This is great news for filmmakers, terrible news for Hollywood’s bottom line.
Tentpole movies, when they work, print money for years and years and years – through sequels and licensing, etc. etc.
But, like what happens with obesity, if you give someone a double-quarter pounder meal with super-sized fries every once in a while – it probably won’t make you fat.
If you give someone that meal every freakin’ day for the rest of their lives – they’ll be fat and die much sooner than is necessary.
Hollywood studios have booked a tentpole movie practically every weekend for the next five years.
This is unsustainable and only a matter time before audiences yell bullshit, back away from the Big Mac and change their diet.
This is not to say that these movies are going away completely. There is always an appetite for a great event film spectacle. When they hit, it’s the greatest experience. And I hope that never goes away.
But everything can’t be a tentpole.
Yesterday, I saw the Deadline.com story on Disney’s announced animation slate (see picture).
Studios, especially on the live-action side, have no idea which movies are going to rise up from the pile to get a greenlight five years in advance.
They just know that they have to make 5-6 tentpole movies a year to hit their revenue and profit targets. You can’t make a decent budget projection if you have slated “Silver Linings Playbook 2” or the next film from Alexander Payne.
Tentpoles are necessary for financial planning. But it’s become so much of a science and so NOT much of a creative endeavor that I fear they are suffocating the goose that’s been laying the golden eggs for the past 10 years.
And, seriously, audiences just can’t take it anymore.
They aren’t crying for “Marvel Character #1,000” to finally have his or her own movie!
“Remember that character that cleaned the floors in ‘The Amazing Spider-man Comics #43’? He totally needs his own movie!”
And this summer, they will – “Man Of Steel” and “Pacific Rim” both look fantastic and I’ll be seeing them both on opening weekends with millions of others.
Again, Hollywood doesn’t need to panic yet.
I wrote a couple of years ago that audiences will never tire of super heroes – that the characters who are shoved quickly into movies should not be blamed for the failures of mortal film executives and writers to tell their stories well.
But there is only so much heavy lifting these characters can do – they’re superheroes, they’re not God.
It’s time for Hollywood to take more risks, be more experimental, have more fun. Don’t be afraid to fail.
Film production IS McDonalds these days. The food looks and tastes exactly the same every time (and, sure, there is some comfort in that). But when was the last time you heard an employee at McDonalds say their job was fun and totally creative?
Jill Kennedy – OnMedea