The fate of cinema rests in the hands of Barbie. We might not like it, but this is where we now are. The chickens are coming home to roost. Movies are too expensive. Even reliable mega-franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones are performing below expectations. Streaming has taken a bite out of cinema audience numbers while streaming itself struggles with some fundamental flaws in its general business model. When you hose away all the hype and take a long, hard, dispassionate look at the numbers, even Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One faces a potential battle to turn a good profit, while its domestic opening is actually below the latest Indiana Jones entry.
Confirmation bias is one hell of a drug, but these are the facts. Hard, hard times in Hollywood.
This coming Friday comes Barbenheimer, the ultimate counter-programming release of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie against Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer. So why does Barbie now stand as a harbinger of the very future of cinema itself? The analysts are aligning around this, and it is because of Barbiecore.
Barbiecore is what the current marketing build-up has been dubbed, and this is because it is becoming all-consuming. Burger King’s pink burger, Ruggables limited edition Barbie rug, a pink pair of branded Crocs, an Airbnb tie-in. It may not be on your average Outposters radar, as it isn’t aimed at us, but rest assured that this is as big as the 1989s Summer Of The Bat from a merchandising point of view, and there is more at stake. Even Progressive Insurance and Lipton Tea are in on the act.
Should Barbie, on the back of this huge effort, fail to hit its early projections mark of over $110 million from 4200+ theaters in North America alone, then it will serve as the ultimate barometer of how deep the trouble is that cinema currently finds itself in.
Yahoo Finance is already talking about this, with University of Michigan Professor Marcus Collins saying over-saturation can cause an issue:
“People get so enamored, so excited about the marketing for the movie that they never show up at the theater.”
Bloomberg Opinions and The Washington Post are similarly pointing to Barbie, with this marketing behemoth behind it, as simply make or break for the cinema. Brace for impact!
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