Almost a year after Barbenheimer, Furiosa fails to give cinemas next blockbuster

Source: The New Daily

Last year’s Barbenheimer craze may have sparked hopes of a cinema renaissance, but recent box office flops have seen those hopes come crashing down.

Variety reports Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga generated just $US58.9 million globally in its first weekend of release – adding up to less than half of the film’s $US168 million production budget.

Although there’s still time before Furiosa leaves the big screen for streaming, it’s unlikely the film will match the $US380 million drawn in by its 2015 predecessor, Mad Max: Fury Road.

Fellow recent releases have similarly struggled to reach the heights of the pre-pandemic box office.

Previously, poor box office performance may have been blamed on the quality of movies, or poor advertising.

However, Victoria University senior lecturer in screen media Marc C-Scott said much of the blame lies with the cost-of-living crunch.

“What’s happening now is the pressures of general living, and anyone who’s looking at their family budget, the first thing that’s probably going to go is their entertainment dollars,” he said.

“It might cost the family at least $100 to go to the cinema; that’s going to give you a couple of months of access to a streaming service.

“So if you’re … comparing, ‘Do we want to go see one film at the cinema? Or do we want to have a few months of streaming, which gives us access to a large library?’ most families are going to select the streaming service over going to the cinema.”

Until “hostile” cost-of-living pressures are relieved, C-Scott anticipates not much outside of random smash hits such as the Barbie and Oppenheimer simultaneous release will get audiences back into cinemas en masse.

For B- or C-grade films, many will be content to wait longer to see them at home, especially as the wait for streaming releases are typically nowhere near as long as the distance between cinema debuts and physical DVDs.

Despite these struggles, cinema is not dead; it may just need a revamp.

According to Cinema Association Australasia, the 2023 Australian box office exceeded $986 million, and streaming giants Apple and Amazon have reportedly committed to investing $US1 billion per year in films that will have cinema releases.

C-Scott said alternatives to indoor cinemas, such as drive-ins and outdoor viewings, could also help draw in more crowds.

“We’ve seen those sort of pop-ups happen over the last couple of years after Covid,” he said.

“When you go to the cinema, it’s not just about the film, it’s actually about the experience as well, so drive-ins have been adding that … new experience for some people.”

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