Superheroes, sequels and remakes. That’s what it takes to win the weekend at the box office.
Earlier this week, Disney announced that Toy Story 4 is in production, set with a 2017 release date. This announcement, along with one from a few weeks ago revealing Marvel’s lineup through 2020, have made it apparent that there is nothing original anymore. There is nothing original being mass produced at a consistent rate because originality doesn’t make money these days.
Disney is one of the main culprits taking part in the strategy of catering to the masses. As a multi-billion dollar industry, it’s understandable why money would be a key factor in determining what takes priority and what does not. But quality is starting to suffer. For instance, Toy Story 3 left the characters with a perfect ending. If the point of a sequel is to finish what you started and round out a storyline, then why add more to what has already been successfully completed?
Superhero movies, while admittedly extremely entertaining, have become formulaic.
With Marvel dominating all other franchises, superhero movies are being released twice a year, maybe more when DC contributes. And Marvel’s marketers have been very astute, fine tuning their films one at a time based on what has been successful in the past. As long as sales continue to break records every time Marvel releases a new movie, we can expect to keep seeing the same story over and over with a different hero leading the way.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers. Within the top 10 grossing movies of 2014 are Guardians of the Galaxy (1), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2), Transformers: Age of Extinction (4), X-Men: Days of Future Past (6), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (7), The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (8), Godzilla (9) and 22 Jump Street (10).
The only two movies on that list who don’t fall into the category of superhero, sequel or remake are No. 2 The Lego Movie, which was a much-needed breath of fresh air, and No. 5 Maleficent, which is just a different take on a story Disney told 50 years ago.
But it’s safe to assume that Mockingjay: Part 1 and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will knock those two out of the running within one or two weekends.
This pattern shows no sign of slowing down, and production companies and movie studios have no reason to change their strategy, despite the fact that many sequels are legitimately awful. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull may have been terrible, but another trilogy will work with Star Wars, right?
Not the most solid logic, but people will wait all night for the midnight premieres anyway.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being entertained by these kinds of movies or paying money to go see them. But balance out the sequel-mania by supporting independent films and original storylines. They’re out there, but movie companies need to be reminded that film is an art, not just a business.