Top 10 Ideas to Save the Hollywood Blockbuster
This was a Summer of ups and downs from the studios. Major tentpoles disappointed, unexpected twists angered fans, and smaller films came out of nowhere to strike big at the box office. With high expectations coming for the next couple of years, Hollywood has a chance to turn things around and here are ten easy ideas to make that happen. All are feasible and can be put in place now, it will just take some balls from the execs behind the films to make it happen. If you have some ideas of your own, add them to the Talk backs below.
While we will never see actors like Tom Cruise, Will Smith, Johnny Depp, or Adam Sandler disappear from studio films, there is much to high of a reliance on casting their recognizable faces and therefore skimping on the rest of what the movie needs (i.e. directors, other actors, decent screenplays). In sports, one good player can carry an entire team through a game, but not necessarily a season. In the movies, having one superstar actor at the front while letting everything else fall by the wayside just doesn't work. Bring in some fresh blood and actors on the rise to produce better quality movies.
The studios have become too reliant on making movies one thing or another that they rarely allow films to be more than one genre. When they do, we get movies like R.I.P.D. which just puts a spin on the tried and true MEN IN BLACK formula. Or we keep getting found footage copies of PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Have some balls and make some multi-genre films. GAME OF THRONES works as a fantasy drama because it didn't try to be an action-packed LORD OF THE RINGS clone. Make fantasy comedies, serious horror dramas, and science fiction musicals. Try to cross ideas without getting too ridiculous, like THE CABIN IN THE WOODS.
February is a notorious dumping ground for movies. January and September sometimes fall into that funk as well. This leaves most movie fans clamoring to see movies during the Summer season or the Fall awards season. Sure, this builds anticipation for the movies we all want to see, but wouldn't it be better to have a year round supply of movies worth watching? I know that in the dead of winter when I don't want to leave the house because of the snow, if there was a tent-pole movie released that I wanted to really watch, I would venture through the elements to see it. I know I am not alone with thinking we deserve better than A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD on Valentine's Day.
3D is already becoming commonplace and Dolby's Atmos sound system not widespread enough, audiences are looking for the next new thing to get their butts in theaters. With how easy it is to get movies at home or online, why should anyone pay to go to the theater? Core audiences will always appreciate the movie-going experience, but how do you enhance that? It is hard to find something that is not intrusive to audiences, but if anything is to be learned from Brad Pitt's recent tour around the world to promote WORLD WAR Z, it is that fans want to meet the people on the screen. That is what draws fans to sporting events and concerts, maybe movies should follow suit.
Fans want to see movies that set themselves apart from the crowd, not carbon copies of what has already been tried. The number of clones of films like THE HUNGER GAMES, HARRY POTTER, TRANSFORMERS, and even SAW waters down the quality of movies out there. There is a reason there has not been a vampire movie as successful as TWILIGHT or why PERCY JACKSON has failed to become the next HARRY POTTER. Audiences do flock to movies that don't feel like something already made and rarely fall for that trick a second time. Sorry, MORTAL INSTRUMENTS.
Why did MONSTERS UNIVERSITY beat WORLD WAR Z during their opening weekend? The same reason THE BUTLER beat THE WORLD'S END: they serve as counter-programming to one another. While studios like to play it safe and release their big pictures away from serious competition, having polar opposite genres and audiences released the same weekend would promote movie-watching rather than limiting it. Hell, I would do a double feature of MONSTERS UNIVERSITY and WORLD WAR Z just to have a variety of entertainment. Nobody likes just plain vanilla, audiences want 31 flavors.
Much like the dumping ground that is February, studios seem to dump their lesser Summer fare in August. I know kids are going back to school and have less time to spend at the movies, but August is the perfect place to put your movies you want to get maximum exposure. It wasn't long ago that May wasn't part of the Summer movie insanity and now it kicks it off. Why does the Summer finish with a whimper and not a bang? Just wait until GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY opens on August 1st and watch my prediction come through. You are welcome, Hollywood.
More than half of the films released this Summer were sequels. We had third, fourth, and even sixth chapters in franchises that made viewers take a step back and wonder about the originality of what they were watching. Even some original films ended with wide open stories that could lead to sequels. Some sequels (ahem, GROWN UPS 2, THE SMURFS 2) remain mysteries as to why they even exist. What it comes down to is Hollywood is too willing to either reboot or make a sequel instead of taking the chance on something original like PACIFIC RIM. Even that film didn't do nearly as well as anticipated. Bottom line is this: give us more new ideas and less second chapters.
Very few R-rated movies seem to hit theaters in the Summer with studios catering to younger viewers with disposable money in their pockets. What this means is we are getting either watered down films that should be restricted or less challenging fare even making it to theaters. It would be nice for once to not have to worry about whether or not a movie was adjusted to hit mass audiences only to get a useless unrated version on Blu-ray. There are a ton of adults in this world that want to see movies that do things that don't work in a PG-13 realm. Stop making judgement calls before the movie is made and give us what was artistically intended. Realize that we got a PG-13 zombie movie in WORLD WAR Z. Zombies should be the realm of R-rated films.
Between THE LONE RANGER, WORLD WAR Z, and the upcoming 47 RONIN, all we keep hearing about are huge films going massively over budget. Where does the money go? All of this is not being reflected on screen as smaller films like THE PURGE are making huge profits because they aren't inflated by egos and expensive CGI. Get back to making fewer movies of higher quality and the results will show in audience attendance. I would rather see 20 really good movies in a year than 52 mediocre ones. While this is the least likely to actually happen, I still hold out hope Hollywood will realize that what makes movies great is not how much you spend but how well you craft it.