, and the multi-plex theaters were born. There was now one movie and one movie only being shown at a time in each theater, with trailers for coming attractions of course and far fewer movie theater shenanigans by the audience. Drive-in movies became a thing of the past. And Saturday morning kiddie matinees disappeared for ever. Some theatres got very creative and began serving meals. Dine-In Movie Theatres (as opposed to Drive-In) became an interesting idea. Tim and I went to at least one, back in Colorado.
But most theatres were now enormous multi-plex buildings that showed 10 or more different films at a time each one shown in much smaller rooms. Children were accompanied by adults, films became graded by age appropriateness, the seats were almost always a shade of red with a built in cup holder and the floors were almost always sticky. The bathrooms were clean, the concession stand held quite the variety of choices, the volume was almost always too loud and the trailers took up more and more time at each visit.
And I don't really know why, but Tim and I kind of fell out of the habit of going to the theatre. We went less and less often as the years went by. So it really didn't impact Tim and I much when we all went on Shut-Down this past March.
And I'm sure the industry is reeling. To go from making Billions to making zero has got to be a shock. Like driving a car as fast as it can go and suddenly coming to a complete halt by running into a wall. Not Good.
As things begin to re-open and some filming beginning to resume, I wonder what sorts of changes will be made? What results will come ?
I understand that some theatres are beginning to reopen with every other row and every other seat closed off. We shall see how that goes. It will be interesting to see how it all evolves once again.
The one thing you can always count on in life is that things change.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.