The holiday blockbuster season means a wealth of studio tentpoles for the winter season and a slew of Oscar contenders fighting for screen time.
This New York Times article hits at one of the problems that comes with this time of the year. While “middlebrow” may not be the best term, the standard multiplex just doesn’t have enough screens from November through January. There are many awards contenders that will only open for a week in NY and LA before the end of the year. A few weeks into January, those films will see a considerably wider release.
But is it enough? The platform releases may help to an extent but we’re now in the era of superheroes or animated films taking the opening weekend. If a film isn’t in one of those categories, chances are likely that someone will wait until the film hits Netflix or Hulu.
The films that take over the screen this time of year? The tentpoles. Not that I have anything against a film like Frozen 2, does it really need to be on five screens in a 16-screen theater? This is the very reason why I was unable to see films upon theatrical release in late December. When one works during the day or even part-time, there are only so many screenings that work. God forbid that it’s a three-hour film because that makes it difficult to find a screening that works with the schedule.
It makes me think of an event I attended over the weekend. Someone was saying how they took their children with them to see Parasite. It isn’t that they took their teenage children to see the film but that they were groaning at the box office while the tickets were being purchased. If it isn’t a superhero film, teens generally don’t want to see it. Maybe its because I had film instilled in me before I turned ten but I would have loved to have seen so many contenders on the big screen when I was growing up. Mind you, I grew up during an era before streaming!
The mid-budget film seems to be a dying breed. This is not a good thing for movies or for the marketplace. Take my parents, for example. They’re the type of people who won’t watch anything on streaming or Digital/VOD. If a film doesn’t stay in theaters past opening weekend, chances are likely that they won’t ever see it. That’s a shame.