It seems likely that in an economic downturn, we’ll buy fewer theater tickets. Instead, we’ll rent more DVDs and continue to watch more online, free as well as pay-to-stream or pay-to-download. We expect that smarter tools for choosing what to watch will be especially important in huge DVD and online catalogues.
But what will we watch? These kinds of things are hard to predict, but here are a few highlights of what Americans enjoyed during hard economic times in the past.
1929: Stock markets crashed worldwide and the U.S. entered the Great Depression.
Top-grossing movie (courtesy of The Numbers): The Broadway Melody
The Broadway Melody had many firsts: MGM’s first musical film, one of the first musicals with a color sequence, and the first sound film to win Best Picture at the Oscars. A backstage show biz love triangle starring two sisters, it’s a light melodrama with plenty of Broadway clichés.
1973: Quadrupling of oil prices by OPEC alongside government spending on the Vietnam War led to stagflation.
Top-grossing movie: The Exorcist
What are those noises in the attic? A young girl is possessed and her desperate mother enlists the help of two priests to exorcise the demon… Very graphic for its time, it was dismissed by Rolling Stone as “nothing more than a religious porn film” – but terrified audiences made it one of the top-grossing horror films of all time.
1987: Black Monday (October 19 1987) was the largest one-day percentage decline in stock market history.
Top-grossing movie: 3 Men and a Baby
Three bachelors find themselves forced to take care of a baby left by one of their girlfriends. With the tagline “They changed her diapers. She changed their lives,” this goofy, feel-good movie was a big hit.
1990: The early 90s recession began as industrial production and manufacturing-trade sales fell off.
Top-grossing movie: Home Alone
An eight year-old is accidentally left behind when his family leaves for Christmas vacation, and has to defend his home against bumbling burglars. A feel-good family classic. Those who remember the early 90s recession also remember Macaulay Culkin back when he was young and cute.
2001: The collapse of the Dot com bubble, along with 9/11 and corporate scandal, led to economic contraction.
Top-grossing movie: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
The first movie about the boy magician, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and the fight against Voldemort and the forces of evil. The books became an international obsession among children and adults alike, and the movies stuck close to the original stories and rode the wave to box office success.
There are some notably similar themes among these hits, based on our Movie Genome.
Young heroes * In danger * Feel good * Goofy heroes * Good vs. evil * Sibling relations * Friendship * Lighthearted * Supernatural ability * Mother and daughter
- Inspired? You can search any or several of these on Jinni.
What’s your favorite in this list? And what types of movies do you predict people will choose in the current financial crisis?