Fans of everything Tolkein have no trouble understanding why people might want to pay good money to see a film about a vertically challenged creature of the imagination, whose every aspiration is simply predisposed toward goodness and honour. But let’s look outward for a moment to consider the nervy moguls that control great chunks of planet Earth’s finances, some of whom finance projects like The Hobbit trilogy. They get genuinely worried whenever a new film comes along just in case, against expectations it bombs; “Battleship” and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ inspired adventure, “John Carter” spring to mind in 2012.
According to Reuters Hollywood is living in great expectations of Hobbit success, so much so that they are counting on the film marking a record upturn in cinematic fortunes.
So, what’s the problem? Surely, box office receipts have done nothing but increase year upon year since 2000? Well, yes they have, but for all the wrong reasons, it appears. The Hobbit could signal a turning point, at least in North America that is, where receipts from cinema-goers are now expected to rise for all the right reasons. They say:
“The film, which opens on December 14, is expected to contribute to the first annual box office increase in North America in three years, a sign that big movie studios have made more films enticing enough to get people into theaters and away from their TVs, games and the Internet.”
That’s remarkable when you consider some of the big-hitters that have gone before. It seems though, that any previous increase in receipts had been more due to small hikes in ticket prices year on year than avid fans demanding to see a great movie.
That’s not to rubbish the others, mind you. There are always good pictures being produced, just not in the volumes needed to make financiers feel secure about the future of the big budget movie experience. “Skyfall,” the highest grossing of the 23 James Bond films to date is still pulling in massive profits at over $227 million in domestic sales so far. The Hobbit is expected to do even better. Speaking about recent output quality, Chris Aronson, president of domestic distribution at News Corp’s 20th Century Fox studio said,
“There is something for everyone. When we achieve that as an industry and the movies are of good quality, that’s when good things happen.”
So, to summarise: the general quality of movies has risen so far recently, that even more people have been driven into the cinema to watch them. What’s more, the exploits of a seemingly insignificant inhabitant of Middle-Earth are set, once again, to change the status quo forever. Nothing new in that then!