Every summer, millions of us pour our hearts and wallets into all of that magic hitting our local cineplex. At times, we walk out with smiles and good tidings. Other times, we walk out and punch that Miles Teller cardboard standee right smack in the middle of his smugness. For better or worse, every summer teaches us a little bit about the state of the world, about humanity, and especially, about Hollywood.
This listicle is going to take a look at five important lessons I took away from 2017’s offering of summer movies and the business as a whole. The good, the bad, the petty, and the very ugly.
Let’s head to class.
5. Cinematic Universes Are Not Necessarily Here To Stay
Between The Dark Tower, The Mummy, and Transformers 5, it is safe to assume that Hollywood as a whole doesn’t have quite the aptitude to build Cinematic Universes from scratch as they would have led us to believe. For every Marvel, there’s…well, every other studio it turns out.
Remember when Marvel started linking their films together through Nick Fury and every other studio decided they would do the same thing, only they failed to put in the due diligence to actually craft a world that made sense? Of course you do, because it hasn’t STOPPED happening yet, and this summer solidified their magnificent misunderstanding of how exactly to make it all gel.
It isn’t about casting big movie stars (are they even a thing anymore?), and ensuring the public knows your “plans” for the future won’t help you either. George Clooney, Tom Cruise, nor a 10-year succession plan will salvage a whiffed opportunity. At this junction in entertainment, fans are sly. We know studios cannot guarantee us a larger world after this one, so we need the one in front of us to shine.
This summer taught us that if Hollywood cannot get their shat together, Cinematic Universes will only work smoothly if Iron Man is somewhere in the foreground. Hopefully, they learned a little something about this themselves this summer as well. There are numerous options and possibilities to handle this serialized form of filmmaking smoothly, as long as you first focus on a quality product. All you have to do to be sure is ask a certain Amazonian princess.
4. Outrage Is All The Rage
Another summer, another season of the many voices clamoring to be heard on the always-ready-for-fury interwebs. From outrage over women-only screenings of Wonder Woman, to a body shaming Snow White, to actor Ed Skrein bailing on Hellboy over his own sensitivity in regards to recasting an Asian character. Hell, 2017 proved that no icon is safe when even Joss Whedon had pitchforks headed his way. Wherever you looked this summer, someone, somewhere, had something to bitch about.
Is outrage all the rage now? Have we become a society so predisposed to ire that we can no longer accept anything that we personally do not agree with? Are we sitting now at a stone’s throw away from bullying and censorship as the accepted norm? If you ask reddit or twitter, the answer is a resounding “YES!” Yet, if you ask Joe or Jill Average – quietly, away from prying and judgmental eyes – he or she more likely will rant about how exhausting all of this outrage has become. How, on occasion, they would like to engage in articulating their thoughts and beliefs without guttural reactions at the ready.
It has become a normalcy of sorts, almost fashionable, to complain and rage on about any random topic. In an era where celebrity has now overtaken politics, the accompanying dissent associated with political parties has finally arrived at our collective doors.
Is it going away? Absolutely not. The internet has always been home to know-it-alls and this just tosses fuel to their fire. The unfortunate result is the “cry wolf” scenario that follows suit. With so many people burning their keyboards with rampant disgust and anger, the legitimacy of those complaints begins to fall by the wayside. While some issues might finally see progress (Ed Skrein deserves a nod here), others will vanish under the magnitude of voices wailing across the digital space. Regardless of the results, one thing is certain: outrage is here to stay.
3. MoviePass Is Going For Broke
I have lauded MoviePass and their program for years. For a minimal flat fee, fans like you and I can see as many movies as we want. Simple as that. The last couple of years, the price has continued to creep up, most recently hitting around $40 a month, $50 in some markets. If you’re an avid film buff like me, that’s still a bargain. In fact, I had a budget marked to stay with the program until it eclipsed that $50 threshold.
Then MoviePass lost their damn minds.
News swept the internet like wild fire as MoviePass announced they would be guaranteeing $9.95 a month for unlimited movies. WHAT?! This program no longer became a bargain, it’s a legitimate STEAL! MoviePass was no longer screwing around, they were going for broke, literally.
At this price, MoviePass is not making money for the entirety of this promotion. There is not scientific formula or accounting magic that could change this aspect. What it is doing instead, is banking on increased memberships to profit off of at a later time once consumers feel more comfortable with the ease of the program (and it IS extremely user-friendly). It’s a last-ditch effort for a company that has floundered on the fringe of success for years now, and they’re obviously tired of waiting for their turn. And this promotion just might be brilliant.
Much of the news coverage centered around how pissy AMC Theaters was about MoviePass’ gamble, but I implore you to cast those whiny bitches and gripes to the wind. If you are reading this, odds are you are just as big a fan of theatrical adventures as I am, and for us, MoviePass is a godsend. Not only have these cinematic angels dropped their price enough to spur us all to break into songs in the street, but by supporting them we are also telling “The Man” that they do not get to dictate how we enjoy our favorite films. If MoviePass is going down with this stab at glory, I’m happy to go down with them. And I’ll never let go, Jack. I’ll never let go.
2. Sequels, Reboots And Remakes Only Work If People Want More
Man, have we ever had a summer so thick with sequels no one wanted to see? I mean, sure, you and I caught most of them. Because we’re film buffs. But Joe and Jill Average sure the hell didn’t get too excited to take another spin with Michael Bay’s twisted metal or Pixar’s latest talking car opus. Nor did anyone seem to care that Universal stuffed Tom Cruise into a Brendan Fraser suit or Guy Ritchie let Charlie Hunnam play with Excalibur.
