The rise of streaming services might be great for consumers and critics, but there are naturally going to be losers any time a new contender steps onto the scene. The big loser in the wake of the rise of streaming? Hollywood summer box office returns. According to some sources, market research firms are predicting anywhere between a 5% and 10% decline in ticket sales from last summer.
Box-office analyst Jeff Bock from media research firm Exhibitor Relations says that this decline in box office ticket sales is largely due to the success and appeal of streaming services. Speaking to the Los Angeles Times, Bock says that big budget blockbuster Hollywood films no longer appeal to audiences in the way they used to before the rise of streaming service. “They don’t have the word-of-mouth momentum that they once did,” Bock said of Hollywood’s summer releases, “That’s been taken over by streaming shows.”
Now that some of Hollywood’s biggest names have migrated into the streaming world, both in front of and behind the camera, Tinsel Town has fallen into a predictable formula of superhero eye candy, ill-advised franchise reboots, and dead-horse-beating sequels. Compare that with the groundbreaking original content of Netflix, for example. The streaming service has a multitude of big names behind its original series and films, from the star-studded series House of Cards or Sense8 to their upcoming film releases that include some of the biggest names in the industry. Hulu, meanwhile, has recently hired AMC exec Joel Stillerman as its first Chief of Content, a move that’s sure to reel in more A-list talent like The Handmaid’s Tale‘s Elisabeth Moss. Stillerman worked on such groundbreaking AMC series as Breaking Bad, Mad Men, and The Walking Dead.
Going to see big Hollywood blockbusters was once the highlight of many a summer. Sure, the move to streaming has been fantastic for those of us who yearn for groundbreaking, out-of-the-box content, but I fear that the decline of the movie theater could mean a loss of something that has been part of American culture for decades. Going to the theater was once a social event, a time to get up close with your neighbors and share in a collective experience that somehow made the movie better. Nevertheless, you can’t stop progress, as they say. Maybe it’s just time to build stadium seating in the living room, pull out the projector, and invite the neighborhood for some collective Netflix binging. Who’s bringing popcorn?