I’m stuck on a Communications question and need an explanation.
- Description: Consider a list of the all-time highest-grossing movies in the United States, such as the one on Box Office Mojo (Links to an external site.).
- Analysis: Note patterns in the list. For example, of the thirty top-grossing films, nearly all of them target young audiences. Nearly all of these top-grossing films feature animated or digitally composited characters or extensive special effects. Nearly all of the films also either spawned or are a part of a series. More than half of the films fit into the action movie genre. Nearly all of the Top 30 had intense merchandising campaigns that featured action figures, fast-food tie-ins, and an incredible variety of products for sale; that is hardly any were “surprise” hits.
- Interpretation: What do the patterns mean? It’s clear, economically, why Hollywood like to have successful blockbuster movie franchises. But what kinds of films get left out of the mix? Hits which may have had big-budget releases but lack some of the other attributes of blockbusters, are clearly anomalies of the blockbuster mentality, although they illustrate that strong characters and compelling stories can carry a film to great commercial success.
- Evaluation: It is likely that we will continue to see an increase in youth-oriented, animated/action movie franchises that are heavily merchandised and intended for wide international distribution. Indeed, Hollywood does not have a lot of motivation to put out the kinds of movies that don’t fit these categories. Is this a good thing? Can you think of a film that you thought was excellent and that would have probably been a bigger hit with better promotion and wider distribution?
- Engagement: Watch independent and foreign films to see what you’re missing. Visit the Sundance Film Festival site and browse through the many films listed. Find these films on Netflix, Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes. Write your cable company and request to have the Sundance Channel on your cable lineup. Organize an independent film night on the college campus and bring these films to a crowd.