Why do movie fans care about the numbers?

08/05/2018

Normally when I write one of these posts I'll put forward a question then give my own particular take on it. This time things are a little different as I truly can not get my head around the matter at hand.

In the wake of the release of Avengers Infinity War (Part 1), the social media groups I follow have been awash with posts hailing the financial success of the film, particularly with regard to the opening weekend. In addition to this, many of the posts were written with a pro-Marvel, anti-DC slant. I've never really understood why there is any sort of us vs them with respect to Marvel and DC when we are all simply consumers of each and thus best suited with both franchises doing well. If you were a shareholder of each respective company, I would understand it. If they were sports teams I would understand it. But they aren't. The idea of "belonging" to one brand over the other seems ridiculous to me. But I shan't go into that now; that is another conversation for another time.

What really struck me this time was why on Earth do people care about how financially successful a particular movie was on release. There is clearly an element of this aforementioned taking of sides, but as stated I don't know why anyone would feel a need to there anyway. What further confuses me there is that as well as DC, the Star Wars franchise was a target for many of these posts. One post I saw declared "Disney wishes it could come close to that for Solo: A Star Wars Story". Firstly, every studio wishes they could break records for every movie they make - talk about a redundant statement. Secondly, Marvel is owned by Disney. There is literally no competition going on when it comes to the financial success of either film as the money is all ending up in the same place.

There's another reason that this trend bothers me, and that is the lack of correlation between money made and the quality of the film. If we go on the premise that box-office numbers are the be-all and end-all, then The Shawshank Redemption must be an absolutely terrible film, with a meagre $58m worldwide gross. Even after allowing for inflation this is very small numbers. Someone should tell all these people who's ratings on IMDB have given it the number 1 spot, or the compilers of Top # Movies of all Time lists who frequently include it among their top 10! Shawshank is hardly an anomaly either. Every year some of the best films to hit our screens are small independent films, while the likes of Transformers and Fast and Furious franchises trundle on making hundreds of millions of dollars despite themselves.

So what am I missing? What is all the fuss about? I'd be very surprised to find that the internet has been populated by accountants and economics enthusiasts all this time so there must be more to it than that. If you have any suggestions, then please enlighten me.

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