Tomorrowland and the “originality problem”

While the lackluster debut of Tomorrowland does not necessarily mean there is an “originality problem” in general, it does highlight it in the realm of the big budget would be blockbusters. You do get big-budget original films like Inception or Interstellar do come out and are box office successes, but those films have one thing that Tomorrowland did not. Christopher Nolan directed those films. Nolan like Spielberg or Tarantino can make any movie he wants because he is one of those directors whose name alone is a big selling point for a picture. While Bard Bird had directed popular films like The Incredibles and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Bird is not a so-called name brand director. When it comes to these big budget movies, you need a name brand director to do a film like this because star power alone does not translate into box office dollars the way it used to.

However, you also have smaller films like Ex Machina, which does do well because they make them for smaller budgets. The budget on Tomorrowland was like 180 million dollars while Ex Machina had a budget of 15 million, thus far Tommorwland 32 million over the three-day with 42 over the four-day holiday weekend. For the budget of Tomorrowland, those are not great numbers. While Ex Machina has a total gross thus far of 22 million. Considering its budget and that Ex Machina is not as wide a release as Tomorrowland. I do not know the exact theater count, but I think Tomorrowland is in more theaters than Ex Machina is. That is not a terrible number. These figures are only domestic box office numbers.  I do not know how many markets Tomorrowland has opened in, and Ex Machina being a smaller film I do not think it will ever open in as many markets as Tommorwland has or will reach.

Hollywood does not have an originality problem; it is more of a risk aversion problem. When it comes to putting the money up for a film like Tomorrowland a major studio would rather put 180 million behind something that has brand recognition, i.e. a sequel/prequel or a remake. Hollywood is hesitant to put that kind of money on something that is not brand tested. What Hollywood should do is make more movies through the major studios that are on a budgetary scale of these smaller movies. With the smaller budgets and the marketing reach of the major studios, more often than not these films would at least break even. That is because a major studio could place a film in the lucrative Asian markets, for example. While the smaller studios behind something like Ex Machina do not have the resources to have that kind of reach.

This article is originally from Variety, but I pulled it from Philly.com

http://www.philly.com/philly/entertainment/movies/20150525_Reuters_MT1VRT1201504586__Tomorrowland__Exposes_Hollywood_s_Originality_Problem.html?c=r

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