Movie News

Studio Blockbusters: Is It All about Cultural Momentum and Familiarity from Now On?

Seems to me unfamiliar stories and characters don't stand a chance

Studio Blockbusters, Is It All About Cultural Momentum and World Building Now?
Photo: Marvel / Disney / Warner Bros.

While we were trying to figure out if it was the title that caused audiences to stay away from Edge of Tomorrow, a reader floated an idea that it wasn't the title at all, but instead cultural momentum. He writes, "If you don't have an already existing cultural space reserved that garners you momentum within the minds of audiences, that is to say pre-existing 'good-will' or interest, or are linked to it in some way (via a meta-brand like 'Marvel studios') you're basically close to screwed upfront."

While there aren't any studies to back this up, I find this incredibly fascinating. Of course, there will always be outliers and it's no secret audience familiarity with a product will breed increased interest, which is, after all, the reason sequels exist in the first place. But has it reached a tipping point where it's not only a sound business decision to take advantage of cultural momentum, but instead it has become something audiences expect or they won't show up in the first place?

When it comes to Edge of Tomorrow, what kind of success might it have enjoyed had the same story been told, only had it been told within a world already familiar to audiences? What if instead of Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as Cage and Rita it had been an X-Men spin-off with a couple of side characters established in X-Men: Days of Future Past, or what if Warner Bros. had used it as a launching point for one of their DC Comics properties?

Now before comic book fans get all up in arms about how it's not a Marvel or DC story, I'm just creating a hypothetical and wondering would it have been more successful had only the names and association been changed and nothing else? After all, Edge of Tomorrow is no worse a title than X-Men: Days of Future Past, both deal with time travel and both were well reviewed, though one has made $622+ million worldwide while the other will struggle to make half that and probably won't.

Marvel has used this familiarity better than anyone else, first introducing us to Iron Man while hinting at The Avengers in the post credits sequence then giving us Iron Man 2 before ever introducing Thor or Captain America. Fox has tried something similar with the X-Men franchise, but the results have been less than stellar and now Warner Bros. is taking a stab with Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice as is Sony with their Spider-Man franchise.

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Then you come to familiarity with the young adult novels that have proven hit and miss, though when studios have a hit, they have a big hit including Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight and the verdict is still out on the Divergent franchise, though they aren't showing any signs of slowing as Insurgent will be upon us soon enough. Oh, and The Fault in Our Stars didn't do so bad when it opened.

Finally there's a level of just pop culture familiarity, movies such as Godzilla and the continued attempts to bring once-loved television shows to the big screen in feature form. How many people had never seen the original Godzilla or even Roland Emmerich's 1998 remake that, at the very least, were familiar with the character when the latest remake hit theaters and arrived with a monster opening? Hell, Maleficent was a known quantity before it opened and look how it's performing.

Have we come to grasp on to what we know more than ever before? While there are exceptions to every rule and with this one it would seem comedy and family films are the #1 exception, but otherwise has it gotten to a point where we tend to stay clear of something that isn't entirely familiar to us? Has a trip to the cinema become all about making that "safe" decision?

I can't blame people for this, it's the law of percentages. You're spending a lot of money to go to a movie and when you see something familiar you're more likely to go that way then something you're unfamiliar with. Especially when you know the unfamiliar title, good reviews or not, will be on Blu-ray in about three months anyway.

What's more interesting, however, is how films are no longer given room to breathe. A film such as Edge of Tomorrow might not have needed a huge opening years ago. Instead it could have opened modestly and had a long life at the box office, bleeding 25-30% each weekend until it ended as one of the highest grossing releases of any particular year 20-30 years ago. However, that idea of familiarity doesn't just strike on opening weekend, it strikes every weekend.

We now have more films to choose from and just by nature more familiar choices to choose from as new sequels (two this weekend alone in fact) and familiar adaptations hitting the multiplexes.

