Mark Harris from GQ recently wrote an article that delves into the reasons why Hollywood won’t try to create this year’s Inception this summer. His article gets into the interesting topic of why summer movies have to be exceptional to be successful and why studios will not risk taking on projects of potentially exceptional nature.
Overall, Harris comes to the conclusion that Hollywood is “more interested in launching the next rubberized action figure than making the next interesting movie”. However bleak his observation may be, there are several reasons why studios are probably right to take less risk during the summer months.
Harris touches on one point that I think is central to Hollywood’s argument for making safe movies during the summer: execution. Let’s face it; Hollywood doesn’t necessarily have the best success rate when it comes to great movies that have been executed flawlessly. Summer movies are especially prone to poor execution because they are generally not looked at to be Oscar contenders. If someone wants their movie to be taken seriously, they will usually release it during the holiday season to take advantage of the freshness factor. The fresher the movie in the heads of the Academy voters, the more likely they are to be considered for awards.
In Hollywood’s eyes Inception was a fluke, and not a fluke that they are willing to risk trying to recreate for fear of poor execution. The way that studios get around having to make well-executed and exceptional movies is by telling stories that already have a fan-base, creating sequels to movies that have already proven to be successful, and rebooting successful films. This is where comic book movies come into play.
This summer comic book movies will be in our faces all the time. From Green Lantern to Thor and Captain America we will be inundated with movies that have been adapted from comic books. Comic book movies are riding high right now and it only makes sense that Hollywood would try to capitalize on their recent success to get them through the summer. Comic books have a solid fan base and they are movies that rely heavily on source material, therefore the film doesn’t have to be as dependent on the writing as many others are.
Overall, Hollywood isn’t taking a risk this summer because they don’t have to. They don’t have to rely on writing or execution or even building up hype because most of that has been done for them. Unfortunately, as one Hollywood executive mentioned in Harris’ article said, when they don’t take risks they basically “don’t tell stories anymore”. And while this way of thinking may get Hollywood through the summer, it’s not a great long-term plan for the industry.