Heads Up

Hey Everyone,

Just wanted to give a heads up that this week I won’t be posting an article. Due to other writing projects (and a small case of writer’s laze) I didn’t have enough time to think up an idea and write an article. I hope to return next week with something informative and interesting. So stay tuned.

As always, thanks for reading.

Jameson P

Advertisements

What Does the Box Office Success of IT Mean for Filmmaking?

What Does the Box Office Success of IT Mean for Filmmaking?

We are currently heading into the second week of It’s theatrical run and it looks to be like there will be little to slow it down. Between the critical and audience success what could this mean for the future long and short term of the film scene? Today I’m going to throw my two cents forward and see if any of it pans out. So, without further ado let’s dig in.

-Chapter Two-

This is probably the most obvious of all things being considered. It only covered about half of the original novel and the follow-up hinged on the success of part one. Director Andy Muschietti has already stated that the script is coming together and they’re hoping to start shooting next spring. In the meantime there has been speculation of which actors will play the adult iteration of The Losers Club. This itself could be a huge win or lose for the film. As most readers and anyone who has seen the 1990 miniseries know the latter half of the story isn’t quite up to par with the first. Finding the right actors for the respective roles will be a big hurdle the filmmakers need to clear. Fingers crossed everyone will measure up to the fine performances the kids gave in Chapter one.

-Stephen King Remakes/Adaptations-

It has been a mixed year for Stephen King on the big screen. While It proved to be a hit The Dark Tower landed with a bit of thud a little over a month ago. King’s works have always been ripe for adapting to the big screen, but this hit will guarantee stalled productions are going to move forward ASAP. There has been rumblings of Cujo and Pet Sematary getting updates and odds are last week meetings were held about getting them in front of the camera right away. As well there are quite a few other stories that King has written. Odds are they’ll soon get optioned and head into production. So, let the avalanche of Stephen King films begin.

-More Horror-

A major rule in Hollywood is that horror films are one of the safest bets at the box office. They’re made cheap and can translate across most cultures. With It bringing in record numbers for horror/an R rated film/and a September release studios are going to take note. Any upcoming horror film will look at It’s marketing campaign and step up their game. Blumhouse has been working hard to make sure our local multiplexes are well stocked with decent horror and The Conjuring Universe doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. But to find another horror film that will do as big of numbers as It remains to be seen.

-Resurgence of the R Rating-

R rated films are still getting made, but there has been a rather sharp decline in their numbers. The PG-13 rating is far more profitable as it opens a film up to a wider demographic. It’s a simple fact that teenagers tend to have disposable income and are not likely to check reviews before purchasing a ticket. If The Bye Bye Man had an R rating odds are it wouldn’t have made nearly as much money as it did last January. And with DVD and blu-ray giving filmmakers a way to release a “harder” cut of their respective films it allows studios to appease filmmakers and double dip into consumer’s pockets. But with an R rated film being at the top of the box office for two weeks in a row studios might be more willing to let films get R ratings instead of cutting a scene or two to get that PG-13 rating from the MPAA.

-More Mid-Budget Films-

This is my biggest wish from It’s success. As of now a there is a huge gap that seems to widen every year with the films released. Either studios will craft blockbusters that have robust budgets somewhere in the area of 100-250 million dollars. Or they will go the polar opposite and make micro budget films with budgets between 1.5-10 million dollars. The idea is that blockbusters will be crowd pleasers pulling in 800 million to a billion plus in box office grosses. Whereas the low budget films are such small bets that if ten are made only one or two of them have to be hits in order to justify all ten getting made. In the meantime films with budgets between 20-80 million dollars are a dying breed. It’s hard to justify the budget when you tack on the marketing budget which can often cost nearly as much as the film being made. On a thirty-five million dollar budget It burst out of the gate and became a bona fide success. With a few mid-budget films being successes in recent years (i.e. Straight Outta Compton grossed 201 million against a 50 million dollar budget. Deadpool grossed 783 million against a 58 million dollar budget.) there is a chance that studios might understand that if a film is based off a property with recognition amongst most filmgoers they’d be willing to make films with these budgets. This would give filmmakers a chance to have a bit more money to make their films and give them a little more edge. On the plus side for studios, it would not be a large risk financially to make these films. Fun Fact: It, Straight Outta Compton, and Deadpool were all R rated. A little creative freedom within a reasonable budget could be a win-win for everyone involved.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think It’s success was deserved, or were you letdown? Are you looking forward to seeing more of Stephen King’s stories getting adapted to the big screen? Are there any of his stories that you would like to see get a remake? Do you think we’re in a golden age for horror films? Who would you cast as the adult version of The Loser’s Club? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses Part II

Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses Part II

I’m back and as promised we’re still on the topic of the season of Game of Thrones. I knew that trying to cover all threads left dangling in a single article would be impossible, so let’s pick things up from where we left off. And if you haven’t read my previous article you can find it here: https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2017/09/04/game-of-thrones-season-8-theories-speculation-and-guesses/

-The Greyjoys-

While we know Euron’s endgame is to assist Cersei by ferrying The Golden Company (we’ll get to them in a bit) to King’s Landing in hopes of finally winning her hand, what about the rest? Yara is his prisoner on the Iron Islands and Theon is on his way to break her out, but what are the odds of this going well? With The Iron Fleet doing Cersei’s dirty work there’s a good chance that the Iron Islands are not well guarded. We’re in dire need of seeing Theon finally get some redemption. For the past five seasons we’ve seen his strength erode and the moment we think all is well he cracks. I think there’s a good chance we’ll get some character redemption for Theon, but at what cost? I could see Theon and Yara facing off with Euron only for Theon to die in the process. Because there is one thing that is inevitable.

-Death Death Death-

Oh yeah, we know for sure there is going to be a lot of this coming. I’m almost certain that we’ll see a multitude of side characters shuffle off the mortal coil. At this point it’s almost guaranteed that both Varys and Melisandre are on the top of that list. As she prophesied as much in season seven there’s no doubt in my mind. But along with that odds are Sir Beric will finally die. In the books he gave his life to resurrect Catelyn Stark, so I could potentially see something similar happen. There are many who have a hand to play in the final battle and if Beric believed The Lord of Light wanted to him to give his life to bring someone back he’d gladly do it. Jon Snow has already been brought back, so he’s more than likely out of the question. I could see Sandor “The Hound” Clegane being a possible option. If he were to die and be brought back this would be a big turning point for his character. He might finally believe he has a purpose in life. As heartbreaking as it might be there’s also a chance Tormund might not make it. Our favorite wildling has done a lot in service to Jon and we love him because of it. That would be a huge blow to morale especially for Jon and it would give him more of a reason to keep fighting.

-The Faceless Men-

With Arya’s from Braavos we have not seen nor heard anything about The Faceless Men. While it’s assumed that Arya paid her debt and Jaqen H’ghar (if it was him) let her leave scot free there’s a chance that’s not the end. Arya has been using the trade she learned from them to cross a few people off her list and that may not set well. The Faceless Men worship The Faceless God and as we know there is a strong accounting for life and death. With that said, Arya’s vendetta has been racking up quite the body count. I could see a Faceless Man paying the North a visit next season and death coming with. While we all love Arya and that’s why it would hurt to see her die. But I could see one of the Faceless Men either coming for her or someone she cares about. And if they come for Jon, Sansa, or someone else important she may sacrifice herself to save them.

-Clegane Vs. Clegane-

Everyone seems to be spoiling for this face off to happen. We know that the animosity between The Hound and The Mountain has been something they’ve had in them since they were children. After Gregor burned Sandor’s face for playing with a toy and their father blaming it on a bedroom fire it’s not been pleasant. When we saw the pair finally see each other again for the first time since season one there was a bit of foreshadowing that these two will come to blows. While I personally see this fight as fan service if done well it could be impressive. Sandor may finally get his well deserved revenge and another person could be added to the pile of dead assholes.