So you missed Edge of Tomorrow last weekend and you thought you might get to it this weekend? But, wait... uh oh, 22 Jump Street is out... Will you go see the action film everyone that's seen it says they like or the sequel to that movie that made you laugh your ass off a couple years ago? Considering you've probably already forked over money for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla, maybe it's now time for a laugh. Down the tubes goes Edge of Tomorrow. After all, we have to see Transformers: Age of Extinction in a couple weeks.

It's no wonder Warner Bros. decided to move Jupiter Ascending to early 2015, get away from the glut, open early and avoid the rush.

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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

    At least we have Nolan to save the day, right?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      Another example of familiarity and his familiarity gained cultural and mass audience momentum with Batman Begins more than anything before that. I'd even argue it wasn't until The Dark Knight that mass audiences cared about Nolan.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/CoryS./ Cory S.

        Inception put it over the top. Now, everyone (I think) is anticipating Interstellar.

        • supersatanic

          Plus, it also has the McConnaughey factor so it's almost guaranteed the movie will make major headlines when it comes out.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

        He definitely is an example of familiarity but he's providing high-quality blockbusters and original films (i.e. Inception and Interstellar) unlike the current Marvel and DC cannons.

      • parapa

        Exactly. The Prestige wouldn't exist without Batman Begins, Inception wouldn't exist without Dark Knight, and Interstellar wouldn't exist without Dark Knight Rises. He's forced to make these goddamn superhero movies (and does the best job he can to elevate the material) just to get interesting projects he really cares about made

        • supersatanic

          Don't think that is really the case. Even his original movies have started to bring in serious bank nowadays. The guy can do whatever he wants to do on as large a scale as possible.

      • gimli999amit

        so Gravity is one of those "outliers" you were talking about? or "The Matrix"?

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

          With Gravity, I personally think it had as much to do with the release date as anything. Had it been released in the summer months who knows how it would have performed. As for The Matrix I'd say it came at a time when competition in that realm wasn't nearly as tough.

          • gimli999amit

            yeah your argument about the release date is quite accurate. plus I believe some movies create a crazy buzz/hype which sometimes precedes the quality of the movie itself. Paranormal Activity, Avatar and Frozen come to mind.

          • http://www.iamramiam.blogspot.com Movieram

            I would also argue that the box office dynamics were better when The Matrix came out.
            Oh for the days when blockbusters included stuff like Fatal Attraction, JFK, The Sixth Sense, or Erin Brockovich.

    • supersatanic

      Nolan is on a streak right now but it honestly can't last forever. We need more big budget auteurs of his type.

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

        Agreed.

  • andyluvsfilms

    I'm loving the look of Birdman but could the glut of superhero films hurt its box office? Are people only will to pay for nonsense? I don't think it'll make Randy Quaid cash anyway but i think it's in a curious position.

    • supersatanic

      It's looking like a very interesting 'The Player' type satire on the current trend in Hollywood. I'm very,very intrigued.

  • PJ Edwards

    That's why I liked Pixar and now currently love A24. Pixar used to use their brand familiarity to create successful original family movies that had big themes. A24 is using their brand to make great challenging adult fare.

    But yes, I agree in the instant everything culture, you better have some back up or time to breathe(why else are Oscar films coming out in October now?), or else you are done before you even open.

    • RBBrittain

      You on A24's payroll or something??? I don't exactly see The Bling Ring as equal to Pixar's duds, much less its hits...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

    Has a trip to the cinema become all about making that "safe" decision?
    ^^^
    Yes, for some reason In my early years of going to the movies I never thought about the movie I'm seeing HAS to be good. I don't know If it's growing up that makes me think that as opposed to a child who doesn't look at things from a critically standpoint or from a time consumption being rewarded with enjoyment standpoint or the cost of going to movies or the actual experience of the theater. Perhaps it's a combination of all the above for me.

    For some reason, I think seeing a awful movie — not a mediocre so-so movie but a bad movie is something that would ruin my day or night.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/RonOnealFresh/ Ron Oneal Fresh

      So many things vying for my attention these days from TV, games, Internet. I used to be able to ignore TV and the Internet before it became a behemoth in daily content.

