When writing gets tough, the tough turn to statistics. Well actually they don't but I do.
Checking the latest US box office numbers I wondered what the total score for 2012 was so far, and what it had been for 2011. And I noticed something odd.
Looking at the US top-10 box office hits of 2011, to say that it is dominated by sequels is an understatement. "Harry Potter 7.2" was in the lead, followed by installments to "Transformers", "Twilight", "Fast a/t Furious", "Sherlock Holmes", "Hangover", "Pirates", "Mission: Impossible" and "Cars". The first non-sequel comes in at 10 and is "Thor", which can actually be considered part of an existing franchise despite being a 'first' film.
Bizarrely, the list of sequels continues past the top 10 mark with "X-Men", "Kung-fu Panda" , "Captain America" (same franchise as "Thor"), "Planet o/t Apes"...
Arguably the first true non-franchise film on the 2011 list is "The Help" on number 13.
Checking this with 2012, do we see the same huge domination by sequelitis?
No we do not. On top so far (and unlikely to be de-throned this year) is "Avengers" which, while not a sequel, is of course the ultimate franchise film. And on number two we see "The Dark Knight Rises" which is most definitely a sequel. But look what happens next: "The Hunger Games", a reboot ("Spiderman"), "Brave", "Ted", "The Lorax", then a few sequels again ("Madagascar" and "MIB") and the top 10 ends with "Snow White and the Huntsman".
Seven of those aren't sequels. Five of them aren't even part of a franchise, or are hoped to be the first part.
In a world where the investments on expensive films need to be recouped VERY quickly because of piracy and ever-shortening DVD-release windows, the attraction of sequels and franchises is obvious (followed by their slightly more risky brethren "reboot" and "remake"). Brand recognition is a big factor for people who aren't hardcore movie lovers but only want the occasional entertainment during their once-a-year visit to the multiplex. We often lament the difficulties in getting original content produced, marketed and distributed these days, and last year's top 10 list is a prime example of the state of the industry.
But what does this year's list tell us? is there a change brewing?
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