Every year we seem to talk about how fans are sick of the same ole thing in Hollywood, and honestly it’s kind of a ludicrous argument. If you really look at the history of film, there aren’t many “original” ideas left to pluck from. And many of the fresh ideas that do make it to screen, just don’t connect the way they used to. If it doesn’t make money, why would they continue to invest in new ideas? Therefore, Hollywood is doing what Hollywood does: exploiting the market by utilizing brand recognition to make a buck. The problem is, this summer, consumers paid them back with a huge middle finger.
Many are taking this to mean that this was the summer that finally proved audiences are finished with sequels and reboots. I couldn’t disagree more. What this season taught me, was that fans simply don’t care about THESE properties. They’ll still line up for a great sequel to something they want (what number is Fast & Furious up to now?) or a fresh take on something they already love (hello, Spider-Man: Homecoming), they’re just exhausted with the same properties giving them the same exact movie they saw the last time.
Transformers: The Last Knight was near indistinguishable from the previous film, with the exception of Anthony Hopkins yelling “dick!” randomly. As much as I enjoyed King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, no one was clamoring for another medieval action opus, even with a genuinely fist-pumping score. And while The Mummy was actually a solid reboot, it was completely overshadowed by both the casting of a megastar – sorry, there’s no way to separate The Cruise Missile from his roles anymore – and the complete retooling of the formula people loved in the Brendan Fraser flicks. Yes, I know the original Mummy was a horror flick, unfortunately, mainstream moviegoers do not. Don’t even get me started on an R-rated Baywatch, which proved yet again that audiences want more faithful adaptations of the properties they love, and less Zac Efron lovingly stroking a dead guy’s taint.
Next summer, make sure people actually want MORE of whatever it is you’re peddling, Hollywood.
1. I Am Done With Hyperbole
What an exhausting concept hyperbole is. If you’re wondering what I mean, allow me to explain.
You head out to the theater, indulging in your favorite pastime. You kick back in your fancy theater chair with your overpriced popcorn, arm around your favorite film pal, and enjoy the next couple hours of cinematic delight. Then you get home and do what most fans do these days; take to your social media outlet of choice and share your thoughts on whatever you just saw.
Let’s say you happened to see Wonder Woman. Now, I loved Gal Gadot and just about everything in this flick, but let’s say you didn’t. Let’s say you felt it was too much like Captain America: The First Avenger (which it actually was, by the way). So you hit this social media outlet of choice and share these thoughts with your choice assembling of internet friends, in hopes for a bit of discussion on what they loved and you didn’t. A reasonable debate or discussion is fair game, is it not?
WRONG! HOW COULD YOU NOT LOVE WONDER WOMAN?! IT’S EASILY THE BEST SUPERHERO FLICK OF THIS DECADE! YOU PROBABLY HATE YOUR MOM AND APPLE PIE TOO, DON’T YOU, COMMIE?!
Yea, that’s hyperbole. The new internet. You’ll never love or hate anything ENOUGH. Just liking a movie is no longer acceptable, and legitimate criticisms are damn near a criminal offense. Look, I’m one of the least sensitive people I know (wait, maybe THAT is hyperbole) and even I am getting exhausted from these whiny fans who think their way is the ONLY way. That’s not the world I want to live in, nor should you. Absolutes are ludicrous and tastes will always vary, so why can’t some people get their asses off their high horses and just accept it? Not only that, why can’t some people accept that others may feel differently about something than they do? Does that make them WRONG? Who’s to say they’re RIGHT?
And these insightful whiners are always there, spring-loaded and ready with either the Rotten Tomatoes score or the box office take to prove their perceived correctness. As if either of those trump our personal opinions. I love a spirited debate, and a discussion on differences of opinion are one of my favorite indulgences, but as soon as someone declares another’s opinion – with no jest and in all sincerity – null and void, this is no longer a conversation. It has now become attempted bullying into submission and I’m just done with this as a concept.
If you liked Spider-Man: Homecoming, but didn’t love it, no RT score nor Marvel fandom proves you wrong. If you thought Transformers: The Last Knight was the best in the series, you’re entitled to your stance. If you believe in your heart-of-hearts that The Emoji Movie was the best film of the summer and The Dark Tower is the greatest Stephen King adaptation in the history of cinema, I stand not necessarily with you, but beside you in the right to state your case.
Instead of ridiculing opinions we do not agree with, why aren’t more people exploiting these dissimilarities to understand another’s motives and tastes? Instead of slapping a roadblock in the way of intriguing conversation, why can’t these sycophants open themselves up to differing life experiences and ideology? Instead of condemning a person who chooses to go against the grain – knowing they will be met with vitriol – why don’t we hold our fingers back, just for a moment, and actually contemplate a unique viewpoint?
The most important lesson the summer of 2017 has taught me is that I am done with all variations of hyperbole. We live in an era where we are all connected, and our differences should drive our desire to learn, not hammer another wedge between us. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and our respect, no matter how bonkers it might seem to the rest of us. In fact, if someone cannot participate in a conversation in a constructive, rational, and meaningful manner, maybe it’s simply time for them to shut the hell up altogether.
Or perhaps that’s just hyperbole.