Apr 28, 2020 in Analysis

Hollywood Films and Blockbuster Entertainment

Blockbuster entertainment has become the most essential product that best represents contemporary Hollywood. As a result, blockbuster movies have become in the recent past Hollywood’s lifeblood. According to Elberse the paradigm shift began following the release of the movie Jaws in the summer which exceeded ticket sales amounting to $100 million. The 1998 movie Godzilla is also a perfect illustration of contemporary Hollywood blockbusters and also a representation of the new version of Hollywood. The focus of this films is not about the artistic genius that is encompassed in them, but rather the revenue that they are able to raise. They exist in form of sequels, franchises, superhero epics, action flicks, and reboots. Accordingly, in contemporary Hollywood it appears that bigger is better and repeatability is what is to be given precedence. One is thus left to wonder about the specific reasons that have driven Hollywood to take such a great shift in its moving making and placed focus on blockbuster entertainment. Hollywood as it stands has been robbed off its genius and creativity as a result of a paradigm shift to exclusive blockbuster entertainment motivated by: the merchandise business, movie theatre ads, profit and money as the bottom line, transformation of film studios into corporations, and crisis impacting Hollywood. 


One argument that provides an explanation as to why Hollywood has moved exclusively towards blockbuster entertainment is the billion dollar merchandise business. In this regard, the toy and movie industry have collided resulting in what has come to be described as a seamless and mutually convenient relationship existing between them. Thus, Matsuo explains that in the event that an exciting new movie is preparing for its release toy makers are usually working together with the studios to develop the characters and place them on store shelves. This is done with the intent of providing the consumers a kind of sneak peak in the adventure that awaits them once the film hits the silver screen. Thus, the manufacture of toys is in tandem with the movie industry by acting as an advertising forum for the movies. For instance, Bloomberg makes the prediction when a movie is able to record sales worth one billion dollars, then it is safe to say that the merchandise sales will probability range of $250 to $300 million as reiterated by Matsuo. It is not just the children’s toys industry that drives the sale of merchandises relating to movies. Toys from various high ranking movies have also interested adults as they have become a must have collector’s item. This brings in more money to the related films especially given the fact that this collector’s toys have much higher pricing in comparison to children’s toys. Consequently, Matsuo postulates the sale of movie merchandise has led to the children’s toys industry alone boasting of an industry worth of $22 billion while hot collector items have contributed to a higher net worth due to their higher price tag. Some of the most successful movie merchandize ventures have been facilitated by two essentially different movies but which have captured audience attention in a way that has led to significantly great following. The first movie is Star Wars which has proven to be one of the most successful movie franchise of all time. This movie has recorded toy sales amounting to $12 billion. Another successful movie franchise is the animated Disney movie Cars. This has resulted in the sale of merchandise totalling to $10 billion. 

Another significant reason as to why Hollywood’s focus has been directed towards blockbuster entertainment is the role that these movies play in propelling forward the growth of movie theatre ads. Lieberman makes the observation, in 2015, big event films such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens played a vital role in fostering the rise in movie theatre ad sales which resulted in a growth of 13.45% which translated to a whopping 716.4 million. This was quite an impressive performance given the fact that this is the first time that the theatre industry has generated advertisement sales above $700 million. This has gone a long way in enhancing the status of theatres and cinemas making to slowly gain a place in media plans as they are considered to be equal with other video media companies. The use of theatres and cinemas as advertising forums has also become alternative point of advertising since TV time is quite costly. Consequently, those seeking alternatives have also played an essential role in enhancing the advertising revenue gained by theatre houses. With this kind of income coming in from theatre advertising, it is no wonder that blockbusters have become critical in the Hollywood film making and studios’ business model. 

