The Internet sensation Kid President says, “If you can’t say something nice, you aren’t trying hard enough!” That could easily apply to some of the critics during the recent theater release of the movie The Identical. The music alone in this movie was worth the price of a ticket. And even if the movie wasn’t your cup of tea, at least you didn’t leave the theater with the overwhelming urge to go home and shower.
It’s a sad thing that so many of today’s big-screen films leave audiences feeling dirty and disappointed. This has led some would-be moviegoers to just turn away, because they want to be entertained — minus the ever-increasing shock value of explicit sex or gratuitous and graphic violence. They no longer trust the industry to deliver this, outside of the arena of children’s films. Their numbers go way beyond just parents, families, or “Christians.” They include men and women, young and old, and span every background and color. They represent a deep, untapped vein in today’s film market. This year’s string of inspirational movies, like When The Game Stands Tall and Mom’s Night Out, may be sending a signal to them that it’s safe to go back into the theaters.
What does any of this have to do with TV? What’s happening on the big screen is reflective of what’s been happening on the small screen for a very long time. Viewers have turned away from both network and pay TV for lots of reasons, and one of the biggest is content. Ratings consistently show that clean, high-quality programs do well with viewers and produce even better results for advertisers. In fact, shows like Shark Tank and The Biggest Loser have done more to return the public to the public airwaves than any TV-14 or TV-MA show the networks have ever aired. Networks don’t tell advertisers this, but the smart brands are figuring it out on their own. The small screen’s cash cow has been sports, which is typically appropriate for all audiences, and is the only reason networks have been able to hold on to viewers and their programming power for this long. How much longer remains to be seen. These tremors in the entertainment industry could well prove to be a sign of the awakening of a sleeping giant.