For almost the last 20 years, the Hollywood movie studio plan has been the same: buy into the largest property you can get your hands on, and churn out tentpole movies based on that IP.
Sometimes it's led to Marvel and Star Wars-type success. Other times It's been like Divergent. More frequently, these bets lie somewhere in between.
Still, no matter how big of a movie came out or how big of a bomb there seemed to be, no one was steering off the course. Until now.
The blockbuster era of Hollywood happened because of the rise of the golden era of television. People were not going to the movies, so studios pivoted to making calculated bets as to what kinds of stories we wanted. They optioned books, remade old ideas, and rebooted a ton of franchises.
But as we come out of the pandemic year, many are beginning to wonder if that's still the sanest business model moving forward.
'The Purge'Credit: Blumhouse
Take something like A Quiet Place or The Purge. Both of these are original movies that came with nothing other than an airtight concept and great genre beats. These movies were bona fide smash hits and were made on limited budgets that didn't require a huge bet from the studio. Each of them were able to be spun off into sequels, which were not beholden to IP, and gave creators more room to bend to the will of the filmmakers involved.
Or what about something like John Wick? It followed a similar outline and has become an even bigger international hit, with so many different imitators spanning from its first three films.
With the ability to create IP within the studio, huge Hollywood conglomerates are rethinking how they do business. And it's changing the way Hollywood has been structured.
During the tentpole era, most studios shed their overall deals with smaller producers and focused only on the ones who brought in the bigger projects. That meant also shedding studio executives responsible for developing ideas. Now, the game is all about reading and developing as many scripts as you can, which might lend itself to a rise in the buying specs. But who will read them?
'John Wick'Credit: Lionsgate
Studios have to decide fast if they want to extend overalls to more producers, hire more internal execs, or a mixture of both in order to survive. They also have to take a look at the genres, which can help them craft and market a trailer for the movies they do buy. And they need to look at budgets. Maybe it's smarter to make 10 $20-million films than it is to make one $200 million film. That way, you have more chances to create internal franchises you can own and spin-off in any direction you want.
“1) Go on a shopping expedition to try and find something new to develop based on an existing property. 2) Try to reboot or rethink an existing franchise. 3) Go back to the roots of a studio and find an old property that can be rolled out as a new universe similar to how the MonsterVerse was built out into a very broad franchise,” he said.
'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'Credit: Sony Pictures
One thing not going away is the idea of rebooting things. Reboots are essentially studios mining what they already own to resell to consumers. It's hard to imagine that going away, especially as we see them spinning off their own ideas into restarts of franchises or more branches of the same tree.
There's one caveat with these reboots. I think they'll get a lot smaller. At least in the first iteration of their film. I cannot imagine them rebooting Harry Potter and starting epic. It's more likely that they'd find a way to spend less to test the waters unless they were doing full-scale reimaging of the series.
Either way, the tentpole bubble of Hollywood is changing and expanding every day. While places like Disney never may change course, small studios need to find a way to stay open and stay relevant when they can't risk it all.
Hopefully, this leads to more jobs, script sales, and paid work across the industry.
Let us know what you think in the comments.