Culture

Summer 2016: Where did it all go wrong?

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(Pictured) Captain America: Civil War, 2016

Summer is here, normally a time to sit out in the sun (if you’re lucky!) but for me it is a time where I’m free for repeat visits to the cinema for three months. Every summer sees the release of several tentpole blockbusters and last year was a stellar year for them between Jurassic World and Mad Max: Fury Road, even if Avengers: Age of Ultron was a bit of a disappointment. I don’t know if the standard set last year has set my expectations too high now or if it’s a genuine case of diminishing quality, but there’s only a handful of films being released in the next few months that look even moderately appealing.

Blockbuster season started with a thud, rather than a bang, a few months ago with the release of the majorly underwhelming Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and things don’t really seem to have picked up much from there aside from Captain America: Civil War. The only other blockbusters that hold any appeal whatsoever are Suicide Squad, Jason Bourne, Star Trek Beyond, The BFG, and Ghostbusters.

Whilst that may still seem like a relatively long list, it is vastly outnumbered by the number of films that have either already bombed or have DURGE written all over them. Is anyone really anticipating the release of The Legend of Tarzan? Did anyone actually pay to go and see Gods of Egypt? These are just two of the films released this summer that look like utter turds, never mind Warcraft: The Beginning, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Independence Day: Resurgence, and The Huntsman: Winter’s War to name but a few.

What all of those films have in common are vastly inflated budgets, with Alice through the Looking Glass costing a whopping $170,000,000. It’s almost as though Hollywood thinks that a film will be a success and audiences will love it if they spend more and more money on it. In reality, it just means that it is ridden with more effects rather than taking the time to write a half decent script.

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(Pictured) Alice through the Looking Glass, 2016

It isn’t just a case of wildly increasing budgets though, it is also a case of quantity over quality as over 110 films are being released this summer. Compared to there being fewer than 100 last summer, it is a noticeable increase. Considering that 19 of these films are sequels, never mind remakes, it also shows that studios are really running out of ideas. With so many distinctly average films out at once, many are getting lost in the pack and rightfully so. If these uninspired cash grabs start making less money, Hollywood execs might have to start rethinking their strategies (let’s let this plan for a Transformers universe die before it comes to fruition… please!).

While the big blockbusters may be more lacklustre in quality this year, at least there are some smaller films that are saving graces. Most notably so far Me Before You, The Conjuring 2, Maggie’s Plan, and The Hunt for the Wilderpeople have been smaller films that have impressed this summer.

Summer 2016 should prove to be a reminder to Hollywood that audiences aren’t as stupid as they clearly think we are and that they need to come up with some fresh ideas ASAP.

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