-The Golden Company-

This may be the most troubling prospect on the horizon. Even if The Army of The Dead is defeated  Jon and Dany face another epic problem. The Golden Company is considered some the best trained (possibly exceeding The Unsullied) warriors in Game of Thrones. If the North is left in tatters after killing The Night King and his army they’ll be severely outnumbered by the 10,000 strong sellswords Cersei has hired to do her dirty work. But as we’ve seen sellswords have never been the most reliable army. Stannis hired an army only to be defeated by Ramsay and co. and Bronn has said his allegiance lies with whoever is going to win. While The Golden Company have never broken a single contract that could change. Even if they have war elephants I’d assume seeing dragons would make them think twice about marching into battle. And it’s no longer a matter of if so much as when Jon’s true parentage will be revealed. If they found out they were fighting against the rightful heir of the iron throne there’s a chance it would get them to surrender.

-Prophecy Three-

So who is, “The Prince(ss) who was Promised”? This has been a major point of speculation not only in the series, but amongst fans. As of now the big contenders are Jon and Dany. While both are viable candidates what if to quote Yoda, “There is another.” I truly believe that Jon will get Dany pregnant and that child will be the promised one. And bonus points if the child is named Rhaegar.

-The Endgame-

George R.R. Martin has previously stated that he intends to have a bittersweet ending for A Song of Ice and Fire’s story. While it has been a road painted with a lot of bitter (Ned’s death and The Red Wedding to name a few) there needs to be some sweet. Either there could be fair and caring people who sit on the iron throne or the Seven Kingdoms will be broken up and Robert’s Rebellion and all the bloodshed will have been for nothing. But how iconic would it be to see Drogon’s fire melt down the iron throne? Or, considering a lot of this mess was put into place by incest it could almost be… for lack of a better word poetic that incest is what cleans it up. Dany has built up quite a following and Jon being a Stark would bring any hold outs to the table. How is that for bittersweet?

-Bonus: Dead Man Walking-

How fucked up would it be to see white walker Hodor in the Army of the Dead? Yeah, let that traumatic image set in.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Are you ready to see how Game of Thrones ends? Are you more excited for the final two books? Do you think we’ll get a satisfying conclusion? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses

Game of Thrones Season 8: Theories, Speculation, and Guesses

A week has passed since HBO aired the final episode in Game of Thrones penultimate season. While fans have gotten time to digest the events they’re left with the big question: How will it all end? All we know for sure at the moment is that season eight will have five episodes that will run anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours. Rumors have even been spreading that the season won’t premiere until 2019. If it’s true we have at the very least 16 months of waiting ahead of us. Let’s put some of that time to good use and begin wonder what will happen in those five episodes. Without further ado, let’s begin. And to avoid any ire there will be SPOILERS in this article

-The Structure-

Five episodes doesn’t give much time for the action to unfold. With that if they stick to a traditional structure this will be five acts or three. So one episode for each act, or two episodes for the first act, one episode of the second act, and two episodes for the third act. Either way we can assume that episodes one & two will be rising action (setting up the events between all of our characters), episode three will be the crisis (The War with the Dead), episode four will be the falling action (The War for The Iron Throne), and episode five will be the climax (who is still alive and where their place will be in this kingdom). Not that in-depth, but it gives us an idea of how all the pieces of the story will fall into place.

-Samwell’s Knowledge and Where He Could Go-

With his exodus from the Citadel Samwell has made a point of making sure he can offer as much help to Jon and those who intend to take part in fighting the Night King and his Army of the Dead. Before leaving he took numerous documents that could reveal the secrets key to their victory. Finding out how to make Valyrian steel would be the best way to turn the tide in the living’s favor. What if all the items necessary were in their grasp? It could be all that’s needed is steel, dragonglass, and dragon fire to craft it. With the magical properties of dragonglass and knowing that it can kill white walkers, it might be that combining it with steel and melting them together with dragon fire will create the much needed weapon.

If Sam discovers this and makes sure everyone is armed when the war comes he will have accomplished something not done in hundreds of years. With that whoever comes out on top might see fit to pardon Sam from his duty with the Night’s Watch. Knowing his father and brother (Randyll and Dickon) are both deceased Sam could possibly claim lordship of Horn Hill. That would be a nice reward to our beloved Sam and big middle finger to his dead father.

