Summer Movie Blockbuster Mania!
Summer Movie Blockbuster Mania!
What defines a film as being a blockbuster movie? Now that the summer movie season is in full effect that term is tossed around a lot, but what does it actually entail? These days it seems that McDonald’s Happy Meal toys are the telltale sign that a film is expected to be a huge box office success, even if the movie itself isn’t any good. Let’s briefly explore the dynamics of modern, high-budget cinema that has been beaten into our subconscious as “the movie that everyone will pay to go see whether it is good or not” culture.
The very first film to be labeled “blockbuster” was ‘Jaws’ back in 1975. Steven Spielberg‘s name was then forever associated with successful, typically large-budget feature films from that point forward. However, within a few years a little film came out called ‘Star Wars‘ that set the mold (literally, actually) for the modern-day blockbuster film experience that we have adopted into our expectations going into every summer movie season. What set ‘Star Wars’ apart from ‘Jaws’ wasn’t just regular movie marketing tactics. No, my friends, it was the toys.
Toys aren’t just based on blockbuster movies these days, sometimes toys are made into blockbuster movies. Look at the success of the ‘Transformers‘ films or even ‘G.I. Joe‘ for perfect examples of movies that were made from toys. Some would argue that the basis for those films originated from television shows (which is sort of true as well), but it is the revenue stream from action figures that drives the studios to cash in. Sadly, this “blockbuster” cash-in mentality can lead to some serious lapses in judgement when board games start getting green lights to become movies. Yes, ‘Battleship‘, I am absolutely talking to you.
The bottom line is the larger a film’s budget, the more the studio expects to make on the movie. It is simple mathematics, but that math didn’t exist before ‘Jaws’ set the tone for what a summer film can become. Toys, video games, books, comics, clothing, anything you can think of is created & marketed months in advance of a film’s release these days, setting the ball in motion for the expected onslaught of theater patrons ready to gobble up anything in sight related to whatever it is they are watching.
Inevitably, a successful blockbuster these days means you can expect sequels to follow, sadly, almost always ending in being a disappointment. But I suppose that’s OK, as consumers we are willing to spend our cash on anything we are told to see, regardless of what the critics say about it. Show me a kid who cares about reading a review before begging their parents to take them to the theater, it just doesn’t happen. They already have the toys, now they HAVE to see what the toys do in “real life”.
I’m not trying to be overly negative about what films have become these days (*COUGH…consumerism over art…) but maybe you should think twice about shelling out the extra bucks for those 3D glasses for a movie that has an entire aisle dedicated to it at Wal-Mart (‘The Avengers‘ excluded). Try reading a review once in a while, there are people who get paid to sit through things so you don’t have to.