I recently looked at this article and gave me a lot of thoughts about the economics of the film industry today.
http://variety.com/2017/film/news/box-o ... 201950841/
To me, I think this spells out that what's successful in Hollywood right now is the appeal of franchises and colorful animated movies. Movies such as a Marvel film or Zootoopia are remarkably different than the films that were popular in the past (at least on an aesthetic level). Gone are the days where movies can be sold on directors or actors, now Hollywood has to sell itself on recognizable characters and brands. By all means, Iron Man is not successful because of the Robert Downey Jr name slapped onto every film he's involved in it.
But on the other end of this, I also think that with the advent of the internet people are also now more aware of the background of films as well. When we look at the failure of Ghostbusters, the patronizing director and cast were a massive turn off for the audience who they wanted to appeal to. I'm not particularly fond of the new Star Wars movies but I think one part of the reason why they're successful is that unlike the Ghostbusters movie it respects the source material it came from and even with all the shambles with diversity the cast never once aimed to insult the Star Wars fanbase.
Again, this ties back to the concept of franchises and branding - how Hollywood incorporates these brands is detrimental to their success. In the case of the TMNT movie, a large part of its failure was the fact that Michael Bay's version of quadruple was seen as extremely unappealing to turtles fans made worse by its panning by critics. While yes, the MCU is much different than the comics in the grand scheme of things, it's familiar enough to not be completely alien like the turtles were and the movie was of high enough quality that most critics didn't completely blast it for its quality. This is a balance that Disney has been striking very well.
In the case of panned movies like Suicide Squad, the Appeal of that movie was, again, branding. While they did strike out on the balance of making a "quality" movie on the level of Marvel's standards, their marketing was exceptional and the character Harley Quinn became a money making magnet for DC. They sold the movie on its branding alone - people recognize the DC logo and they recognize the cast of characters the film utilized. This is an example of the previous trend I mentioned - people came to this movie to see Harley Quinn, not her actress Margot Robbie.
In a sense, these tactics are not too dissimilar to what we've seen in the past with iconic movie brands such as Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Indiana Jones. However, nowadays, these brands have expanded significantly to the point that the actors/directors are mostly irrelevant and they have been overtaken by the characters that they play. At this point, who really cares about the people playing the leads in Rogue One or whoever is playing Scott Lang in Ant-Man? While initially I do think the star power of Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johanson helped jump start the Marvel cinematic universe, it's come to the point that so long as the actor can do a semi-competent job at playing their role it doesn't really matter too much who they cast.
Now, as far as the outset goes for filmmaking in general, I don't think it's "killing cinema" but I find great displeasure in that it encourages filmmakers to make safe movies for the sake of massive profit. Marvel/DC comics and the Star Wars EU are far more nuanced, diverse (in terms of storytelling), and interesting than what these movies would portray them to be as. I recently read Dan Slott's run on She-Hulk and all I could keep thinking of at the end was that there was no way Disney would ever allow for such a clever and interesting script comparable to the dialog written in those comics.
While I don't completely hate the MCU (I did give good ratings to Doctor Stange and Winter Soldier after all) I get the impression none of them will ever reach beyond the typical Marvel movie formula. All the movies feel very samey to me and it's a real mixed bag of whether or not they do that samey thing well. That said, it's still tiring regardless. I didn't like films such as Sully or The Infiltrator but I thought both were remarkably more interesting what they attempted to do as films in contrast to the same shit Marvel always does. Personally, I just hope Hollywood doesn't feed too much into this whole franchise idea because I think that'll be harmful for a lot of potentially good films.
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