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Hollywood’s Bad Summer

Posted on Wednesday, September 13, 2023
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by Shane Harris
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42 Comments

AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris

Hollywood Movie Theater with blank screen

The dual successes of Barbie and Oppenheimer – a collective phenomenon which became known as Barbenheimer – notwithstanding, it was a very, very bad summer for Hollywood. Along with turning out one box office flop after another, the unions representing a majority of screenwriters and actors have been on strike for two months, throwing the industry into even more turmoil.

Things started off rough in May and June with a series of major losses for studios on big-budget blockbusters.

On May 26, Disney’s remake of The Little Mermaid, which was billed as one of the biggest movies of the year, hit theaters to a shrug from audiences. It barely broke even according to Disney’s official numbers, which are routinely under-estimates of what a film actually needs to make to turn a profit.

On June 9, Paramount premiered Transformers: Rise of the Beasts to a similarly lackluster response. A week later, Warner Bros. released The Flash, seemingly a slam dunk in the era of superhero movies. But the film reportedly lost over $200 million, making it the biggest flop in the history of Warner Bros.

Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, released on June 30, could lose $100 million for Disney. Meanwhile, Mission: Impossible 7, with a production budget north of $300 million, might break even, but barely. The latest installment of the Fast & Furious series, Fast X (yes, they really have made nine sequels) is doomed to lose money thanks to a $340 million budget.

Smaller budget films have also struggled to turn a profit. Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City made just over $50 million on a $25 million budget (films generally have to make about 2.5 times their production budget to break even once marketing and other costs are factored in). Magic Mike’s Last Dance, the conclusion of the raunchy Magic Mike series, barely topped its production budget of $45 million.

According to some estimates, studios lost more than $1.5 billion in May and June alone.

Hollywood’s overall numbers for the summer were given a major boost by the twin releases of Oppenheimer and Barbie on July 21. Barbie is closing in on $1.4 billion at the global box office on a $145 million budget, while Oppenheimer has grossed $540 million on a budget of $100 million. Both of those totals are likely to climb significantly higher as the films remain in theaters.

But even as Hollywood’s box office numbers recover somewhat from a turbulent start to the summer, the production of dozens of films and TV shows has ground to a halt amid a dual strike of screenwriters and actors.

Both groups say they’ve been shortchanged by the switch to streaming, and are demanding to be paid more for reruns of shows and movies on streaming services. Studios, however, which also include streaming giants Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, aren’t willing to share viewership information.

Two narratives have emerged about why Hollywood suddenly finds itself in a crisis.

On the left, commentators have generally been sympathetic toward the writers and actors, while dismissing box office struggles as a reflection of changing consumer habits or leftover concerns about going to theaters following the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the right, the dominant view is that Hollywood’s descent into cultural leftism and the blatant political propaganda in virtually all mainstream films is costing studios viewers. The disappointing returns are, according to this interpretation, a protest on the part of moviegoers against being force-fed a partisan agenda disguised as entertainment.

There is certainly evidence for this theory. Disney’s films in particular are dripping with woke ideology, from the radical feminist rewrite of the songs in The Little Mermaid to the “nonbinary” character in another 2023 Disney flop, the animated kids movie Elemental. The latest Indiana Jones installment also sees the hero Indy emasculated by a thoroughly unlikable “girl boss” female lead – hardly the ending fans of the original trilogy hoped for.

But while some of Hollywood’s struggles may indeed be the result of an intentional conservative boycott, the movie industry also seem to have a bigger problem that is also a result of their preoccupation with left-wing political ideology: they just aren’t telling good stories anymore, as has been frequently noted by conservative internet personality John Nolte.

Virtually every big budget film this summer was a reboot of an older movie or franchise that showed a total lack of originality or imagination. The characters are dull, lifeless, and uninspiring. The stories feel contrived and half-baked.

The reality is that most of the movies Hollywood put out this summer were just bad. Obsessed with injecting their own politics into everything, it seems moviemakers have forgotten that their primary job is to tell a compelling story that people can relate to. Creativity and innovation have been replaced by a blind obedience to a rigid set of ideological maxims.

When a movie breaks free from this mold, such as the surprise hit Sound of Freedom, people will still flock to see it, even if it is not strictly apolitical. Both Barbie and Oppenheimer were not completely devoid of political messaging, but they were successful nonetheless because they were made to entertain, not lecture viewers.

Unless Hollywood learns this lesson, 2023 likely won’t be its last tough year.

Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneHarris513.

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Rik
Rik
7 months ago

Going out to see a Movie? . . . You can thank Jack*ss Joe Biden’s “robust” economy for that decline. Just got back from the laundromat and spent $8.50 for 2 loads of laundry. Went out to an All you can eat buffet yesterday for lunch, I really don’t expect them to be in business much longer, they had maybe 20 people at noontime in a facility that could serve 150+. Because of the poor attendance, the usually high quality was also affected and not up to the usual high level. They can’t survive much longer! The high prices now being charged in grocery stores are at least 2 1/2 times more but if you listen to the Clown occupying the White House, he “claims” the economy is “robust” when anybody with half a brain KNOWS BETTER!

