On any slow news day, you can count on some major publication busting out a "death of Hollywood" story. This week, it's the Guardian, whose Jeremy Kay has a piece entitled "Hollywood Must Plot a New Course to Win Back its Audience." The gist: Hollywood is on the decline and has to come up with some game-changing plan to forestall its downfall.

Of course, this doomsaying comes at the end of the highest-revenue summer in movie history. Not discouraged, Kay nonetheless claims that the American movie industry is in trouble -- why? As best I can tell, a couple of reasons. First: the movies this summer were bad. Well, yeah, by and large they weren't great. (Curiously, he cites the exceedingly not-great Iron Man 2as a counter-example.) On the other hand, Inception, one of the summer's biggest hits, was maybe the most ambitious and challenging tentpole blockbuster ever. Toy Story 3 was a near-masterpiece that busted all demographic barriers. Was there more than the usual number of stinkers? Slightly, probably. Was there a glut of franchise flicks and sequels? Yes, as has been the case for years. Does this suggest a systemic problem, or a new one? I don't see how.

Second: attendance is down -- 552 million tickets sold, the lowest since 1997 (540 million). (Here is the source for this.) First, this is a blip; by way of comparison, 563 million tickets were sold in 2005. Nothing to write home about during a by-all-accounts weak movie summer, especially since revenues increased. Second, weekly movie attendance has been declining in this country since 1930. Let's not sound the alarms now.

Third: the movie theater faces competition from home video, video games, the internet, etc. Well, yes. (It's faced competition from video games for decades.) But have we seen any actual evidence that the movie theater is in trouble for the time being?

Anyway, I don't mean to pile on, but the constant crowing about the death of the movie industry at the drop of a hat -- and sometimes without even a drop of a hat -- is a bit frustrating. What do you think? Does Hollywood need to "win back" its audience? And if they do, then how should they go about it?
TAGS featured