Thursday, August 1, 2013

The End Of Blockbusters?

Barnes and Noble. Every time I visit a Barnes and Noble or search the Kindle library on my iPad, I come across thousands upon thousands of quality books that would make great movies. This same thought enters my mind when I see yet another unimaginative Hollywood blockbuster full of obnoxious CGI or based on a comic book. Mind you I am a comic book fan. But how many times do I have to see super beings knock down computer generated buildings? How many billowing explosions do I have to watch before my bathroom break? How much CGI can I absorb while shoveling handfuls of popcorn and raisinets in my mouth? And lastly, just how many times can a franchise be rebooted in one decade?
This question must have also popped into other people's minds, as multiple Hollywood blockbusters have taken a dive this summer. Slate Magazine refers to this summer as the "season of the uber-flop." The biggest flop being 'The Lone Ranger,' which has only grossed $85 million of its $215 million budget. The runner up is the Ryan Reynold's disaster-fest, 'RIP'D,' which grossed $24 million of its $130 million budget. 'RIP'D' is in good company (or bad company) and is joined by 'White House Down' and 'Pacific Rim,' which unlike 'RIP'D' were both critically successful.

The big surprise this summer has been the low-budget horror film 'The Conjuring,' which cost $20 million to make, but grossed $84 million. This seemed to take 'the powers that be' by surprise. Is Hollywood so unimaginative that their only definition of success are superhero franchises and CGI-laden blockbusters?

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Speaking of comic book movies, our latest offender is 'The Wolverine.' Not to be confused with 'X-Men Origins: Wolverine' or the three 'X-Men' movies before that, for a total of five X-Men films, which doesn't include Wolverine's cameo in 'X-Men: First Class.' Which brings the total to far. How many times should moviegoers pay to see Wolverine put his adamantium cat claws on? I think we've seen enough. Thank you.
'Iron Man 3' was first this year. Then came the somewhat disappointing Superman film, 'Man of Steel.' 'Thor 2' will grace the screen in November. Next year we will get yet another X-Men film, another Spiderman, another Captain America, a Silver Surfer spin-off, and a Justice League film. *Sigh*


  1. I still have hopes for the second Thor film and as a DC fan, I am dying for a Justice League film.
    You're right that there are so many great books that would make great movies. Some don't even need a huge special effects budget.
    And I do plan to see The Conjuring this weekend.

  2. You raise some very valid points, but a part if me realises why H'wood doesn't really want to adapt 'great' books and will stick to rebooting brands. Brands are safe while book adaptations are not. Audiences of today are not coaxed by strong narratives or movie stars: they want brands and high concepts. In some ways the movie stars of the '90s priced themselves out of a job by charging tens of millions and demanding back end fees. That model was unsustainable, but the exorbitant costs of tentpole moviemaking is also unsustainable.

    The great novels have been a liability for H'wood. THE LOVELY BONES, THE ROAD, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, etc were hugely successful books that flopped in cinema form. Even DRAGON TATTOO and LIFFE OF PI was predominantly salvaged by international box-office revenue than domestic (they both cost a lot to make).

    Roughly, only about 10% of a studio's output is monetarily successful, however, that margin is enough to offset its losses. This model is working right now but it will cockle within a decade or two. Film has become too damn expensive.

  3. It always amazes me just how much a movie costs to make these days. $20 million is low budget!
    I didn't like Thor-couldn't see the allure of him...Ironman2 I didn't like- it was ok-but nothing special. I agree that some new stories would be refreshing but until movies stop being made by a committee of bankers (or have I mispronounced that???) I think we will have these lazy ideas-The Lone Ranger-yawn...

  4. The season is still here, so I'm hoping it'll pick up. I think next year they'll spend less on movies though.

  5. Great points all around.

    Alex-- I don't know if I can see 'The Conjuring.' It looks soooo scary.

    Movies on my mind- You have some great points. It's completely unsustainable. Eventually this system will give way. It's true that book/films can flop, but I think the majority do "ok," perhaps not great, but fall somewhere in the middle. I suppose it depends on the quality of the film making. A good portion of movies are based on some form of book, play, or short story of some sort. Perhaps the big bestsellers are in most danger of flopping. Everyone knows the book is always better than the movie.

    Paul-- You're right. Hollywood is lazy. And bankers hold the reigns. We need some more independent filmmakers, b/c $20 million is a lot of money for a movie.

    Maurice-- So true. 'Tis the season. I agree w/ you. I think next year will be different.

  6. I saw Pacific Rim and it was a good action movie but I'm pretty tired of super hero movies at this point.

  7. I want to be excited by the upcoming Deadpool movie, no other superhero would dare bitchslap Wolverine and get away with it.

    That being said, I wouldn't be surprised if Hollywood dropped the ball.

  8. I'm not too excited to see this Wolverine movie either!

  9. These are great points! I never got the sequels.

  10. Libby-- I heard 'Pacific Rim' was fantastic. I would like to see that one.

    DWei-- My husband loves Deadpool so he's hoping they don't mess this one up too! I'm kind of tired of Wolverine. I think Wolverine is experiencing franchise fatigue.

    Lydia-- Yes, I think Wolverine is experiencing franchise fatigue.

    Gina-- Thanks. Me neither!

  11. I'm so ready for something original. I've read so many books and short stories that would make great movies (in my mind, anyway). It's too bad that today's movie makers seem to be more interested in making something that can be adapted into action figures and happy meal give-a-ways, in an effort to suck every last penny they can out of our pockets. Of course selecting actors who merely play themselves no matter what movie they are in, is part of it. Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith...Blech!

  12. The blockbusters I want to go see the rest of 2013 are: The Hobbit part 2, Ender's Game(because I read the book), and Gravity(not sure if it is a blockbuster)

    I'm a bit sceptical about Snowpiercer (2013)-waiting on the reviews

  13. Pat-- I couldn't agree more. You couldn't be more right about Tom Cruise, Keanu and Smith. They play the same character--in every movie!

    Chris-- We have the same taste. I need to know more about Snowpiercer.


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