      Me (circa 2000)
      "Let's go to see a movie"

      Friend: "What's playing?"
      Me: "I don't know, let's go find out"
      Friend (to ticket booth): "Is (fill in the blank) good?
      Ticketbooth: "Yeah, it's fine...."
      Friend: "Two tickets please"

      Do people do that anymore? I sure as hell don't. I'm vetting movies more often. The general consumer probably does so as well by asking their friends who saw the new Marvel movie and said it's "good" or "fine" that simple thumbs up may be enough. While I on the other end, probably take critics opinions too much into account. Which is playing it safe as well...

  • http://www.rabidpictures.com yrabadi

    You on WB's payroll or somethin? ;)

    But I agree with everything you're saying... it's actually kind of scary, the way things are going and the speed at which they're running. In a few years, we may just have sequels and franchise-related films... every week. Bam, bam, bam. Original content won't make as much, and will simply burn out...

    Scary thought.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      "You on WB's payroll or somethin?"

      Ha, that Edge of Tomorrow result is just baffling to me that it keeps taunting me, but what I get at here makes about as much sense as I can come up with as to what happened.

      • http://www.rabidpictures.com yrabadi

        I think you're on to something - though there are likely a lot of factors. Audience fatigue, which is kind of touched upon, could be one as well... too many blockbusters... in general.

        Anyway, I may check out Edge of Tomorrow this weekend. So I guess I'm in that minority who will be passing on 22 and Dragon - though admittedly, I haven't seen the first installment for either of those.

  • Josh McLaughlin

    I can agree with all of your points, Brad. The only thing I will add is that just because I am not interested in seeing "Edge of Tomorrow" at this point (while it's in theaters) does not mean that I am willing to support only the franchise films and potential blockbusters coming out in the Summer months and around Christmas (and sometimes in mid-April now).

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      I'm not suggesting it's anything bad at all, just sort of human nature, timing and having to sift through everything that's out there.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/ArthurCarlson/ Arthur Carlson

    Yet in the world of television we're seeing more original, riskier projects getting made that audiences are adoring. Things like True Detective, Orange is the New Black, Orphan Black, etc. would probably not exist in today's cinema, but here we see them getting huge audiences. It seems that the great storytellers are leaving the medium that gives them little control over their stories and entering a world where they can make creative risks and tell their stories. So, we'll probably see Hollywood implode at least in the cinematic world, but still give us quality product in TV. No film this year released by Hollywood has matched those three shows I've mentioned.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/swlabr413/ swlabr413
      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/ArthurCarlson/ Arthur Carlson

        Sorry I missed that article, but I think my point is that cultural momentum and familiarity seems to be the norm in studio blockbusters, but it's not the norm in scripted television, which are both Hollywood products. We still have a place to go to appreciate original ideas. I wonder if Edge of Tomorrow was made as a ten part miniseries if it would've been more popular than what we saw in theaters. Of course, there would be no Tom Cruise, and the budget would've been smaller, which may be the factors that turned people away from the movie. It's just interesting that we complain about lack of original ideas from the Hollywood machine, but it certainly exists. Now, that's not to say television is perfect and doesn't copy and paste (lots of superhero shows coming out, as well as way too many adaptations of films) but it is to say that television is currently where the original ideas that are connecting with audiences seems to be coming from. And I think I misspoke my last phrase when I should've said that no Hollywood film released this year has matched the storytelling (and originality) of the three shows I've mentioned.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

      Disagree completely. Comparing things like True Detective and OitNB to Hollywood franchise films is ridiculous. That's like me stepping up and saying "Boy TV sure sucks, Inside Llewyn Davis was waaaay better than last nights episode of Honey BooBoo".

      To me film is still far better than television. Sure, it's bogged down by a load of mass produced studio trash, but there's no doubt in my mind that there are as many great films coming out today as there ever have been. It's just hard to sift through the rubble to find them.
      Sure True Detective is a good show, but if it was released in the film medium it wouldn't hold a candle to most of the great films coming out. I think it's just indicative of our cultures want for 'more' more of everything. A lot of people prefer television not because it is of higher quality, but because they simply get more of it. That's why we see Marvel films as the most popular in their respective medium

      • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

        In my opinion, the best 5 series of the year are better than the best 5 films.

        • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

          And that's fair. Personally I'd go the other way but hey that's just me.

          What I don't like is people bashing film based on blockbuster superhero movies

          • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

            The top 5 films of this year's Oscars (as determined by the Academy) were:
            • Gravity
            • American Hustle
            • Nebraska
            • 12 Years a Slave
            • The Wolf of Wall Street

            Well, I'd say that the top 5 of this year's Emmys will easily be better.
            • Game of Thrones > Gravity
            • Mad Men > American Hustle
            • Louie > Nebraska
            • True Detective > 12 Years a Slave
            • Breaking Bad > The Wolf of Wall Street

            • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

              Gravity>GoT
              American Hustle>Mad Men
              12 Years a Slave> True Detective
              I'll give you BB over Wolf though, and I haven't seen Louie

              I'm curious how you came up with those as the academy's best films of the year. I *think* they're the director noms, right? That really doesn't mean much I don't think. By that criteria Argo wasn't one of their top 5 films, despite winning BP.

              Also, all you're really trying to say is that the Emmy's do a better job with who they honour, which I would agree with for the most part.
              If I look at my top 6 films of the year (Llewyn, 12YaS, Short Term 12, Rush, Pines, The Hunt), there's nothing close to them on tv right now.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

                4 of them were nominated for Best Picture, Best Writing and Best Director. Gravity got 2/3 and won Director, so I added it to the top 5.

                And I don't know what to say, but your choices are very jarring. 2-hours of bumping into stuff and gasping for air is better than Game of Thrones? The one-note monotonous bore of American Hustle is better than Mad Men?

                You're obviously living on a completely different frequency than I am.

              • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Fox/ Fox

                I'm reading through GoT right now, so I'm not caught up on all the seasons, but the show really isn't all that great in my opinion. Even the books (which I like alot better) never really amount to much more than a trip inside the mind of a 65 year old man obsessed with sex, food,and roleplay. Gravity was a sensory thrill ride. Maybe not the greatest script, but I'll take that one over GoT definitely.

                I never really got into Mad Men. It was just the same old repetitive plot beats. It's colourful and kind of fun, but that's about it. I like Hustle a lot more than most so that was an easy choice.

  • AnakinCorleone

    Are you sure it's not a combination of audience unfamiliarity and Tom Cruise fatigue? Edge of Tomorrow has gotten good reviews but before I read any of the reviews, I saw the trailer and thought, "This just looks like just another boilerplate Tom Cruise action flick." Perhaps if the marketing had been done better (a common complaint I've read from critics) it could have done better?

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/ArthurCarlson/ Arthur Carlson

      Quite a few of my friends didn't go to see it because of Tom Cruise.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ian/ Ian

      This was definitely the case for me. I thought the marketing was terrible; it just looked like a bunch of sci-fi noise without a shred of story. I'm also not a fan of Tom Cruise when he just plays himself, which he is clearly doing here. So even though it actually got great reviews, including from the only critic I regularly follow and respect, and has one of my favorite female actors in it, I still haven't seen it. Though at this point I'm actually now considering seeing it.

      • supersatanic

        Although Tom Cruise IS playing himself here, I think it's unfair to say that he does it all the time. He's given many diverse and serious performances over the years that people seem to glide over when criticizing him.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/zm/ zm

    It's just the virtuous cycle of conglomerate marketing. Major studio films are like any other product and, backed by conglomerate marketing power, are able to garner brand loyalty (cultural familiarity) over time. It's no different than a new iPhone release. The superhero and comic book worlds become attractive to exploit because each film essentially serves as the beginning of the next film's marketing campaign.

    Most moviegoers are seeking two hours of escapism after their week of work, school, etc. They don't want to have to think, they just want to have their minds preoccupied for two hours. They don't know what's in the marketplace other than what the studios tell them is in the marketplace. Why do most people drink Bud Light or Coors Light? Because when you go to the store, that's what takes up 90% of the shelf space.

