Why Aren’t Major Releases Doing Well?

Last summer the movie industry was not making the money that it estimated it would domestically, this is largely due to the fact that the majority of the movies it released were either sequels or reboots (in other words, bad). Now we’re seeing the same thing happen all over again this summer, along with the poor reception and lack of tickets sold. Things are particularly bad for movie theaters themselves, simply because they’re becoming more and more irrelevant as services like Netfilx and Hulu become the primary way people watch movies. It’s become so bad that in some movies they have pre-recorded messages from the actors thanking you for showing up. This happened to me last summer in Star Trek Beyond, I got Simon Peg thanking me for sitting there (you’re welcome?).

It’s really not that hard to see why Hollywood’s not in a great place, nobody wanted Pirates 5, Trans5ers, The Mummy, or Baywatch. Some think that negative reviews from critics are to blame, but there’s more to it than that. Hollywood’s been banking on the sequel/reboot formula for too long and it’s just not working anymore. Honestly I’m exhausted when I even see advertisements for these movies. It’s gotten to the point where you can almost predict if a movie is going to do well or not. In fact, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to experiment and see if I can predict which movies will do well and which won’t for the rest of the summer. I contend that the movies Hollywood releases in the summer have become so trite that (to an extent) it’s actually predictable what will do well and what won’t. I may be wrong about a few and I definitely don’t think you should fully judge a movie before you’ve seen it, but I don’t think it’s too hard to tell in some cases. Since my previous posts have had a more serious tone I thought it would be fun to write one that’s more lighthearted.

despicable_me_3_everything

The first movie in this franchise was creative and warm, but at this point it seems that they’re still riding on whatever remains of those two qualities. I did not enjoy the second movie and was surprised (though I really shouldn’t have been in hindsight) that they went ahead and made a third movie. This one has Gru’s zany brother involved, oh joy. It will probably do well even if it’s dull because tired parents need something to distract their kids on summer break. That’s the added bonus for studios that make animated movies, they can bomb critically and still make money.

the house

This movie actually looks like it could be funny, it’s really one that could go either way. Luckily this is not a sequel or reboot so it actually has some potential. The only thing about this one is that the premise is a bit flawed. So two parents find out college is expensive and start an underground casino? Do student loans not exist in this world? It will probably make a decent amount of money, especially if it turns out to be as funny as it seems.

spiderman

It’s Marvel. It’s Spider-Man. It’s going to make a crap ton of money no matter what.

apes

Jeez, I thought these movies died with the last one. Apparently this is the third movie but in all honesty I thought the last movie was the third one. There’s only so much you can do with humanoid apes and I know Andy Serkis wants to use his Gollum face technology still but can’t we save that for the new Star Wars movies? The recent articles I’ve read are saying the effects are stunning but this isn’t anything we haven’t seen before! We know the CGI apes look good, but these movies have gotten old at this point. I’m sick of this franchise and I suspect that other people are as well.

dunkirk

Pretty much everything Christopher Nolan touches turns to gold and from the trailers it seems that this movie is no exception. The cinematography looks gorgeous and one of my friends mentioned that Harry Styles is in this for some reason (maybe that will attract the 1D fangirls?). One of the main things Nolan excels at, tension, seems to be there in copious amounts so I doubt it will be boring. This one is on track to do well. I probably won’t see it right away because I’m a bit tired of WWII period pieces at the moment. It’s a great time period/event to explore yet I find that it’s often the go-to time whenever history is involved in a movie. I’m a history major so I would like to see other time periods and cultures explored but this is more of a personal preference than a problem with the movie itself.

GIRLS TRIP (2017)

Sadly there aren’t many female-led group comedies, let alone ones with women of color. The trailer for Girls Trip was hilarious and I bet it will be really funny, more so than Rough Night and maybe even The House. I can see how it will be a lot of fun for female audiences. I first saw the trailer in the theater waiting for another movie and I remember my friend leaning over and excitedly whispering that we had to go see it.

valerian

I really don’t know how to feel about this one. It’s by the director of The Fifth Element and you can definitely tell from the trailer. I haven’t read the graphic novel so I don’t know the much about the plot but my guess is that it’s either going to go 1 of two ways: fall into a lot of sci-fi tropes and end up being like a more palatable version of Jupiter Ascending or carve out its own niche in the genre. I’ve only seen Cara Delevingne act in Suicide Squad and I would never want to judge a person’s acting skills from that movie so we’ll have to see how she does. I’ve only seen the male lead, Dane DeHaan, play emo Harry in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, so obviously I don’t know much about his skills either. This movie certainly has potential.

