Are Americans finally tiring of movie sequels? Will the original screenplay rise again? These are important questions in the movie industry, which has long been dominated by what are called "tent poles", movies that result in sequels, spin-offs, and licensed merchandise of all kinds. Some, like Star Trek and Star Wars, have been around for generations, delivering healthy doses of what audiences have come to expect from a franchise (characters, story lines) along with a dash of the new. Seeing a sequel is a lot like going to a place like Chili's. It's the same familiar stuff with a few special dishes peppered in. Consumers love the familiar.
But while most tent poles are doing just fine, others are showing some signs of wear. The latest Star Wars movie failed to garner the expected audience and "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom", while opening to an estimated $150 million in the U.S. and Canada last weekend, was 28% below the $200+ million first weekend that the Jurassic re-boot in 2015 enjoyed. Is the appetite for franchises beginning to wane?
It is too early to tell, but there is evidence that it really doesn't matter what we think about these films here in the U.S. Despite the lackluster showing here, Jurassic World has grossed over $700 million globally and could surpass $1 billion when it is all said and done. Increasingly, it is the global audience that producers seek to reach, and these folks just love the big budget, effects-laden productions coming out of the U.S. This explains the success of the widely panned Fast and Furious series, which has been huge in Asia, but deemed unwatchable by most Americans.
But emerging trends are what marketers look for, and it is significant that, at least in the U.S., the latest Star Wars, Pitch Perfect, Lego, Pirates of the Caribbean, Cars and Transformers installments have grossed significantly less than their predecessors. But some are doing just fine, and so perhaps we are only tiring of certain concepts, but not others. Perhaps many of these movies simply stink. Perhaps conducting a large-scale research study would be helpful in this instance to determine consumer attitudes towards certain franchises; and it does seem that such a study would likely be purchased by the vast majority of industry marketers. Perhaps one such study already exists. One thing is for certain, if something is happening, product developers need to know about it and perhaps change what they are doing.
Discussion: Do you think that attitudes are shifting among movie-going Americans? What kinds of questions would a research study want to ask to determine if attitudes are changing?
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