How Individual Movies Have Died Out in Favor of Franchises and Cinematic Universes

Two a long time in the past, we did not have iPhones or Android telephones. We did not have streaming tv providers. Netflix was round, however it was in its nascent phases as a DVD service, its films contained in these iconic shiny crimson envelopes by way of USPS. Broadband web had simply hit the market, changing dial-up. The prime films on the field workplace have been Spider-Man, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Signs, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and Austin Powers in Goldmember.

In 2022, we stream most of our content material. We have smartphones, DVRs include our cable or satellite tv for pc contacts, and Netflix is a significant content material creator in Hollywood. The web is ubiquitous. The prime films of the previous 12 months have been Spider Man: No Way Home, Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Venom: Let there be Carnage, Black Widow, F9, and Eternals. Six of the highest seven movies of 2021 have been half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the highest 9 movies have been in franchises.


There have at all times been large movie franchises, however there appears to be an oversaturated bloat of them right this moment in Hollywood. Studios have moved away from pleasant stand-alone movies and totally embraced Cinematic Universes and franchises each at multiplexes and on streaming providers. You seemingly cannot scroll by way of channels with out encountering MCU, Star Wars, Harry Potter, or DC programming. You cannot drive previous multiplexes with out seeing large billboards for the most recent choices from a franchise. There’s little question that these movies and applications are wildly fashionable with loads of individuals, however there are loads of fantastic, worthwhile, vital tales not being instructed in Hollywood, or being edged out by ‘the positive factor’ of franchises, in order that they will churn out extra spinoff content material.

Why? How did this occur? It appears to be a superb factor to the legions of followers, however is it for movie itself? Let’s have a look.

The DVD Market Evaporated

The reply to the query of “Why have particular person films died out in favor of franchises and cinematic universes” is a reasonably easy one at its core. Movies price a ridiculous quantity of cash to make lately in Hollywood. In the pre-streaming days, studios made the majority of their earnings off house media like VHS and later DVD leases and gross sales. That market had deep pockets and the movie trade milked them with particular version administrators’ cuts and different unique behind-the-scenes content material that allowed them to repackage a movie the general public had seen with new content material. In 2004, the New York Times reported that the DVD launch of Miramax’s Kill Bill: Vol. 1 made $40 million on its first day of launch.

In 2005, the Los Angeles Times wrote about this phenomenon, saying, “DVDs have supplied the fastest-growing section of present enterprise returns, with 2004 home DVD gross sales reaching $15.5 billion and DVD leases grossing $5.7 billion, in line with the Digital Entertainment Group. Videocassette gross sales and leases introduced in $3.2 billion, whereas home theater ticket gross sales totaled $9.5 billion final 12 months. The DVD windfall has taken on even better significance now that abroad film earnings are slowing.” What made the DVD income so extremely candy for studios was that they did not need to share a lot of it with anybody else, typically retaining 80% of web gross sales earnings, in line with the aforementioned L.A. Times article.

When streaming turned the main manner we devour leisure, that DVD income stream trickled off till it turned nothing and studios needed to scramble and discover one other approach to pad their earnings. Which leads us to the scenario we’re in now.

The Loss of DVD Profits Pushed Studios Towards Films With Global Appeal

The loss of DVD income in the movie trade (with gross sales dropping roughly 90% since 2008, coincidentally the 12 months the MCU started, in line with CNBC) led on to the drastic change in technique we have seen play out. Basically, the studios began making extra movies which have world attraction and much less particular movie like 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine. Spider-Man and the MCU have an attraction that’s as large in Topeka, Kansas as it’s in Osaka, Japan. Studios actually get extra bang for his or her buck with this one-size-fits-all mannequin of filmmaking, and even modify their scripts in conjunction with international governments and censors in order to attraction to world markets, as Marvel and Disney did with China. Spider-Man and Fast and Furious and Thor are world sensations because of this.

Streaming Services Cut Studio Revenue and Changed the Competition

Nothing has stayed steady for lengthy over the previous 15 years in the movie trade. Studios misplaced the DVD gross sales income and discovered a approach to recoup it. Then Netflix obtained into producing its personal content material, and Disney+, AppleTV+, Paramount+, and so on all obtained into the sport. There are extra individuals making extra content material right this moment than ever, however they’re telling the identical tales. Still, studios had the Academy Awards and that status on their aspect; the Oscars had a long-standing rule that in order for a movie to be eligible it wanted to be proven in theaters earlier than the top of the earlier 12 months. All of that modified in 2021, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences dominated that movies which debuted on streaming providers could be eligible for the Academy Award.