    The interesting thing will be to see if the studios become too aggressive, which they arguably already are, and their own films begin cannibalizing each other. A scenario where audiences start saying, what's the point in seeing Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, when I can just wait for the inevitable next Avengers film?

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    I guess I'll have to allow the marketing must have been an issue for 'Edge of Tomorrow' because it's been coming up as a problem too often to be outright dismissed. I thought the marketing conveyed the premise and the core idea just fine though.

    If it was me faced with the hypothetical question I would probably go and see 'Edge of Tomorrow' this weekend if I had missed it last week because I have no interest in seeing either 'Jump Street' movie anytime soon.

    I think there's almost certainly a kind of branding effect with several studios in relation to their respective key franchises to try and get people to choose their films over either the competition sometimes or maybe mid level films. This idea of 'world building' to create alternate worlds that are realised in ways they could not have been before, to get people invested in the world and the stories which take place in that world is all definitely something that seems to be happening, especially in the science-fiction/fantasy genres which really have benefitted from this, but you can also see elements of it in Universal's 'Fast and Furious' franchise which really promotes the feel that Dom and Co are a kind of 'family' unit to be followed from film to film. And I think that will be pursued for a while to come as it's proving that it can be pretty lucrative if you mix the right material with doing a proper job of bringing it to cinemas.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/wuggles/ B. Smith

    For me the problem with Edge of Tomorrow was the horrible marketing. I really didn't get what would make it stand out from other movies from the trailers. I personally had no desire to see Spiderman (as I've said before, the reboot was absolutely unnecessary) or Captain America so it wasn't an either/or for me. I don't know that it's necessarily a desire for familiarity as much as bigger/more familiar movies usually have way better marketing. I agree that people do have to see the original movies in order for them to be popular but I think people way underestimate the effect that good marketing has.

  • http://imqwerty.wordpress.com/ Jordan B.

    Last week, a couple days before Marvel announced Peyton Reed as Edgar Wright's replacement on Ant-Man, I wrote the following on my blog:

    "Frankly, though, this is exactly what we asked for — maybe not each of us individually, as I was almost fanboyishly looking forward to Wright’s Ant-Man, but all of us collectively, with our wallets and pocketbooks. And whether we truly want it or not, it looks as though Marvel is granting our wish, letting a legitimately interesting director with a specific vision walk, instead favoring someone who will direct the film exactly how they want it directed so that it is as palatable as possible for as massive an audience as possible, just as each film has been since Iron Man."

    So, yes, I think familiarity with the property is a large part of it. I then mentioned in a Twitter discussion last weekend that Edge of Tomorrow's biggest obstacle in finding a spot in the cinematic marketplace was trying to go toe-to-toe with films built on brands we already know, some of which are very well established.

    Of the big-budget blockbusters released already this year -- The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Godzilla, Transcendence, and Edge of Tomorrow -- it should come as no surprise that the two films that performed the worst at the box office are Transcendence and Edge of Tomorrow. The fact that these two films aren't based on well-established properties just makes it a bit tougher for audiences to make either film their choice at the multiplex.

  • http://letterboxd.com/andrew13/ Andrew13

    An interesting question for me is what distinguishes, for the general public, a film like Gravity from Edge of Tomorrow? Both were very well reviewed, both were headlined by major Hollywood stars, and yet Gravity becomes the surprise hit of the year while Edge seems destined to be forgotten by July. Was it simply that the marketing for Gravity was so much better? Personally I think it's more to do with the release date, as Gravity had no well-known property to compete against for a full month before or after its release. Word of mouth is essential for these original properties, but, like you said, in the summer there are simply too many established properties coming out on a weekly basis. Instead of leading to smaller weekly declines, as it would have ten or fifteen years ago, word of mouth, if it does anything, now results in higher DVD rentals.

