THB #231: Forward Facing
I’ve never been very good about birthdays and anniversaries. I thought today was the first anniversary of The Hot Button. Turns out it was Tuesday, the day after my birthday. I am a bit bored with the self-reflection of the week, but I will indulge in some 1st anniversary thoughts over the weekend.
Still, one thing I will mention from that first THB newsletter is the HIT. “What is this metric that you abandoned last winter,” you ask?
The health of the exhibition business depends on is those second and third and fourth best openers on any given month. The Healthy Index for Theatrical (HIT). The math is simple. Take your #1 domestic grosser of the week and subtract it from the overall domestic gross for the weekend.
The orange line is the top grosser each weekend. The blue line is the entire rest of the theatrical market on those same weekends.
On 25 of 39 weekends, the entire domestic theatrical 3-day weekend market aside from the #1 movie has been under $50 million.
What movies are the heroes of Weekends 7-17, when the HIT held over $50 million? Never #1s like Dog, Jujutsu Kaisen 0: The Movie, RRR, The Northman, and unexpected holds in weekends past the 2nd by Uncharted, The Lost City, and Sonic 2. You know… movies they don’t make anymore and/or won’t release theatrically anymore.
As you can see, as crappy as things have been for exhibition since the first week of August, the poor performance of “the middle class” movies, driven by a lack of actual movies being released widely by the majors and near-majors, has been consistently bad since the start of the summer, even as movies like Top Gun Maverick skyrocketed.
Orange Line… distributors are chasing this line and making those films aggressively with no let-up in sight.
Blue Line… distributors are forgetting that the ability to thrive in the Orange Line requires a high national screen count and to keep that count high, the blue line needs to be consistently over the $50 million mark, at least.
People who are reading this are likely conscious of this fact and just as likely sick of me harping on it. But it is the people who don’t get it… refuse to understand something this obvious and clear… that need to be reached, so I keep repeating myself in different ways.
Media angles heavily on the storytelling part of all this, like it’s a fairy tale. That it is the same story as cable vs streaming… but it’s not. Streaming offers everything cable does (if you have decent wireless at home) for less money. Going to the movie theater is a different thing. And always has been. It is more of a commitment, of time and money… and has been for 40 years now. It’s a low margin business, but it is consistently profitable, consistently growing slowly, and a key spark to what draws people to choose the movies to watch on their TVs as well as to watch repeatedly because of what was built off of that theatrical relationship.
Anyway… the future…
Let’s start with where we are in the streaming world…
House of the Dragon and The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power landed. People are watching. Has it really changed anything?
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Hot Button to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.