Tag: looking ahead

 

Posted on by Scott Delahunt

With the New Year looming in the distance, it’s time to take a look at what can be expected next year. The box office this year shows that there is one thing for certain that audiences will see in theatres.

More adaptations.

Not only are adaptations not going away, they are staples for theatrical releases. A look at Box Office Mojo’s year end tallies shows that the first non-sequel, non-adaptation film is at number 12 on the list – /Dunkirk/, which is based on historical events. The first original film not based on anything is Get Out, Jordan Peele’s horror film, at number 14. The top ten are sequels, adaptations, or sequels of adaptations. Adaptations still pull in an audience, so studios aren’t going to start making original blockbusters just yet. The risk is still too high for them to try something original.

That’s just the silver screen, though. Netflix is having success with both its Marvel series and its own original works like Stranger Things. The more traditional broadcasters are having success with orignal series, though they are also airing remakes, such as Hawaii Five-0 and Macgyver, and adaptations, like Gotham and Lethal Weapon. The nature of television means that it is less expensive to fund original works than to license an existing one, and certain genres are good for formulaic approaches that still work despite decades of being in use. Legal dramas and police procedurals are standards; new series can put their own twist on the formula and still maintain an audience. Thus, NCIS, a military police procedural; Law & Order: SVU, a mix of legal drama and police procedural made popular by the parent show, Law & Order; and even Lethal Weapon, a mix of police procedural, buddy cop comedy, and family drama*. Television hasn’t been the medium to expect innovation from for several decades, but with online streaming becoming the competition, broadcasters will have to look to new ways to tell new stories. The format of TV allows for more depth than a movie while still providing what the audience wants.

Superhero adaptations aren’t going away yet. While Warner stumbled this past year, with Justice League underperforming following similar performances by 2016’s Batman v Superman: The Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad, Marvel’s output is still going strong. Warner’s Wonder Woman also did well, so the problem with the rest of the DC movies may be inherent in just those films. Marvel characters all did well, no matter the studio producing the movie. With Disney seeing great returns on their investment, there will be more Marvel characters on the silver screen in the coming year. Warner has several more DC movies lined up, though there may be tweaking. Valiant and Image are looking at getting their share of the superhero box office, adding more adaptations to the mix. It’s hard to tell if superheroes are a bubble or will be the replacement for the Western right now.

There is still a demand for adaptations of popular works. Until audiences are tired of only adaptations, original works will have to find ways of getting into the popular subconscious in new ways. Fortunately, online streaming needs even more content than even broadcast networks can use, and reruns only go so far. Watch for online content to become the next big thing to be adapted.

* Arguably, the Lethal Weapon TV series is about two family men, one of whom has lost his and is suffering as a result.

Posted on by Scott Delahunt

The one thing that 2016 is guaranteed to have is more adaptations.  The current cycle may be reaching a peak, but there are a number of adaptations in the pipelines still to be released.  But if the peak is near, the two things that will mark getting past the apex is quality and audience reception.

Quality is tough to quantify, but, overall, adaptations today are far more faithful now than ever before.  Studios have learned that the in-name-only adaptation is doomed to failure from the outset.  Word of mouth is far faster today thanks to social media.  Audiences can warn others about a movie’s flaws during a screening.  At the same time, a movie that hits the heart of a work will also get audiences telling others about it.  Social media is a double-edged sword for studios.

Audience reception is easier to measure.  Box office returns, while not the best method, is still what studios look at as a measure of a film’s success.  The dollar amount isn’t the only part looked at; the amount brought in compared to a film’s budget is key.  An expensive film that brings in over a billion dollars, such as Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, isn’t the only success; a lower budget movie that still brings in ten times what it was made is also successful.  As long as audiences keep going to adaptations, they will be made.  One flop isn’t going to kill the current trend.  It will take a number of failures over a short period to convince a studio to try something different.  Thus, Universal’s failure with Jem and the Holograms isn’t going to dissuade the studio from continuing with the Fifty Shades of Grey series*.

Adaptations have always been a part of Hollywood.  The coming year is will be no different.  A backlash against the number of adaptations may be beginning, but it’ll take a few years before it gets felt.  Studios have adaptations in various stages of production; cancelling will cost money, and there’s no indication now that audiences will stay away in droves in the hope for something original.  Even then, the superhero movie is becoming a mainstay.  Where the Western and the rogue cop films have far too much baggage to them to be regular features, the superhero can take the appeal of the other two genres without their drawbacks.

