The Wall Street Journal has taken a look at the summer movie market, noting that this summer's slate of blockbusters -- founded on lots of sequels -- isn't looking so hot. For instance, Evan Almighty, the sequel to 2003's Bruce Almighty opened this weekend, and pulled in $32.1 million. That might be okay, but the film cost a staggering $175 million to produce, making it the most expensive comedy of all time. The article also notes that the third installments in the Spider-Man, Shrek and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises are all expected to make less money in domestic box-office revenues than their previous films, though international sales are expected to be "healthy" and the movies will still be profitable. Furthermore, theater attendance this year is flat, compared to last year, defying expectations of a blockbuster-led surge. Perhaps what's most striking about the article is what it doesn't mention: piracy. Whereas pointing the finger at the availability of movies online gives reporters an easy story and provides a convenient excuse for studio execs, it's clear that the movie business' problems begin with its content. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to make movies that aren't particularly compelling to audiences -- best reflected in the hackneyed continuations of existing movie franchises -- and then show them in an unappealing environment isn't a sustainable business model. The way forward for the movie industry isn't by fruitlessly trying to crack down on piracy; it's by creating a better product.
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