-Prophecy One-

With three major prophecies in play let’s dig into two of them now and leave a major one for a little later. First, we have Daenerys’ vision in The House of the Undying that spoke of three treasons, “…once for blood and once for gold and once for love”. If we assume that two of these treasons have already happened there’s still one to go. Once for love could be Jorah Mormont. The prophecy states that she will know the treasons, not that they will befall her. When Jorah fell in love with Dany he betrayed King Robert and the possibility of receiving a royal pardon. Once for gold could be Doreah. Having sold Dany out to Daxos she chose to live in luxury only to be left sealed in a vault. Now, what about blood? In season seven’s finale our final sight of Tyrion is him with a rather grim look on his face. What does it mean? It could be that after his conversation with Cersei he is questioning his loyalties to Dany. As we saw with the Stark girls recently, blood is thicker than water. Tyrion may not like his family, but he does love them and would possibly want to help House Lannister survive.

-Prophecy Two-

Now let’s take a look at what Maggy the Frog told Cersei as a child. In a nutshell: Cersei would become queen, but a younger queen would take her place. She would have three children all of whom she will outlive. And finally her younger brother will be the person who killed her. So far, most of this has happened with the exception of her death and the new queen. With her recent pregnancy we can assume Cersei is feeling like she has bested this curse. If she were to miscarry Cersei may realize that her fate is sealed and begin acting irrationally. With the Golden Company and Euron Greyjoy on her side she could drive an army north scorching everything she touches along the way. While she always assumed it would be Tyrion that would be the one who killed her, there is another younger brother. Jaime was technically born after her. He’s already left her side to go north knowing she has no plans to help. Seeing her cruelty reach further heights he might sacrifice the woman he loves to save Westeros. He’s already killed a Mad King, so killing a Mad Queen wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility.

-The Tullys-

With the end in sight there are a lot of major threads left dangling. While some of them may not be key to the main story it’d still be nice to get some resolution. Edmure and Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully haven’t been seen since season six, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be back. Edmure might still be locked away in a cell at The Twins, but what about The Blackfish? While director Mark Mylod has stated that The Blackfish did die off-screen we have no hard evidence. No corpse was seen and characters who’ve been considered dead (The Hound, Jon Snow) turned out to be alive. Both of which the creators kept mum about their fates until they were brought back into the fold. Edmure or The Blackfish would be a key ally to Jon and Dany by rallying the forces of Riverrun to their cause.

-Grains of Sand-

In season seven we saw the fall of two key allies to Dany. The Tyrells were reduced to nothing with the death of Olenna and Jaime sacking Highgarden to “pay their debts”. The Martells were left in ruin with capture of Ellaria Sand and death of the Sand Snakes. Ellaria now sits in a dungeon to watch her daughter Tyene slowly be killed from the Long Farewell. While this could be the last we see of Ellaria it seems like a rather improper send off. There could and should be more for her story.

It seems this article has run long and doesn’t nearly cover enough ground as I had hoped. Funny, when writing about George R.R. Martin’s work I’m now going to take a page from his own playbook. I will split this article in half and continue these discussions in next week’s entry. So if I didn’t talk about something pertinent this time around stay tuned.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you have an alternative theory to anything written in this article? Are you going to avoid articles like this in hopes of being surprised next season? Will you be back next week where I continue to extrapolating my harebrained theories? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Ducktales 2017: How does it Measure Up?

Ducktales 2017: How does it Measure Up?

I was pleasantly surprised to a couple weeks back when the first episode of Ducktales was released on Disney XD’s YouTube channel. As a kid I grew up on re-runs of the 1987 Ducktales series and remember my mom putting a hiatus on the number of times I could rent Treasure of the Lost Lamp from our town library. So while initially skeptical when the new broke in 2015 I warmed to the idea. I’ve watched the pilot a few times and wanted to look over some the aspects of the show, give my thoughts, and see where the series could go from here. So without further ado, lets dig in.

-The Story-

While the key components of the ’87 series are in place there are a few great changes. It was fascinating to see Scrooge as an old man who sees his golden years behind him. A duck who lived for adventure to build his fortune now forced to maintain his fortune through business ventures. The boredom has set in and made him unhappy. The introduction of Huey, Dewey, Louie, and Webby re-ignite the passion for danger. The big aspect that has me really intrigued is the plot point they ended the episode on. As a kid I always wondered where Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s parents were during their childhood. That final shot revealing that their mother was part of Scrooge and Donald’s early adventures gives the show an overarching story full of potential to keep the show interesting.

