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April 16, 2024

Films of 2016 lack plot and variety

By CARVER BAIN | October 6, 2016

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SUE LUKENBAUGH/CC BY-SA 2.0 Henry Cavill starred in the blockbuster hit Batman v Superman.

Movies are a living, breathing, moving art, but they’re also a business. Not only that but movies require tens to hundreds to thousands of people working on a single project. As a result, movies can cost hundreds of millions of dollars to produce. In light of that, for the majority of the year, when you look up what movies are playing, you sigh and search for when the next Avengers movie is coming out.

Today, the movie industry is being swallowed whole by a series of superhero movies, Star Wars sequels and remakes. This is because those are the movies everyone is going to. So far, the list of top grossing movies of 2016 is as follows.

Captain America: Civil War, which was essentially an Avengers movie under the guise of a Captain America movie and undoubtedly part of the stream of superhero films.

The second on the list is Zootopia. This one doesn’t fit as well into any of the categories listed above and was actually a great film (as an aside, I’m not claiming any of these films are not up to par with other films, although that’s debatable). However, Zootopia was produced by one of the largest companies in the world, Disney, (which claims the top four spots on this year’s highest grossing movies thus far). Additionally, humanoid animals isn’t the most original idea, and story credit on the movie is held by seven individuals. This movie is also an example of the massive industrial wheel that is driving the movie industry today.

Coming in at number three is Finding Dory, the long-awaited sequel to Finding Nemo. Here again we see studios going with a safe option by recycling characters and large plot elements from previously successful films. If this movie had been a GoPro video of Ellen DeGeneres swimming around in scuba gear forgetting what her name was, people would have seen it.

In the fourth slot is The Jungle Book. Pretty clearly a remake aimed at people who are nostalgic for times gone by and hoping to bring in a younger crowd so that they can remake it again 20 years down the line.

And five is the first film on the list not under the all-encompassing veil of Disney: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Aside from the fervent debate that could be had regarding the quality of this movies, BvS was pretty clearly the beginning of DC’s plot to launch their own superhero universe to match Marvel’s own profitable universe.

The rest of the list is pretty predictable, including titles such as Deadpool, Suicide Squad and X-Men: Apocalypse. It’s actually fairly striking that in a medium where there are no limits to narrative and visual exploration, we are getting rehashed versions of the same things over and over again.

To be fair, these are enjoyable movies and many of them are even good movies. They are also not the only movies that Hollywood is producing; However, they are the movies that Hollywood is increasingly driven to release based off of the massive revenue they are receiving.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe they’ve just found the ideal formula for movies, but is that really likely? What is almost certainly a bad thing is a lack of variety. Studios aren’t willing to spend the big bucks on movies they can’t guarantee will do well and as a result, the low-budget movies don’t do as well. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.

As a result there are massive numbers of independent filmmakers struggling to get their movies made in a world where very few people will ever watch them. Why would someone go and see something they’ve never heard of when the new Star Wars just came out?

Once upon a time, all of these sequels and franchises were original ideas that someone had, but if all that studios do is build on sequels and franchises, where will we ever get material for new sequels and franchises? We will be trapped in an endless cycle of remakes and continuations.

Of course this is driven by the market. Studios will make what people want to see, which means everybody has the power to begin a shift back towards a diverse movie diet. Good movies that don’t involve capes and lightsabers are out there; All we have to do is take the time to go and watch them.


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