Last weekend saw the return of two franchises, Men in Black and Shaft. Both were new installments in franchises that hadn’t seen new chapters in quite a while. The last we saw of Men in Black was about 7 years ago, and last time Shaft was in theaters was almost 20 years ago. While the past installments managed to make a profit, the most recent iterations of these series have underperformed dramatically. Currently, Shaft only made about $8 million on a budget of $30 – $35 million, while Men in Black International pulled in $102 million against a budget ranging around $94 – $110 million. The latter might not sound so bad, but it’s been reported that Sony spent a good deal in marketing, needing about $300 million for the film to break even. With Toy Story 4, Spider-Man and Lion King right around the Corner, it’s highly likely that both movies are going to lose a lot of money at the box office.
Now, it’s easy to put the blame on the ever-popular “sequel fatigue” accusation as the reason for underwhelming box office installment. “People are tired of sequels, reboots, and remakes,” you’ve probably heard in a video or read in an article. “They want new, original ideas,” you’ll hear others say. If that statement were true, the recent remake of Aladdin wouldn’t be sitting at over $700 million at the box office. People are willing to see any film, sequel, remake/reboot, or original as long as it’s a good film. So, how do people know what’s good or not? Easy, they read reviews and see if it’s worth their time…. or they just go to Rotten Tomatoes to see if it’s good or not.Rotten Tomatoes
Ah yes, Rotten Tomatoes. Now, this isn’t also going to be another article “blaming Rotten Tomatoes for all the things wrong in the world of cinema,” but it is worth mentioning that places like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic do have a hand to play in how we decide to see a movie. Shaft and MiB International didn’t receive that much in the way of critical praise, with Shaft sitting at 33% on Rotten Tomatoes and MiB getting around 25%. Not good numbers when you want to sell your movie nowadays. Combine that with the other films, like the before mention Toy Story 4 and Spider-Man, coming out soon and the price of a movie ticket being around $13 – $20, you can see why audiences would be hesitant to see a film. This is especially true now of days, where Rotten Tomatoes scores are being used for marketing. Movies like US and Shazam! have been boasting how they are certified fresh on their commercial spots.
This also takes into account the amount of time you’re willing to put into a movie in theaters. Seeing a film in a theater has a lot of investment to it. You have to get outside, travel to the closest theater, pay money to see it, and spend more on refreshments, and give a flick few hours of your time. If you enjoyed, more power to you, but if you didn’t, you’d feel like your time and money were wasted. Compare that to watching TV or streaming shows and movies on an online service, where all you need to do is simply turn on the TV and pay a monthly fee, it’s a much cheaper and safer investment. Find that this show or movie that’s on TV not that enjoyable, simply change the channel or stop watching it. No, it’s not that “Netflix and TV are ruining cinema,” it’s just a more convenient way in absorbing media.
That’s not to say that every film that’s rotten will fail or that every movie that’s fresh will succeed. Last years Venom received terrible reviews and still made $800 million at the box office, while The Lego Movie 2 made far less than it’s original and was certified fresh. So, there is still some truth in both franchises selling well and sequel fatigue. Each movie will have a different response to both critics and audiences. Some will be critically liked and not make money, while others will have nothing but bad reviews and become successful. But, what the message is being told is that people want good movies. People will get out and spend money on things, but only if they have a general understanding that what they’re buying is any good.
So, in short, make a good product people will buy, and you’ll get money. Make a bad, and unappealing one and no one will want to be near it.