Even television isn’t immune to adaptations.  Many series, including The Librarians, The Expanse, Dark Matter, and The Last Ship, are all adapted from other works.  Expect more works to be adapted as television series; the format allows for a greater depth at the expense of the fickleness of ratings.  Even the fickleness can be avoided; the 500-channel universe means that a work will find its audience.  A Game of Thrones has proven to be a hit for HBO, bringing in subscribers tuning in for that one series.

As mentioned above, quality is the key.  If the adaptation makes an effort to be faithful to the original work, audiences will watch.  Studios are learning this; the failure of Jem and the Holograms is noteworthy because it failed to meet fan expectations.  Fifty Shades of Grey met fan expectations, despite the casting choices.  The lesson is there to be learned.

* Issues between director and author might cause delays, though.

Posted on by Scott Delahunt

The one thing that 2016 is guaranteed to have is more adaptations.  The current cycle may be reaching a peak, but there are a number of adaptations in the pipelines still to be released.  But if the peak is near, the two things that will mark getting past the apex is quality and audience reception.

Quality is tough to quantify, but, overall, adaptations today are far more faithful now than ever before.  Studios have learned that the in-name-only adaptation is doomed to failure from the outset.  Word of mouth is far faster today thanks to social media.  Audiences can warn others about a movie’s flaws during a screening.  At the same time, a movie that hits the heart of a work will also get audiences telling others about it.  Social media is a double-edged sword for studios.

Audience reception is easier to measure.  Box office returns, while not the best method, is still what studios look at as a measure of a film’s success.  The dollar amount isn’t the only part looked at; the amount brought in compared to a film’s budget is key.  An expensive film that brings in over a billion dollars, such as Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, isn’t the only success; a lower budget movie that still brings in ten times what it was made is also successful.  As long as audiences keep going to adaptations, they will be made.  One flop isn’t going to kill the current trend.  It will take a number of failures over a short period to convince a studio to try something different.  Thus, Universal’s failure with Jem and the Holograms isn’t going to dissuade the studio from continuing with the Fifty Shades of Grey series*.

Adaptations have always been a part of Hollywood.  The coming year is will be no different.  A backlash against the number of adaptations may be beginning, but it’ll take a few years before it gets felt.  Studios have adaptations in various stages of production; cancelling will cost money, and there’s no indication now that audiences will stay away in droves in the hope for something original.  Even then, the superhero movie is becoming a mainstay.  Where the Western and the rogue cop films have far too much baggage to them to be regular features, the superhero can take the appeal of the other two genres without their drawbacks.

Even television isn’t immune to adaptations.  Many series, including The Librarians, The Expanse, Dark Matter, and The Last Ship, are all adapted from other works.  Expect more works to be adapted as television series; the format allows for a greater depth at the expense of the fickleness of ratings.  Even the fickleness can be avoided; the 500-channel universe means that a work will find its audience.  A Game of Thrones has proven to be a hit for HBO, bringing in subscribers tuning in for that one series.

As mentioned above, quality is the key.  If the adaptation makes an effort to be faithful to the original work, audiences will watch.  Studios are learning this; the failure of Jem and the Holograms is noteworthy because it failed to meet fan expectations.  Fifty Shades of Grey met fan expectations, despite the casting choices.  The lesson is there to be learned.

* Issues between director and author might cause delays, though.

Posted on by Scott Delahunt

Happy New Year!

Last week, I looked at what happened in 2013.  This week, time to figure out what could happen.

This year coming, 2014, will be the make-or-break year of the blockbuster.  There are a number of forces acting on movies right now, including the need to use the foreign market to make a film profitable and the growing number of financial flops from 2013.  Sure, not every movie will succeed, but big budget failures can force a studio over the financial cliff.

First, the foreign markets.  Several recent blockbusters, such as Battleship and Pacific Rim relied on international sales to turn a profit.  A few others, notably The Lone Ranger, bombed in both domestic and international markets.  International markets introduce additional problems in making a film.  What will sell an American audience on a movie could very well turn away audiences elsewhere.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra turned the all-American special forces team into an international effort because the international market gets turned off by American-style patriotism.  At the same time, the international market, in particular, China, wants to see familiar characters.  Original works like Pacific Rim don’t generate the interest as The Amazing Spider-Man or Man of Steel do.  The Lone Ranger, as mentioned last week, isn’t on the pop culture radar anymore.

