One of the industries millennials are accused of killing is Movie Theaters. It got so bad at one point that AMC Theaters proposed allowing texting in theaters (then decided against it). The movie industry was convinced millennials simply weren’t interested in movies, because of their attention spans. But the truth was, millennials (and other audiences) weren’t interested in movies, because of the content, i.e. the movies themselves.
If the past year in movies is any consolation, what audiences wanted were people who looked like them, sounded like them, lived like them–new stories about lives that are all too relatable yet often ignored. With one caveat–these stories must be told well.
I bring this up because even with the box-office successes of Marvel’s Black Panther, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time, Love, Simon, and Ocean’s 8, there were still headlines with implicit surprise at how well Pixar’s The Incredibles 2 did, for an animated short.
While the previous four films finally touch on human experiences that are constantly ignored in media and politics (i.e. Being black, being a black girl, being LGBT, being a woman, respectively) maybe not flawlessly but still well done, The Incredibles 2, at first glance, doesn’t typically go outside the box in that regard. But it does specifically answer the question of “What would get millennials back to the movie theater?” (this, of course, is assuming millennials had left the theater, which, they didn’t by the way)
Unlike the present climate of reboots, remakes, and revivals, The Incredibles 2 (which picks up right where the first left off) had been originally planned for release a few years after its 2004 original, The Incredibles. But a few years turned into a few more then a few more then even more, until that initial two to three years became fourteen. Even though animated films take a few years to create, fourteen or even more than ten is never the magic number; especially when the same studio was able to create two more Cars films and a previously unplanned Finding Nemo sequel during that same period. The stall in the process was not due to the process itself (as the actors in the clip before the film may suggest), but rather to the company underestimating the level of interest among the key audience at the time (despite the fact that the 2004 had a decent opening at the box office).
It just happens to be coincidental that the key audience (children during 2004) for the first Incredibles film, eagerly waiting and waiting for the sequel, happen to fall within the “millennial” age group now. Not only did millennials show up and show out for the Incredibles sequel fourteen years later, they did so in droves. Why? Because the first movie was incredible (pun intended) is a good guess. But why the surprise at the turn out? Another industry, specifically movies, refused to listen to its consumers–really listen to what they’re clammering for and not just their supposed buying power; another audience was, once again millennials, was underestimated.
According to the Buzzfeed article about its box office numbers for opening weekend, only 28% of the tickets bought were children’s price. This means about 70% (give or take) were adult tickets–maybe millennials by themselves, maybe millennials with kids (the oldest millennial is around thirty-seven years old). The premiere weekend was the most successful animated feature opening in recent American history.
I could hope that this movie is the final nail in the coffin of the “Millennials Are Killing Movie Theaters” accusation (and had noted a similar sentiment in the podcast I produce), the final nail in the “Movie Theaters are dying” argument, that the movie industry will recognize that their only purpose is to release good movies–movies that inspire, movies that display stories audiences haven’t seen before (on the big screen or ever), movies that reflect their audiences back on the screen in front of them. It’s a simple enough job to just create worthwhile, well-told stories…yet I’d be surprised if these trends are enough to persuade the industry. Oh well.
What I’m Listening To: WBUR/New York Times’s Modern Love. It’s not a typical podcast; each episode is an actor reciting an essay from The New York Times Modern Love column, then the host asking the writer of the essay for more details or context. My favorite, so far, is Constance Wu reading an essay titled, “Marry A Man Who Loves His Mother.”
What I’m Reading: So many great YA Novel to movie adaptations are coming! In preparation, I just finished Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star. If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand my nervousness for the upcoming movie adaptation (since the book was more angst than romance, in my opinion). But since Yara Shahidi’s in, I may have to bite the bullet.
What I’m Watching: (See post above) Also Freeform’sThe Bold Type is back! I really love this show because it feels like a modern Sex and the City meets The Devil Wears Prada but with LGBT and POC characters as well.