Plenty of regular everyday people make New Year’s Resolutions, but I think bigger entities, namely movie makers and movie moguls, need to make them too. For the second year in a row, I bring my film critic credentials to the editorial side and have fun taking the movie industry to task for things they need to change. As always, some New Year’s resolutions (Welcome to DC, James Gunn) come true while others never get fulfilled (no expired Paramount Decrees power play yet). Welcome to 2023! Now let’s make a few things better with Film Obsessive’s suggested New Year’s Resolutions.
RESOLUTION #1: IT’S UP TO US
The divide between the box office hits and the critical darlings continues to get wider. I hear folks on social media lament every day how something like Black Adam gets chances to make money while TAR, The Fabelmans, and other titles of prestige “flop” at the box office. There’s no one to blame but us. We, the consumers, have the power to make something a hit. You have to show up, bring a friend, and tell two more. For every person that says “Oh, I’ll wait for streaming,” they’ve already lost and become part of the problem.
RESOLUTION #2: BRING BACK LONGER WINDOWS BEFORE HOME MEDIA
Speaking of streaming, look at the last two huge box office hits that showed amazing legs. Part of what made Spider-Man: No Way Home and Top Gun: Maverick massive hits is because those movies were exclusively available in theaters. You’re going to see the same with Avatar: The Way of Water. No streaming dates were announced for several months, if even at all until their successful theatrical runs were over. If people wanted to see them, they had to go out and get it. As soon as The Fabelmans was announced for a streaming debut three weeks after release, its box office potential was sunk. That time period between the theater and home media used to be six months. Let’s get back to that and give these movies a better chance to earn some bucks.
RESOLUTION #3: MARKET BETTER AND MAKE IT SPECIAL
To that end, build these movies up. Slow play them instead of rush them. Get word of mouth going. Plan out platform release schedules. There is sharper advertising possible than just saturating YouTube with trailers. Look no further than the horror genre and movies like Smile nailing old school grassroots tricks to drum up business.
RESOLUTION #4: TAKE YOUR TIME
Speaking of rushing, take a look at the 13-year wait James Cameron used between his Avatar movies (and, to a smaller extent the COVID patience of Top Gun: Maverick to wait for full theaters). Cameron waited for and developed the technology needed to hone Avatar: The Way of Water to his personal perfection. Compare that to the rushed and sloppy work of other special effects-heavy films, including those of Marvel. The quality of Avatar: The Way of Water and Top Gun: Maverick are off the charts and it shows. There’s something beneficial to taking one’s time and not rushing the machine.
RESOLUTION #5: LESS IS MORE
Along the same line and focusing on Marvel, this past year shows that the growing over-saturation and fatigue are becoming real. Between theaters and Disney+, Marvel’s features were falling on top of each other. Sure, some of that was the slight backlog from COVID, but it was easy to be lost or overwhelmed. The quality slipped as did their earning potential. The solution there is easy. Space them out and make them events again. Absence away makes the heart grow fonder, and Kevin Feige might be realizing that.
RESOLUTION #6: CHOOSE YOUR LEGACY SEQUELS CAREFULLY
The massive success of Top Gun: Maverick has stars and studios thinking about what dust they can blow off of old cinema bottles in their cellars. I have a feeling legacy sequels are going to be en vogue. However, Top Gun: Maverick with a spry and relevant Tom Cruise is one thing, but Beverly Hills Cop: Alex Foley and Lethal Weapon 5 with hapless senior citizens is another. Danny Glover was “too old for this sh*t” over 35 years ago. Now, so are we. Studios need better examinations of what legacies sequels are worth the green light and which should stay in the trophy case.
RESOLUTION #7: BURY THE DCEU
2022 will go down as the year the DC Extended Universe died. The poor performances, scandals and controversies, both internal and external, added up. They have a four-film string of completed and delayed projects (Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom) to play out. That will make 2023 a long and pathetic funeral march for something that never really worked entirely. Don’t worry. The #RestoretheSnyderverse crowd on Twitter isn’t shutting up anytime soon, but they’re powerless against the new regime at Warner Bros.
RESOLUTION #8: GIVE JAMES GUNN PATIENCE
I don’t mind playing the apathetic bad guy. I’ve been getting a kick out of the internet crocodile tears of Henry Cavill fans who have lost their wannabe paragon as Superman. Welcome to the club, Cavill fans. He had his chances. We OG Christopher Reeve fans have been welcoming new interpretations of the character for over 30 years and, guess what, the world keeps spinning and the business keeps chugging. Put your hashtags away and give James Gunn respect, patience, and chances to get the DC heroes to a better place. If he can, we’re all blessed. If he doesn’t, you’ll always have the old movies you love. Nothing you find precious is erased by the next new thing.
RESOLUTION #9: FIND YOUR ORIGINALITY AGAIN
Speaking of Warner Bros., look at the 2023 release schedule for Warner Bros. There’s only one original concept (and wouldn’t you know it, it’s a horror movie named Unwelcome) on that calendar, and that’s a downright shame. Studios like WB used to churn out an incredible amount of mid-budget star-driven programmers. Not everything has to be an IP or a blockbuster. I get it. Name properties sell, but you extend your catalog when you make something new. Let’s hope someone in 2023 can break the creative bankruptcy that many lament.
So: those are my suggested New Year’s resolutions from Film Obsessive to the industry. What are yours? Or your take on ours? Sound off in the comments, and Happy New Year!