So lets look at the last few years of cinema, have any of you seen any original (truly original) content in the last few years? You’ve seen adaptations of books to film, comic books to film, and then of course Hollywoods favorite the regurgitate into film. We’ve had new Jumanji’s and Ghostbusters, updated versions of pretty much any genre you can think of and yes, absolutely, peppered in here and there are a few unique stories and ideas. I would agree whole-heartedly that those few slices of inventiveness are too sparse and sometimes too out there to become a classic film that people want to return to.
“Their business model depends on the assured audience and the blockbuster.” – lightsfilmschool.com
I feel as if over the last even 5 years the films that are trying to live outside the box the most are centered around space and that’s fine but sometimes I want a new story revolved around the drama of war that doesn’t canonize soldiers as saints or vilify the antagonists as just evil. I think a lot of viewers want multi-dimensional characters, but at the same time I don’t want you to try to make me feel for someone who is unfeeling themselves (a la Thanos fridging – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_in_Refrigerators) . However, fortune favors the bold is looking more like fortune favors the bland… there is a deep need in our society to re-visit, re-hash and re-member things over and over again. I feel like the only group trying to push out original content is Netflix and realistically they do it because they have the supply of viewers and then created the demand. It’s a smart system that benefits them immensely. Unlike other studios who need to host their own streaming services or demand a cable package to access new episodes Netflix just dumps it all on you at once. I know this because I came across their series Atypical had released their second season and literally started and ended it within the same day.
In terms of originality, I do feel that Netflix is more than two yards ahead of the other studios, because let’s be honest they have the room to make the mistake. No ones going to quit using their services just because they put out a single bad series or movie, their viewers just simply will choose something else to watch. Whereas with regular studios the impact is much larger, if people don’t go see the film paying their hard earned dollars to MoviePass or AMC Stubs or an actual ticket that impacts their bottom dollar. To be honest this tarnishes the viewers trust in them making a reputable film, and hurts the studios chances of actors and filmmakers to sign on with them to make other films.
Lets take a look at an infographic from BoxOfficeMojo.com from a few years ago. This is still relatable today
I wont say that anyone dislikes any particular studio over another but lets use as an example Pixar vs. DreamWorks – on the whole Pixar and DreamWorks almost aren’t in the same realm of animation studios. Pixar is known for not only amazing animation style, storytelling, and emotional connection to their viewers but they could even be compared to Marvel Studios in that people will go see that movie regardless if they are interested because of the studio it comes from. Dreamwork’s on the other hand I believe makes more family oriented (specifically children and young family oriented) animated films. They have what I feel is a bit more fun with their storytelling with titles like Hotel Transylvania , How to Train Your Dragon or the classic Shrek. They aren’t necessarily trying to make you feel any which way but just entertain you. However you can tell from most peoples reaction to Pixar films and box office results that they are preferred to DreamWorks. As an example Pixar’s Coco (an original film not a sequel to another film) had a turn out at the box office of: $209.3 million dollars vs. DreamWorks Boss Baby $175 million dollars. I will give DreamWorks a bit more credit not only do they produce movies they also produce television shows which continue on the stories of their films for their audience which has a longer lasting effect for audiences.
All of this is to say, the reason studios aren’t taking chances is because they are afraid of losing the trust of the audience to produce great films, they are also up against giants like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu that can risk mistakes in production because they have services tied to their production studios. I can only hope that the end of 2018 then 2019 and forward begins to see more risk from studios on films that we as an audience crave and will return to for future viewing.