The State of the Marvel-verse and Blockbuster Movies

It feels like part of the Mission Impossible thing (less so Indy) is to be The Biggest Thing at any given time. So it’s dumb–and maybe they’ve learned their lesson–but I think it’s totally possible that they feel MI has to have a sky-high budget, as part of its marketing narrative.

I think that is the point exactly. We no longer have a handful of prestige drama shows that everyone is watching, we have pushed far out wide onto multitudes of genres, platforms, etc.

I can think of the last prestige show that everyone was talking about and in the cultural zeitgeist was “The Last of Us.”

We are also about to go through a BIG drought with the writers and SAG-AFTRA strike.

Except in our case sometimes we just want to go to the movies so whether a movie shows better at the theater is mostly meaningless to us. Going out, getting the popcorn and soda, enjoying the fancy theater seats they have now, is just a different experience no matter what movie is playing.

The movies we seldom choose to see are the blockbuster movies. Didn’t see Indy or MI:7 but we did see Barbie and A Haunting in Venice. It’s like date night, I guess, though we don’t call it that. Our preference is adult dramas.

So maybe I can start to catch up!

Honestly, it was a couple weekends back when we were bored and were just like, lets go see a movie! Hadn’t done that in a while, checked movie times and apps for tickets…

But… we didn’t go, because all of the local cinemas were running nothing we wanted to see. (or stuff we had already seen) Bottoms was the choice, but only one place was showing it, at 10pm. Theaters are also seemingly just turning all their screens to the most recent blockbusters too.

So we didn’t go.

Yep, content is exactly what there’s a lot of.

I think that the Prestige TV era ended with Game of Thrones. We have had a few big shows in the cultural zeitgeist since then, but nothing to that scale that consistently.

We had fucking parties to get together to watch Game of Thrones at one point.

We are in a very diluted environment of entertainment at this point.

I think there’s still a world of difference between something like The Last of Us or The Bear versus something like ABC’s The Rookie or Grey’s Anatomy. Whether it’s the budget/production value, directing, writing, or pure “star power” there’s definitely a difference when you watch them. It’s one of those “you know it when you see it” things. That’s not even going into the firehose of reality TV shows that endlessly fill schedules.

Sure, for some people this is the case.

But for a lot of us with young kids? That math doesn’t add. There’s a reason I’ve seen more movies in theaters this year than in a decade, my kids are starting to get old enough to join. My youngest is now old enough that a Disney or Pixar film is within reason, and my oldest can start joining for films like Spiderverse or even some Marvel films.

Hell the only reason my wife and I went to theaters for Barbie is because it became an Event.

Well, that is true, there are still “Prestige TV” shows that air, there was a very specific era when there were very few titles, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Americans, Friday Night Lights, etc all airing at the same time, all with large audiences and water-cooler talk every day after.

I think that there was a specific era where that really peaked, and we are kind of past that peak right now.

This was all brought up because “Prestige TV” was considered a culprit for movies not making as much money, and I don’t think that is it. I think we are past the “Prestige TV” era, and into the massive “content” glut era.

Also good shout on on “The Bear” that show definitely hit the zeitgeist hard and more recently than “The Last of us”

It took five or six seasons for Game of Thrones to build to its peak. I think a show like Last of Us could get there if they keep up the quality of the first season.

I’m not going to bother, but I could pull up netflix right now and list New Releases. Every week a never ending list of shlock gets added to it.

Personally, my take on the “Death of Movies” (in reference to the linked video upthread everyone should watch) would be that it is a confluence of all the factors that Patrick stated.

The one that I didn’t think about much before watching the video, but do now, is the death of the movie star.

We just don’t have big named movie stars that carry people into the theater anymore. Studios have completely pivoted to focusing on IP to get people into seats.

The insane fact from that video was that the 1979 family divorce coutroom drama “Kramer vs Kramer” was the top movie of 1979. It made over 100 million at the box office, which, adjusted for inflation to 2019 (boxofficemojo) is 393 million domestic.

Fucking bonkers. Dial of Destiny, is set to make less than 180 million domestically.

There was no IP, just 2 of the hottest actors at the time, Streep and Hoffman, putting forward an oscar worthy performance. Compare this to “A Marriage Story” which was on Netflix, so we don’t have a box office comparison, but also starred 2 of the hottest actors at the time (Scarlet Johannsen and Adam Driver) and was nominated for multiple Oscars.

We aren’t building movie stars like we were back then, there is so much content via streaming or otherwise that these things get diluted.

There is definitely a difference, in kind not just degree, between algorithm driven lowest common denominator schlock as you call it, and high quality productions.

There is never a world in which Love is Blind is a substitute for the theatrical experience. But something like Glass Onion or Napoleon is.

I mean you can think that, but you would be wrong. Those shows, starting 20 years ago, changed what was possible on television. Now we have big stars like Dwayne Johnson, Idris Elba, Jason Sudekis, Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and others simultaneously working in both film and television. And we’re not talking in actors past their prime or in the aftermath of some fall from grace situation, Johnson was making Ballers and Young Rock while he was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood.

That doesn’t happen in 1993.

And this changes the complexion of what people think tv series are and can be. Sure there is a ton of stuff that isn’t competitors to the theatrical experience, but there absolutely is stuff that is. And it absolutely reframes what some people will go to the theater for. And dramas absolutely are going to feel that most acutely.


This is exactly what I’m talking about. A perfect example of how the changes in prestige TV created a landscape where two of the biggest stars around created something for non theater experience, and the home experience quality has increased s enough that even if it had a theatrical release, I would wait for home viewing.

Yeah, for most of its existence, TV shows were seen as a lower form of art than movies in general. Going from TV to movies was the preferred career path versus movies to TV.

Don’t know about the others (certainly GoT was a blockbuster), but didn’t Breaking Bad famously not have a large audience? I suspect The Americans wasn’t huge either.

Not the biggest film of the year, but this film, which had the 3rd biggest opening weekend of the year, is entirely self-funded by Ms. Swift (and earns her 57% of gross ticket sales) and has already earned 5-10x its cost.

The 3rd biggest opening of the year, in theaters, is not a “movie”.

Get ready for a load more concert films.

Concert films have been a thing forever. I don’t see these numbers for others unless they’re for another Taylor Swift film next year.

You think that the studios won’t take away the worst lessons from this?

Get ready for your Katy Perry tour film to cost some studio 100 million bucks and flop.

The hilarious thing is that she tried getting a studio to sign-up but they declined, so she talked to the theater chains directly and released it herself. And now she doesn’t have to split the money!