Is the movie theater experience beginning to die?

Doctor Strange channeling his magic Times of India

The movie making industry has become too reliant on superhero flicks

With the new marvel film “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” being released worldwide on May 6, the seats in the theaters playing other features will likely be empty. The movie theaters are unfortunately dying and superhero pictures are the only thing keeping them alive.

In the month of April, two highly marketed motion pictures were released: the new Nicolas Cage comedy “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and the action blockbuster “The Northman.” Both films are receiving acclaim from critics and praise for their writing and performances.

However, has anyone seen any of these pictures? It’s likely that people know they exist, but highly unlikely that anybody saw them. With all the streaming services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime, it’s hard to have a reason to leave the comfort of one’s own home to see a movie.

The price of admission is another reason for people to stay home. Who is willing to pay $15 for a film that may not even be good and possibly waste two hours of their life? Adding the price of popcorn and soda nearly makes the experience a $30 investment. However, if it was a superhero picture then people would be willing to pay that kind of money to see it.

Drama flicks are no longer the must-see pictures when they first hit the theaters. Unless they’re directing a superhero feature, big names like Coppola, Scorsese, Coen and Tarantino aren’t enough to put people in the seats. Much to the chagrin of Martin Scorcese who didn’t talk kindly about superhero pics when he spoke to The New York Times. 

“I said Marvel movies aren’t cinema,” Scorsese said in an opinion piece for The New York Times. “It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever.”

Unfortunately, the film going experience is slowly dying and it can only be saved by superheros, well superhero movies. According to Forbes, “Massive Talent” is only expected to gross $13.1 million in its first 10-day total, which isn’t impressive compared to its $30 million budget.

Forbes also stated that “The Northman” is only expected to gross $22.5 million in its first 10 days when compared to a $70 million budget. Both films are receiving praise from both critics and audiences alike and are likely to make their money back, but will likely not be major box office hits.

According to Box Office Mojo, five of the top 10 lifetime grosses are superhero flicks. These films are “Avengers: Endgame,” “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” “Black Panther,” “Avengers: Infinity War” and “The Avengers.” These flicks average a total $732.6 million in lifetime grosses. 

According to the audiences, if they’re not wearing a cape then they’re not getting any money. When “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” comes to theaters, people will see it the first night it’s in the theater. When “The Northman” and “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” first hit the theaters, people will wait to see it until it’s on one of the streaming services. 

Then what is so appealing about superhero flicks? The costumes, the action and the iconic characters seem like the obvious reasons. However, there must be another layer to this because if there wasn’t then superhero flicks wouldn’t be as successful.

Director of the motion picture “Shazam!” offered his opinion on why these films are so popular. David F. Sandberg talked to CinemaBlend on why he thinks these motion pictures are so successful.

“Partly I think it’s wish fulfillment,” Sandberg told CinemaBlend. “And that’s why I love Shazam! so much, because it’s kind of the ultimate wish fulfillment with this kid getting to be a superhero.” 

Sandberg’s take on wish fulfillment in this area of cinema is probably the main reason why people fall in love with these pictures. It can give audiences a sense of connection to these certain films, which is hard to replicate in non-superhero movies. 

Even though non-superhero movies are capable of this too, they’re not nearly as capable as superhero pics. That type of magic is hard to catch, but if they can then maybe the movie theaters can possibly make a comeback.

However that is unlikely, nowadays the films that have that type of magic that personally appeals to people and aren’t superhero features will likely be distributed through one of the many streaming services. This is because the studios know that the only way people will watch that picture is if they don’t have to leave their home and pay too much money.

Superhero films are currently the only things keeping the theaters afloat, but even those features end up on the streaming services. The question is how long until superhero flicks are only available on streaming services? It’s only a matter of time before the movie theater experience will become obsolete.