Chris Anderson has written another in his excellent series of Long Tail essays, this one on The Death of the Blockbuster, Part IV. Anderson’s thesis (backed up with some fascinating stats) is that Hollywood superhits are making up less and less of the overall revenue from movies in the States:
Bottom line: even in Hollywood, the home of the blockbuster, hits are losing their power. It’s not nearly as dire as in music, but it’s trending in the same direction. Does this mean the end of movies? Not at all–there have never been more films made, just as there has never been more music available than today, despite the fact that the bestsellers sell less.
It’s not that people aren’t watching films and listening to music, it’s that they’re watching different films and different music–we’re just not following the herd to the same hits the way we used to. I’d guess that most of the decline in box office is due to the rise of the DVD, not a loss of interest in movies. Likewise for music, where the ubiquitous white earbuds suggest that music has never been a bigger part of our culture, despite the fact that CD sales are back to mid-90s levels.