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

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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.

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.

No One Sets Out to Make a Bad Film?

No One Sets Out to Make a Bad Film?

Bad films are gauged on a critical spectrum all their own. Whether you have films that are high concept failures (The Last Airbender), low budget schlock (Silent Night Deadly Night: Part 2, Street Trash, and numerous other 80’s horror films), so bad they’re good (Tammy and the T-Rex is a personal favorite of mine), movies that set out to be prestige pictures only to fail miserably (United Passions), and the rare film that transcends it’s terrible reputation to become a cultural milestone (The Room, Troll 2) there is no limit to the long list of bad films. We’re often told with multiple misfires that no one sets out to make a bad film. Ed Wood wanted to craft an important film with Glen or Glenda and 20th Century Fox wanted to reboot a superhero franchise with Fant4stic. Neither of these got the reception their creators had hoped, but what about other films? Have we entered a time where the market for terrible films is now being targeted by opportunistic directors, producers, and studios? Let’s take a look at some of the recent trends in bad filmmaking and how they’re contributing bad films in a bad way.

-The Mockbuster Market-

This is something that truly bothers me. The term “mockbuster” came into the filmmaking lexicon around the mid 2000’s. Basically when a large tentpole film gets released in theatres (Thor) a company will release a low-budget knock-off with a similar title direct to video in hopes of exploiting consumer ignorance (Almighty Thor). The most notable example of this is the production company The Asylum. While they originally made low budget films with original concepts (and still do occasionally) all that changed when their version War of the Worlds was released to coincide with the big budget Cruise/Spielberg remake. With a hit on their hands multiple films got released in this vein (Snakes on a Train, Sunday School Musical, Transmorphers, and numerous more) continuing the trend to this day. While this is by no means a current trend as these kinds of films have been around for ages. In fact: if you look back to the late 70’s early 80’s there were numerous films that tried to capitalize on the success of Star Wars. Some of these films have gone onto be classics in a somewhat odd fashion. Piranha rode the success of Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, but in turn launched the career of Joe Dante. Who coincidentally went on to direct the Spielberg produced Gremlins. The difference is now it has become a legitimate industry instead of a one off film from a producer looking to make a quick buck to finance their next project.

-Content for Cable-

My family got cable for the first time when I was a kid and it was exciting. I now had channels like Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network at my disposal. Along the way I branched into other major networks. USA was where I initially saw films like Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Critters, but along with them I saw films like Mosquito and the previously mentioned Tammy and the T-Rex. USA created the spin-off Sci-Fi channel (now known as SyFy) and this is where things got interesting. Many numerous bad films found their way onto this channel and developed a niche following. Then came 2013, there was an abnormal amount of buzz surrounding one of these films. Sharknado (a film from the previously mentioned The Asylum) hit Internet forums like an atom bomb propelling the film to a limited theatrical release and became a multi-film franchise. While the original film may have been an attempt at taking a kooky idea and make something from it the three sequels upped the ridiculous factor just to get more from this insanity. So much so that Sharknado 5: Global Meltdown debuted last night and the possibility of a sixth film not out of the question.

-Critics of the Bad-

Oh boy, here is the big factor that for me has shifted bad filmmaking into the norm. Looking back the kickstarter of this trend was the classic (and thankfully still going strong) series Mystery Science Theater 3000. What makes this show so endearing is how relatable it has always been. Who hasn’t sat around with friends and cracked jokes at a film they’re watching? With the rise of Youtube many people flocked to the platform to critique media. I’ve talked previously about a handful of these channels, but I’d like to shift my focus towards Youtuber I Hate Everything. He has a series titled “The Search for the Worst” where he berates some of lowest rent films made. One of his reviews was for the film “The Amazing Bulk”. In typical fashion he ripped the film to shreds. Surprisingly Wide Eye Releasing the company who distributed the film got in contact with him. They thanked him for raising the profile of the film and even sent him a gift. Along side the gift was a copy of their film “Shark Exorcist”. Yep, this is where things have gone. A studio now relishes the attention a bad review can give that they will go out of their way to make similar situation occur with another film. This to me is proof that some bad films are no longer a fluke. And this is what bugs me the most. What’s the point of putting forth any effort if you can film mediocrity and bank on notoriety to sell it?

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do people now set out with the intention of making a bad film? Do you think an industry of terrible films is a problem? Or does it just give people more options for their entertainment? Let me know. Remember you can follow me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts and Instagram. As always, thanks for reading.

Star Wars, Troubled Productions, and What it All Means.

Star Wars, Troubled Productions, and What it All Means.

