The Hollywood Blockbuster

Jaws is in many ways the first hollywood blockbuster. It changed the scope of everything before and everything that is seen today, and it proved to be successful as it was backed up by an even greater success shortly after with Star Wars. These blockbuster films have changed the power of the cinema going experience internationally, as nations all over the world share in the delight of this pop culture machine. The power and success of the blockbuster is contributed to high quality and heavily marketed films, to productions that are produced overseas and outside the home studio. There is also a power struggle that sees the independent film be overshadowed by these epic films that are more readily a language understood internationally.

The summer blockbuster, whether it is good or not proves to be successful from the marketing of a film. Each film is of the greatest production value at the time of its undertaking, with budgets that easily account for one hundred and up to two hundred million dollars. While money can perfect certain aesthetics of a film, it does not guarantee a great film, and for the most part a blockbuster must only be a good film to turn a profit. It is within the marketing that spans from billboards, to television spots, to merchandise at fast food outlets like McDonalds, and KFC that exhibit a film to be successful for studio executives who spend an undisclosed amount on the marketing campaigns, which can be estimated to be around fifty million per blockbuster. The power of the marketing pushed by executives is excessive to the point where anyone who hasn’t seen the film is at least familiar with the iconography of the film, and to some extent the plot through the tagline, or trailer. Most often these celebrated blockbusters are from a well known franchise with an audience who will see it because they have liked the set of characters in the past, and therefore are sold at the title alone. Not only is this marketing placed in the film’s national marketplace, but also internationally, and in the form of a runaway film.

A relatively new trend in blockbusters since the nineties is the runaway film production, which sees a blockbuster film produced internationally for tax incentive reasons. The primary reason may be money, but as attributed in the marketing of a film, filming in a foreign country is in itself marketing to that nation. Nations can find pride in a big budget blockbuster that will see major film distribution in their own country through a feeling of locations and being separated by less degrees of separation than a production shot nationally. Ironically, the most notable negative is for the crews who rely on the blockbusters to be shot in their own national vicinity for jobs, whereas a runaway production will impact positively on a country elsewhere in their economy with job creation and tourism. Ultimately it creates these great networks between international studio houses with places for example as Hollywood and Australia, and most recently Hollywood and South Korea.

While the blockbuster film has the power of strong marketing campaigns and star power, the independent film is crushed by this sort of stronghold on the industry. There are thousands of movies produced each year and a large percent of these cannot compete or recuperate costs because of the blockbusters that dominate the widespread release. This includes countries such as Australia, with a struggling film industry that sees its own box office dominated by hollywood films that take the money of the theatre going audience. These films of an independent nature are more of a niche marketplace and have their own audience and award seasons that propel it into the cinematic stratosphere that any average movie going audience would have knowledge on. Studio executives will also make predictions as to what the film going audiences will want to see within a five year track, which they in hand can create with the marketing of a film and make genre flicks for a set number of years, as “Zombie Apocalypse” has seen a saturation in the marketplace to now be taken over by the comic book film, which feels as if it is at least fifty percent of blockbusters produced today. Studios have spent time changing what an audience perceived as simply film and changed it into the blockbuster, something they can differentiate and know as a grand spectacle or a bang for your buck. This popular culture phenomenon is going to influence the audience in these years through social media, and idle talk to moderate fandom, where people will commit to costumes and exhibitions, living and breathing for updates on these films, but most of all to be included as international symbols.

These blockbusters create a shared commonplace of films that transcend the language barrier, while dubbed, they differ ever so slightly, but ultimately a man from Japan can see an image or poster from a blockbuster and has the knowledge of the popular culture behind it to communicate with western audiences whom have these characters that embody a certain celebrity element, for example the superman crest. This process of globalisation of the blockbuster is undeniably relevant at creating a social conscience in the entertainment industry over any other forms internationally. A science teacher I once had exclaimed that you could take only the periodic table to a martian planet and communicate with those figures alone that are at their base exactly the same wherever you go and this is the same as these blockbuster films. They transcend nationality, and come down to relatable stories of people like you and I, who strive to be better or see a prosperous new world from the ashes of everything bad. The blockbuster is not exclusive of any particular class, nor should it. If you look at a blockbuster film you can have every age bracket, every race all laugh, shriek and awe at the same things. The audience becomes one to the blockbuster that caters to all.

Robert Ring

Jurassic World

Jurassic World stands today as the third highest grossing film ever with the worldwide gross at just over 1.5 billion dollars. Everyone has gone to check this film out. The closer this film got to release the more I worried about it actually being a good film, I mean a decade in development hell rarely ever produces something good.

My initial worries were that it would not have that edge of your seat terror, and that it would take at least thirty minutes for me to comfortably settle back into the world of Jurassic Park. So I sit down and the first thing you see is a tense moment of the Indominus Rex hatching and it stares directly at you just like the T-Rex. Bam! The two worries I had were immediately put to rest and I could settle into a Jurassic Park movie.

Jurassic World

Jurassic World takes place in a new and refurbished park on the same island from the original. This leads to many nods to that first film which work well for fans and don’t clutter the story. Our introduction to the park is through the two young nephews of Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) the park operations manager. Claire is the upstanding manager that is looking for sponsors to spike the attendance that appears to slacken now that the park has been open for years. The park has everything you could imagine in the way of being up close and personal to dinosaurs, like this is a park you want to go to. There are a few antagonists in this film with the majority of them being human and the Indominus Rex, which fills the T-Rex role, however it is just an animal lashing out from an upbringing in captivity. The Indominus Rex escapes unleashing the horror elements of this franchise, but this time to a park that has something like three hundred thousand visitors or so a day. Also housed on the other side of the island is an enclosure with raptors that are being trained by Owen (Chris Pratt) to be obedient, which is unbeknownst to Owen, getting them ready for military purposes. Everyone must come together to try and survive, with that in mind this movie is not worried about killing anyone off either.

Apart from the nostalgia of Jurassic Park, this movie takes a closer look at commercialism, keeping animals in captivity (Blackfish), and again the ethics of genetically engineering these dinosaurs. Collectively most of us will see Jurassic Park almost yearly, it is a masterpiece of modern cinema and this to me is a worthy follow up that I rank third in the franchise after Lost World. There were numerous things that could have gone wrong with this film and overall it only lacked a good human villain as well as multiple plot holes.

Jurassic World is the ideal summer blockbuster that takes you on a fast paced ride from start to finish.

A sequel is announced for June 22, 2018.

3.5/5 – Stars

Robert Ring