Hazarding his opinion on studio trends of which audiences may have grown weary, Imax Entertainment CEO Greg Foster told those assembled at the Bank of America 2014 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference that, “Maybe people are getting a little sick of the post-apocalyptic, dark, angst-ridden, suicidal movies.” Now, here’s a guy whose business partly depends on the studios’ success, but who doesn’t spend his days interpreting audience analytics and agonizing over what to feed us next. And maybe that distance from the problem enables him to see things more clearly.
Between 2013 and 2014, we got “Elysium,” “Oblivion,” “After Earth,” “Edge of Tomorrow,” “Snowpiercer,” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” In less post-apocalyptic, more dystopian future YA fare, we got “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” “Ender’s Game,” “Divergent,” “The Giver,” and, along similar lines, “The Purge” and “The Purge: Anarchy.” There’s obviously something in those audience analytics telling studios that we as a society are skeptical of the sinister, menacing future mankind seems to be unstoppably hurtling towards, and that we like seeing our paranoid visions play out in front of us.
But Foster believes studios have been missing the mark with these, and the data (arguably) support this point, as the most straightforward post-apocalyptic genre fare — “Elysium,” “Oblivion,” “After Earth” — all grossed below $100 million domestically. Those that did better usually had another defining attribute — zombies for “World War Z” ($202 million), apes for “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” ($206 million), or hit YA franchise for “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” ($424 million).
Foster also noted tentpoles that did well this summer like “Guardians of the Galaxy” tended to “have a twinkle in their eye,” and predicted the 2015 box office would sizzle with the new installments from ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘The Avengers,’ Bond, ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Terminator,’ and ‘Fast and Furious,’ plus Marvel’s “Ant-Man” all in one year.
Clearly, it’s not formula the man has beef with, but rather invariable doom and gloom. No one could blame him, but until earth gets its act together, angsty visions of the future are likely here to stay. [THR]