It has been two weeks since news broke that Phil Lord and Chris Miller were exiting the upcoming Han Solo spin-off film. While it’s not uncommon for directors to pull out of a film during pre-production it’s almost unheard of for this to happen mid-shooting. I’ve been wanting to write an article discussing some aspects of what’s going on at Lucasfilm and the behind the scenes issues that have plagued Han Solo and Rogue One. Now that more news has surfaced lets consider all news/rumors and speculate what it all means.

-He Said, She Said-

As with any director departing a project the reason cited with Han Solo was “creative differences”. This is a buzz term used multiple times over in scenarios similar to this one. So, what does creative differences mean? In a nutshell: it’s a diplomatic term that can mean anything from, “The director and producer/studio have differing ideas on what the story/style of the film should be.” to “Someone on this production is completely insane and other person(s) involved don’t want to be working with them for over a year.” As of now we’re hearing conflicting stories. Story A: Lord and Miller have been facing opposition from producer Kathleen Kennedy and screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan from the get go. The pair have wanted to inject their signature style into the film and enjoy the creative freedom they’ve been given on previous films. Instead they were being treated like directors hired to execute a preordained idea that was the voice of someone else. Story B: After seeing dailies the directors had shot the studio and others involved were mortified to see a comedic tone where lead actor Alden Ehrenriech’s performance was likened to Jim Carrey. In between we’ve been hearing multiple stories that validate both sides. One story states that Disney screened a sizzle reel of shot footage to licensees to positive feedback. Another states that Ehrenreich raised concerns about what Lord and Miller were doing and that lead to Kennedy putting the kibosh on production. Who knows for sure what the truth is? I assume it’s somewhere in between.

-A Worrisome Pattern-

If all the behind the scenes issues are giving you a strange sense of deja vu you’re not alone. Just a year ago we heard about similar behind the scenes issues that Rogue One was facing. Gareth Edwards had shot a film that was rumored to be a little too gritty and more akin to a war film than your average Star Wars film. This lead to a re-shaping of the tone if not the story. Many people were asking, “How did this happen?” When you’re making films budgeted in the 150+ million dollar range everything is nailed down before the cameras roll. Even if said film turns out to be a bomb I can guarantee 9 times out of 10 it was not for lack of trying. So how has this happened twice under Lucasfilm’s watch?

-In Name Only-

When Kathleen Kennedy started talking about the direction of Star Wars after the gangbusters opening of The Force Awakens there was a distinct topic that kept creeping into the conversation. The studio wanted to recruit as many talented people to craft the stories of the series as they could. Gareth Edwards had a fantastic debut with the micro budget film Monsters and followed it up with the awesome American reboot of Godzilla. Phil Lord and Chris Miller churned out hits from films that sounded like they were going to be laughably bad. I’ll admit I had no idea I’d enjoy a 21 Jump Street reboot or a film based off of Legos as much as I did. These directors had bona fide hits and piqued my interest in creating something unique with their respective Star Wars films.  Unfortunately it seems like once Lucasfilm has these directors signed onto their films they expect them to fall into line with their vision of what the film should be. Once that doesn’t pan out they call in seasoned filmmakers like Tony Gilroy and Ron Howard to take over production and deliver a film more in line with what the studio has in mind. Not to knock Gilroy and Howard, but both of them are safe filmmakers. Nothing they’ve done in the past decade had any sense of risk to it. To me that’s the biggest detriment of them all. Last year I wrote an article about how the Star Wars spin off films were more intriguing to me than the Episode films. We have the chance to see some amazing genre mash-ups outside of the constraints of the main storyline. I’m still holding out hope that Obi-Wan Kenobi will get a film in the vein of a spaghetti western.

-What’s the Answer?-

While there has been a section of Star Wars fans who see these troubled productions as a sign of things to come, I maintain an optimistic outlook. We’ve entered a new chapter in Star Wars and with that there will be some growing pains. Kathleen Kennedy needs to take a page out of the Kevin Feige handbook. When the Marvel Cinematic Universe was starting out there were a few films that had issues (i.e. Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World) but productions got smoother. Not only did the films begin to take calculated risks in their style they found filmmakers who were trustworthy collaborators. Kennedy and Co. need to begin trusting the people they hire to deliver top quality films. We can not keep hearing about production woes on-set and cross our fingers that these films will turn out.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think Lord and Miller got the short end of the stick? Are you happy that Ron Howard is now in the director’s chair? What character would you like to see get a spin off film? Would you like to see more of a team effort in executive offices of Lucasfilm? Let me know. I’ll also be posting a link at the bottom to my previous article about the Star Wars spin offs. Remember you can find me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts and Instagram. As always, thanks for reading.

https://sdfilmthoughts.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/why-im-more-excited-for-the-star-wars-spin-offs-than-sequels/

Why are Studios Giving Tentpoles to Newcomers?

Why are Studios Giving Tentpoles to Newcomers?

