Seven Predictions for the World of Entertainment in 2024
Some wild guesses as to what is to come.
It was a wild year in show business. A dual strike happened at the same time that studio heads got paid millions of dollars to do a terrible job at keeping their own industry running. It really felt like no one was at the wheel and that this whole clown car was going to drive itself off a cliff.
On a personal level, I don't feel particularly sanguine about about the state of the show business. Far from showing that it can adapt to changing times, Hollywood seems to be in a state of deep dysfunction. I’m at the point now where every time I go to a movie theater and watch an interesting film like Killers of the Flower Moon, I give thanks that such a thing is still possible as I fear the days of seeing adult-oriented non-IP-driven films in a movie theater might be increasingly rare.
All that said, I appreciate this thing thatdoes in his newsletter where he makes a bunch of predictions about the next year in tech. I decided I’d take a stab at doing the same thing, but for the entertainment industry.
Do I have any proven track record in being able to accurately predict anything about any topic? Absolutely not. Nothing you read here today should taken seriously by anybody. But it sure is fun to think and write about, despite how negative the outlook is. Plus, as a bonus, next year I can come back to this list and talk about how accurately I called everything that happened (or never speak of this list again — whichever approach is better for my brand)!
Without further ado, here are seven predictions I have for what’s going to happen in Hollywood in the next 12 months, in no particular order…
Superhero films continue their decline - This year felt like an inflection point for superhero films in general. Shazam! Fury of the Gods was DOA, The Flash was a box office flop, and The Marvels was the worst performing MCU film ever. That said, audiences showed up for movies that they thought were special, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (an emotional send-off for beloved characters by James Gunn) and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (a spectacular-looking film with a lot of creativity and heart).
There will continue to be big superhero films — Aquaman 2 is right around the corner and Deadpool 3 next year will likely be a hit. But their number will start to dwindle rapidly, the overall box office numbers they generate will decline, and the way in which they’ve dominated our culture is likely over.
What will replace it? Beats me. We live in a world where every studio has spent the past decade trying to build an interconnected universe of superheroes because the financial incentives for success are so massive that anyone who even came close to Marvel-level was going to get rich. But what happens when even Marvel can’t mint cash off its marquee heroes anymore? How does the entertainment world sustain itself? The only thing that’s had a great track record recently is Taylor Swift and horror films. Beyond that, it’s anyone’s guess.
An AI-generated character or work of art takes off in a huge way and becomes a household name - The rapid advancement of AI has already started to shape our culture in unpredictable ways. We’ve seen AI-powered celebrities, AI influencers out in the wild and AI-generated opening credits on TV shows. At the rate things are advancing and with the sheer quantity of AI-related tools out there, I think next year is the year when a specific AI piece of art or an AI-generated character really breaks out to the point where everyone you know will be talking about it in a culturally significant way.
One more major studio will merge or be acquired - From Disney buying Fox to Amazon buying MGM, Hollywood has seen a wave of acquisitions as companies have decided they need to bulk up their content libraries in order to remain competitive. People’s time in general has become more precious and scarce, as the industry faces so many new competitors (e.g. TikTok, video games, etc.). My guess is there are still one or two shoes left to drop and Paramount is probably going to be one of them. But who knows? Maybe Warners doesn’t survive either. Anything is possible but what’s likely is that we’ll continue to face fewer and fewer choices when it comes to the entertainment we consume out of Hollywood.
[Bonus prediction: I also think 2024 is the year where Netflix further entrenches itself as the dominant streaming service and that one other major streaming service will get shut down or merged. Netflix just released more stats on its viewership, demonstrating that its top shows have been viewed roughly one zillion times (a technical industry term). Peacock is on track to lose over a billion dollars in 2023. Apple TV+ just raised its prices. Disney just had one of its worst box office years ever, and Disney+’s strategy is in shambles. Everyone its struggling to make the model work and I just don’t know how long some of these companies will keep throwing money at the problem.]
The podcasting industry gets back to basics - This past year was a bit of a bloodbath for podcasting. NPR, Amazon Music, Pushkin Industries, and more all suffered awful layoffs. And above all of them, Spotify cut thousands of jobs, hundreds of them in podcasting (this article at Slate provides a good overview). Huge popular shows like “Heavyweight” and “Death Sex and Money” are parting ways with their studios. Despite creating shows that have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of listeners, large companies and organizations showed that they don’t know how to make the podcasting business model work.
Meanwhile, “middle-class” podcasts seem to be doing just fine. All you have to do is look at Graphtreon’s list of the top Patreon pages to see that there are plenty of shows making decent money making a weekly podcast. In 2024, we’re going to see way fewer nine-figure high-profile deals with celebrities like Harry and Meghan and instead witness the continued rise of homegrown, personality-driven podcasts like Defector’s Normal Gossip.
The landgrab era of podcasts is over. What’s emerging is a maturing industry that still generates lots of money — certainly enough for regular “middle class” podcasters to subsist on. It’s just not as much as CEOs and venture capitalists are used to.
Movie theaters face existential questions - I don’t know if you’ve seen the 2024 movie release schedule but the cupboard is pretty bare. Yes, there will be some big films (Dune II will own March 2024), but next summer’s slate in particular is looking like it’s going too struggle to give a financial boost to movie theaters still reeling from COVID and a bunch of strike-related film delays. For example, Disney has virtually nothing releasing in the first half of the year.
Both AMC and Regal — the two largest cinema chains in the US — have struggled financially this year, with AMC barely avoiding bankruptcy and Regal’s parent company only recently emerging from it. Without a healthy flow of movies into your local multiplex, theaters will continue to struggle and I worry that there’s not room in our economy for multiple solvent movie theater chains.
X.com does not belong to Elon Musk by the end of 2024 - Sure, he’s destroyed more than 15 years of brand equity by killing the name “Twitter,” has brought conspiracy theorists back onto the platform en masse, and reduced the company’s annual revenue by about half. But I don’t think Musk is done quite yet. Between incoming fines from governments around the world, a massive debt load to service, and the continued cultural decline of the platform, I see more people, brands, and news orgs jumping ship until this thing becomes really difficult for Musk to continue justify sinking money into.
By the end of 2024, every major TV/film studio and media outlet will either have stopped posting on X or will have made other platforms into their primary marketing channels. X.com will be sold to some private equity company (or worse) and Meta’s Threads will take its place at the center of our cultural conversation (PS you can follow me there).
TikTok reaches a tipping point (but not the good kind) - I don’t know if you’ve heard but TikTok has a way for creators to monetize called TikTok Shop which lets creators set up a storefront in the app. TikTok Shop currently generates around $3 to $4 million per day and TikTok has aggressively pushed it — in my opinion, to the detriment of the app experience. It’s not as fun a place to be when every other video you swipe to is trying to sell you something.
Couple this with the fact that interest in the app seems to be plateauing, and I think 2024 may be the year where TikTok finally peaks across all metrics, including users, revenue, and cultural cache. In the fallout of this, creators and viewers alike will flock to incumbent platforms like Instagram and YouTube, further entrenching their dominance (Note: of all my predictions, this is the one I feel worst about and is most likely to be proven spectacularly wrong!)
Those are a few of my thoughts on what’s going to happen in 2024. What do you think of my predictions and what do you think 2024 will look like?
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