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Box office earnings do not determine the quality of a film

Box office earnings do not determine the quality of a film

Box office earnings do not determine the quality of a film
September 29
12:12 2021

There is no question 2021 has been a strange year for the entertainment industry. A couple of months ago we thought movies were back, and going to the theater could once again be a norm. Many are still going to the movies and enjoying their time there safely, but the film industry does not care if we like the movie they are showing us. All they care about is the money a film pulls in, and it was like this well before a pandemic was a factor. Films can still be successful even if they underperform financially, and we need to stop acting like a box office earning decides whether or not a movie is worth seeing.

A lot of factors play into why a movie may underperform or why a movie may make more money than initially thought. The most obvious example is the rating of the movie. If the movie has an R rating, the movie is already going to have an uphill climb. “Joker” is the only R-rated movie with a box office pull of over one billion dollars. Sure, earning over one billion dollars also has nothing to do with determining the success of a movie, but when only 47 movies have crossed $1 billion, and only one of those movies is R-rated, the movie’s rating definitely contributes to how much money it makes. This is why we see so many movies take the safe route and stick with a PG-13 rating. Some studios might not care if key footage is cut out of the movie, because the rating change from PG-13 to R will inevitably mean less money in their pockets.

Calling a movie a “box office bomb” indicates the movie obviously made no money, but the power of the phrase almost feels derogatory. Movies like “The Iron Giant” and  “Donnie Darko” got nowhere close to making their budget back, but are both critically acclaimed films. Deciding if a movie is good or not based on how much it makes at the box office is like a popularity contest where every contestant is trying to pay the judges.

Another big factor is marketing. Some movies are already on a tight budget, so when it is only a couple of months out from being released in theaters, there is not a lot of money left to advertise the film. Some movies will get months and months of build-up (look at any Marvel movie to ever come out) and some movies will start trying to gain some traction with only weeks until the film hits the big screen. “Ready or Not” was my favorite movie of 2019, but I didn’t hear a word about the movie until the week I decided to go and see it. Luckily, word got around the movie was an absolute blast, and it made over $57 million on just a $6 million budget. If the production team had advertised this movie earlier it could have made way more, but with a $6 million budget, who knows how much they had leftover when it was time to start the advertising process.

So yes, performing well at the box office is important, but it should not play a factor in whether or not the movie is of quality. You can look at the 20 highest-grossing movies of all time, and raise your eyebrow at some of the appearances on the list. A scroll through social media proves how much people care about box office numbers, often putting two movies against each other with no relation at all. But as cliché, as it sounds, at the end of the day it is all about enjoying the movie as you watch it. Getting caught up in the box office world will always leave you a little disappointed.

Featured Illustration by Miranda Thomas

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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