How Hollywood’s toxic (and worsening) addiction to franchises changed movies forever in 2014

And that leaves aside the movies that aren’t getting made — the original scripts or adaptations of novels that make it into development and then go nowhere, with apologies and sighs from the people who bought them, unless a very big studio feels like doing a very big favor for a very big star, director, or producer. People who believe in the primacy of the marketplace will tell you that this winnowing process is a Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest thing. It’s not, but even if it were, are we really supposed to cheer creative decisions that are based on nothing more than a nervous determination to avoid extinction? Yes, some good movies get through, but many that once would have now don’t, won’t, can’t. And a generation of midlevel executives that in the not-too-distant past would have been trained to develop and champion them now knows that doing so isn’t the way to move up in the ranks; these days, you make your bones by showing you can maximize the potential monetization of a preexisting brand or reawaken a dormant one. Stand-alone, non-repeatable hits are nice, but only in an outside-the-system way; they’re for people who don’t know how to think big.

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Mark Harris — Grantland

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