Horrors, We're Losing Money

WSJ reports that Hollywood's recent fixation with intense blood and gore is not paying off as hoped.

Wedbush Morgan Securities analysts William Kidd and Jung Hwang argue in a research note today that movie maker Lions Gate Entertainment needs to branch out. Its core horror franchises — “Saw” and “Hostel” — may be running out of steam. Also, and more interestingly, they argue there may be too many horror movies on the market.

They say 25 horror films are being released this year, compared with an average of 8.5 horror films a year from 1982 to 2006. They note recent films are generally more gory and sadistic than in years past. Unfortunately, they say, more and more gruesome film-making doesn’t translate into additional buckets of box-office blood. They estimate the 2007 horror picture slate will generate about $600 million from 25 films; in 1999, the box-office take was $611 million from only 11 films. more

Here we have powerful evidence that money doesn't necessarily outweigh ideology in Hollywood. Check out this list of the top grossing films of all time, adjusted for inflation. Notice a trend? Here are the top five: Gone With The Wind, Star Wars, The Sound of Music, E.T., The Ten Commandments. The rest of the list is much the same.

The fact is that decent family films tend to make a lot more money for the studios and producers than adult-oriented horror, violence and sex-themed movies. Yet Hollywood continues to push out blood, gore, and soft-core porn. This tells me they are less interested in making money than in pushing their own twisted visions onto society.

When the public doesn't buy it, what's the response? Push the envelope by getting bloodier, gorier, and sexier. It still doesn't work, but the idea of making movies that normal people might want their kids to see still doesn't occur to many producers.

This sort of thing drives economists crazy, because it proves that business people aren't always rational. The ideology motive can often outweigh the profit motive.

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