Another fundamental reason as to why blockbuster entertainment has taken over film making in Hollywood is the fact that it is all about the money. Bottom line, revenue, profits, returns have been the main points of motivation for the focus on blockbuster film in Hollywood. In this regard, the truth of the matter is that these kind of movies have proved that they are better placed to bring a considerable amount of income that may in some instance be double or even triple the amount that was invested in making the film. What is even more surprising is the fact that some of these movies are still able to bring in a substantial amount of money despite losing favour with critics. For example, the recent release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice is one film that has been able to successfully turn profit despite critics’ view of the film. D'Alessandro opines, the financial projection of the movie show that the cinema audience for the film will be sufficient in assisting it turn a minimum profit of $207.9 million. Further, the global intake for the film once all revenue streams have been accounted for will come to $925 million. Therefore, despite poor review for the film it is still able to record such as impressive numbers. The same example can be given when it comes to The Avengers which in the year 2012 was able to bring in $1.5 billion from global revenue. Therefore, with revenue streams of this kind it is no wonder that Hollywood films have been transformed into blockbuster films. 

Further, an additional reason as to why the Hollywood film business has moved almost exclusively towards the delivery of blockbuster entertainment is the transformation of film studios into corporations. That is, studios today have evolved and today they are more than film making entities but have become legal entities and therefore companies with floated shares. Del Vecchio shares the example of Time Warner which was purchased by AT & T. Therefore, Hollywood has over the years transformed into a global business that takes place in form of multinational media conglomerates. These conglomerates undertake to purchase studios and films which are agency packaged making this to become the norm. In addition, the new communication technology that has come about has also served to create some kind of ancillary markets for films produced by these studios. Elberse affirms, the corporation like nature of Hollywood and its studios has been supported by the government given the fact that the copyright industry has generated income that has been vital in contributing to the GDP of the US. For instance, the Reagan administration aided this corporation visage of Hollywood by eliminating the 1948 Paramount Decrees that was essential in the formation of a new phase of vertical integration. This was the integration of production, distribution, and exhibition that led to studio houses to explore riskier ventures in relation to filming such as blockbusters given the high budget that these movies need. The risk comes from the fact that failure to break even can lead to loss. Therefore, in order to avoid falling into the crisis that was experienced earlier on in Hollywood and to protect themselves from detrimental effects such crisis, many studios in Hollywood have made the decision to focus on blockbuster movies to give them success and financial success they so desperately need despite the associated risk. 

Hollywood’s crisis that has been experienced in film production is also another reason that has contributed to the current paradigm shift in film making which has resulted in the current focus towards blockbuster entertainment. In this regard, tracing this reason entails taking a historical line of thinking. According to McMahon, during Hollywood’s control by the ageing generation of moguls their choices and decisions for film production proved disastrous to the point of leading to bankruptcy for a number of production studios. In addition, it is during the periods 1940s and 1950s that Hollywood ended up going through what has been described as its worst crisis. One factors that fuelled this crisis was the migration of people into the suburbs which represented a place with no theatres. Another factor is the period of the baby boom which had the detrimental impact of reducing the cinematographic consumption among the population as the need to invest in durables such as housing and auto motives became much more pressing composed to visiting a theatre. In addition, it is during this time that cinemas started gaining a bad reputation as a consequence of arise of scandals which also involved a number of elite actors further reducing people’s interest in film. Elberse contends, it is the need to overcome these challenges that led to the cinema industry to make the decision of reducing the number of films that were being made and shift focus towards various forms of large and expensive productions. This was further encouraged by the fact that many studios at the time did not own any cinema circuits and it they did they were very few. This was essential in providing these studios with the free time they required to focus on their few large projects. In the views of Del Vecchio, it is this that led to the production and release of large epic films such as Cleopatra and The Ten Commandments. In more recent times, the rebirth of Hollywood as evidenced by the emergence of blockbuster films is attributed to studio executive at the time Lew Wasserman who purposed to make a change in film production and rid Hollywood of the old system. 

In conclusion, the film making model in Hollywood has placed on blockbuster entertainment and this has resulted in scale and hoopla, sound effects and special effects becoming the centre of movies today. This has caused the audience to become less dependent on the stories. Consequently, storytelling, imagination, and creativity no longer have a place in film. Today, things are different and the bottom line has become the main point of concern in filmmaking and therefore studios have embraced this and adapted the necessary business models to see this through. It is essential for the film making industry to undertake a thorough self-analysis and identify the factors that made everything different. While it is commendable for change to take place, this should not be at the expense of the art of film making which denies people the opportunity for authentic story telling.


Related essays