The Imminent Death of Cinema

Watching movies has never been easier. Streaming services like Netflix, who started distributing movies in 1998, have evolved into tremendous companies that allow anyone to view movies from anywhere, at any time, for a set price per month (“Netflix, Inc. History”). Instead of going out to the theaters as a date night, couples can pick from an even wider selection of movies to watch from the safety and comfort of their home. New movies are constantly coming out, considering the fact that as many as 50,000 movies were produced in 2009, and the number can only get larger (Armstrong). The effect this has on the movie industry, however, is terrifying. More movies are being made in series, and their plots only get worse with each new film. Franchises are the big thing, and few realize how they will change cinema. Although the variety and quality of films today are increasing, the film industry is dying because of Hollywood’s obsession with franchises and the easy access to films for free.

As technology in cinema is evolving, the quality and overall size of films has skyrocketed. Looking at the box office reports, not much evidence exists that less people are going to movies or that the studios are making any less. Sales have not changed drastically, grossing over $11 billion in 2016, which is similar to previous years (“Domestic Movie”). Conversely, the price of tickets for theaters (as well as concessions at theaters) has gone up every year. Ticket sales have actually dropped by 21 million tickets per quarter, an alarming amount (“Curtain Call”). In addition to this, undoubtedly, technology has advanced the movie industry to new and outstanding levels, making it fresh and interesting. This technology, however, is often taking precedence over content in some new films. For example, the 2016 film Alice: Through the Looking Glass included a collection of admirable special effects, but it lacked a good storyline and was proclaimed a dud by countless critics (Gunterman).

This goes for a majority of franchise movies; they draw in the dedicated fans, but are bound to disappoint critics and lack substance. Ultimately, the perceived success of recent films is merely a façade, and the quality of mainstream cinema has decreased drastically.

Franchises are killing the quality of cinema. Big studios like Warner Bros and Disney have caught on to the reality of cinema these days — franchises and sequels will make them more money. Iron Man 2 was released by Disney in 2010 and cumulatively grossed over $622 million (Denby). Did it matter what the plot was? Not at all, the producers knew that fact that it was a sequel would attract a colossal audience by itself. With the current state of the industry, it is hard for a studio to make as much money as they would like without taking on huge projects that are already part of a franchise. The sad reality is that the majority of moviegoers are not going to go see the more independent, artsy, or lower-budget films, because they are not as exciting or as well known to everyone. These directors and filmmakers often get stuck working on the big action movies in order to be able to work on something different, which does not get nearly as much publicity or revenue (Suzanne-Mayer). Kyle Buchanan talks about the significance of franchises in this growing industry: “These days, you’re nothing if you don’t have a mega franchise running in perpetuity” (Buchanan). The future only shows more sequels and series, with more Fast and Furious movies and yet another Star Wars chapter (“Movie Release Schedule”). Fresh, new films will surely continue to be made, but the money they make will not be as much as they deserve.

With the rise of the Internet, the movie industry has taken a hit. The Internet has successfully ruined, or at least injured, other similar industries such as the music industry and print publishing. In 2000, the newspaper ad revenues made $67 billion and that dropped to only $19.9 million in 2014 (Bilton). Many are confident that this is not happening to the film industry. On the contrary, data shows that since Netflix has existed, the average amount of money grossed per movie has decreased by almost $2 million (“Curtain Call”). The nostalgia and tradition of going to the cinema to watch movies will never go away, but with rising ticket and concession prices, most people opt for staying at home. Facts can back it, too: movie theatre attendance in 2014 was the lowest it has been in two decades (Cowden). It is common knowledge that movies make significantly less money off of streaming services than in theaters, but that does not account for the amount of money lost because of illegally uploaded films that anyone can watch for free online. In 2015, the top films showing in theatres were found to be illegally downloaded over half a million times, and that number is only rising (Bilton). In short, the evolution of the Internet has brutally wounded the world of cinema.

Not everyone believes that cinema is dying, but countless issues have arised that will ultimately bring down the industry. The rise of ticket prices and the hassle of physically going to a movie theater results in millions of people to opt for staying at home and streaming a movie for free or for a small price. Not only that, but the quality and individuality in cinema is decreasing at an alarming rate. Film studios are becoming like a buffet instead of a sit-down restaurant; consumers no longer have to wait for what they want or choose from a “menu,” they can get whatever they want, and instantly. Unfortunately, the offerings probably will not be as good. If studios give directors the chance to create something new and original, and focuses less on the profit they will make, an exceptional possibility exists that the industry could be saved. The world will have to wait and see if it’s movie pallets will be satisfied or starved.


Armstrong, Eric M. “50,000 Movies Are Made Every Year – Is That Too Many?” The Moving Arts Film Journal, 27 May 2010, Accessed 16 Mar. 2017.

Bilton, Nick. “Why Hollywood as We Know It Is Already Over.” Vanity Fair, 1 Feb. 2017, Accessed 14 Mar. 2017.

Buchanan, Kyle. “Which Movie Studios Are Winning and Losing the Franchise Arms Race?” Vulture, New York Media LLC., 12 Dec. 2013, Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.

Cowden, Catarina. “The Long-Term Movie Attendance Graph.” CINEMABLEND, Gateway Blend Entertainment, 3 Jan. 2015, Accessed 5 Apr. 2017.

“Curtain Call: Netflix vs. America’s Movie Theaters.” Misix, 14 Aug. 2015, Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.

Denby, David. “Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?” New Republic, 13 Sept. 2012, Accessed 20 Mar. 2017.

“Domestic Movie Theatrical Market Summary.” The Numbers, Nash Information Services, LLC., Accessed 14 Mar. 2017.

Gunterman, Justin. “The 15 Worst Movies of 2016.” Taste of Cinema, 19 Dec. 2016, Accessed 17 Mar. 2017.

“Movie Release Schedule.” The Numbers, Accessed 21 Mar. 2017.

“Netflix, Inc. History.” FundingUniverse, Accessed 16 Mar. 2017.

Suzanne-Mayer, Dominick. “Why Film Franchises Could Change Cinema Forever.”Consequence of Sound, COS, 6 Apr. 2016, Accessed 20 Mar. 2017.