Hollywood is suffering its worst summer at the box office in over 25 years, based on ticket sales for new releases. As Labor Day is set to wrap-up the all-important summer movie season, Tinsel Town is scrambling to explain why sales are sagging and their profits are cratering. The total number of tickets sold in the United State and Canada this summer is projected to be the lowest level since 1992, in spite of significant population growth in both countries since the early 1990s. According to the Los Angeles Times, “No one can fully explain why. Studio executives, movie theater operators, and analysts cited the usual reasons for the summer slump.” To me this is not a mystery, Hollywood has lost its ability to tell captivating stories to the American public because it has lost the trust of the American people.
Hollywood has always been a liberal bastion, even back in the days of movie actor Ronald Reagan, but it used to be able to balance its liberalism with reaching its audience. Those days are over. Gone are the days that liberal movie makers made incredible epics like Gladiator, The Patriot, and Saving Private Ryan. In spite of Hollywood’s liberal leanings directors, producers, and executives used to realize that people don’t pay good money to be lectured and patronized over their American Patriotism. Now, we get remakes of American classics that, instead of inspiring the country, try and deconstruct its identity. Take, for example, the remake several years back of The Lone Ranger. As kids, every little boy used to wanted to ride into the sunset like the Long Ranger and Tonto, but not if they watched this remake. It was an anti-Christian, anti-American hit piece that had the U.S. Army mowing-down innocent civilians over railroad rights while “The Star Spangled Banner” played in the background.
As predicted, The Lone Ranger ticket sales cratered, as Americans decided not to spend $15 per person to have their values trashed on the big screen. More recently, Hollywood decided that it would try and get-in on the values movies bonanza with a remake of the Charlton Heston classic Ben Hur. There are few non-biblical narratives as overtly Christian as Ben Hur; it is the story of two boys living in Jerusalem during the time of Christ and the Roman occupation, who reunite through the love of Christ. The story is an epic narrative replete with action, adventure, and family drama that appeals to a broad cross-section of the American public. It was a sure winner, until Hollywood botched the pitch. Even after electing to make the movie, they were reluctant to pitch an overtly Christian film as Christian for fear that they would be branded as intolerant bigots.
Hollywood’s troubles are not caused by a lack of American interest in movies; they are caused by Hollywood’s snobby disposition to “Fly-Over Country.” If Hollywood wants to rebound, it better burnish its image with Americans it has long loathed. Instead of trashing police, painting the military as the marauding bands of Genghis Khan, and Christianity as colonial oppression, maybe Hollywood should make more movies about the heroism of our military, police, and first responders. More movies that inspire families of faith and traditional values. More epic tales like Braveheart, Gladiator, and We Were Soldiers. If Hollywood execs would spend a little less time in Los Angeles and a little more time in Lexington, a few less vacations in Napa Valley and a few more in Nashville, they may actually get to know the very people they are trying to talk into buying their movie tickets. If they continue on their current trajectory, however, Netflicks and Hulu will bury Hollywood, and they will only have themselves to blame.