Hey movie fans! Here’s what’s playing in theaters: Toy Story, Top Gun, The Lion King, Spiderman, Godzilla, Star Wars, Aladdin…
Welcome to the summer of recycled sequels. We love watching our superheroes on the big screen. But how many times can movie studios go back to the well? Casting 57-year old Tom Cruise as Maverick should answer that question. And there’s a full slate of Marvel comic films set for years to come.
You can’t fault Hollywood. They crank out sequels because moviegoers pay to see spectacles. Plus, blockbuster films spawn billions in revenue from action figures to videos games to theme parks. So, it’s no coincidence that Godzilla, the movie and thrill ride, opened simultaneously. The film has become the promotional vehicle that fuels the other revenue streams…and sets up more sequels.
Brilliant strategy, if not short-sighted. But where are the new ideas, the new franchises?
Here’s my take. We are witnessing a sea change. Movie theaters will be the go-to venue for blockbuster events – and that’s about all. When you can buy a sweet Samsung TV for $500, it’s no surprise that theater attendance is at a 27-year old low.
While Hollywood swallows its tail, studios are conceding innovation to the small screen. Streaming giants like Netflix, HBO and Amazon are taking risks and building their own franchises. Now you can binge-watch Stranger Things at home, minus the $9 popcorn and sticky floors.
Has Hollywood lost its courage? I consulted my film critic pal, Jr. Mintz (aka Doug Harris). “Studios have sunk millions into film franchises that have run their course, but are now too big to fail. They won’t jump off a creative cliff unless they can hold hands with Dwayne Johnson on the way down.
But, all is not lost. Keep an eye on art house, university, and museum theaters where creativity is alive and well.”
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