After seeing Jurassic World: Dominion, I noticed something about the film industry. Although they've had their ups and downs over the last few years, they're struggling to survive. Throughout the pandemic, the strongest studios survived through streaming services but with recent price jumps and inflation, movie production is more expensive and people have less money to spend on entertainment. For the film industry, this means that they need to produce strong movies consistently. Also, with the rise of streaming services and television show masterpieces that compete with movies, the film industry faces serious competition. The film industry has grown considerably in the last decade and continues to profit with its films though. They are still putting out consistent box office hits, and the quality of motion pictures, computer-generated images, and effects have made enormous improvements over the years. However, there's something that the studios are messing up in these new films.
The film industry has followed a general trend for the last decade. They need to stay afloat, so they consistently release films and meet holiday drops. However, films take time and creativity to develop a new script, story, and film. Due to this stress and limited time, screenwriters and directors produce movies that feel cheap and the same as previous releases. While the quality of films seems to be improving, the film industry is putting out terrible movies and it seems that their industry has peaked. The film industry seems to focus more on building hype with marketing for films rather than focusing on the production of films. Of the many reasons that we have gone past the ‘peak of no return’, the three reasons that they have are greed, sequels to poorly rated films, and the overuse of fan service.
The film industry wants to make money consistently, so it releases films that follow the same building blocks. For example, look at Free Guy and The Lego Movie. Filmento, a YouTube film critic, states that Free Guy and The Lego Movie are about male characters that live normal happy lives, believing that their lives are awesome until they meet an outsider female character that shows them that their world is not awesome. This leads them on a journey of discovery and a mission to save the world before it’s destroyed by people in the real world. Both of these stories have a lot in common and The Lego Movie made half a billion dollars, so seeing that The Lego Movie was very profitable, corporate executives would most definitely choose their next blockbuster film to be similar to The Lego Movie since they want the best outcome profit-wise. Free Guy would be that similar movie, and it made more than $330 million while also having an online release.
The film industry is pushing out sequels for movies, knowing that they are poorly written. They do this because it's easier to write a script for a sequel movie, they are less risky and they make a lot of money—sometimes more than the original. Here is where greed factors in again. Typically, if a new movie does well at the box office, advertisers are sure to pick up the sequel and the film makes more money in the theater. Look at the Despicable Me trilogy, the first two films received above an 80% film rating and the third received a 50% film rating. However, in the film industry’s eyes, the third film was still extremely important to produce because it meant that they didn’t have to write a new summer blockbuster story and they could make a ton of money. Later, Despicable Me 3 made $1.03 billion worldwide and the franchise is the 15th largest in history, worth $3.7 billion.
The film industry is evolving but so far, that evolution is not saving them. If you look at the top ten grossing films in the last decade, every single one is fan service. Four of them are avengers films, movies that bring all of your favorite marvel characters together. Jurassic World, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and The Lion King were fan services to a previous generation of film and were meant to create nostalgia. Furious 7 came after Paul Walker's death and brought all of the characters back to the screen, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the finale of an eight-movie series and Black Panther featured the already fan favorite and previously introduced Black Panther from his debut in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Familiarity is one reason that Black Panther did so well and Minions did so well. From a familiarity perspective, the release of two Despicable Me films led to the success of Minions in 2015, a branch off from the series focusing on the little indestructible guys that serve evil. The film not only made $1.15 billion worldwide but became the 22nd largest movie in history. Black Panther followed a similar strategy in 2018, being a familiar character. Everyone wanted to see more of his character, he was familiar with audiences and introduced, and he had a cultural significance. After Captain America: The Winter Soldier made over $700 million worldwide, Black Panther became the 13th largest movie in film history, racking up over $1.34 billion and nearly doubling the gross profits of The Winter Soldier. While fan service isn’t a bad thing at all, having the top ten biggest movies of the decade all be fan-service films is not a good sign.
The shift in the budget towards fan service is affecting viewers, causing them to go see a movie they are more familiar with since the budget is higher for the film, it’s better advertised and there is more hype around it. The film industry loves this fan service because they can bank on previous successes, but the previous generation of film is finite, and new stories are not very compelling to viewers. Studios are inevitably destroying their own future because they are not invested, for the most part, in telling new stories for our current generation of film, and they instead focus on bringing people into the theater.
The film industry is in a tight spot with newly written blockbuster films and their viewers. The film industry needs to do something new, something creative and innovative to continue to survive, or they will fall to streaming services and shows. This fan service trend may be a sign of the end of traditional movies, but only time will tell.