The film industry has undergone a series of transformations in recent years, particularly with the advent of streaming services and the detrimental impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on box office revenue. Despite these difficulties, some filmmakers have taken to blaming the audience for the poor performance of their movies, rather than introspecting and examining their own shortcomings.
This practice not only undermines the creativity and hard work of directors, but it also detracts from the real issues at hand.
Blaming the Audience: Misplaced approach of Directors
In recent times, there has been a trend among some filmmakers in the film to lay the blame of their movie’s poor performance at the box office on the audience. The act of watching a film has evolved into a political and societal statement, something that was unimaginable two decades ago.
Hollywood’s marketing strategies and social media have played a significant role in this transformation. For instance, Elizabeth Banks, the director of the 2019 film Charlie’s Angels, blamed the movie’s failure on the notion that
“men don’t go see women do action movies,”
despite the success of films such as Wonder Woman, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Captain Marvel around the same time. This trend of blaming audiences for a film’s poor performance is not new. When the 2016 Ghostbusters reboot underperformed, the director attributed it to “toxic male fans” of the franchise, ignoring the flaws in the story and characters.
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Renowned director Ridley Scott also expressed disappointment with the reception to his 2021 film The Last Duel. Scott claimed that audience did not come to theatres to suport his film because,
“the audiences who were brought up on these f**king cell phones,”
Sam Mendes, another well-known filmmaker, similarly laid the blame for the poor performance of his film Empire of Light on the audience, saying that viewers have developed poor habits through watching blockbuster movies and franchises like Avatar.
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However, such statements overlook the fundamental reason why people attend movies in the first place. The audience goes to the movies to be entertained, not to pay homage to the filmmakers.
The Real Reason: Focusing on Quality and Innovation
The real reason for a movie’s poor performance at the box office is often a lack of compelling storytelling, visually stunning cinematography, and a memorable experience. Directors must create films that engage audiences, provide an escape from reality, and offer something unique.
And this is also the reason that hollywood audience is so driven by foreign movies like RRR and Parasite. Movies such as them introduce the audience to an much unknown realm. Whereas most of the Hollywood movies delves in the same dimension.
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Another side of the captivating audience theory is the story. Deep and personal stories were a staple for audience before the larger than life and threat to the world stories arrived. But with time such stories became too disconnected and far from the audience. Stories like RRR have been successful due to the small scale story along with the presentation that makes it larger than life.
Additionally, Hollywood filmmakers and directors must work to entice viewers back to cinemas by offering a unique and memorable theatrical experience that cannot be replicated on streaming services.
Small and mid-budget filmmakers have faced particular difficulties in recent years, but their movies have still been successful at the box office. For instance, the low-budget horror movie Get Out was a critical and commercial success, grossing over $250 million worldwide. This demonstrates that it is possible for smaller filmmakers to create movies that resonate with audiences and become box office hits.
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As much as it is a hurdle streaming services have also become an opportunity for smaller filmmakers to create movies without the pressure of box office success.. Additionally, streaming services provide an opportunity for filmmakers to reach a global audience and showcase their work to a larger audience.
Instead of blaming the audience, filmmakers and directors should strive to make films that will be enjoyed by viewers and provide a memorable experience. The film industry is a dynamic and ever-evolving industry, and filmmakers must stay abreast of changes in the preferences and behaviors of audiences to remain relevant and successful.