-The Characters-

It was nice to see in forty plus minutes that almost every character got their traits set up. Huey, Dewey, and Louie now feel like they have their own separate personalities. I will admit the ’87 series never really tried to distinguish the three apart from each other. Aside from a handful of episodes where the plot dealt with one of them having identity issues there was never any character development. I’d go so far as to say that you could grab a script from the ’87 series, exchange dialogue between the three, and it would make little to no difference.

My favorite character revision has to be Webby. She never had much of a personality in the old series and often felt underwritten. I liked how the creators knew they needed to give her more to do to keep her relevant. Some critics have drawn parallels between this new take on the character and Mabel from Disney’s other series Gravity Falls. I can see the similarities, but I’d rather Webby be smart, competent, and be an equal to the boys instead of being as flat as her character was back in the day.

Another great addition was making Donald Duck one of the main characters rather than special guest in a handful of episodes. I can not wait to see the dynamic between Scrooge and Donald build through the series. As for Scrooge he is pitch perfect in this new incarnation. I’ll speak more on this below, but there’s one final thing I’d like to touch upon.

I was a little disappointed by the lack of Duckworth in the pilot episode. From a writing aspect I understand his absence from the show. Taking his attributes and splitting them between Launchpad and Mrs. Beakley makes the cast leaner and leads to less messy writing through the series. I am optimistic that Duckworth and numerous other characters from the original series will pop up in future episodes. You can catch a glimpse of Gyro Gearloose in the opening credits and the show’s creators revealed many beloved characters will serve a purpose in show. So, maybe they’ve found a new way to use Duckworth and we’ll see him in upcoming episodes.

-The Cast-

This is kind of a mixed bag for me. The biggest win of the series was landing David Tennant in the voice role of Scrooge. Hearing a Scotsman voicing Scrooge is a great joy over someone trying to do a poor imitation of such an accent. I also really enjoyed hearing Kate Micucci as the voice of Webby. Aside from having previous experience in voice acting (A great take on the iconic Velma Dinkley in Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!) she gave the character a much needed energy and was probably the best of the kids. My biggest worry is the three actors voicing the nephews. Huey, Dewey, and Louie are kids and while Danny Pudi, Ben Schwartz, and Bobby Moynihan are great comedic actors with impressive chops all of them sounded their age instead of like children. It might just be something I’ll have to get use to, but it’s a little jarring. As of now I’m uncertain about Beck Bennett as Launchpad. There were times where the voice sounded almost identical to Terry McGovern’s Launchpad and other times he sounds like a so so imitation. Again, it might just take some time to get use to.

-The Animation-

This seems to be a big point of contention amongst fans. Some have praised the new take for the color palette looking like something from the original comic strip. Others have said the character design of the nephews and Webby’s heads are too round. I’m on the polar opposite end of both issues. I don’t mind the re-designs of the kids as I assume it was to give them a look to differentiate them from the adults. To me what made the original series great was the vibrant colors that made the show feel more epic than a typical animated TV show of the time had. I hope that as the show progresses they’ll bring more saturated colors into the animation.

-My Personal Opinion-

After all this discussion and dissection of the pilot I really enjoyed it. Much like the recent reboot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles this series feels like a show made by people who loved the original animated take on the characters. Not only does the series act as a great way to bring news into the fold it, but it also gives old fans like myself some great winks to the original show to know it intends to honor it’s legacy.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Are you excited to see where Ducktales goes from here? Did you enjoy the new take on the show’s iconic theme song? Are you looking forward to seeing the Beagle Boys, Magica De Spell, Fenton Crackshell, and numerous other characters return? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

What’s Up With My Annabelle Creation?

What’s Up With My Annabelle Creation?