    It does seem that we may be moving towards an era where April-August and December contain exclusively pre-established properties, with quality original products being relegated to February-March and September-November. The question then is how many original properties can be wildly successful in any given year, and recent history would tell us we're talking about a very small number. Below are the number of "unestablished" non-animated properties that finished in the Top Ten the past ten years:

    2013: 1 (Gravity)
    2012: 1 (Ted)
    2011: 0
    2010: 1 (Inception)
    2009: 3 (Avatar, The Hangover, The Blind Side)
    2008: 1 (Hancock)
    2007: 2 (I Am Legend, 300)
    2006: 2 (Night at the Museum, The Pursuit of Happyness)
    2005: 2 (Wedding Crashers, Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
    2004: 2 (The Day After Tomorrow, National Treasure)

    Not exactly a positive trend.

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      "An interesting question for me is what distinguishes, for the general public, a film like Gravity from Edge of Tomorrow?"

      I would guess this has a lot to do with release date, which is another issue Edge faced, it was a very crowded place to position a non-pre-branded feature.

      • http://www.iamramiam.blogspot.com Movieram

        Edge of Tomorrow IS a bland title, like Oblivion. They should have stuck with All You Need is Kill.
        Cruise will be back; he just needs to get a different vehicle.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Kessler/ Kessler

    "So you missed Edge of Tomorrow last weekend and you thought you might get to it this weekend? But, wait... uh oh, 22 Jump Street is out... Will you go see the action film everyone that's seen it says they like or the sequel to that movie that made you laugh your ass off a couple years ago? Considering you've probably already forked over money for The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Godzilla, maybe it's now time for a laugh. Down the tubes goes Edge of Tomorrow. After all, we have to see Transformers: Age of Extinction in a couple weeks."

    And that's where Edge of Tomorrow failed. It's not because it wasn't a familiar property (although that did play a part), but more because it just got caught in a crowded field. A different release date, and better advertising, would've saved it.

    And I can't blame audiences either. Movies are expensive, so it's only natural they'd pick the safer choice. You never want to walk walk out of a theater and feel like that was a waste of money.

  • ClassicWingers

    I'm just going to agree with some other posters about the "Cruise" factor. I bet if Brad Pitt had been the star it would've been a much bigger hit.

    I love Tom Cruise, but I think the probability of him having another box office hit movie are very slim. As you guys have discussed in the pod, TC has never been a big box office draw anyway.

  • parapa

    It is really depressing. We complain about the fact that nothing original gets made anymore, but how can you, when a great original movie comes out and the audiences totally ignore it.

    With Transcendance, I was convinced it was just the terrible word of mouth. Here, we've got one of the best reviewed movies of the year, a big-name star, crazy expensive special-effects and large-scale action, and still the audience doesn't turn out for it.
    I can only conclude that the problem isn't with the studios anymore, it's with the audience.

    We often talk about how Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Back to the Future, or Ghostbusters would never get made by a studio today. But the reality is even worse. If those movies DID get made, they would end up flopping and audiences would instead go and watch another forgettable, stupid superhero movie.

  • http://themoviegurusblog.blogspot.com The Movie Guru

    Edge of Tomorrow is without a doubt one of my favorite movies of the year. It's just fantastic. However, it's been a tough one for me to sell, even as a critic. I've suggested it to people, who have refused simply because of Tom Cruise. I made one of my friends go to the movie and even he said that it would have been better without Tom Cruise. But then I've been able to sell others on the movie and they've loved it.

    I think that Edge's failure might boil down to the fact that there are just a lot of good movies out. It really just came out at a bad time. Captain America 2, Neighbors, Godzilla, X-Men were all impressive in their own way and it's just tough to sell an original blockbuster when so many of the sequels and reboots are actually good. If Edge is released in October or November, it might do better. Maybe even March would have been a better release date.

    • Drew Sandoval

      I think you are on to something Movie Guru.

