So as I’m sure everyone is aware, 2018 has been an amazing year for film franchises so far – and also to follow for the remaining months. We’ve been seeing new Star Wars, Jurassic Park, and Harry Potter spin-offs and throwbacks, as well as further extension of both the DC and Marvel cinematic universes. Of course these franchises themselves aren’t an issue, in fact I’ve loved having so many new films being released that I actually want to watch! The main issue is that it’s all becoming, well, very predictable.
Of the five aforementioned franchises, two of their recent films rely solely on prequels (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Solo: A Star Wars Story) based around fan-loved characters who received less focus in the source filmology, and rely very heavily on nostalgia. The remaining franchises also cash in on the nostalgia-grab, the Jurassic World series bringing in characters like Dr Ian Malcolm and Henry Wu from the very first Jurassic Park films. The Marvel and DC films are introducing more and more extended comicverse characters to their cinematic repertoire as well now, with Captain Marvel to receive her own film, and the antihero Cable appearing for the first time in Deadpool 2. DC has brought in Aquaman and Cyborg in Justice League, whilst also giving Gal Gadot the iconic look from the original comics for her revival of Wonder Woman.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love a good throwback film like Jurassic World or a big superhero team-up like Justice League or Avengers: Infinity War, or Deadpool 2, or Guardians of the Galaxy, or… Ah. This is what I am referring to by the predictability; Large franchises are beginning to monopolise cinema screens and they know there is little competition for their large conglomerate bodies now, and as a result it feels like their scripts have become, well, lazy. I said that I loved pretty much all of the already mentioned films and characters, and I do. That being said, I didn’t think many of those films were actually good films.
By this, I mean that I did enjoy watching them, and did want to pay to see them during their opening week, but I did not feel that as films they would have succeeded as much if they had not been in an already well-established franchise, and without the added hype that brings. A good example of the other side of this coin would be Fight Club, which is largely considered a cult classic but flopped in the box office in 1999 raising only $39million (after costing approximately $60million to make). This was a well-written and critically acclaimed film, but because it did not have the public awareness of the next big superhero film, it struggled to make back half of it’s actual budget. Meanwhile, a film with a predictable and tired storyline can make six times that amount in the opening week alone, simply because people already know and enjoy the content.
Again, I must reiterate that I don’t have a quarrel with these large franchises, and I do enjoy their content, but I also worry for the future of cinema when we are also moving so fast towards an era where filmhouses may no longer exist due to the rise in livestreaming and downloading films. I love going to the cinema for the experience, and I love to also watch lesser-known gems on the big screen; I just hope that this can continue to be a possibility for future generations.