Guest PostsMoviesHow To Solve The Hollywood Problem

Matthew St.ClairAugust 8, 2016

In terms of the box office, it has been a rather underwhelming summer for movies. So much so that a movie like The Purge: Election Year, which was made for a mere $10 million dollars, performed better than The BFG and The Legend of Tarzan, which had a combined production budget of $320 million, on its opening weekend.

Here are some colossal duds we’ve had out this summer:

Warcraft: Made for $160 million, grossed $47m domestically

Alice Through The Looking Glass: Made for $170 million, grossed $76.5m domestically

X-Men: Apocalypse: Made for $178 million, grossed $155m domestically

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: Made for $135 million, grossed $81m domestically

Thinking of all those underperformers has me thinking: What can be done to fix such? Well, I have a few solutions. Let’s take a look:

1. Make More Original Content: Instead of pissing away $100m on reboots, sequels, etc.. that nobody asked for, Hollywood should take a chance on more original content. I’m sure there are so many thoughtful screenplays lying being sent from studio to studio. Go seek them out. Even if reboots, tentpoles, and sequels are what really drive the box office machine these days, Hollywood is a business and in a business, you can entice your customer with a new product. But if they want to make more sequels, at least make sequels there is a demand for like Finding Dory. That film has been in the gestation period for a while and it’s now the highest grossing film of the year in North America thus far.

2. Think Smaller: Plenty of the most profitable films this summer have been original films with budgets significantly lower than $100m:

Central Intelligence: Made for $50m, grossed $125.5m domestically

Me Before You: Made for $20m, grossed $55.4m domestically

Lights Out: Made for a mere $5m, grossed $42m domestically

The Secret Life Of Pets: Made for $75m, grossed $305m domestically

So if they want their films to have a decent return, they should really think smaller. One way they can do that is to not only be strict with their price tags, but cast affordable talent as well. If they want to have an A-list actor or actress involved, though, have them take a small fee upfront and get their 8 figure salary on the backend after the movie does well. Bam! Studios make their money back, actors get their 8 figures, and the actor’s handlers get a good chunk of their earnings. Everyone is happy.

3. Diversity Sells: According to a study from the Buneche Center in UCLA that examined ticket sales in 2014, films with between 41-50% people of color had a median global range of $122m dollars, the highest of all the films from 2014, yet there were only eight films. But films with less than 10% of people of color had a median range of $52.6m yet there were fifty-five of them. That’s the majority of films from that year.

So when casting upcoming projects, they should include 50% women, people of color, and even those within the LGBTQ community, considering how films with more diverse casts do better than films without them.

It is also important to hire more female, gay, and ethnic writers and directors as well. If you recall the episode of the series Project Greenlight where Matt Damon tried to explain diversity to African-American producer Effie Brown, he said that “When we talk about diversity, we do it in the casting of the film and not the casting of the show.” What he was saying that when it comes to representation, it matters more who is in front of the camera rather than who is behind it which couldn’t be further from the truth. If there aren’t as many filmmakers representative of different groups given the opportunity to see themselves reflected on screen, how will audiences? For example, Shows like Blackish, Fresh Off The Boat, and Scandal which center around people of color were all created by women of color: Kenya Barris, Nahnatchka Khan, and Shonda Rhimes, respectively.

4. Vote With Your Wallets: While studios have a responsibility to be more original and more diverse, we audiences have a responsibility as well. If you’re tired of tentpoles and movies where you’re not seeing yourself represented on screen, then avoid such films and go see films that do represent you and support more original ideas. There are only two colors Hollywood sees: gold and green. If we keep spending our green dollars on tentpoles and less diverse films, then it reinforces the idea that those are the films that audiences want to see. So vote with your dollars for what films YOU want to see.

Anyhow, those are my suggestions on how to fix the Hollywood problem. Whether you agree or disagree, please feel free to write your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

Also, be sure to check out my website and you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @filmguy619. Stay golden everyone!



  • gary loggins

    August 8, 2016 at 7:35 AM

    Hollywood has always cannibalized itself with remakes and sequels, most of which can’t hold a candle to the originals. More fresh ideas would be welcome!

  • Jason

    August 8, 2016 at 6:21 PM

    Good points you make. Its like what they said in 22 Jump Street, putting double money into a project means double profit. It doesn’t always works, but, in Hollywood, if it’s not broke….don’t fix it.

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