Saturday, February 03, 2007

More Box Office Mistranslation

So, 2006 beat 2005's "horrible box office slump," pulling in roughly $360 million more than the much-maligned year and thus bringing your typical wrong-headed conclusions from Entertaiment Weekly, making it sound like 2006's "recovery" has the studios breathing a collective sigh of relief. There are two things wrong with this idea.

Number one, once again we are judging success compared to another year. We aren't using the old, "I spend $5 for a thing, I sell it for $10, and make a $5 profit" model. We are comparing one year's product to another year's completely different product.

Second, my main beef with the idea of "recovery," besides the fact that there was never anything to recover from in the first place, is that 2006 still didn't beat the unbelievable year of 2004. If 2006's returns had been in 2005, it would have been considered a slump. But now, because apparently the only way to judge success is through arbitrary year-by-year numbers, 2006 is considered a resounding success.

No one in the media has yet to explain this way of looking at things. I wrote Entertainment Weekly last year asking about this but my letter wasn't published and no one feels like it's necessary to explain what I consider to be absolute absurdity.

Also, remember that 2005's slump was blamed on the movie theatres, how people stopped going because of the rude customers, the cell phones, the high prices, etc. Well, doesn't that argument, by rule, vanish in light of this year's numbers? Theatres aren't any better at controlling the things people say they hate, and prices are higher than ever before. So stop blaming the movie theatres for a slump, and stop calling something a slump when it isn't.

Also, more movies came out in 2006 than in any year previous, some 50 more than 2004 and nearly 60 more than 2005. More movies equals more chances for money, no? And that's a staggering increase; not since 1996 has there been that many more films in one year over a previous year.

I hope someone, anyone can explain this continued outlook to me. I am completely in the dark as to how these comparisons make any sense.


At 2/03/2007 08:10:00 PM, Blogger Kennelworthy said...

I think it's just a shortage of actual real news. I think it's on purpose. I think they just make crap up to write about. We've spoken at length here about how sports writers do it. Creating a story.

I hate it as much as you do. I'd have written EW, but I simply haven't read it in ages. Half the content is that kind of fluff.

At 2/03/2007 09:04:00 PM, Blogger Chris said...

It's not so much that they made a story about it; they reported the total figures, showing 100 notable releases and their money, and they wrote a snippet of analysis, with the usual "accepted-as-fact" 2005 box office slump, which always bothers me. They always have to mention this as fact, even though it was never researched fully.

Ever since 2005, they've put a snipe here and there about the box office slump, and then they wrote a whole article about the "worry" of the studios before this past fall that there weren't any franchise pictures (except Bond) to buoy the holidays and the "fear" that 2006 might do less than 2005.

I copied this post and sent it to EW. If it gets published, great. But what I want more than anything is an explanation as to the veracity of this analysis. Or at the very least, someone reads this blog and explains it to me.


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