The history of success in relation to films is fascinating. During the studio era, (1930-1948) cinemas were owned by the studios and so marketing wasn’t really seen as that important. In the post war years, when fewer people went to cinemas, and they lost their ownership, studios had to make more of an effort into making films as one off exciting trips and bigger blockbusters. When these stopped being good (The Fall of the Roman Empire one of biggest flops in history) they had to market to the hippie generation with content containing more graphic depictions of violence, sex and establishment rebellion with movies such as the Graduate, Easy Rider, Bonnie and Clyde.
Then America matured and the family film began being marketed again, leading to the success of family friendly films like ET and the development of franchises like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, both involving George Lucas, who had previously made a film marketed at a very different audience with American Graffiti.
But what kind of era of film are we living in today? let’s look at the most popular films this week. Marvel’s Doctor Strange is up there. So is Bridget Jones’s baby. Both have been met with universal success from critics and audiences alike. I haven’t seen either, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t. But to me, they are two examples of the type of films that are marketed the most these days. Sequels and prequels and ‘reworkings’ and remakes and additions to franchises. There are so many of these types of films around today, some are very good and some aren’t quite so, but this appears, to me, to be the current marketing strategy for many studios. The big question is does it work? Marvel’s films are immensely popular. So popular I’m struggling to keep up with the franchise. But they do often follow the same formula. My favourites recently have been those that don’t appear to abide by the regular Marvel formula quite so much, Ant Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, the former remained relatively unknown while the latter has become something of a sleeper hit. To me, this says Marvel will often focus more on their less brilliant but more ‘modern day blockbuster box tickers’ when it comes to marketing than some of their films that are actually more creative and original.
And Marvel could be seen, in this instance, as representation of the modern day film industry in general. All the marketing seem to be towards sequels, prequels, remakes etc. and I must confess I do often see a completely original film and not pay much attention to it because I don’t know much about it.
Is the film industry sacrificing the promotion of originality and creativity for the promotion of films that tick the apparent modern-day Blockbuster requirements? More importantly, does it work?