The present-day adage is that there are no original thoughts anymore. That is, if something has been done or created today, there was probably a template for it earlier.
I tend to agree, although not to the extent that many do. Variations on a theme can still be original and, especially in art forms, there is a constant evolution of what has come before.
But it seems that movie audiences are screaming for more originality. Many recent so-called blockbusters have been sequels, ranging from Alice Through the Looking Glass, X-Men: Apocalypse, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and many more.
And they are bombing.
Even a sure thing like Independence Day: Resurgence had a disappointing opening over the weekend. (Note: There are always exceptions that prove the rule. Finding Dory is doing well.)
It would be easy – and probably correct – to pile on the movie studios who have become so dependent on the gigantic sequel blockbuster that execs are being fired right and left after those movies failed. (Even Steven Spielberg warned against this a few years ago.)
But that’s always been a fair criticism. Like many businesses, the movie business is a copycat category.
Netflix has taught us to expect more than the generic.
What is interesting to me is that audiences are rejecting these paper-mache films. And I have a theory. You can blame it on Netflix.
Some recent reports have suggested that the original content on Netflix is more popular than many had thought. Netflix, because it is not beholden to advertisers, does not release viewing numbers but its approach seems to be working. Each individual show – or even movie – that Netflix releases on its platform is not geared to appeal to the masses. Netflix’s strategy is to segment its audience so it has something for everyone, but not one thing for everyone.
It knows that few, if any, of its shows will appeal to everyone. The strategy is that if you’re into at least one of its shows because it appeals to your individual taste, you will stay a subscriber or become a new one. In essence, Netflix is producing the middle-cost production that was once the foundation of Hollywood.
Therefore, if Netflix is the dominant viewing platform of this era, then audiences have been taught to seek out things that are less generic. This is why the big TV networks are struggling and the major sequels are losing steam at the cinema.
The trend in the market means that movie studios will have to adjust, as their once-dependable staples no longer fit the appetites of a Netflix-watching audience.
Companies across all sectors are often slow to adapt to changes and it often takes an outsider (like Netflix) to take advantage of changing attitudes.
I think that’s what has happened here. Experts all over are trying to predict what viewing will be like in the next decade or so, but it seems the biggest content providing companies (the studios) are the ones who understand the new audience the least.