Hollywood's record haul: why 2012 was a great year for movies
Hollywood set a box-office record in 2012, raking in $10.8 billion. Franchises like James Bond and 'The Avengers' ruled a year that signaled some important trends in the industry.
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He says people want to see what they’ve seen before, with a new twist, “The Hobbit, for example got generally lackluster reviews compared to 'Lord of the Rings,' but did very well in ticket sales,” he says. “And Skyfall … has crossed over into the billion dollar range, proof that people want the safe, the familiar and the known.”Skip to next paragraph
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Gomery says another trend that might be getting less notice is the staying power of older-than-50 audiences.
“There is sufficient evidence that baby boomers, who have been counted out as movie theater goers – who allegedly shifted to TV, and DVDs – are still going to the movies,” says Gomery. Exhibit A: Skyfall.
“This generation grew up on Bond and have made the latest iteration a giant hit that no one expected.”
Other analysts express surprise that movies have done so well despite the makeover of the entertainment world, producing options from smartphones to tablets – devices that can stream movies – or competition from stay-at-home options, such as Netflix.
That suggests movies have made it past another large hurdle that pundits and economists thought might spell the demise of moviegoing – following predictions in the early 1980s that video would kill them off, and in the early 1990s that DVDs would do so. “Whatever you think of the quality of movies, they seem to be here to stay,” says Gomery.
“Hollywood has much to celebrate for standing up against all these other options,” says Mr. Dergarabedian. “When you hear buzz that a Bond film should win an Oscar, it’s clear that filmmakers have really grown in their ability to deliver content.”
A further observation this year, say analysts, is that audiences are gravitating away from big-name celebrities to movies with appealing concepts. “Ted” for instance, incorporated a walking/talking Teddy bear with a saucy attitude. At the same time, Tom Cruise, Adam Sandler, and Brad Pitt all had significant flops.
“Star power has diminished steadily for the past several years to where it is no longer a given that a big name will give you big success,” says Dergarabedian.
Peter Lehman, director of the Center for Film, Media and Popular Culture Arizona State University, warns against drawing too many conclusions from one year of box office figures. But he notes the critical consensus that 2012 was a very good year for movies.
“That bears very little relationship to the box-office records," he says. "Hollywood is more pluralistic than many grant, and a good year is comprised both of blockbusters and many successful, less costly films that do not do nearly as well at the box office but contribute greatly to film culture.”