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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Did Guardians of the Galaxy kill the Mega Star?

Whoops did I do that?


Go back in time a year and Guardians of the Galaxy was being projected as Marvel's first financial bomb.  While groups of nerds were busy reading up on recent stories Marvel stories like Annihilation Conquest and War of Kings most mainstream people were saying "Huh?" I recall reading a story from a supposed financial guru who predicted the worst, it would be a John Carter like bomb.  The end of  the Superhero movie was upon us.

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I am going to admit even though I knew the recent Lanning stories that were being converted into the movie I was very surprised to see Marvel choose this project over others.  They have other brands that are much more well known than Guardians of the Galaxy.  It was a very, very bold project to the point of being brazen.

 "A talking Raccoon? A tree? A character who only says one line?"  More over many recent sci fi films such as Tom Cruise's Oblivion and Edge of Tomorrow have only raked in modest amounts.  John Carter another sci fi film based on the old pulp story completely bombed (Despite being really good).  Will Smith's last sci fi movie did poorly as well, I can't even recall its name. What on Earth is Marvel thinking.

Further Marvel doubles down on crazy.  They don't get A list actors to lead the charge into the cosmos.  They get Chris Pratt a guy most known for playing a chubby guy on a TV show.  Not Tom Cruise, not Will Smith....Chris @#@$ing Pratt!

Then Marvel hired a WWF wrestler Bautista to play a main character even though he lacked much true acting experience.  A WWF wrestler? Don't they remember the Hulk Hogan movie Suburban Commando?  Well of course they don't no one does because it bombed.

Zoe Saldana who has solid roles in ensemble castes of Star Trek and Avatar seemed like a good choice.  Though her name while not detracting is not the type of name that automatically sells tickets either.

Yes, A-list actors like Vin Diesel, and Bradley Cooper lent their voices to two of the main characters.   But both play CGI created characters and only their voices that show up on film.

All of these actors did an amazing job.  All of them.  All of them were talented.  But none of them, not one of them was considered to be a lead mega star actor that Hollywood normally hitches its big budget films to.  Keep in mind that many Hollywood observers are predicting Super Hero movie fatigue as well.

The result of this wanton, bold move of Marvel?  Massive success!
Guardians of the Galaxy is the most successful movie to open in August EVER!!! In its first weekend Guardians made $94 million domestically and $160 million worldwide.  It continues to rake in money over the weekdays.  It is also drawing in more female viewers than previous comic book movies.

Will Smith is in it but have you seen it?

Tom Cruise is in it, but have you seen it?



If you are analyst of Hollywood you are taking notes.  The formulas that used to lead to success are changing.  I don't think that this is all about Marvel, and certainly it is not just about Guardians of the Galaxy.  These are merely data points is a sea of variables that represent the tastes of the movie going public.  The reality is that there have been signs of this all over, this is movie is just the straw that broke the camels back.  The movie going public is shifting their taste away from the big name actor, and big name director to brands they like.  This is going on all over the place and there are going to be repercussions in the industry.  Would you rather see a Will Smith movie or a Game of Thrones movie?  Do you want to see the Arnold Schwarzenegger Action Movie or Hunger Games?  The Steven Speilberg Sci Fi Drama or Guardians of the Galaxy? Which name carries more weight with you? 

I think clearly in today's world people care more about the story and content of what they are going to see, more than they care about Who is in it, and Who Directed it.  This is very different than what has been the norm in Hollywood for the past....?....60 years?  You almost need to go back to the age of the Studio System to find another shift this seismic.  What we are seeing looks like a reversion back into a studio like system.  The studios buy licenses to the content that viewers care about then hire talented (Not necessarily big name) actors and directors to make it. 

Why did this happen? and what does it mean?

Technology
There is a reality that at one point Arnold Schwarzenegger was the closest thing the movie going public could come to a super hero.  He was huge, strong and physical.  Arnold could not fly though, Arnold could not lift cars, or swing between buildings.  Moreover, attempts at making those things look real sometimes looked awful. Hollywood was limited on what stories it could convert to film based off their technology.

As technology has improved new doors have opened where suddenly Hollywood can make a Spider-Man movie, a Harry Potter movie.  All the stories that fans of books, and comics have always yearned for can suddenly be made.

Does a fan of Harry Potter care who plays Harry Potter? Yes.  But does Harry have to be played by Tom Cruise?  No.  The quality of the actor instantly becomes far more important than their name.  Daredevil is being played by Charlie Cox.  Do I care that I don't know his name, nope not at all.  I was much more concerned that he could pull off playing the character.  I cared about his acting talent, as opposed to how well I knew his name.

The most important thing to note here is that technology is not a fad.  This is not a genie that is going back into its bottle.  No if anything this is a longterm trend that will only continue to get stronger as time goes on and technology gets better.

Geeks, Fans and Comic Cons: 
  As technology has opened up the ability  for Hollywood to make books and comics into quality films the need to figure out which stories are turned to film is increasingly fan based.   Hollywood has increasingly become connected with the fans of the printed world.  The result is that Hollywood is a major part of Comic Cons.  The two worlds are very much united to the chagrin of many on both sides. Many actors hate standing in front and talking to a room of geeks.  Some geeks hate the invasion of Hollywood in their domain.  Once quiet, niche comic cons are now loud and crowded.   The fans at comic cons have taken power away from Hollywood on which stories it tells, and now they increasingly drive what stories are turned into film.  It has in effect become a more bottom up, consumer focused model than in the past.

Results:

There are many results from this:

  • The higher end actors will be paid less.  They will be evaluated more based off their skills as actors and ability to promote films than on the cache of their name.
  • More opportunities for up and coming actors.
  • Less original stories directly from Hollywood.  Hollywood is going to take successful content from its past, tv, books, and comics.  These stories that are already known brands are what the movie going population want and Hollywood will deliver.
  • Owning big name content like Starwars, Harry Potter, Terminator, Marvel, DC is now more important than ever before. This will also give more power to Studios who own the content on what the movie should like and less to directors.
  • Mavens of content will increasingly get jobs in Hollywood for directing/ acting etc over potentially more talented rivals.  Knowing the underlying content is going be a critical part of the resume when making a movie.
Also one more major change to come:

Niche Movie Critics
There is a change that is going to come to movie critics as well.  This is just my prediction but I just don't see how it can't happen.
Many movie critics hate comic book movies and their success because it puts them in an awkward position.  Instead of critiquing a movie based off its own merits, they must now critique how well it delivers on the expectations of the underlying brand that the fans want.  They hate this, in part because they can't do it.
Is it a good movie or is it a good representation of Guardians of the Galaxy.  These are different questions and many movie critics are struggling to answer the latter.  Instead, of studying film they must suddenly become brand mavens.  They must know comics, books and all the sources that are being converted to film instead of just judging the film itself.

I think this will inevitably to lead to Niche Movie Critics.  There will be critics who are trusted to give thumbs up and thumb down on specific content based off the source of the movie rather than just an overall film critic.  In some sense this change has already happened everywhere else.  Companies no longer try to deliver the best tomato sauce, they deliver the best chunky tomato sauce, the best sweet tomato sauce.  It is not about building something that everyone likes, but instead about building the best something that a cluster of people want.  The day is nigh where movie critics opinions will based on clusters so that they can deliver a more meaningful opinion to the populations they serve.


Related:
Who Starlords Father? Why is he so important? 
Who is Starlord? 
Holy crap is that BETA RAY BILL!?!  
Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy? 
Top 10 Character in Guardians of the Galaxy
Top 5 Villains in Guardians of the Galaxy 
Marvel Alien Races and Cosmic Maps

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