Are Superhero Movies Killing Cinema?
The debate around superhero movies and their influence on the movie industry has been gaining traction with the surge in popularity of such movies over the past decade. Many claim that superheroes are ruining the quality of Hollywood films, as they all follow a similar formula, with a special emphasis on visual effects and action sequences. On the other hand, others argue that superhero movies have brought new life and relevance to the movie industry, drawing in bigger audiences and more revenues.
Revenues generated from superheroes movies have seen an exponential growth over the last decade. In the US and Canada, Box Office revenues from superhero movies had crossed $20 billion in the year 2019. Such movies accounted for over 25% of the total box office revenues in 2019, which is a significant jump from the 5% market share it held back in 2008.
Experts point out that the money and effort being invested in the production of superhero movies is taking away from the production of original and innovative movies. Hollywood is increasingly interested in producing movies from established franchises, as it is seen as a safe and sure-shot way to make money in the movie industry.
An analysis of the 100 highest-grossing movies of 2019 further illustrates the domination of superhero movies in the industry. As much as 65% of the 100 highest-grossing movies in 2019 were superhero movies. Such numbers worry movie-lovers, who feel that Hollywood is failing to give new perspectives, kinds of stories, and genres the much-needed attention.
The widespread success and appeal of superhero movies has had an overwhelming influence over cinema in many countries. For example, in China, every one out of three moviegoers watches at least one superhero movie a month. The Chinese movie industry is completely driven by the superhero genre, as movies from this genre account for almost half of the total box office revenues.
Additionally, in India, the proliferation of the superhero genre has been exponential. Subhash Ghai, a leading Indian movie industry mogul and philanthropist believes that kids today are more comfortable with superheroes than with their own culture and mythology.
Audience Preference Analysis
A study conducted to explore audience preferences revealed that Marvel Studios, the most successful movie production house in the superhero genre, held an incredible 52% share of audience preference. Further, the research also suggested that 7 out of every 10 moviegoers prefer movies from the superhero genre.
Some movie critics believe that the success of superhero movies is a result of lack of creativity and innovation in Hollywood. With movie producers unwilling to take chances with unconventional and new ideas, audiences are left with no other choice but to settle for run-of-the-mill films like superhero movies.
Others argue that since the production budgets for superhero movies are so high, the risk associated with producing original films has become very high. To make matters worse, the increase in salaries of movie stars, special effects artists, and other crew members, has further made the production of original films quite expensive.
However, there are also those who believe that superhero movies are good for the Hollywood industry. This is because these films have enabled Hollywood to enhance its visual effects, special effects, and the quality of action sequences, attracting audiences to theatres.
Additionally, some argue that the superhero genre is, in fact, a lot more complex and nuanced than what is assumed by its opponents. Superhero movies have become so successful because they have managed to appeal to the international audiences by seamlessly weaving different cultures, historical events, and mythologies into the plot.
Moreover, unlike other genres, superhero movies possess greater flexibility in terms of marketing and merchandising, which helps them earn revenues from additional sources. For example, whenever a superhero movie is released, movie studios can make use of comics, video games, digital merchandise, toys and other merchandise to generate revenue from publicity.
The future of superhero movies in the movie industry looks quite promising. For example, an analysis of the upcoming movie releases for the year 2020 and 2021 shows that as much as 73 % of the movie releases are based on superheroes. This is further confirmed by long-term technology analysts, who believe that the success of the superhero genre is attributable to its ability to expand repeatedly without declining.
Some also predict that over the next 10 years, superhero movies will continue to thrive and reach new heights, as their popularity is unlikely to waiver owing to the advanced visual effects and storylines that have lured in new audiences. As an example, the movie Spider-Man: Far From Home alone grossed over $1 billion in the year 2019.
Meanwhile, the impacts of superhero movies on the movie industry cannot be ignored. The success of the superhero films has undoubtedly sent a strong message to film producers, who are gradually unlearning the art of producing unique films for movie lovers.
The success of superhero movies also suggests that Hollywood is becoming more and more dependent on a few production houses for stories. Such production houses possess immense power and influence over the movie industry, owing to the money and resources invested in making superhero movies.
Due to the political landscape of the movie industry, movie directors and producers are increasingly intimidated into producing films that fit the mould of existing superhero films. This, in turn, reduces the scope and scope of creative films, as Hollywood increasingly relies on established franchises to produce films.
This also means that the production budgets of smaller films and budgets become unsustainable, as superhero films are given preference. With the benefit of deep pockets, Hollywood minimizes external risk, thereby reducing chances of greenlighting daring and innovative films.
Changing Landscape of Cinema
The success of superhero movies has changed the landscape of cinema, which is now heavily reliant on the appeal of superheroes to attract audiences to theatres. As a result, other genres of films involving intellectual scripts, complex storytelling, and unique perspectives have been neglected over the years.
The popularity of superhero films also reduces the chances of picking new directors, who, in turn, will bring in fresh perspectives and approaches to storytelling. As a result, Hollywood is becoming more and more predictable, thereby making it difficult for viewers to find new stories.
On the other hand, there are some who are of the opinion that superhero films are doing more good than harm to the movie industry. Such films, they argue, have become an important part of the history of cinema, having helped Hollywood draw in larger numbers, especially in the international markets.
Effects of Social Media
The immense popularity of superhero movies can also be attributed to the influence of social media. The overflowing discussions and debates around various superhero movies on various social media platforms have enabled movie studios to reach out to audiences from all over the world. This, in turn, has helped such movies garner an immense number of views, even before its theatrical release.
Social media also enabled such movies to build a bigger appeal and reach, as movie studios can freely advertise superhero movies, increase awareness about its release, and target specific audiences. This huge power of social media and technology should not be underestimated in the case of the success of superhero movies.
At the same time, the rising influence of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video is also a key factor behind the success of superhero movies. As such platforms allow viewers to watch superheroes movies on the go, it makes it easier and more cost-effective for people to watch such movies without having to go to theatres.
Sentiment of Movie Makers
The sentiment of many movie makers when it comes to superhero movies is mixed. While many experienced directors are of the opinion that the success of the superhero genre has added more credibility and relevance to the Hollywood industry, many others believe that the reliance on such movies has reduced the chances of new, innovative movies finding success.
Undoubtedly, superhero movies have taken over the Hollywood industry, but whether this trend is for better or for worse, is still being debated by cinema experts and industry figures. The future of the movie industry most likely lies in the balance between superhero movies and other movie genres, but only time will tell which genre will make a bigger impact.