Goodbye To The Blockbuster

The Arts

Jaws, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Batman, Spider-Man, Transformers, Mission Impossible. For the past three decades the Hollywood blockbusters have rolled up at the height of summer, the tentpole releases that drive families from hot streets into cold cinemas.

But now there are strong indictions that the time of the Hollywood blockbuster is over. The action-packed CG-laden epics are bombing, while smaller titles are adding up a hit aggregate. In the 2010 box office charts, big-money pix like Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans and Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood have proven disastrous. The US Memorial Day holiday, traditionally one of the most lucrative weekends in the domestic box office calendar, was the worst in 17 years, and the future looks worse.

What’s happened? As in 1968, a year in which Hello Dolly and Easy Rider went head to head, the studios once more feel lost and out of step with public taste – the result is that they’re chucking everything at the wall to see what sticks. Transformers 2, the film equivalent of staring into your cutlery drawer for two hours, felt like the breaking point. With nowhere left to go, could we perhaps head back to a cinema where involving, exciting stories are told? Not just yet, it seems – the Hollywood lineup of toy franchises, infantilised hyper-coloured animations and remakes is set to continue unabated.

2 comments on “Goodbye To The Blockbuster”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    Well we’re promised ‘Salt’ later this summer. I wonder which side of the secret information industry there’ll be in that one.

  2. vigo says:

    The major corporate players – supported by the UKFC who are secured distribution deals with companies like Working Title – own the cinemas so you will not see the Easy Rider ‘new wave’ if it comes at the cinemas. If it arrives – which I believe it will – it will be via the internet. Dont feel too concerned about the franchises etc – perhaps that will always continue. Like minds need to connect and support eachother. The mainstream industry especially in Britain, is dysfunctional at present and there is too much uncreative corporate dead wood at the helm. What are the RSA’s doing? Do you see evidence of bringing British film/writer people together? Until creatives get back in power in a meaningful way there will not be change and film will, sink itself. There are not really that many -if any – motivated British film-makers currently at work. Look at the British web film sites, they are dire – little knowledgeable film talk – your posting on Resnais ? – extremely welcome – buy sadly very rare. Have a look at the British screenplay websites (script from which great films originate) – its all proving pretty lacklustre sadly – very little engagement or discourse – mainly wannabe soundbites and trivia – the few, like Nathaniel Tapley are the exception – yours and Helens comments interesting – and a few others but otherwise little engagement – had they this (ie; the internet,) facility the likes of Jarman and Anderson would have the pages buzzing. Sadly blogs like yours are the oasis in the desert.

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