In the wake of The Mummy’s recent reception including a soft domestic opening and abysmal movie reviews word came out of star Tom Cruise’s influence over the production. While director Alex Kurtzman is no stranger to blockbuster filmmaking (He’s been part of enormous franchises including: Transformers, Star Trek, and The Amazing Spider-Man) it has always been in either a screenwriter or producer capacity. So why is it that Universal Pictures entrusted him with 125 million dollar budget and having directed only a single film prior? (That film: People Like Us. A 16 million dollar drama that failed to recoup it’s budget in the theatrical run. Quite a giant leap.) The more I started thinking about this question the more I realized this isn’t something new. A recent trend has been to find a director coming off a hot debut and give them the helm of a franchise. Examples include: Marc Webb – (500) Days of Summer/The Amazing Spider-Man, Josh Trank – Chronicle/Fant4stic, Colin Trevorrow – Safety Not Guaranteed/Jurassic World, Gareth Edwards – Monsters/Godzilla. In this article I wanted to look at not only the motivation for this but also the repercussions and what could be done to avoid more so so big budget features.

-Why-

Let’s start with the initial question I posed in the title. Why would “The Big Six” want to put the fate of a franchise in the hands of people who made a films on a fraction of a scale as these? My biggest assumption is with a lot of veteran directors stagnating they want fresh blood. There is hope that if you shake things up there will be new and impressive results. Edwards gave us an engaging and humanizing look at giant creatures attacking civilization with Monsters and it cost a lean $500,000. It makes sense after the outcome of the 1998 Godzilla that finding a director who has talent and a reverence for the genre is a must. Why trust a person who sees directing as a job instead of finding someone who treats it like art?

-Consequences-

The dark side to this is what is more than likely going to happen in this scenario. Studios for the most part don’t trust someone/something new. Just take a look at the list of sequels, remakes, adaptations, and reboots that have happened and are in the pipeline. They’re in the business of making money and that means making films that are palpable for the widest audience possible. Even if the director comes in with a unique vision that will impress and astound odds are the studio only want more of the same. When Marc Webb was announced as director for The Amazing Spider-Man I had cautious optimism. Next came news that they were going to give moviegoers “The Untold Story”. A statement that even graced the film’s teaser poster. In the end, the film was just another Spider-Man story that lacked the zaniness of Sam Raimi’s style. Even worse is either losing trust in the director during or hiring someone knowing they can be micro-managed. Josh Trank infamously tweeted how a year prior to Fant4stic’s release he had a film that would’ve received great reviews instead of the critically panned clunker released. This came on a swirl of rumors that over a 3rd of the film had been re-shot and Trank was exhibiting ‘erratic behavior’ during production. Was the film a disaster or did 20th Century Fox get cold feet with Trank’s vision and wanted something more vanilla? It’s probably going to be a few more years before the dust finally settles and we’ll get the truth.

-How-

Now we come to another major question: How did we get to this point? I think there are three major factors that have contributed to this uptick. Firstly, the turnaround time from writing a script to theatrical release has shrunk dramatically. No longer are films given a gestation period that will allow for kinks to be ironed out. Seeing studios set a release date for a film before they have a final script is becoming an extremely common occurrence. Seasoned directors are less willing to risk their credibility for a half-baked film than someone looking to climb the ladder.

Secondly, the disappearance of mid budget films. It use to be that directors were groomed into blockbusters. The movies they made beforehand had incremental increases in their budgets.  This meant directors got to learn how to control larger production aspects gradually rather than overnight. Could Sam Raimi have made Spider-Man after The Evil Dead? Possibly, but it more than likely wouldn’t have turned out as good as it did. Unfortunately this is a problem that studios created for themselves. Mid budget films disappeared because making a profit on them isn’t easy. Studios now make $150 million films which are guaranteed hits or they’ll buy up a bunch of independent films for a few million dollars and earn profit this way.

Finally, studios don’t tend to care if a film is good so long as it makes money. We have seen numerous summer films make a ton of money whether or not they’re actually good. While initial reactions to Jurassic World were more on the positive side the hype has since died down and people are a little more critical. I myself really enjoyed the film when I first saw in theatres in spite of some issues, but after re-watching it at home I found it didn’t pack the same wow factor. All Universal had to do to make Jurassic World successful was sell a slick nostalgia trip filled with dinosaurs. Whether or not you like the film you have to admit Universal sold their film well and made 1.6 billion dollars in the process. Odds are they could’ve put almost any other person in the director’s chair and gotten a similar result.

These are my thoughts, but as usual what are yours? Do you think independent film directors are a positive influence on mainstream Hollywood? Would you be interested in seeing more films made on budgets of 30-75 million dollars? Do you not care who’s directing so long as the film entertains? Let me know.

Remember, you can follow me on Twitter @sdfilmthoughts and I’m now on Instagram as well. As always, thanks for reading