Oakton Outlook

The real trash littering our movie theaters: an analysis of what sells

There’s more than just empty popcorn containers and candy wrappers trashed around our movie theaters— lately, it seems as though it’s been what we’re there to see.

Emily Richardson, Editorial Board

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






I saw Venom this weekend. As an avid Marvel fan, I had been looking forward to it all week and was disappointed to find a spotty storyline, poor performances by a majority of the cast, and cliche dialogue that all made me wonder if this was truly a Marvel movie at all (Which, it wasn’t. It was produced by Sony in association with Marvel— but still).

The movie’s only calling card, which I wish I could say is nothing, was the few combat scenes. They’re exciting and entertaining, so as the viewer I was quick to understand that the movie as a whole was only a vehicle for the action. Money that could have been spent on better actors or screenwriters was instead poured into special effects and stunt doubles— but you won’t catch me, or the general public, complaining. Action sells.

For example, this past summer’s release Mission: Impossible – Fallout. It was everything short of an Oscar winner, but it still managed to raise $61 million opening weekend. It’s action packed and appeals to the largest demographic of moviegoers in the United States; 25 to 39 year olds. And, based on the racial and patriarchal stereotypes represented in these sorts of films, it can be deduced that a large portion of those 25 to 39 year olds are white men. Another example is this summers’s The Meg, which was purely hot garbage, surprising analysts with an impressive $45 million box office opening weekend.

Based on this reflection, I have developed an infallible hypothesis of what makes money at the movies. There are three categories, of which a movie may fall into one (It should be noted that the goal of nearly every movie is to make money, some are just better at concealing it).

First, the money-rakes; a term coined by myself to label those less than artistic movies that are truly only good for raking in funds. Movies like Venom, and the others I’ve mentioned previously. There’s at least two of these in theaters at any given time, and it includes horror movies save for a select few, namely Get Out and A Quiet Place which both provide more progressive commentary than typical movies of that genre. Marvel, Star Wars, and similar franchises also fall under this category; an anthology of movies that people keep coming back to due to familiarity. This also includes sequels, for example Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again. This is the largest category by a landslide. While not all the movies are trash, a great deal of them are; that does not mean people are going to stop watching them, persay.

The second category is children’s movies, a few of the highlights from this year so far being Incredibles 2 and Christopher Robin. This category, you’ll find, is Disney dominated, minus the Marvel and Star Wars franchises as mentioned. Take Incredibles 2; the long-awaited film drew in everyone from the youngest kids to colleges students. It shows, too— the movie grossed a whopping $182 million opening weekend (Also— became the 9th highest grossing movie of all time). Children’s movies raise an unfathomable amount of money not only as a result of nostalgia, as seen in the statistics of Incredibles 2, but because of the moviegoing dynamic the films present. Consumers are inclined to take the entire family, not only one or two people. More people, more money into the pocket of the filmmaker.

The final category of movie are the progressive types. The best example was this summer’s Crazy Rich Asians; an amazing movie stacked with an amazing cast and production team. Not to mention the entirely Asian cast, which drew an entire other demographic in for representation— Thankfully, the movie did them justice. The movie became the 6th highest grossing romantic comedy of all time, with $167 million lifetime gross. Yes, even before Love Actually. Obviously it is to my understanding that movies are an industry, and they need to make money. All I am proposing is that it might be nice to see some representation, diverse storylines, and experimental filmmaking every so often. It’s clear that it sells.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About the Writer
Emily Richardson, Editorial Board

My name is Emily, and I am a member of the Editorial Board for the Oakton Outlook and I have a passion for writing in all of it's forms. I am also member...

Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




The student news site of Oakton High School
The real trash littering our movie theaters: an analysis of what sells