Saturday, July 26, 2014

(Movies) Hollywood:Trouble in the land of Make Believe?

Hollywood has many problems from it's apparent gender bias behind the camera and depressing representation of the LGBT community in front of it but now Hollywood now is facing a another problem it needs to counter quickly: sluggish summer blockbuster slumps.

Hollywood has had it's dry spots before but an expected 15 to 20 drop at the box office compared to last years performance in the summer representing, according to The Hollywood Reporter, "the worst year over year decline in three decades". If that wasn't bad enough overall revenue is struggling to break the 4 billion mark, a mark surpassed for the last 8 years.

The macro picture doesn't look great and it doesn't any better on the movie release level either as according to the The Hollywood Reporter, "for the first time since 2001 no summer pic will cross $300 million domestically (X-Men: Days of Future Past and Transformers: Age of Extinction hover near $230 million)". 

However, Hollywood can breathe easy as it's performance internationally has been stellar however the year over year decline in performance is reflected in the performance in the sequels of Hollywoods' when compared to their predecessors. for example, this years' Spidernan release earned $706.1 million worldwide but earned $51 million less than it's predecessor, The Amazing Spiderman. 

Dawn of the Planet of The Apes was also outperformed by it's predecessor, The Rise of The Planet of the Apes, by $217 million despite having an earlier summer release. The only film that escaped the trend was X-Men: Days of Future Past as it earned $736 million worldwide comfortably outperforming it's last outing, X-Men: First Class, by a cool $383 million.

There are a number of reasons to explain the notable drop in the takings from the quality of modern television to an ever fragmenting audience with an even more varied consumption habits when it comes consuming movies. However, the truth is that the majority of movies being made recently, particularly those that gross in the hundreds of millions, are either horrendous (any Transformer movie of your choice) or mediocre.

Movies like The Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or X-Men: Days of Future Past aren't bad movies and have fared well under critical review (both films were rated certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes with scores of 91% and 92% respectfully) but they're no candidates for entry into the cannon of western cinema by a long shot.

Hollywood's concentration on making global hits that can translate across a large and varied audience has diluted the dramatic value of it's biggest earning titles to the point that the brilliant technical feats offered by these big budget behemoths often outshines the human drama on offer. The most poignant example of this is The Dawn of the Planet of The examples where a large company CGI and motion captured primates offered more nuance and dramatic tension than their human counterparts.

Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Kerry Russell are all terrific actors but they were forced to make the best of dull and pancake flat characters which punctuates the recent and continued trend of A-list caliber talent taking on TV projects due to the lack of well written movie roles around for actors of Oldman's, Clarke's and Russell's quality to sink their teeth into as Rob Reiner has pointed out, Hollywood "...don't make movies about real people".  

In sum, the Hollywood machine will continue to crank out CGI heavy blockbuster for a long time yet as they, quite simply, keep on the lights but the need for real human drama is in real demand as people will eventually get sick of watching two robot beat the code out of each other or monsters destroying cities with no human fallout and if the recent numbers say anything, the audience might already be there. 

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