Second, budgets.  Big budgets lead to big expectations.  The Hangover Part III had a US$100 million budget, the same budget The Phantom Menace had.  The latter had extensive special effects, pioneering some CGI techniques.  The former was a loud comedy with some special effects but not as extensive.  The Hangover 3 brought in US$200 million less than The Hangover Part II, which had a lower budget.  A quick look at some of the movies of 2013: Man of Steel had a US$225 million budget; Pacific Rim, US$190 million; Gravity, US$100 million.  Expectations for each of these movies were high.  Battleship had a US$200 million budget, but the writing was formulaic, Save the Cat-style.  For US$200 million, people didn’t want a series of checkboxes, they wanted a proper story with proper characters.

Several adaptation sequels are already being delayed.  City of Ashes, the second in The Mortal Instruments series has been pushed back to 2015 because of the poor reception of City of Bones.  The 50 Shades of Grey adaptation has been moved from August 2014 to February 2015, because of casting problems.

Casting may cause problems for other movies.  With 50 Shades of Grey, the fans weren’t enthused with either choice for Christian Grey, nor with any of the other cast members; they wanted the actors E.L. James had in mind, whether or not the actors would agree.  Over at Warner, the choice of Ben Affleck as Batman in the World’s Finest movie had Twitter exploding; fans were citing Daredevil as a reason the Batfleck was a bad idea.  Will disagreement over casting make a difference?  Time will tell.  I suspect that the Batman-Superman movie will have a audiences about the same size as Man of Steel.  With 50 Shades, it gets harder to predict.  Movies rated R don’t perform as well as those rated PG; the audience is limited by age, and 50 Shades will not be a movie for the under-10 set.  The studio, though, is hedging its bets; it will release the NC-17 version a few weeks afterwards, trying to get audiences to return for a second viewing.  Theatres will have to decide if they want the hassle of showing an NC-17 movie; unlike the R rating that allows accompanied minors in, NC-17 bars anyone seventeen and younger completely, even with a parent.  The nature of 50 Shades, though, should give most people an idea of what to expect, R or NC-17.

Studios won’t be as quick to adapt novels, especially debut novels.  Even though neither The Host nor City of Bones were big budget movies, both floundered at the box office.  The problem was that neither book were known to the general public* in the way Harry Potter was.  Given that studios are risk adverse and prone to following trends instead of being original, both movies were made in the hopes of recreating the success of Harry Potter, or at least Twilight.  Author appeal can work when the author has a large body of work, like Stephen King or Tom Clancy, but it doesn’t always work.  The Bourne movies have more recognition because of the character than because of the author, Robert Ludlum.  A flash-in-the-pan author may not see debut novels snapped up, not unless the work seeps out into the general public.

There are some bright lights, though.  Marvel has hit its stride, with Iron Man 3 maintaining the momentum of The Avengers.  Marvel is also willing to risk making movies of their lesser lights.  The company has seen B-level heroes succeed; prior to the Iron Man movie, Tony Stark wasn’t in the same league in popularity as Spider-Man, Wolverine, or the X-Men.  The biggest name in the Avengers Initiative leading up to The Avengers was the Hulk, who previously had a TV series.  With successes like the Avengers Initiative, trying out Guardians of the Galaxy makes sense and could lead to adapting the Infinity Gauntlet storyGuardians of the Galaxy is the movie to keep an eye on; its success or failure won’t break Marvel Studios, not with the Avengers sequel coming up, but will determine whether comic book movies featuring B- and C-list heroes can be popular.  Marvel is also willing to experiment, working with Netflix to create series for their street-level heroes not already licensed out.

This coming year will be a year of change for studios.  Any movie already filming will be released; the work is too far along to stop, though delays are possible.  However, studios may start looking hard at the bottom line and start questioning whether that $200 million budget could be better spent and force filmmakers to do with smaller budgets.  Adaptations will continue; the foreign market is too big and too lucrative to ignore, but the decision about what gets adapted will be scrutinized more.  The blockbuster bubble won’t pop in 2014, but the weak points will be seen.

Next week, the first review of 2014.

* The general public could name characters from Harry Potter (beyond just Harry), Twilight, and The Hunger Games before the authors were approached with bags of money.  This didn’t happen with The Host, despite sharing its author with Twilight, or with The Mortal Instruments.

...
Seventh Sanctum™, the page of random generators.

...  ...  ... ...

...
 
Seventh Sanctum(tm) and its contents are copyright (c) 2013 by Steven Savage except where otherwise noted. No infringement or claim on any copyrighted material is intended. Code provided in these pages is free for all to use as long as the author and this website are credited. No guarantees whatsoever are made regarding these generators or their contents.

&nbps;

Seventh Sanctum Logo by Megami Studios