Movies: The Falling Star of Mega-Movies (or, Make a Wish!)

Is it too much to hope that we've finally hit that wall wherein the moviegoing public is tired of being force fed major blockbusters? After After EarthThe Lone Ranger and Pacific Rim and now the poorly tracking R.I.P.D. . . . If I stretch a little, I can even include Star Trek Into Darkness since it underperformed when held up against the 2009 reboot (taking into account that the 2009 movie did not have 3D and IMAX sales to boost ticket prices).

On the flip side, however, there are hits like Iron Man 3 and Fast and Furious 6. And Man of Steel did well, too, though reviews were not 100% glowing.

Where does this leave us? Well, while I'd like to think it means studios might save a little money and put it aside for smaller films, my big fear is that even the big movies will be narrowed down to only those that are (a) sequels and/or (b) based on a comic book. Studios won't want to risk making anything original; they won't want to develop new product or try anything not already tested.

If movies were meals, as a viewing audience we'd now be subsisting on primarily junk food. (Maybe this explains why we're obese as a nation—mentally as well as physically.) "Smart" and "skinny" movies can't get produced except independently, and that's only when and if anyone can scrape together the money.

There's hope, though, in the small progress. Movies like Mud and Before Midnight and Fruitvale Station that can at least create a bit of buzz, thus cutting through the deafening roar of the action blockbusters. (Okay, yes, Before Midnight is also a sequel too, but there are no spaceships or superheroes at least.) Unfortunately, until these kinds of movies make serious money, the studios will probably continue to mostly ignore them. Or, should the glorious day ever come when the big movies no longer draw so many bodies, maybe the studios will then reconsider their slates and decide smaller, cheaper films are less risky. (For them it's not about the art so much as the business.)

Of course, then we'll have to live on a diet of mostly gore, since horror movies are cheap to make and draw crowds . . .

Well, let's tackle one problem at a time.

What we need now is a wider range of movies. We need a buffet. We need more options so that there's something at the multiplex for every taste.

I hope against hope that as crowds for tentpole films ebb like an outgoing tide, instead of putting all their eggs in one or two baskets, so to speak, studios will diversify. I hope they'll open up to developing new ideas and talents, and that the art of the pitch will make a comeback. I hope this in part for selfish reasons—I am a screenwriter who would like to be able to pitch my scripts and ideas—but also for the greater good. We as an audience need a better film diet. But until we demand it (and we do this by withholding our dollars from the blockbusters as much as by being vocal about wanting other kinds of movies, and by turning out to see those smaller films), the studios will only continue to serve up whatever they sit fit to cook.

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