AtomicBlonde-2

Yes. Yes. Yes. A million times yes. If you haven’t seen this trailer then go look it up now because it’s one of the best trailers I’ve seen all year. We’re finally getting more female-led action movies. I was impressed with Mission Impossible: Rouge Nation’s ability to adeptly handle a female character without making her a love interest. This next installment has Charlize Theron holding her own and she’s willing to get bloody. This is an example of a franchise producing something original and other studios should take note. I’m probably a bit more excited than most people but because this one is unique I’m betting it will do great.

yuck

The fact that this movie exists makes me question why I am living. Remember when animated movies could be enjoyed by both children and adults? Now it seems that if it’s not an animated sequel it’s a movie about sentient animals or something completely stupid like this. It makes me sound like I’m wagging my cane but I really wonder about some of the choices animators are making these days. How much of their decisions rely on the merchandise they’ll sell? Also, who on earth is this movie’s target demographic? Preteens who can’t drive? It just seems idiotic and I pray that it doesn’t do well so we don’t have to have any more of these.

dark tower

I’m glad Idris Elba is getting larger roles because he really deserves them. Adapted from a Stephen King series, this movie looks like it’s actually something apart from what we usually get from large budget action movies. Because it’s from a boy’s point of view and combines some fantasy elements, this one has elements that are creative and exciting. Its originality may make audiences shy away, but if it gets the positive critical reception it needs then it should make a good amount of money.

detroit

A compelling look at the riots in Detroit in 1967, this movie harshly examines race relations and the realities that black people had to face. Kathryn Bigelow has proven time and time again that she’s a wonderful director so it’s obvious that this movie is in good hands. Unfortunately this looks like one that may do well critically but poorly financially. I say this because of the political unrest that we’re dealing with right now. Sadly, many would rather go see a feel-good superhero movie than one that actually makes us face the injustices that lie within our history. Hopefully I’m wrong, but it seems that most would rather go to the movies to forget about the cruelty rather than confront it.

annabelle

I didn’t see the first movie, but this one lands firmly in prequel territory so we’re back to the same formula. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not well-versed in the horror genre, yet even I can tell that this movie will fall into the same traps that most horror movies do. In general, the genre as a whole needs to be reimagined but I think it will take some time before we get a visionary director paired with a movie large enough to do that. We’ve seen some good attempts with It Follows (2014) and Hush (2016) that have been intimate enough to be effective, but I doubt this particular movie will be contributing anything new.

ugh

Okay between this and The Emoji Movie I’ll take Despicable Me 3 any day. Again, I didn’t see the first one but that’s because (like I said) there’s this awful trend in animated films right now. It seems as if they’re pushed to make the most marketable movies possible, making films like Moana (2016) a rarity. If you don’t have some sort of creature (an emoji or minion) then your protagonist has to be an animal instead. I adore animated movies, that’s why I get sad when I see movies like this coming out instead of ones like The Prince of Egypt (1998), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), or Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). These are movies that I can appreciate as an adult just as much as I did when I was a child. What big message does this movie have you ask? Greedy Mayors™ shouldn’t bulldoze through park land to make amusement parks, nothing like some soft ineffective environmentalism for the kiddos. Just go watch FernGully so you can hear oil smoke Tim Curry sing.

It’s been evident for some time now that Hollywood needs a wakeup call and I just hope that they get the hint before something really bad happens to the movie industry. I dearly love films and as much as I enjoy TV I really do not want that to be my only choice in the future. Nobody has the time to binge watch TV constantly and sometimes movies can be more satisfying because of their shorter time span. I did this post mostly for fun but I also did want to address the issues that Hollywood seriously needs to take a look at. In order to fix their problems, they’ll have to go back and look at the creative ideas that made the medium a staple to begin with. Are you sick of reboots and sequels? Feel free to let me know in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Why Aren’t Major Releases Doing Well?

  1. A lot to unpack here, but something to consider: Taken at face value, we can say that the big effects films’ weak performance domestically (relative to projections) can be attributed to to how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ they might be, but historically, critical reception (if we use critical reception as a metric for ‘good’ and ‘bad’) doesn’t have much bearing on financial success. And it’s also true that streaming services have changed viewing habits. But, studios already know this, and most blockbuster-scale films now are made for Asian markets anyway: They may or may not do well in North America, but they make a killing in China, India, Russia, etc. Artistically, it’s immaterial, since most of these films, I think, are meant to be experienced once and then discarded -like a rollercoaster or a sporting event. We all get worked up about the surplus of franchise films (I wrote bit about that there: https://henridecorinth.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/sighs-never-mind-guadagninos-suspiria ), but in the end I feel it’s just part of the overhead of the movie business.

    As for the film themselves, Valerian looks to be based on a series of classic French comic books from the 1960s: Valerian and Laureline. The target audience is too young to remember it, but it was highly influential as far as the design of costumes, spaceships, futuristic cities, etc. Alien, Star Wars, and many others ‘borrowed’ their designs from those comics. Director Besson has never been a great storyteller but he comes out of the ‘cinema-du-look’ tradition in 1980s France, which suits this.

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    1. I came across a lot of this during research (how they make more money internationally, how people are sick of franchises) so that’s why I wanted to focus on more domestic issues in the article. I’ve never really thought about comparing them to rollercoasters or sports but now that I think about it that’s a very apt comparison. I don’t think we should give up hope on large movies though, I think we just want them to be held to a higher standard. I didn’t know that about Valerian, thanks for the info. Hopefully it turns out to be a great movie.

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