Things have arguably never been more uncertain for Hollywood than they are right now, for though many hoped that 2023 would be the truly first "post-pandemic" year for the industry, the numbers mostly say otherwise.
At the time of writing and as per Box Office Mojo, almost half of the 20 highest-grossing movies of the year have either underperformed or outright flopped at the box office, suggesting that something is seriously wrong with the current big-budget filmmaking system. Such box office disappointments include Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Fast X, and Disney's Haunted Mansion, all of which have struggled to recoup their filmmaking budgets, the former two of which ran into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
There is no single reason that so many huge movies have been flopping as of late, but rather a number which, when combined, explains why studios have suffered so many recent financial calamities.
It paints a concerning picture for the future of blockbuster entertainment, and with ongoing strike action likely to affect 2024's planned slate of films, expecting a return to the glory days of 2019 - where nine movies made over a billion dollars - seems like a pipe dream.
There are of course positives to draw from - the success of "Barbenheimer" being one of them - but here are the pressing issues that Hollywood desperately needs to confront if it wants to stop setting money on fire...
10. Grossly Overinflated Budgets
It simply can't be ignored that so many of the huge movies flopping or underperforming in recent times have had mammoth budgets, with the likes of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny and Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part One nearing $300 million a piece, while Fast X cost an eye-watering $340 million, making it the eighth most expensive movie of all time.
Generally speaking, a blockbuster needs to gross 2.5x its production budget to be deemed a commercial success, and so by the time movies cost $300 million, they're looking at a break-even point of $750 million.
That would've been a tall order even back in 2019, where nine movies grossed over $1 billion, but in the very different theatrical environment of 2023? It's a ludicrous expectation.
While it's impossible to ignore the fact that pandemic-related safety protocols have caused budgets on major productions to balloon over the last few years, that's only part of the equation.
Entries into long-running franchises like Fast X end up spending a huge amount of money on their casts, who typically expect to be paid more on each subsequent movie, and that's without getting into the tremendous costs of VFX-driven set-pieces, especially if studios pay rush fees to have them completed within a faster timeframe.
While it's tricky to point to any single solution to the problem, it's clear that blockbuster budgets as they stand now simply aren't sustainable for the vast majority of movies.
Had many of 2023's films cost $50-100 million less, it goes without saying that their financial exposure would've been hugely lowered, and they might've actually stood a chance of turning a profit.