Are Young People Killing the Movie Industry?

Are Young People Killing the Movie Industry?

Teenagers used to be considered the life-blood of the movie industry, but judging by the terrible box office returns on Memorial Day weekend, they don’t seem to care that much anymore. They do care about impassioned, four-hour long YouTube videos, cringe-y crush tales, and how to get very, extremely high, though.

The movie business’ very bad weekend

This Memorial Day weekend was a box office disaster for the movie industry, the worst in nearly 30 years (adjusted for COVID). Neither of the tentpole weekend releases (Fury Road prequel Furiosa and Garfield) returned more than $US30 million, largely because younger people just don’t care about movies like they used to.

There are any number of theories for the epically bad weekend—tickets are too expensive; we’re seeing the result of the actors’ strike; this is part of “sequel fatigue;” neither Garfield nor Furiosa are very good—but here’s my opinion: This is part of a generational shift away from movies altogether that’s partly due to the industry, and partly due to larger cultural forces.

As of 2019, the 18-24 demographic still made up the largest share of moviegoers, and Hollywood really missed that mark this weekend. Furiosa features a teenage hero and bankable star Chris Hemsworth, which should appeal to younger people, but it’s also based on a series that started back in the 1970s. Another key demographic that Hollywood seemed to have missed this weekend: little kids who badger their parents into taking them to movies. Garfield, based on an ancient comic strip, doesn’t seem to have caught their imagination.

In a broader sense, no matter what you put on screen, I don’t think most younger people get the cultural reinforcement vibe out of movies that they used to. Instead, it comes from their peers online, a much faster and more relatable form of feedback. In the U.S., moviegoing is down across the board, and the convenience and low cost of watching movies at home seems to be no match for hassle and expense of the local multiplex.

What does “egg blinker” mean?

The term “egg blinker” is trending this week among the druggier corners of TikTok. It refers to a method for smoking weed out of vape pen (aka “dabbing”). “Blinker” is slang for inhaling on a vape pen long enough that it starts to blink, indicating a stronger than expected pull. “Egg blinker,” a term coined by TikToker 448smokes in this video, is hitting the pen for five seconds, then taking a quick break, then inhaling for four seconds, quick break, another four seconds, quick break, four seconds more, quick break, four seconds more, then hold everything in for eight seconds. This is a lot to remember for someone who is stoned, but it supposedly produces the feeling of an egg in one’s throat, and, presumably, gets one very, very high. I know there is no lethal dose of marijuana, but if I were to try this, I would definitely die, or at least have to watch the video below a few times.

TikTok’s #lostmymind trend: What did you do for your crush?

Remember actually caring about another person enough to have a crush on them? Me neither! But TikTok’s young romantics are sharing the cringe-worthy, embarrassing things they’ve done to impress their crushes in a series of videos that might melt your icicle heart. Examples include putting a love spell on ’em, having your dad take paparazzi-style photos of you, trying to slam-dunk at beer pong, pretending to like anime, or Bruno Mars. I admire the courage it takes to post these videos, because they really are embarrassing, but they’re heartwarming, too. If you want to enjoy, just check out the videos that use this sound clip.

Google’s AI delights internet with misinformation, than disappears

Google rolled out AI-assisted search this month, with the search engine often returning results culled from its Gemini AI instead of just the links people expected. To call it unsuccessful is an understatement. Users quickly noticed that Google’s AI was giving some severely unhinged answers. It told users to glue the cheese onto pizza, suggested eating rocks every day, claimed that dogs play professional sports, and that a cure for depression is “jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.” Google’s response has reportedly been to manually take down answers to these specific questions, and they seem to be cutting back on how often AI results appear on searches. (I say they “seem” to be cutting back because if you search “Did Google turn off its AI search results?” you will not return the answer to that question.)

Viral video of the week: The Spectacular Failure of the Star Wars Hotel

This week’s viral video highlights the power that fans can have over huge corporations. YouTuber Jenny Nicholson recently posted a video describing her experience at Disney’s Star Wars hotel, the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, in great detail. Over the course of more than four hours, Nicholson describes and shows footage of every facet of the experience and concludes that it was pretty bad, and that the price tag of around $US6,000 for a weekend was way too high. (This tracks with Lifehacker’s review.)

Even if it was free and worked perfectly, staying at the Star Wars hotel sounds like a nightmare to me, but Jenny is coming at it from the opposite point-of-view: she’s a 100% fangirl. She paid for this as a vacation, and she desperately wanted what Disney promised—a fully immersive Star Wars weekend—but was thwarted seemingly at every turn. She’s exactly the kind of person who should come away from this experience delighted, but instead of a galaxy-spanning LARP, according to Nicholson, guests are nickled-and-dimed for “add-ons” at every turn, and little about it actually works.

Her disappointment is genuine and her logic flawless. As a result, the video has been viewed millions of times and was picked up by CNN, NPR, and other news sources. The Star Wars hotel is already closed, but you’d hope Disney and other owners of beloved intellectual property will spare a few hours to consider what happens when you do a bad job of stewarding the creative output that fans love.


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