Box Office Blues: Film Associations Make PR Push

With the film industry losing ground to television on the cultural relevance front, a number of film associations hope to buck the trend.

Do people need a reminder of how great movies are?

Despite some major successes (The Avengers’ $1.5 billion worldwide gross, for starters), the film industry has had a couple of weak years, and the industry is noticing.

A number of movie-related associations are considering public relations campaigns in an effort to bring more energy to the medium.

Here’s an idea of how poorly the box office is doing: Over the past weekend, while the looming Hurricane Sandy likely had a negative effect on overall results, just one movie managed to garner more than $10 million in sales, though there were four separate wide-release debuts. And back in September, the box office scored its least-successful weekend in more than a decade — and there was no weather-related event that kept people away.

This appears to be a long-term trend: 2011’s 1.28 billion total tickets sold is the lowest recorded total since 1995, according to The New York Times.

With TV becoming much more of a home for complex, character-driven drama, the art-house films that traditionally filled up the multiplexes this time of the year are also on the decline. Just 37 pictures were released by specialty divisions of major studios in 2011, a drop of more than half from a decade ago, and some prominent critics have argued that the  long-term trend toward blockbusters is the cause.

On top of this, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), which puts on the Oscars each year, appears to be backing the trend toward television with its upcoming Oscar host, Seth MacFarlane, an animator and voice actor best known for Fox’s Family Guy.

All of this is to say something the movie industry is acutely aware of: The industry, which has been losing ground to television in recent years on the cultural relevance front, needs a kick in the pants.

The Times reports that a number of movie-related associations, including AMPAS, the American Film Institute (AFI), and the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), are considering public relations campaigns in an effort to bring more energy to the medium.

So, what should they do? Among the ideas pitched, according to the paper, a campaign involving the Oscar nominees (by AMPAS) and a series of film-award programs judged by some prominent politicians (by AFI).

If this was your industry and your association was in charge of it, how would you remind people of how great you are? Let us know what you’d do.

Correction: Due to an editing error in New York Times piece sourced by this article, the 2011 box-office number was incorrectly stated. It was 1.28 billion tickets, not $1.28 billion dollars. We regret the error.

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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