      Imagine if either Godzilla or X-Men had gotten middling-to-bad reviews. Imagine if they both did. Imagine if they only opened to $70M each, and neither was pushing $200M total. Imagine the hole in the marketplace that there could've been for a satisfying action picture. If Edge of Tomorrow was released in this imaginary world, it would have filled that hole as the best blockbuster currently out. Instead it got railroaded by the hype of what has turned out to be a terrific month (or two going back to CA2) for these sorts of big-budget spectacles.

      I think Brad even sort of circled this concept on the podcast, but he placed it in relation to letter grades. After watching Edge (A-) he wished he had given XMen (also A-) a lower letter grade, since it was the lesser movie. It was too late, everyone has already gone to go see what were heralded as the highest quality blockbusters in a long time (Brad even mused that Godzilla is "possibly the best we can expect from a blockbuster monster movie").

  • ♙ Major Omniscient ♙

    Avatar isn't based on any existing property and it became the highest grossing movie of all time. Do people just love Jim Cameron?

    • supersatanic

      They must. Avatar grossed 2.7 billion inexplicably despite being an OK film. Clearly Cameron is doing something that is working on a mainstream level, whether or not I agree with it.

  • kenchun24

    Great article. Domestic audiences love familiar stuff that has been pre-branded for them already – Bayformers, Marvel, Sandler, Pixar, Disney, tween novels. Most of the target demographic that would (and should) have gone to see “Edge of Tomorrow” had it been a pre-sold franchise product probably fit in one of these four categories...

    1) Saw the trailer and just fluffed EoT off as Cruise doing the same sci-fi action thing. Hint...TRAILERS are not the be all end all for a film people! In fact, they are some of the most misleading things for a film period. Avoid them or just stick to that one, early on "Comi-con teaser" of a film you are coveting. Then if you want to know more, avoid
    the rest of the trailers until your ass is in seat on opening day. Expectations are the mind killer. Doesn't anybody enjoy experiencing a movie "cold" anymore without having to see twenty trailers/production featurettes and knowing every damn thing about a film before it's released?

    2) They don't like Cruise for his personal life, which I could give two s**ts about.
    He entertains me. I don't care about his politics, his religion or who he's dating or married too. The Cruiser is a friggin' multi-decade movie star that happens to be a great actor and stuntman. That decade spanning talent doesn't grow on trees. With a career that many younger male leads from the Millennial Gen would be hard to even coming close to matching when Cruise is done. For example, I think Channing Tatum has surprised me in some recent roles. He's improved in comedy, drama etc.But do
    folks seriously think we will be talking about him with a career of work similar to Cruise in 20 years? I don't think so.

    3) They don't READ reviews. Highly likely for the ADD riddled Millennial Gen folk. Or they obviously didn't watch the several YouTube video reviews from popular folks like Jeremy Jahns,Chris Stuckmann and Schmoes Know etc. Who all sang high praise for EoT as an awesome flick well worth supporting in theaters before it released in the States.

    4) They stayed home and were watching Bayformer trailers ad nauseam. Counting down the days until Bay4ormers, Amazing Subplot Man 3, Jurassic Park 4, Batman 7 err, I mean Man of Steel 2 and all the other myriad of sequels. Because that's all they like, so that's all they support.

    It’s funny that the "Cruise Haters" and fans of The Fault In Our Stars seemed to be “cheering” across the web for Edge of Tomorrow's weak domestic box office opening in comparison to TFIOS opening last week. To me, this isn’t about Edge of Tomorrow being a more worthy film of success over TFIOS. Both films have received great reviews overall, and I will probably check out TFIOS via a rental as I love all kinds of film genres.

    Support for QUALITY big-budget fare vs. the banal, big budget bore fests is the
    issue. The “been there, done that” statements by ignorant folks who didn't even see EoT based off or their preconceived notions is hilarious. That judgement should be reserved for the truly mind numbing,poorly made, poorly scripted, poor everything (except poor box office of course) usual summer insta-forgettabuster sequels & reboots. Actually, this spring/summer has produced some pretty darn good efforts
    of QUALITY big budget fare in my opinion. The Winter Soldier, Godzilla, X-Men:DOFP and Edge of Tomorrow ALL fully satisfied me, and were worth the ticket(s). So the oft mentioned "blockbuster fatigue" is moot, it's all about the pre-sold brand.

