As soon as one idea works in Hollywood, that concept is milked for all it’s worth. If it’s not rights to Japanese horror films being snapped up and remade, then it’s YA novels being adapted for big screen franchises. And the latest hot idea on studio lots is the shared universe. Of course, Marvel is deep into their Marvel-verse, “Star Wars” will be coming back to the big screen soon along with spin-off movies, Warner Bros. is preparing their massive run of DC movies, while Universal is getting into the same game with their monster properties. But is it all too much? James Gunn certainly thinks so.
The director behind the massively successful “Guardians Of The Galaxy” hit Facebook recently to speak out against the shared universe model. And while it might seem like he’s pointing a finger at the company that gave him a shot at a massive franchise, Gunn’s thoughts are a bit more nuanced. Essentially, he argues that the multi-film, expanding movie approach doesn’t work if there isn’t a solid backbone of material behind it. And he’s got a point. Here are his comments in full:
Listen, I love big ass shared universes in movies, as well as huge franchises. But I’m a little worried about the numerous shared universes being planned by the studios, without having a strong base film to grow from – or in some cases, NO base film to grow from. Star Wars had the original Star Wars, the Marvel Universe had the original Iron Man, the Dark Knight series had Batman Begins, even movies like Transformers and Twilight – these were movies audiences loved, and the audiences demanded more from these characters. But these days studios are trying to grow trees without a strong seed. Execs and producers and sometimes even directors are focused on the big picture, without perfecting the task directly in front of them – making a great movie. And studios are trying to grow franchises from non-existent films or middling successes. It’s like they aren’t taking audiences into account at all anymore.
I know George Lucas, Kevin Feige, John Favreau, etc, had ideas where their films would potentially lead in the face of success. But I don’t think it ever got in the way of making that first movie count as if it was the last, of making it something wonderful that people would love whether it led to other films or not.
In short, I think this new business model is flawed. I think filmmakers and studios should be prepared for the big picture, but never, ever let it get in the way of making a single great film. Be a little more experimental and see what works as opposed to trying to force success. And mostly, remember that we as an industry exist to serve the audiences, to communicate with them – they have a voice in what we create as well. We are not here to dictate what they want to see, mostly because that’s simply not possible.
Frankly, these are wise words from Gunn, but here’s the thing — as long as audiences keep showing up, the trend will continue. Even with failures like “Beautiful Creatures” and “The Mortal Instruments” (which is being turned into a TV series anyway), YA franchises continue to percolate in development (though this weekend’s numbers for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire — Part 1” — the lowest in the series — are cause for alarm). Marvel movies show no sign of losing their dominance, and unless something goes horribly wrong, “Star Wars” will be massive. And you can bet WB will be pulling out all the stops so their ‘Batman v. Superman’ is absolutely huge too. Fatigue will only settle in if audiences start tiring of the stories, but as long as the storytelling remains vibrant, they’ll keep coming.
Meanwhile, Gunn has also shared “Awesome Mixtape Volume Zero,” another collection of tunes that was used on set to keep the energy going during filming of “Guardians Of The Galaxy.” Read Gunn’s introduction to the tunes, followed by the tracklist and playlist — and don’t forget to turn it up:
As many of you know, music is an extremely important part of Guardians of the Galaxy. I chose the songs on Awesome Mix ahead of time, and even included them in the script. Where possible, the songs were played live on set – when you see the gang walking down the hall to Cherry Bomb, they were actually walking down the hall to Cherry Bomb. Likewise, the score by Tyler Bates was written largely before we started shooting, and we blared that sucker on set so the actors and cameras would all move in unison.
On lighter days, our master soundman Simon Hayes would also play music on set between takes to keep people’s energy up. He did this while shooting the credit sequence in the Temple of Morag, and he also did it for the Boot of Jemiah, so we could keep the extras hyped and alive and feeling like they were in a bar atmosphere. Being that these were night shoots, it helped to keep people awake as well! Simon took requests for the credit scene, but for the Boot of Jemiah he asked me to put together an AWESOME playlist of high energy party tunes. So I did, featuring some of my favorite tunes. My assistant Simon Hatt (50% of British people are named Simon) just found this list and sent it to me. So I thought I’d share it with you in case you wanted to make your own BOOT OF JEMIAH PLAYLIST – or, as known from now on, Awesome Mix Volume Zero.
“Guardians Of The Galaxy” Awesome Mix Tape Volume Zero
1. Never Wanted to Dance – Mindless Self Indulgence
2. Party Hard – Andrew W.K.
3. The Way It Was – Aceyalone (feat Bionik)
4. I Like It, I Love It – Lyrics Born
5. Let’s Dance to Joy Division – The Wombats
6. Start Wearing Purple – Gogol Bordello
7. Ben Vereen – Pigeon John
8. Teenagers – My Chemical Romance
9. Black Fist – Juskwam and Lyrikill
10. Timebomb – The Old 97’s
Awesome Mix Volume Zero from mattymurdock on 8tracks Radio.