Filmmakers think they know what we want, but do they really? Do the executives sitting behind big, round tables in the executive offices of the major movie studios really have their finger on the pulse of the public? In fact, it’s questionable if even some of the creative talent, such as big name directors really understand what the people want. (Looking at you, Zack Snyder!) Is the film industry headed in the right direction? Well, we’re offering some free advice to Hollywood today. Cinelinx is listing 5 lessons that the people behind the cameras and desks need to know.
1…Big Blockbusters Are Becoming a Risky Proposition:
Movies are becoming more and more expensive to make. Some can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce. When you consider all the additional costs (like advertising) and the fact that studios don’t get all the money a movie makes at the theater, it’s becoming more and more difficult for a film to make a profit. A movie has to make twice what it spent in order to even break even. Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice made $870 million but is still considered a disappointment. Many blockbusters filmed in recent times had to make at least a Billion dollars in order to be seen as profitable. This makes the blockbuster film a risky proposition. Look at how many blockbusters have failed in recent years. Tomorrowland, In the Heart of the Sea, Fantastic Four, Jem & the Holograms, Ghostbusters, The Legend of Tarzan, Gods of Egypt, Jupiter Ascending, The Man from UNCLE, Pan, Pixels and Seventh Son, among others. So maybe Hollywood needs to focus more on being creative and less on being “Big and impressive”.
It was just a few years ago that filmmaking legends Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made the following prediction… “There's eventually going to be an implosion, or a big meltdown. There's going to be an implosion where three or four or maybe even a half-dozen mega-budget movies are going to go crashing into the ground, and that's going to change the paradigm." Is their prediction coming true?
2…Big Name Stars No Longer Guarantee Big Box Office:
A-List stars have always gotten the big money because their presence almost guaranteed that fans will show up at the theaters. This seems to be less-and-less that case in recent years, since many A-Listers seem to be losing their touch. They only seem to be able to make money when they are playing franchise characters. Their stand-alone, non-franchise films have been unimpressive of late. Look at the non-franchise films of Tom Cruise (Valkyrie, Knight & Day, Jack Reacher, Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow), Johnny Depp (Alice Through the Looking Glass, Mortdecai, Into the Woods and the Lone Ranger), Hugh Jackman (Pan, Eddie the Eagle, Chappie and Prisoners) or Denzel Washington (The Equalizer, Unstoppable, 2 guns, Safe House and Victor Frankenstein.) Robert Downey Jr. hasn’t had a non-Iron Man-related hit in years. None of these A-Listers seems to be a box office guarantee without being in a franchise.
3…Not Every Hit Film Needs a Sequel:
Sometimes it’s OK to leave well enough alone. Not every profitable film needs a sequel. We all know that Hollywood wants to squeeze every cent out of its cinematic properties, but maybe once in a while, Hollywood could allow a good movie to stand on its own. Just think of how many good movies have been saddled with bad sequels. Jaws, Halloween and many other horror series have been linked to awful sequels. Moreover, sequels don’t always make the profit that the studios hope they will make. Look at Star Trek Beyond, for instance. Many of the greatest films of all time did not need a sequel.
4…We Need More Fresh Ideas:
Hollywood is so risk adverse these days, probably due to the exorbitant costs of making a film, that they tend to be overly reliant on popular properties. Sequels and remakes are churned out on an assembly line. Joss Whedon talked about this recently at Comic-Con. He said, Movie studios are pretty relentless about trying to have an ‘In’,” which is why they feel safer making a sequel than an original movie. They know audiences will usually turn out for a sequel to a popular film, but may not turn out for something new. As Whedon said, “Audiences are more likely to turn out for something that they already know or like. The problem is that there isn't really a willingness by a lot of people to go into something that they don't already know.” This is why franchises are the go-to trend for Hollywood.
5…Film Adaptations Should Be Accurate to the Source Material:
If you have the benefit of a name brand for your film, don’t screw it up by ignoring the spirit of what made the story popular in the first place. Old School Star Trek fans have rejected the JJ Abrams Trek films for not being real Star Trek. Old time comic book fans didn’t like Man of Steel or Dawn of Justice because the depressed Superman we got in those films was not the Superman we’ve come to love over the years. (Neither was Lex Luthor.) Let’s not even talk about what they did to The Fantastic Four and Dr. Doom. In Victor Frankenstein, it was a bad beginning when the director, Paul McGuigan, said he hated the original book and was going to change evrything. Here’s a tip Hollywood…If you’re going to make a movie about established characters, don’t eliminate what made them popular in the first place.
Let’s hope that Hollywood learns these lessons and has a more creative year in 2017 and beyond.