At this time of the year there usually are a few adult dramas succeeding at the box-office. October, November and December are supposed to be the months where serious-minded fare takes over mainstream cinema, where Oscar contenders get made. However, this year, a concerning trend has evolved, that of the film festival bomb. Most of the well-reviewed movies from this year's fall film festival circuit have landed with a thud at the domestic box-office. I'm thinking of "First Man," "Widows," "Green Book," "Boy Erased," "The Front Runner," "Can You Ever Forgive Me?," "Beautiful Boy," "Suspiria," all underperforming and being overshadowed by"Ralph Breaks the Internet," "Creed II," "Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch," "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald," "Instant Family," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and "A Star Is Born," the latter two of which are the sole adult-dramas that have done very well for themselves.
This is discouraging news. Hollywood adheres to trends and what sells; for example, they see a film like "Bohemian Rhapsody" being successful and automatically attempt to greenlight other rock biopics. These industry bigwigs see what's happened this fall with the 'adult drama' and must surely think twice about greenlighting some more in the future. This is dire stuff. Albeit, the movies I've mentioned, many of which were indeed well-reviewed at film festivals, just weren't all that good and audiences caught on to that, word of mouth is needed to succeed, not just rave reviews.
So, have we finally reached that stage where horror, CG-driven superheroes, and just plain stupid comedies have taken over all four seasons of the movie year at the box-office? It sure looks like it. It used to be that between the months of January to April studios would release the non-starters, the films they had no hope for, then during the summer months of May until August you'd get the blockbusters, the muckrakers if you will, that consisted of CG-driven superheroes, stupid comedies, reboots, and remakes taking over the box-office. Then, of course, from September until December it was smart, adult-oriented stuff vying for Oscar gold.
This willingness from Hollywood to shift gears and go into full-on prestigious, well-reviewed, award-contending movies in October, November and December hasn't happened this year. I ask again, have we finally reached that stage where the fall movie season no longer is about quality moviemaking? Have studios decided that smart audiences seeking artistry in their viewing experiences have now hibernated to the Netflix and Amazon stratosphere? I'm saying this because, as of this writing, "Green Book," a film that was meant to become a huge hit with audiences, and I'm hearing of standing ovations and applause at the end of regular screenings at multiplexes, has underperformed.
Nobody wants to see well-made, adult-friendly movies during the year-end holidays anymore. The willingness to engage with adult, semi-complex, reality-reflecting movies seems to be dwindling. Hell, the best-reviewed movie this fall movie season, Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma," is premiering on Netflix. Doesn't that just about sum it up? It's indicative that streaming is winning the war. Most adult-oriented, prestige films don't really need the big screen, so waiting for it at home is no big deal.
And so, I exit this write-up with the following question, and it needs to be asked: Has real life become so crushing now for a lot of adults that escapism at the movies has much more appeal than any serious, probably depressing, Oscar-bait drama? "Adulting" seems to be getting harder for many. Blame the media, whose constant obsession with Donald Trump's administration, and just overall gloominess, has turned the nation into prozac-addicts.