Why isn’t America going to the movies this summer?
Continue Reading Below
With Universal’s cancelation of their controversial satirical social thriller "The Hunt," popcorn-loving audiences will have one less reason to flock to the theaters to save the bombing summer 2019 box office.
So what is going on and how can Universal recover its losses with the film, which stars oscar-winner Hilary Swank?
“The box office slump is not just summer 2019, it's inexorable and ongoing,” explains media analyst Porter Bibb of MediaTech Capital Partners, exclusively to Fox Business News.
“The movie theatre business is struggling with how to deal with the changing economics of the movie industry--fewer films, mostly tent-pole franchises, with little or no room for independent or art-film productions; higher ticket prices, greater squeeze on the theatre share of revenue (especially from Disney, which is holding back blockbusters from theatre chains if Disney can't get its terms), the prospect of variable pricing and 'movie clubs,' and an increasingly non-white theatre audience."
The lackluster summer has dragged down 2019's overall domestic box office revenue by roughly 9% from the same point last year, according to media evaluator Comscore.
Universal released a statement, on August 10th, announcing their film was being shelved, “after thoughtful consideration."
So why did Universal succumb to pressure in the form of tweets directly from President Trump and pull the film from its scheduled late-summer release?
“Universal had little choice. The social media outcry against the film was more than enough to bring the NBCU suits to their senses," Bibb explains.
"They stated that the release would be postponed but with the 2020 elections looming, there is virtually no chance ‘The Hunt’ would ever be released before 2021 and by that time, the social/political environment will have changed (for better or worse) making The Hunt seem like yesterday's news."
While "The Hunt" will not be able to save summer 19’s lagging box office, Universal will have to find a new home, outside of theaters, if they hope to recoup the $15 Million budget Box Office Mojo estimates the studio spent on the violent flick.
“Netflix will likely open it’s coffers and try to make something of a quiet release, but it was just popular opinion that kept Universal from the release they had planned for several month,” Bibb explains. “It was the naivete and deaf ears of the entire Comcast NBCU team that approved the release of what clearly was going to be an outrageously controversial event in the first place.”