Quentin Tarantino can sometimes seem a bit surly.
He and a bunch of mostly old, mostly male celebrity directors are pretty upset about the state of movie culture in 2022. What really irritates them is Marvel’s dominance, with Disney comic book movies like Synonymous with any intellectual. highly successful franchise driven ownership.
Think DC, Star Wars, Godzilla vs Kong, Fast and Furious, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and more.
The likes of Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott and Francis Ford Coppola feel that the existence of franchises is influencing what is and isn’t given the green light in Hollywood.
And they’re not wrong, though some of their more caustic views about superhero movies not being true storytelling are a bit superficial.
Intellectual property (IP) has taken over theatrical releases and it has happened alongside the rise of streaming, making it much easier for audiences to stay home and press play instead of spending at least $ 50 for two tickets, more if you want snacks and drinks and had to pay for parking or an Uber.
Many moviegoers will only strive for a “hit” or “event” movie, like an Avengers movie or perhaps the next Indiana Jones installment. Or a children’s movie like the umpteenth My favorite villain.
Without a doubt, those brands are bigger than any of the actors in them. And that’s what Tarantino’s latest letter points to.
told the 2 bears, 1 cave podcast, “Part of the wonder of Hollywood is that you have all these actors who have become famous playing these characters. But they are not movie stars. Right?
“Captain America is the star. Or Thor is the star. I mean, I’m not the first person to say that. I think it’s been said a million times, but it’s like, you know, it’s these franchise characters that become stars.”
Tarantino is right. Evans can be a huge star. Chris Hemsworth can be a huge star. But they’re not movie stars in the same way the term has been understood for nearly a century.
They are not movie stars like George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman, Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Denzel Washington, Sandra Bullock, Whoopi Goldberg, Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett were, and most are still movie stars. cinema.
Audiences aren’t flocking to the next Thor movie because it’s a Hemsworth movie, but because it’s a Thor movie. Same with Evans. The God of Thunder and People’s Sexiest Man Alive don’t sell movie tickets, they sell streaming subscriptions. For better or worse, that’s one measure of success in 2022.
Marvel is the brand, it is the attraction card. Evans and Hemsworth are not. Even when Jolie, Blanchett, Michael Douglas, and Christian Bale are in a Marvel movie, they’re no bigger than the MCU. The public did not go Ant Man because of douglas they didn’t go to Thor: Love and Thunder by Bale.
But viewers will definitely see a movie for Hemsworth if he’s home on stream. That’s why Netflix is so into the Hemsworth business, and why the actor is paid $20 million for Extraction 2. This is because the gray man timed all those hours.
Actors like Hemsworth, Evans, Chris Pratt, Tom Holland and Millie Bobby Brown, who rose to stardom thanks to the big franchises, are a trap for a streaming viewer. At home, streaming, what the movie is doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they’re in it.
The barrier to entry is much lower. You’re already paying for the subscription, or you may be willing to sign up for a free trial (or cheap membership) to see that new Adam Sandler movie you’ve been hearing about.
It takes about two minutes and you don’t even have to get up from the couch.
Compare that with ticket to paradise, a mediocre romantic comedy with a predictable and mundane plot. It didn’t matter what it was, what did matter was the combined star power of Clooney and Roberts in a genre that doesn’t defy. ticket to paradise made $158 million.
That’s not a slight to those three of the four Hollywood Chrises, or Brown or Holland. If it had been 20 years earlier, they would be bona fide movie stars, but the machine no longer produces them.
And for people like Hemsworth, they astutely understand that when it comes to their personal brand, the audiences and the big payouts are in streaming. You wouldn’t envy them those options.
Even the last wave of new movie stars, the people who force you to pay a movie ticket regardless of the movie, like Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, Ryan Gosling, and Charlize Theron, their statuses were coined almost two decades ago.
Tectonic shifts in the industry and audience behavior have led to the end of the old order.
But Tarantino is wrong to attribute the end of the movie star to the influence of Marvel. He has a lot to do with the rise of streaming, which has driven studio decisions about what to fund and what not to fund, and what to do and what not to market.
The explosion in affordable home entertainment options has changed what people want and don’t want to leave their homes. Cinema has become almost a premium experience, with the average moviegoer in Australia watching fewer than five movies a year.
The economic imperative for studios is to invest their money in franchises with a built-in audience, whose brands are bigger than anyone.
Fans don’t go to Fast and Furious because they want to see Vin Diesel lyrically talk about family, they go because they want car chases and increasingly wacky spectacles. And they know that’s exactly what they’re going to get, that’s a fact. So they know what they are paying for. And it will easily survive the death of a protagonist, as happened to Paul Walker.
The convergence of franchising and streaming dominance also leads to the chicken-and-egg issue.
Did the public stop going to see mid-budget comedies in theaters first and that is why they are now the domain of streaming? Or did audiences realize there were great comedies streaming so didn’t see the point in paying for them in theaters?
You’re much more likely to find the likes of Sandler, Will Ferrell, Jennifer Aniston, Amy Poehler, and Reese Witherspoon on a streaming service than at the movies.
Does that mean we don’t have movie stars anymore? It’s not so black and white. The likes of Pitt and Keanu Reeves are still around.
And there’s a front of young talent including Florence Pugh and Timothee Chalamet selling tickets regardless of the project, but their knack for putting bums in seats isn’t yet multi-generational. They appeal to their fellow devotees, but not yet to the grandparents.
There are also those names that do not fit anywhere so easily. Someone like Margot Robbie, who is undoubtedly a star and who still works exclusively on the big screen. Or Emma Stone, Anya Taylor-Joy and Saoirse Ronan.
But their names alone are not enough. It has to be a combination of name and project. by David O. Russell Amsterdam, a star-studded comedy starring Robbie, Bale, Robert De Niro and about a dozen other names, was one of the biggest box office flops of the year. You can lose up to 100 million dollars.
Robbie and his compatriots do not occupy the same position as their peers of 30 years earlier. The way IP does it now.
It didn’t even matter that the new Lord of the Rings The series had no “stars” because Middle-earth is what matters.
This change has its advantages, it has given studios coverage to choose actors with lower profiles and from more diverse backgrounds because the strength of the brand is enough. People like Simu Liu, Chadwick Boseman, Ismael Cruz Cordova, and Sonequa Martin-Green.
The culture has changed and rarely can you change anything back. Marvel may not have killed the movie star, but it certainly is the movie star now. Tarantino is at least half right.