PaulE
PaulE
7 months ago

Listening to the “woke” executives at Disney, Paramount and other media companies, it is clear they ALL remain fully committed to the disastrous path they’ve chosen. They are willing to flush their shareholders’ money down the toilet as fast as possible in the pursuit of virtue signaling to stay on the good side of those in power. Thankfully I don’t own any of these financial dogs, as the people I know who bought into this sector a few years back all thought the likes of Disney and the rest were all “rock solid, long-term investments designed to just print money”. Today, with the value of their stocks in these companies all underwater, they are just hoping for a miracle to break even at some point and get out. Ha! That’s not happening anytime soon, as the published line-ups of movies for the next 2 to 3 years at each studio is just one progressive sh*t show after another, that’s destined to lose money big time.

A serious movie like Oppenheimer is almost impossible to get financed and made today. Even with the subtle messaging that was inserted to get make the studio execs happy. It’s more of an art house film. Barbie on the other hand is more reflective of the “woke” sensibilities that the studios are willing to green light today. Also, it was targeted at young children, so I’m sure a lot of parents, once in the theater seats, were surprised at the overt messaging laced throughout the film. As for the majority of movies out this summer, most were just uniformly bad in terms of scripts or execution. Hollywood seems stuck in a rut of endless copying and recycling of the same ideas. They truly do like in their own bubble world.

Bob L.
Bob L.
7 months ago

Sooo many good old movie DVDs from TCM’s collection. I think I have 200 or more now.
Many are available to watch free online too. Why spend a lot of money going to a theater to see the trash Hollywood puts out these days.
In fact, I think I’ll watch “The Mating Game” while eating supper this evening.

Martin
Martin
7 months ago

I hope the strike never ends. I haven’t gone to a movie in years. Don’t watch the late night clowns either and would NEVER watch the View! Give me the Western channels and I’m happy! Hope all the Liberal actors and writer’s starve.

Thinking
Thinking
7 months ago

Hollywood is deserving of everything it gets. They politicize everything and people are waking up. Look at Disney what they are doing to fairy tales with characters nobody ever knew they existed. We have to accept their sleaze. I say boycott their crap
Hollywood is being boycotted. I saw Sound of Freedom. My first movie since the movie 2016.
Barbie was a fluff piece and Oppenheimer was old News wrapped in a new package. Any American should have known about him not learn it from a movie. All the actors who think they have to let us know where they stand should be boycotted. No business or well known individual has the right to go on tv and tell the rest of us peons his opinion. Nobody cares. All these so-called idols are themselves not without questionable behavior. Stop trying to brainwash the people. Before you open your mouth and spew the dems propaganda, stop and keep your mouth shut. You are just a stooge to further communism in America.

Jerald
Jerald
7 months ago

I notice that no mention is made of Sound of Freedom, which out classed Indiana Jones

Honey
Honey
7 months ago

And I can’t imagine that it helps them when they make announcements like if a movie does not consider diversity in its casting and creative team and have x numbers of blacks, etc. in it, that movie will not be considered for any oscars.

Donna
Donna
7 months ago

They signed their death certificate when they started asserting their political views on the general public. I believe the movie business is a thing of the past. All they’ve done is remake older movies hoping to cash in. The public is not that stupid!

Donna
Donna
7 months ago

We have not been to an actual movie house since “Passion Of The Christ.” No joke. I will take the oldies made before my time and from when I was growing up into early adulthood. Very few movies have anything of substance anymore

Robert Zuccaro
Robert Zuccaro
7 months ago

I’ve been sending money to various charities but have had to stop (Thank Joe!) so how do I justify going to see a crappy Disney film?

Paul W
Paul W
7 months ago

I’m hoping hellywood dies the miserable death it deserves. The last movie that I paid to see in a theater was “Space Cowboys” in 2000. I dumped netflix years ago. Haven’t watched anything on TV in over three years…don’t even have a TV in the house. Anything I watch on Tubi or Pluto was filmed no later than the mid-60s. To h3ll with modern day movies and TV…I don’t need ’em and to be totally honest, I don’t even want ’em. Nothing would please me more than to see that pit of evil shut its studio doors forever. Those obscenely overpaid court jesters will live the real world!

Michael Stevens
Michael Stevens
7 months ago

Pretty simple stuff actually. Build a better mouse trap and you’ll have people waiting at your door! Hollywood’s ‘mouse trap’ is broken and customers are lining up at other peoples door. Love it!

Morbious
Morbious
7 months ago

There’re classic movies that are eminently watchable. Most recently for me was ‘Vertigo’ . Its fun to note how hollywood made sexual references that flew right over the heads of innocent kids, not that many kids watched this film in 1958. Jimmy Stewart (one of my favs) rescues Kim Novak (wow!) from the ocean and dries her clothes as she slumbers in his bed. One must deduce that he undressed her as she was in a (feigned) comatose state. Plenty of classics out there.

