Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Summer Blockbuster


There's something awe-inspiring about the summer blockbuster movie. The term has become part of our culture. A buzzword for the over budget, action packed, usually sequel driven, Hollywood mega movie. The actual genesis of the term stems from the fact that a particular movie has become so popular that movie goers can be seen standing in long lines that literally wrap around the block. Summer 2007 is no different, with a host of extremely hyped-up movies to enjoy. However, I have yet to be won over by any of these.

I think the problem with the movie industry is that they are relying more and more heavily on "hitting it out of the park" with their big budget blockbusters. But the production and marketing costs are getting up into the stratosphere, which ups the risks even further. The sad part of this whole model is that these seemingly mediocre titles continue to do extremely well financially. Just look at how much "Spider-Man 3", "Shrek 3" and "Pirates 3" raked in this past month or so (I've seen both Spider-Man and Pirates and have yet to come out of the theatre with any sort of overwhelming satisfaction). I think it's safe to say these movies have their incredible hype and developed branding to thank.. that, and a couple hundred grand in marketing dollars.

I like to think of it as the American Idol-effect. People will watch or buy what is being talked about. Commericals are talking to them. Giant billboards speak to them. Friends and family talk about how promising these epics will be. The associated, licensed shovel-ware games scream from their Wal-mart boxes at you. Message boards debate about the particular super hero's suit to endless detail. If you really step back and admire it's beauty, the marketing machine can be virtually unstoppable. But when something has this much hype, you're essentially building it up to unachievable heights. Naturally the reviews are going to be bad (and sometimes these are well deserved). The problem is that the hype-machine has already done its job and done it well. No matter how bad a movie is, by week 2 or 3, it's already earned back the production and marketing costs (worldwide or sometimes even domestically) and then some.

This is when those studio executives stop reading the negative reviews and start eying those bags full of money rolling in, and visions of even more sequels begin floating around in their heads. Unfortunately for us, this seems to be an endless cycle, and a vicious one at that. We are the solution to and cause of it all. So if you're wondering why DreamWorks is already planning to make a "Shrek 4" and "Shrek 5", don't blame them, blame yourselves. Or maybe just go out and see "Knocked Up" instead. With a production cost of only $30 million, it's just the opposite of a summer blockbuster.. which means it might actually be good.

1 comment:

Rodrigo said...

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