RELATED: CODA: Here’s Why the Movie Deserves its Best Picture Oscar

Studios obtained nervous, however absolutely one of these younger upstart streaming providers could not crack the code of the Academy Awards? The Oscars had historical past and weight and significance. Considering the proliferation of franchise movies and cinematic universe movies, studios ought to have been quaking in their boots. Then, in 2022, it occurred. CODA was named Best Picture.

It was produced by and debuted on AppleTV+, and additionally took house the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and Best Adapted Screenplay as properly. And but, what have been we nonetheless getting in theaters from main Hollywood studios? Franchises and cinematic universes. The CODA win will not change a lot although; streaming-only debuts have been banned for Oscar eligibility once more, so the studios have laissez-faire management and no competitors as soon as extra.

Studios Have Grown Risk-Averse

Ask any true movie buff (somebody who is not only a Marvel fanboy, to be clear) how they really feel concerning the state of the movie trade in 2022, and you are prone to get some model of the assertion that creativity is lifeless, all studios care about is the underside line, and nobody sees any manner out of it if none of the studios will take an opportunity on an modern challenge. While this all sounds trite and banal, the reality is that studios have turn out to be extremely risk-averse and desire to churn out franchise movies that every one use the identical characters in the identical storytelling framework. They can predict how these movies will do. The fits on the studios have misplaced their imaginative and prescient and creativity; they’re enjoying it secure, and it comes at a excessive price to filmmaking. The movie trade equates cash and earnings with continued, assured audiences.

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Top Gun: Maverick is breaking the financial institution in field workplace numbers proper now, although. Yes, it is half of a restricted franchise, however it’s a sequel present greater than 35 years after the unique, so it is not precisely what could possibly be referred to as ‘franchise filmmaking.’ This movie marks a throwback to a method of storytelling and filmmaking that has been all however lifeless for 15 years the person, non-franchise, mainstream Hollywood blockbuster. Studios ought to take observe, as a result of audiences are loving it. Change the script, actually.

​​​​​​​The rise of social media is not doing the Hollywood studio system any favors both. Executives depend on algorithms concerning the variety of traction film information and trailers are attending to make choices. While it is a large half of advertising and marketing methods, the aspect of shock goes away when studios rely an excessive amount of on what social media reveals to them. Fans wreck the franchises they love by continually shaping their productions with suggestions, criticism, and opinions, and that is as a result of these franchises rely on mental property the followers know and are protecting of. With authentic, particular person films that are not primarily based on or continuations of these characters, studios do not need to crowdsource creativity and fear about what rabid, apoplectic followers they may piss off and as an alternative make a film that really is totally different, inventive, and stunning. CODA did that, and it took house three Oscars in 2022.

Hollywood has at all times relied upon innovation to progress the artwork of cinema. The first movies have been silent and in black and white. Then talkies got here, and coloration movie got here, and particular results emerged from its schlocky beginnings to turn out to be really wondrous. Digital advanced from movie, cameras obtained lighter, tv and house media modified distribution, and now social media is altering the viewers’s relationship to cinema, however these technological advances occur on a regular basis. The movie trade seems to really feel like they cannot management the message on social media, and in order that they both cower and acquiesce to calls for (negotiating with terrorists, or ‘the fanbase’) or they run scared. They ought to be simply making the perfect, most modern, numerous movies they will. Paradoxically, that’s how they will have extra management over the social media messaging making the perfect artwork they will.

The Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Film

The COVID-19 pandemic and its lockdowns affected each single one of us. For months on finish we have been confined to our properties, and Netflix and different streaming providers turned important to maintaining our sanity. A voracious urge for food for brand new content material was collectively unleashed in individuals we would have liked extra content material and new content material quicker. After all, there was actually nothing else to do. That beast has been operating rampant for 2 and a half years, and It’s unlikely to be reigned in.

Audiences are used to having recent, new exhibits and films to look at 24/7. We’ve turn out to be a machine the studios are scrambling to feed; artistry and filmmaking, just like the relaxation of capitalism, has to maintain producing extra and extra, with line graphs perpetually up and to the precise. That’s going to resonate in the way in which movies are made for a few years to return. If audiences don’t desire an period of McFilms and bland films of mass consumptions, perhaps they need to cease demanding such a excessive provide and savor what’s glorious, when or if it comes.

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