December 30, 2018

Why cinematic universes are a bad idea

Jacob Bier ‘19

Image result for mcu

The most popular craze in Hollywood may also be the most harmful.
Cinematic universes, series of movies in which installments are not direct sequels, but rather share the same world or universe, have been taking the world by storm.
In April 2018, “Avengers: Infinity War,” the 19th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, hit theaters. Star Wars too is developing anthology movies, as well as an entirely new story for the 10th, 11th and 12th movies in the main series. Even Lego has been creating a cinematic universe with the various property the company owns.
There is a lot to love about a cinematic universe. The viewer is able to grow with the main characters and learn who they really are. Audiences, similar to a TV show, can watch one larger story unfold over a series of long episodes.
Marvel Studios has developed its cinematic universe masterfully. For a decade, viewers have been following the story of the Avengers and its members. Each movie is somewhat connected to the next, which leaves viewers wanting more. Not to mention, the quality of most of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe remains consistently good.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most successful franchise in film history, with its films having collected a total of $15 billion in revenue.
For every successful cinematic universe, however, there are more failures. Universal’s The Dark Universe started and ended with “The Mummy,” which lost nearly $100 million because of production costs and poor attendance.
The DC Extended Universe has run into the same problem, but later its history. Their movies cost millions of dollars to produce, but have had as of late, poor reception and lower box office revenue.
This is one of the major problems with cinematic universes: studios have to put all of their eggs in one basket. If a studio schedules different movies’ releases years in advance, a single failure could leave them without a plan and potentially bankrupt.
Cinematic universes aren’t bad only from the studios’ perspective, they are also bad for the film industry in general. Successful cinematic universes put out blockbusters that dominate at the box office and consequently, smaller films opening the same weekend as blockbusters are always decimated.
Many people have been missing out on great, wholesome films so they can see fan-servicing movies like “Transformers.” For example, last year, phenomenal films such as “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Blade Runner 2049” fared poorly at the box office because of movies that came out around the same time, such as “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” This pattern discourages great filmmakers from producing more finely crafted movies and instead, coincide their vision with the standard.
My biggest problem with cinematic universes is that they destroy the magic of filmmaking. Making movies used to be about passion and finding a way to make the filmmaker’s vision a reality.
Today, filmmaking feels robotic. Each film is processed to make the most money and appeal to the largest demographic. Cinematic universes have to pump out a movie every few months, so almost no care goes into making them. While I am still enjoying some cinematic universes, it will not be long until they completely lose their magic as well.

No matter what, Hollywood is going to continue to create cinematic universes. That is why it is important, now more than ever, to support smaller, independent filmmakers. As long as films are made from passion, the magic of movies will never die.

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