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
7 months ago

Will stream Oppenhiemer
Saw Top Gun 2 in cinema
Watch Prime Video big time

SusanP
SusanP
7 months ago

I haven’s purchased a seat in a movie theater since 2012 when I saw Dinesh D’Souza’s “2016: Obama’s America”.
WHY?
1) Hollywood’s descent into cultural leftism and the blatant political propaganda.
2) Virtually every big budget film this summer was a reboot of an older movie or franchise that showed a total lack of originality or imagination.

Steven
Steven
7 months ago

My wife and I went to see the Indiana Jones movie and were disappointed compared to previous movies before. We haven’t seen Oppenheimer yet but are waiting for the DVD to come out later this year. The same for the Big Fat Greek Wedding #3. Technology and AI are changing the movie business and will unfortunately cost many jobs.

Guvey
Guvey
7 months ago

RE the “Oppenheimer” movie

This movie omits the unnecessary and evil bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and also of its testing grounds in New Mexico and the Marshall Islands as if there were no innocent victims and grave harm done (Glaring omissions) which shows the lack of conscience of its creator/filmmaker/director. And much dark facts on Oppenheimer himself are also concealed in this Hollywood movie (Forgotten backstories).

“The primary job of both Hollywood and the mainstream western press is to is to put a friendly, normal-looking face on a globe-spanning empire which dominates the world using nonstop violence and coercion. Their job is to continually normalize freakish tyranny. They do this in a whole host of ways, including the agenda-setting practice of under-reporting inconvenient facts while amplifying convenient ones…” — Caitlin Johnstone, Independent journalist

So this immoral director presents a whitewash of history, a fake history account. Memory holing of real atrocities is immorality, a serious crime per any reasonable humane standard. Per official narrative the Nazi Holocaust should “not be forgotten” but the US Holocausts at Hiroshima/Nagasaki are fine “to forget.” But this memory holing is in line with what it is: a stylish propaganda movie of the genocidal US empire, made by its criminal Hollywood ‘dream factory’/propaganda apparatus. A celebration of the “wonders of technology” and the “brilliance” of its inventing immoral conscienceless scientists. A celebration of madness.

It’s the programing of the naive/dumb public by (one of) the most murderous regimes on earth to accept and want such horrific killer weapons –it’s part of the normalization of evil via the brainwashing of the forever naive/dumb public.

This inexcusable despicable conduct by the film’s acclaimed director parallels the fact that dozens of Nobelists worked on the creation of the atomic bomb that proves that guilt and conscience never played a notable part in them.

Oppenheimer’s guilt and conscience, too, was of no real significance as his actions in establishing the atomic bomb demonstrated.

It shows the real fundamental condition and nature of “civilized” humans — they are inhumanely mad …. Humans’ “invisible” madness (which also explains WHY they are mad).

“[…] I realized that the entire nuclear power program was based on a fraud—namely, that there was a “safe” amount of radiation, a permissible dose that wouldn’t hurt anybody.” — John W. Gofman, M.D., Ph.D., 1918-2007, Medical Physicist & Radiation Expert

Marta Alvarez
Marta Alvarez
7 months ago

Recentyl, I went to the movies to watch Robert DeNiro’s About My Father. It was great entertainment. What truly shocked and disgusted me was the volume and quality of the trailers of upcoming movies for young people. Ble Beetle, Barbie…Full of ideology and at a volume that numbs the senses, those movies are designed to wash kid’s brains, no more, no less.I find it horrifying, and I’m almost glad that Hollwood had such a bad summer. Ideology has rotted the movie industry and the scarce attendance proves that they are catering to a small amount of people only. Another example that comes to mind is No Time to Die. Simply pathetic. I can’t believe Daniel Craig agreed to do such a bad movie.

Scot
Scot
7 months ago

The last time my wife or I was in a theater was to see Cast Away in 2000. In this day and age, I can’t believe that movie theaters even exist. You’ll never catch us in one again.

FJB
FJB
7 months ago

I just stopped watching “The Irregulars” on Netflix because of the DEI nonsense. This is supposed to be in Sherlock Holmes era (late 1800’s) London. I was OK with the main characters including a black and asian even though it was the 1800’s. But I figured that with the British Empire’s reach it could be possible and, since the character’s were new it was fine. But then Dr. Watson is introduced and of course he is black. I almost stopped then but continued until the white girl (of course she is white in 1880’s London) that they are looking for, of course, has a black boyfriend. Yeah, that sounds like 1800’s London to me. That is when I stopped watching. I am tired of them changing well known characters races just to promote their agenda. If you want to have a non-white in a role, create a new character! Just like the Supergirl series made Jimmy Olsen black! I used to read the old comics and he was a red headed, freckle faced ginger! If they had introduced him as Jimmy’s Olsen’s brother, Johnny Olsen I would have been fine. But this was absurd.

A Voter
A Voter
7 months ago

I have not been to a theatwr to see a movie sine The Lord of The Rings trilogy I am very patient. If there is something I want to see, I can wait for it to hit the 3.99 dvd bin somewhere.The less I send to Hollybroke, the more I have in my pocket until Biden discovers it, then it’s gone.

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