Movie theater attendance in 2014 was the lowest since 1995


2014 is officially over. Celebration aside, this means that we can finally evaluate the year as a whole. The Hollywood Reporter has started us off right, with a breakdown of the box office numbers from the year. And… well, they were pretty bad. 1.26 billion tickets were sold, the lowest number since 1995’s 1.21 billion. The international box office is doing splendidly, though, which means we can likely expect to see China shoehorned into an increasing number of blockbusters in the coming years.

But even though the numbers aren’t stellar, I’m also not convinced this is a death knell. The past 20 years have greatly changed the way cinema is experienced and consumed. The rise of VOD and other digital services has changed the game. Yes, the box office is the big initial push, but films can now have digital legs that last for years, and continue to make the studios money. Maybe people are seeing just as many movies (possibly even more), but consuming them differently. Is that really such a bad thing?

Or, you know, maybe if there were more huge budget films worth seeing, the collective consumer would have seen more films in theaters. The problem with studios putting all of their eggs into just a couple of baskets is that the baskets are crumbling under the weight of expectation. Instead of one bland $150 million movie, how about five interesting $30 million ones? This is as plausible an indictment of the current system of releases as I’ve seen. Maybe something good could come from that.

Yeah… probably not. But a man can dream.

[The Hollywood Reporter, via /Film]