March 31, 2008

Unreported Story: 5 Years of Hollywood Box Office Misery

The latest round of war-movie failures, explained and discussed in more detail by Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion this past Saturday, is just another episode in a five-year horror story at the box office for the movie business. Despite the growth of DVD sales and during most of that time and the potential for gold in downloads, the ongoing dismal results at the box office have to be causing headaches in the executive suites in Hollywood.

Box office receipts have never really recovered from a disastrous 2005, barely beating inflation, while per-capita ticket purchases have stagnated:


What’s more the US economy as a whole grew 15% in real terms, while the movie industry’s box office contracted by over 9%:


Ouch. When’s the last time (or the first time?) you saw the industry’s box-office situation portayed so starkly in the general or business press?

Additionally, DVD sales declined in 2007 for the first time. YouTube and other instant and/or “amateur” movie alternatives loom ever larger.

If there was a way out for the studios, it would seem to involve, among other things, not squandering precious resources on guaranteed duds. That idea doesn’t seem to register — which is why the executive headaches mentioned in the first paragraph will likely get stronger.

Data Sources: Box Office Mojo (Total Box Office and Tickets Sold); US Bureau of Labor Statistics (annual average inflation); US Bureau of Economic Analysis (GDP growth); Census Bureau (annual population estimates).

Cross-posted at



  1. You just wait until Spiderman 17 and the Hannah Montana 6 movies are released… that will pick those numbers right up.

    A non creative Hollywood Mogul

    Comment by Gordon — April 1, 2008 @ 7:29 am

  2. This is simply sweet justice for the communists in Hollyweird and quite frankly makes me want to do WMD’s snoopy dance.

    I can count on one hand how many movies I’ve seen in the last 10 years. The next will be Ben Stein’s movie that is out the 18th of this month.

    Comment by Rose — April 1, 2008 @ 10:21 am

  3. If Hollywood created a movie where the U.S. military were the good guys and radical Iraqi terrorists the bad guys it’d probably be a hit. Better yet, hire guys like Michael Totten, Michael Yon, Bill Roggio, and JD Johannes as consultants and from their experiences pull together a heroic, dramatic, true-life story from the war in Iraq. I think it would also be very cool to make a “this is a true story” film from the Iraqi perspective as well – I’m sure there are plenty of stories of dramatic heroism on the side of the Iraqi Military / Police and how much neater it would be to film it entirely in their native language and screen it throughout Iraq as well as the U.S.? But it will never happen because the only bad guys Hollywood is really concerned about are 1940′s era Nazis, our own government, “evil” corporations, and ourselves.

    Comment by swizstick — April 1, 2008 @ 6:25 pm

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