    For example, it sucks that the near $200 million domestic grossing Amazing Subplot Man 2, which in my opinion, was a really poorly made, poorly paced, poorly scripted mess of a movie. Yet it succeeded in it's opening weekend domestic box office over the superior, in every way – acting, script, direction, editing, pace, ENJOYMENT – non-franchise, non-reboot, non-sequel kick-butt summer entertainment provided by Liman, Cruise, Blunt and Paxton.

    The writing is on the wall. New IP’s that are not a part of well worn franchises and/or
    sequels of the familiar, they get the shaft by "Average Joe & Jane" domestic moviegoer. Just watch when the two sequels - Train Your Dragon 2 & 22 Jump Street - open to gangbusters this weekend. Then watch when Bay4ormers, opening at the end of June does the same...ugh.

    My favorite, “most fun I had in the theater” popcorn flick from the morose summer 2013 selection was Pacific Rim. I walked out of the EoT screener thinking the exact same thing when I walked out of the PacRim Hollywood premiere last summer - "I loved this movie, I want to see it again, so of course NOBODY stateside is going to see it." - and I was right. As the U.S. audiences preferred to see Adam Sandler get his face pissed on from a deer via the 7% Rotten metered Grown Ups sequel that same weekend. It is what it is.

    Myself and probably 90% of the moviegoers that saw it loved EoT. I supported it three times and will get the blu-ray for sure. As it's one of the rare, "quality summer blockbuster" films that is deserving of repeated support. Unlike 90% of the same old, pre-branded sequel crap that fills the cinema nowadays.

    • supersatanic

      Loved Pacific Rim!! I have a feeling that over time, it's naysayers will come around to liking it.

  • http://www.iamramiam.blogspot.com Movieram

    I used to hit most of the movies in the theaters. I still love to go, but the studios insist on cramming everything that appeals to me most from mid-October to mid-January when I have a bunch of other stuff to do.
    I have skipped all Marvel films this year. I will catch most of them on DVD or streamed in the future. Yes, the glut of fanboy movies is a big reason that I've cut down going to the movies, but it's far from the only one.
    1. Ticket prices. I'm a reasonably well-off person, but fewer movies are worth the price to me.
    2. Concession prices. Seriously? Why should any of us pay the inflated prices for theater concessions? A family of four could eat at a decent restaurant for the cost of concessions. Fortunately, I don't have to eat or drink during a movie.
    3. Audience manners. Loud talking, texting and cell phones, rustling plastic. No manners anymore. Though I'll be the first to admit that a well-behaved audience adds to the experience. They seem to be few and far between.
    4. Lackluster movie stars. There is such little new talent that's exciting. Even DiCaprio and Winslet are aging, and the old guard is unfortunately getting older. (They still make some decent films, though!)
    5. Effects vs. plot, character, and writing. I prefer plot, character, and writing. Not impressed with most effects though there are exceptions (Life of Pi, Gravity, and Hugo come to mind.)
    6. Audience sensibilities. I would argue that Nebraska was my favorite film of 2013. I know exactly 2 other people who saw it in the theater. Philomena was also up there for me, and I'm neither female nor elderly.
    7. Commercials preceding the feature. Why should I pay to watch commercials?
    I've also done away with cable/satellite dish because of the glut of commercials. Honestly, with Netflix Streaming and the DVD service, I have more things to watch than I will ever get to see. I've invested in a nice home movie theater and pound for pound, it generally gives me more enjoyment than going to the movies. The one drawback is that I miss out on the current cultural conversation.
    I actually wanted to go see Edge of Tomorrow, but both of my local theaters were showing the 3D version at the times that I wanted to go. Won't pay extra for that, in most cases. I also think that 2012 and 2013 were two of the best movie years in years. I'm willing to go see quality films....why won't the film business cater to me and others like me?
    I do plan to see Jersey Boys this weekend.