Just under a week ago RedLetterMedia’s Half in the Bag episode for Annabelle: Creation dropped on YouTube. What’s more fascinating than the review of the film itself is Mike and Jay talking about the My Annabelle Creation contest. The idea of the contest was for up and coming filmmakers to craft a short film set within the “Conjuring” universe. The winner of the contest was awarded a meeting with New Line execs and director David F. Sandberg about developing the short into a feature length film in the vein of the Conjuring film universe. On the surface it sounds like a fantastic idea, until Mike pulls out some of the fine print from the contest’s rules and found some pretty shady details. In this article I wanted to take a look at this controversy, what’s been said by others since the RLM review, and what it all could mean. So, without further ado let’s get to it.

-What’s the Big Deal?-

Within the rules of the contest the studio is given a three year option to make a feature length version of the film for fifty dollars. If the option is exorcised with the three year time frame another fifty dollars will be paid to the creator. This in and of itself is a rather shady deal. A typical option on other material (i.e. A script, novel, comic) lasts from twelve to eighteen months with a claus to extend the option by three to six months. Even if a film has an eighteen month option extended for the additional six that’s a still a year less than the contest’s.

In addition to the exclusivity of the option let’s look at the monetary amount provided for said option. Fifty dollars is not only insultingly low by typical standard option prices, but it makes the purchase price even worse. A typical option for a non-WGA affiliated writer tends to be around a couple thousand dollars. Not much, but still more than fifty. But an option’s price is often a percentage of what the purchase price will be. Example, your option could be $1,000 or ten percent of the purchase price. Making the script’s sale around $10,000. That mean’s that Annabelle: Creation’s option is 100% of the purchase price.

-What are the Best/Worst Case Scenarios?-

From the looks of everything presented New Line holds all the cards in this deal. Although if we play the Devil’s advocate there are “potential” perks for winner Julian Terry and his short The Nurse. The best case scenario would be that Terry gets to move forward crafting a feature length film based off The Nurse. Along with his debut film being studio produced it could include a strong marketing campaign and wide theatrical release. Not bad for a director’s first feature length film.

Even if the studio decides not move forward with the feature that doesn’t mean Terry is out of luck. Winning this contest has raised his profile to the point where he has been in contact with multiple talent managers. Anyone struggling to break into studio filmmaking knows how big of a coup it is to get a manager. This gives Terry the ability to get other projects he’s working on off the ground. I have no doubt other studios/producers have seen The Nurse and would be interested in bringing Terry in to direct a film for them. Still not a bad deal.

The worst case scenario would be to see New Line take The Nurse and develop the feature length version without Terry’s involvement. In that case he’s left with a hundred dollars and watching from the sidelines as The Nurse gets made. The cynic in me sees how this could happen, but the optimist in me wants to hope that Terry has an ally in his corner. David F. Sandberg has come out after the controversy stirred up stating that he’s talking with New Line to clarify the agreement. Sandberg’s short Lights Out was optioned by New Line leading to his own feature film debut. His hand in this contest feels like a genuinely good guy who caught a break wanting to help another filmmaker catch a similar break. Although he may not be a big name (yet) he’s made two films for New Line that have grossed over a hundred million dollars on relatively small budgets. If New Line wants to stay in business with Sandberg they’ll listen to his concerns and make sure Terry comes out of this contest with a good deal.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think that all this controversy is warranted? Or is this just the Internet blowing things out of proportion? Would you be interested in seeing The Nurse become part of the Conjuring universe? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

Dissecting the Low Box Office of Summer 2017

Dissecting the Low Box Office of Summer 2017

With the summer film season pretty much over there has been a lot of talk about the low numbers at the box office. We’ve heard the trouble that AMC Theaters is facing with a huge dip in their profits and Wanda Group buying up a large chunk of their stock. So in an age when we’re seeing more films break the billion dollar mark how is there such a huge slump? What’s sailing and what’s crashing? Is there any reason besides the quality of a film that is to blame for this? Today I will start sifting through the rubble and give my personal opinions on the matter.

-3D is on the Decline-

Hard to believe that it’s been eight years since Avatar came out with studios taking away the wrong lesson from the film. Since then we’ve seen multiple films that have used this tool as a way to tack a few extra bucks to ticket prices as a means to inflate box office numbers. Over the past eight years I’ve noticed the number of 3D showtimes slowly start to taper off. Most filmgoers (myself included) have been turned off by the over saturation. 3D is no longer something used to enhance a story and people are sick of shelling out for it. While studios don’t care theater chains have taken note and book more 2D showtimes than 3D. I know that personally that it has been over three years since I saw a 3D film (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) and I have no intention of changing that anytime soon.

