Scott Davis comments on how even “original” blockbusters like Edge of Tomorrow could soon be a thing of the past.…
Over the last few weeks, I have had many discussions with friends and fellow Flickering Myth writers across podcasts and Twitter about the state of Hollywood as it is right now. Case in point, last weekend’s box office results that have caused many a stir across the pond.
According to the estimates, The Fault in Our Stars, starring Shailene Woodley and based on a best-selling book by John Green, took a “whopping” $48million ($26million on which came in its first day of release with it’s early Thursday night previews). A small chunk of change for sure, and kudos to 20th Century Fox for not only having faith in the film, but to also release it mid-summer blockbuster season amongst the heavyweights.
In second place, with a “meagre” $28million is Tom Cruise’s Edge of Tomorrow. I know what you’re saying: Another summer, another Tom Cruise flop. Whatever your opinion of Tom Cruise (and in my humble opinion, the guy is still one of Hollywood’s best), it does show to a large degree of just how “far he has fallen” in the eyes of the American public. Scientology lessons and jumping on Oprah’s sofa haven’t helped his cause, but his status aside, the reaction to the film in terms of box-office is once again proof that the masses don’t want anything that screams “creative”.
Now, this is not an attack on Hollywood for embracing what people are hungry for, as I myself have contributed to sequels, reboots and franchises (count The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days Of Future Past, Godzilla and Captain America: The Winter Soldier seen so far), but rather a feeling of trepidation that originality, or at least the “risky” films coming out into the ether, could be a thing of the past.
Edge of Tomorrow while not an original idea by any means, is the sort of movie that audiences used to clamor over each other to see. Remember the reaction to Inception? Many hailed it as a superb feat of filmmaking with some clever ideas that made huge waves at the box office. There is an argument to be made that “From the Director of The Dark Knight” was a hug selling point, but his science-bending opus could well have fallen by the way side due to it’s unique and rather exceptional story had audiences not given it chance.
Who is to say that even the great Nolan, who is pushing the envelope in his film-making, tearing down those barriers that say movies have to be “dumbed” down to succeed, won’t fall foul of the same problems that fell Edge of Tomorrow when Interstellar is released at Christmas?
It’s unlikely, but right now it seems Warner Bros. in particular are taking nothing for granted. Just look at the delay hastily given to the Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, as Indiewire’s Anne Thompson did here. Are studios now going to be so fearful of anything that doesn’t have a built-in audience that future “original” projects will be labeled too risky?
And this is just the blockbuster market. Who knows how difficult it must be in the independent market right now. So much good product is out their for people to see, but because of the impact of the so-called “biggies“, it’s becoming harder and harder to see those films to be seen. I don’t know the dynamics of independent cinema in the US, or the struggles of many filmmakers to get there films in theatres and seen, but looking at some of the box office grosses, it’s certainly not easy.
Look at Denis Villeneuve’s Enemy, Spike Jonze’s Her, Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin or James Gray’s The Immigrant. All superb films in their own right, but none making as many waves as they deserve too, in the US or overseas. Even last year, films like In A World…, Short Term 12 or Upstream Color had blink-and-you’ll-miss-them releases, but all of which have thankfully embraced the Video On Demand option to great effect.
I don’t know about you fare readers, but given the choice between watching a film that truly challenges, that embraces cinema as an art form and makes it intriguing and enthralling again, is much more rewarding than any three-hour Transformers sequel, Nicholas Sparks adaptation, or indeed unnecessary sequel or reboot.
Sure they pay the bills, but do they really, truly reward?