Due in part to the American economic recession of 1991, the early 1990s saw a considerable dip in box-office revenues. But by 1993 ticket sales picked up again and continued to increase. Throughout the balance of the decade ticket sales were up - mostly at multi-screen cineplex complexes (which multiplied from almost 23,000 in 1990 to 35,600 in the year 2000) throughout the country. The decade saw the average ticket price for a movie climb from about $4.25 at the start of the decade to around $5 by its close.
During the 1990s it was believed that expensive, high-budget films with expensive special effects equated with quality. With this increased pressures were exerted on studio execs to deliver big hits while making ends meet during the decade. However prevailing costs did not make this easy. Higher costs for everything from film/celebrity star salaries, agency fees, spiraling production costs, promotional campaigns, expensive price tags for new high-tech and digital special-effects and CGI (computer generated images), costly market research and testing, threats of actor and writer strikes, and big-budget marketing contributed to the inflated, excessive spending for inferior products in the Hollywood film industry. As these costs increased, true character development, interesting characters, credible plots, and intelligent story-telling often suffered in the process.
Although the average film budget was almost $53 million at the beginning of the decade, by 1998 many films cost over $100 million to produce, and some of the most expensive blockbusters even more. Despite costs, these weren’t always box offices smashes. To gauge the success of a release there existed an imbalanced emphasis on the opening weekend, with incessant reports of weekly box-office returns, and puffed-up reviews and critics' ratings. If a release did not return its budget within the first week, it was normally deemed a wash if not a complete flop.
The 1990s gave rise to the indie film movement. During this decade the indie-distributed film movement was proving that it could compete, both commercially as well as critically with Hollywood's costly output. It eschewed much of the problems experienced by the biggest studios, and instead produced films with artistic, edgy, or 'serious' social issues or themes, without big dollar Hollywood stars and the Hollywood size headaches which normally accompanied.
The Michigan Film Office, established in 1979 to assist and attract incoming production companies was successful in promoting the state as an alternative to southern California’s sunny climes and Hollywood headaches during the '90s. It lured independent producers to the state. Providing services, such as location photographs and assistance including help with location procurement and clearance; liaison with local/county/state government; contacts with business, institutions, neighborhoods, and other groups; and production information, it landed several dozen projects which were filmed (at least in part) in Michigan. Michigan was becoming seen as an attractive alternative to the golden California area for the film industry.
Another emerging trend of the late 80s and 90s was that many of the films that were produced , to assuage the tremendous appetite for new products demanded by cable stations, video rental stores, the local megaplexes, digital satellite services, foreign markets, and the Internet, the window of time between a film's theatrical opening and availability for cable TV or home viewing shrunk with (some estimates say 40%) going directly to video (laserdisc or DVD) or cable with no cinematic theatrical release at all. So, many of these movies made in the 1990s, were without theatrical release.
Here are the movies which were produced principally here in Michigan during the 1990s. (For other films possibly missed by this list, refer to the Michigan Film Office list.)