Hollywood is reeling from a horrible 2023 as it lost 20% of its moviegoers in 2023. Still, in 2024, the movie industry and its execs are blaming the COVID-19 pandemic, at least in part, for the dramatic fall in movie attendance nationwide. As movie execs grasp for a way to reclaim the dying market, a clear trend of people seeing fewer movies in theaters is becoming evermore common.
A report from The Hollywood Reporter examined box office totals for the 2023 calendar year and then interviewed higher-ups in Hollywood to find out what the bad news would be doing as far as causing changes to the industry.
The Hollywood Reporter noted that even superhero films, a genre that fans clamored for and showed up in droves on opening night, suffered in 2023 as the industry has struggled to recover roughly one in five of the moviegoers that frequented theaters before the pandemic.
Wall Street analyst Rich Greenfield of LightShed Ventures spoke about the issue, suggesting that this may not be a simple trend that levels out in the future. To him, this drop in viewers is something that will be around for a long time, as he even goes so far as to call the drop “permanent.”
Greenfield said, “Everything is so lopsided. The number of big-budget movies in 2023 that didn’t make money felt like an all-time high. Consumer interest in moviegoing has been permanently altered. The question is, can theaters survive another horrific year?”
One top movie exec that was interviewed took a slightly different approach to the problem, talking about how it could be solved and what studios must do the remain afloat in the new landscape of blockbuster films. To the exec, it is clear that films must be better now than ever before, striking a chord with audiences and so good that fans will not wait for the film to come to streaming platforms, which were also to blame for part of the drought.
The exec explained, “We are definitely going through an evolution, and we can’t just keep cranking out the same old franchise fare. We have to do better. The ways we did things for decades don’t work anymore; now you have to hit the bull’s-eye or get close to it. And a lot of that has to do with the abundance of streaming product. When there’s a multitude of options for audiences to watch at home, there had better be a special reason to go to the theater.”
As for consumers, this may have mixed ramifications for the market. It seems that the days of every major movie seemingly being a sequel or a prequel to an existing franchise may be dying away. It also seems that an emphasis is being placed back on the quality of each film instead of the quantity of films that can be pumped out in a series or a “universe.” Both of those factors seem like they will increase the creativity in Hollywood, allowing new and exciting stories to be told on the big screen instead of being forced to drudge through the same, albeit slightly varied, tales.