Will 2006 be a Season of "Niche Blockbuster" Movies?
Those observing the film industry made note of the overall decline in box office sales in 2005. This year, despite a rise in business, analysts are noting that this summer's slate of major releases does not appear to be generating much excitement among those in the prime movie-going age bracket (18-30 year olds).
An online survey of young people by the consumer trend forecasting firm Zandl Group concerning the 2006 summer movies found that only three releases (The Da Vinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and X-Men: The Last Stand) generated interest from more than 50% of those surveyed. Additionally, much has been made of the less-than-spectacular numbers earned thus far by the season's first big release, Mission Impossible III, and the anemic first-weekend earnings of Poseidon, the $160 million remake of the classic 1972 disaster movie The Poseidon Adventure.
The long tail effect, combined with greater online offerings, is creating the phenomenon of the "niche blockbuster." Unlike the classic Hollywood blockbuster that "everyone" went to see, niche blockbusters can still earn respectable profits, but will appeal to specific audiences. The 2006 menu of summer movies may well be one that appeals to just such niches.