-Franchises/Cinematic Universes Are Not a Sure Bet-

Every year I have to talk about the sequels, reboots, or other franchise non-starters that failed. Why did (insert brand name and number here) not make money? How did Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean go from a billion dollar fourth films to a fifth one that will not crack $800 million? Let’s just state right now that neither of those films were bombs, but they definitely underwhelmed. People are not getting tired of sequels (we’ll come back to that), but they’re tired of mediocre films. Both On Stranger Tides and Age of Extinction coasted off the success of their previous films so who would want to see a fifth film if it’s predecessor didn’t measure up?

Now we come to what has become the biggest detriment to modern blockbusters. The obligatory cinematic universe where movies don’t need to be sequels, but can leech off of each others success to sell tickets. People have seen how Marvel changed the game and now want to copy and paste that style. The biggest faceplant right out the gate was Universal’s Dark Universe with this summer’s The Mummy. Previously Universal has tried to make this idea work with Dracula Untold which didn’t make the money they’d hoped. But if at first you don’t succeed, ignore the previous film and try again. The Mummy tried to right the ship and get this universe on track. Unfortunately instead of telling an entertaining self contained story it put the cart five miles before the horse planting the seeds for films that are still in pre-production. Nobody wants to see a film who’s main goal is to sell us on another story.

-Comic Movies Are Still Successful-

Every year people continue to predict that the superhero bubble is going to burst. While there have been some clunkers in the past few years the majority are making bank. Marvel continues their winning streak with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 pulling in over $800 million. Spider-Man: Homecoming sits at a healthy $700 million with a few major territories rolling the film out in the coming months. The DCEU upped their game with Wonder Woman raking in nearly $800 million. The best part: all three of these film received overwhelmingly positive reviews. Are we going to see superhero films crash and burn? More than likely, trends in films are cyclical as we’ve seen with the western genre. But for now it’s safe to say this genre is bankable.

-New Apparently Isn’t the Answer-

It’s funny how people have spent what feels like decades decrying Hollywood for having no original ideas. In a time when brand recognition is the biggest asset Hollywood can achieve the number of non-franchise films are diminishing. This year we had a handful of original films that had mixed results at the box office. Both Baby Driver and Dunkirk pulled in a decent return on their investment, but let’s focus on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. An ambitious space opera based off a French manga directed by Luc Beeson. It may be based off a pre-existing property, but pull fifty people in a crowd and ask them if they’ve heard of this manga. The trailers were flashy and they had two young people in the lead. And yet, a so so story really hampered this film. So while it was original it wasn’t fantastic. We need quality to go with originality.

-The Diminishing Importance of Summer-

Once Jaws came out in 1975 and made bank it changed how studios released their yearly slate of films. Since then there has been a very specific pattern in how films are released. January: The dumping ground for films studios have no faith in. February/March: Genre films that have no other place in the year. April: Key up for the summer. May/June/July/August: The moneymaker months! September/October: Comedy and Horror films predominantly. November/December: Films vying for Oscars and a handful of blockbusters released over holiday weekends. In the late 2000’s that thought process changed. 300 was a moderately budgeted film that opened on March 9th, 2007 and made over $450 million. After this studios decided to look at weekends throughout year where there was zero competition from others and popped in films hoping to dominate the box office. Spreading out high budget films has now become a major way to hedge their bets. This year alone Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, and Logan all opened before the summer started and pulled in a large amount of money. Had they opened in the May-August timeline odds are their numbers wouldn’t have been nearly as strong.

-In Conclusion-

So while studios try to distill all these problems into one easy answer they miss the point. You can not think one solution will fix a summer slump. And let’s be honest it’s a slump, nothing more.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Did you enjoy the summer films? Did you decide to stay home and binge watch Netflix and Hulu? What was your favorite/worst films of the summer. Let me know. Remember, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @sdfilmthoughts. As always, thanks for reading.

PS: I’m working on something special for an upcoming article. If I can crack it be prepared something a little different from my usual style.