Boston Globe writer Ty Burr published a column last week declaring, “Someday we may look back on 2016 as the year the movies died.” Reflecting on this summer’s blockbuster season, Burr goes on to say that the two-hour movie is a dying species and that other media, like television and music, are building more anticipation among audiences than what’s playing at the cinema. He blames the push for sequels and reboots for the summer’s sad state and the desire to stay competitive in an international marketplace.
Let’s look as some of his points and see if his hypothesis is right:
Good films tend to not be in cineplexes
According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Love & Friendship” is the highest-rated film of the summer, scoring a 100 percent critic rating. It was a popular hit with this site, and it was screen at Movies 14 in Wilkes-Barre, Cinemark 20 in Moosic and the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. While the run was short locally, audiences were able to enjoy the romantic comedy. Currently in local theaters, nearly half of the screens’ offerings are of movies rated 80 percent or higher and are certified fresh.
Blockbusters matter “less and less”
Burr mentions that the top two films of summer, “Finding Dory” and “Captain America: Civil War,” made a combined $888 million in the U.S. box office. While the numbers are impressive, Burr says that the lasting impact on audiences is not the same as in past years. In fact, some of these same arguments were made back in 2003 thanks to a clever sketch on Fox’s “Mad TV.” As rapper 50 Cent in a parody of “P.I.M.P.,” Aries Spears raps about how disappointing all the summer movies were that year “except that little fish in the sea.” However, it diminished good offerings like “X2: X-Men United” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.” But 2003 was also padded with bad sequels like “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde” and “The Matrix Reloaded.”
This year is no different with the release of the widely panned “X-Men Apocalypse,” “Ben-Hur” and “Independence Day: Resurgence.” What the domestic box office placed its faith on was the numbers and marketing of “Suicide Squad.” Overly hyped and greatly frowned upon by critics, the DC Comic flick has made more than $300 million and counting since its August debut. Is the fact that a poorly reviewed movie is getting a lion’s share of movie goers’ money the reason for cinema’s obituary? It’s hardly a good reason.
Oscar season only caters to a small group of people
Sure, the box office numbers for the last five years of Oscar winners have not been impressive. It doesn’t mean that cinema is dead, especially since the new season is delivering so much promise in films like “La La Land,” “Manchester by the Sea” and “Moonlight.” Why bury the medium before it’s given the chance to complete its case?
And audiences that Burr fears movies are losing to other media options are using those tools to fire back at him:
Mfw I read “cinema is dead” pic.twitter.com/2vt6XCeQYz
— KoyANDYsqatsi (@Andyzach) September 3, 2016
Cinema is dead pic.twitter.com/GcpFFiYQhS
— rockie juarez (@RockieWarAntz) September 3, 2016
BREAKING There were a lot of bad movies this year. See also: every year.
— Chris Evangelista (@cevangelista413) September 3, 2016
I am 64 years old. I wonder if you have any idea how many times I have heard that movies are dead?
— Joe Leydon (@JoeLeydon) September 4, 2016
“Fin de cinema”- Jean-Luc Godard, 1968
“American cinema is dead”- Aki Kaurismaki, 1986
“Movies are dead”- Twitter, 2016
Enjoy the funerals.
— Ryan Rodham Adams (@filmystic) September 4, 2016
1. Stop saying things that I can pay money to do right now are “dead”.
2. Stop responding to people who say said thing is “dead”.
3. The end
— David Neary (@DeusExCinema) September 5, 2016