Layoffs and legacy

6 July, 2023

Warner Bros. Discovery's cable network recently underwent a new wave of layoffs, affecting the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) channel. TCM, a vital medium for the preservation and curation of classic cinema, is set to experience a significant reduction in staff. The oversight responsibilities for the network will now be distributed among various other divisions within Warner Bros. Discovery, according to The Wrap.

The influence of classic movies on modern culture is immense, and they continue to shape many contemporary narratives, genres, and tropes. Accordingly, there remains a high demand for these timeless classics. Parrot Analytics’ demand data allowed us to compile a list of the top ten most sought-after movies released before 1970, which forms a substantial part of TCM’s catalog.

These movies all achieved outstanding demand levels within the first five months of 2023, a distinction that only 2.7% of films on the US market managed to attain. This suggests that despite a market saturated with modern blockbusters and franchises, classic films still command substantial attention from audiences. For streaming platforms, a quality library of pre-existing films contributes to retention.


Stanley Kubrick’s iconic sci-fi film 2001: A Space Odyssey currently ranks first among classic movies and continues to be a cornerstone of the genre. It is followed by two musicals from the mid-20th century, Mary Poppins (1964), and Song of the South (1946). Some of the films derive a portion of their enduring appeal from their legendary stars, such as Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca, and Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz, who still have considerable popularity today.

Other movies, such as Alfred Hitchcock's critically praised Rear Window and Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, often acclaimed as one of the greatest movies ever made, have earned their classic status through the outstanding work of their directors. Completing our top ten are two child-centric films, the animated Dumbo (1941), and the musical The Wizard of Oz (1939).

During the initial year of the pandemic, the demand for classic films surged dramatically, increasing by nearly 60% compared to January 2020. This growth far outpaced that of movies released post-1970. It can be argued that during the pandemic audiences sought comfort viewing movies and this chart shows how many fans turned to familiar classic films at the time for this.

This heightened demand sustained until October 2021, when it reverted back to pre-pandemic levels. Since then, the demand growth for classic movies has been more gradual, an understandable trend given the finite number of films released before 1970 and the gradual return to a more normal release schedule for new films. As of April 2023, the demand for classic films is still robust, with a nearly 30% increase compared to the demand seen in January 2020.


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