The movie industry has been whining about its plight for ages in the new digital era, even as the industry brings in record revenues year after year after year. The latest is a NY Times piece which, while 'fessing up to those record revenues, tries to suggest that the industry isn't doing so well because so-called movie "blockbusters" don't attract as big an attendance as in the past
. Of course, that really misses the point. The industry is in the business of making money -- not in putting the largest number of people in seats -- so if it's bringing in record amounts of cash, that's really all that should matter. If the industry wanted to get more people in seats then it should start by lowering the price and improving the overall movie-going experience. However, for the most part, the industry has shown little inclination to go in that direction -- so the fact that "blockbuster" movies of 2008 matched attendance numbers of less-well known movies from a decade ago is fairly meaningless.
The article seems to place the "blame" on studios overhyping openings, so that we hear so much hype about some new movie that many people are immune to the hype, filtering out all of the claims about how such a movie is a "must see" or whatever. I'm not sure that's true, however. It would seem that a much more likely culprit is that there is a lot
more competition for any individual's entertainment hours these days than there was a decade ago. There's the internet, for one, which has grown massively in popularity and as an entertainment source since 1998. Then there's the rise of gaming consoles, home theaters and DVD rental services (you could rent VHS tapes, but services like Netflix have made DVDs even more popular) and plenty of other options that just didn't provide the same sort of competition a decade ago.