Lost in Translation – Looking Forward to 2024

After the chaos of the lockdown caused by the pandemic from 2020 to 2022, 2023 should have been a return to a new level of normalcy for Hollywood. As can be seen with the wrap up of 2023, blockbusters were made and drew audiences. However, it wasn’t all sunshine for studios. Two strikes, one by the Writers Guild of America starting in May and one by SAG-AFTRA starting in July, shut down production in film and television. Anything already in the can could be released. Anything not in post-production stalled.

So much for a return to normalcy. Now that both strikes are over, with the SAG-AFTRA strike ending in November, production can resume. This means 2024 is the rebuilding year 2023 should have been. Studios may be sabotaging themselves already, however.

The main problem is the studios’ reliance on blockbusters. Huge tentpole movies that have a broad appeal, based on familiar characters, dominated 2023’s box office list. Granted, the History of Adaptations showed that, outside the Eighties and Nineties, adaptations and sequels are the norm. Audiences prefer the familiar, so it’s natural for studios to lean heavily on that preference to get audiences back to theatres. The problem is that other movies, the smaller, lower budget films, aren’t getting made. Sure, there were a couple of lower budget films in the list last week, but one used word of mouth marketing coupled with outrage theatre to get attention. The only way smaller movies are going to be made if there is a major star in the lineup, one that will draw an audience. Even Oscar-bait films are going to have a rougher time.

Coupled with the above is the increasing budget of blockbusters. The bigger the budget, the more the movie needs to make in order to not be considered a flop. Take 2012’s John Carter, Disney’s adaptation of Edgar R. Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars. The budget exploded to $250 million, $334 million today, and flopped because the marketing behind the film didn’t exist. But there was no way to get enough people out at the time; the interest wasn’t there and the cost of tickets at theatres were lower than today. Budgets today are reaching the quarter-billion-dollar mark. Wages aren’t keeping up. Streaming got a strong foothold during the pandemic. More flops are coming.

Adding to studio woes is how advertising has changed over the past decade. There is more media available today than ever before, but it’s been balkanized over TV and streaming services. Everyone has a streaming service, even TV networks. For a premium fee, some of the services remove ads. On the web, ad blocking software is a must. Social media is chaotic even before taking into account the debacle the former Twitter has become. Advertising and marketing costs money. Throwing it at the tentpole movies makes sense, but does the next Marvel movie need any advertising beyond the release date?

What can be expected in 2024? More blockbusters, more adaptations, and bigger budgets. A reset is coming but studios need to have multiple blockbusters flop in a short time. New advertising models are needed, but that will need study, time, and money to determine. It is possible for a couple of blockbusters to flop, but unless a studio risks bankruptcy, 2024 is a rebuilding year. At the same time, it is hard to predict what an audience will fall in love with. The Barbieheimer phenomenon could not have been predicted but it boosted both films.

The only way to find out is to ring in 2024 and see what happens.

This article was originally published at THE REMAKE ZONE.

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