Put me in the Linda Hamilton fan club.
Unfortunately, I must disagree with her assessment of today’s audience (emphasis mine below), but very much agree with her on big budget movies (emphasis also mine) being high risk:
“I would really appreciate maybe a smaller version where so many millions are not at stake. Today’s audience is just so unpredictable,” Hamilton tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I can’t tell you how many laymen just go, ‘Well, people don’t go to the movies anymore.’ It should definitely not be such a high-risk financial venture, but I would be quite happy to never return. So, no, I am not hopeful because I would really love to be done.”Linda Hamilton “Would Be Quite Happy to Never Return” to ‘Terminator’ | Hollywood Reporter
So much to talk about in these bolded quotes, so let’s tackle them one at a time.
Today’s audience is just so (NOT!) unpredictable
Blaming the audience for the reason a movie doesn’t do well isn’t a very sound career move. Linda Hamilton is well past those concerns and I don’t think she meant in her comment to be blaming the audience, but it came off that way to me. It’s like standing at the door of your business and telling customers not to enter your store.
The film business isn’t rocket science.
If you make a great movie on a reasonable budget, you have a better than good chance of turning a profit at the box office. I would say financial unpredictability arises when the film budget is too high, see: $100+ Million Movie Budgets Are Stupid
The problem with Terminator: Dark Fate⭐️⭐️½ had nothing to do with audience unpredictability. The director, Tim Miller was submarining the film with misguided promotional efforts (see: How To Better Promote Your Next Films, Elizabeth Banks and Tim Miller), the story was ill-conceived and the most important thing: the movie was essentially unnecessary reboot that wasn’t as good as the original T1+T2 punch.
Why did audiences need Dark Fate? We didn’t, because we had the originals that were far superior. This is coming from a fan of the franchise, not somebody who wanted to see the film underperform. We provided more lead-up coverage for Dark Fate on this blog than any other movie to date. Just do a search for terminator and you’ll see how much I wanted to see this movie succeed.
And let’s be clear: making over $250 million at the box office is not a failure or a “bomb” or any of the other headline clickbait slams. Audience interest was there, but when your budget is too high, filmmakers, that isn’t on us, that’s on you.
Despite all this Terminator: Dark Fate Might Eventually Break Even.
People Don’t Go To Movies Anymore
Obviously, this doesn’t apply to me, nor many of the 1,200+ movie bloggers I’m following. But are people becoming apathetic to the theater experience? Yes, many are.
Movie theater audiences have been declining, unfortunately, but I think the numbers could flatten, especially with more promotion of unlimited passes and better movies released throughout the entire year and creative business moves, see: Yes, More Perks and Quirks to Entice Moviegoers Please.
People aren’t going to go watch a bunch of bad movies. Honestly, if we gauged January 2020 movies there is little incentive by and large to go see movies like these. January is a well known terrible month for studios to dump on audiences and this year clearly is no exception.
From a business perspective this is just stupid. What if McDonalds chose to sell food of a lesser quality in January, would that make sense? But for some reason, Hollywood studios think it’s OK to shovel lesser quality film on moviegoers every January. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
So what if a movie has a less chance of winning a gold statue. A wise friend of mine used to say, “you can’t eat plaques, pins and awards.” Alas, the movie business is letting down its customers 1/12th of the business season.
If you just fail to try and change business trends, you accept the dying process.
It should definitely not be such a high-risk financial venture
Let’s end on a more positive note. This is the one part of what Linda Hamilton said that makes the most sense. Movies don’t have to be high risk financially. I’d like to see a move back to more financially responsible, lower budget, CREATIVE films. Stop making so damn many reboots and sequels and rehashes. Focus on adapting great novels that never have been adapted and fresh, original, inventive screenplays.
I refuse to believe the problem is with the creative content available, it’s the choices being made by the studios to finance and produce movies they think we want. We don’t need another Spider-man movie, and I’m not saying that because I dislike Spider-Man, but give us movies about Harley Quinn, The Joker, etc. Those are less trodden paths.
Why does it take millions to make good movies in 2020? It shouldn’t. Syfy did pretty well with some crazy, creative movies like Sharkanado. Blumhouse has been banking it with some of their lower budget genre horror films based on older properties. So, there are some studios thinking out of the box. Need more to follow the lead of the smaller guys.
A lot depends on what Disney does, since they are commanding some 40-50% of the box office revenue. Will Disney continue making their massive blockbusters only or will they encourage their “smaller” studios (see: Disney purges “FOX” name – the FOX has left the 20th Century Mouse House) within the mega large company to make lower budget, creative films.