The Oscars were created in 1929 to promote Hollywood’s achievements to the outside world. At its peak, television broadcasting attracted 55 million viewers. That number has been on the decline for years and last year hit an all-time high – 10.4 million viewers for a show without a host, no musical numbers and a winner for best little-seen picture in “Nomadland”. (The film, which was released in theaters and on Hulu simultaneously, only grossed $ 3.7 million.)
Hollywood planned to respond with an all-out blitz over the past year, even before awards season. It deployed its biggest stars and most famous directors to remind consumers that despite the myriad of streaming options, theater held a significant place in the culture at large.
It did not work. The public, for the most part, remains reluctant to return to theaters with any regularity. ‘No Time To Die’, Daniel Craig’s final tour as James Bond, was delayed for over a year due to the pandemic, and when it was finally released he only reported $ 160.7 million in the United States and Canada. It was $ 40 million less than the 2015 Bond film, “Specter,” and $ 144 million less than 2012’s “Skyfall”, the franchise’s highest-grossing film.
Well-reviewed auteur films that traditionally have a strong presence on the awards circuit, such as “Last Night in Soho” ($ 10.1 million), “Nightmare Alley” ($ 8 million) and “Belfast” (6 , $ 9 million), barely made a splash at the box office.
And although Mr. Spielberg’s adaptation of “West Side Story” scored 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, it only grossed $ 30 million at the domestic box office. (The original grossed $ 44 million in 1961, the equivalent of $ 409 million today.)
According to a recent study, 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers no longer buy tickets. Eight percent say they will never come back. Those numbers spell the end of low-budget movies that rely on positive word of mouth and high-profile accolades to get customers to sit down.
Some believe that the middle part of the film industry – the besieged category of films that cost $ 20-60 million (like “Licorice Pizza” and “Nightmare Alley”) and are not based on a comic book or movie. other well-known intellectual property. – can be changed forever. If viewing habits have been permanently altered and award nominations and wins no longer turn out to be a big draw, these films will have a much harder time breaking even. If audiences are willing to go to the movies just to see the latest “Spider-Man” movie, it becomes difficult to convince them that they also need to see a movie like “Belfast”, Kenneth’s Black and White Meditation. Branagh on his childhood. , in a crowded theater rather than in their living room.