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Let’s be honest. Hollywood superhero movies have a quality problem


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There are many reasons why the latest DC movie, “Shazam! Fury of the Gods”, performed poorly, grossing just $30.5 million in the US and Canada.

Critics were brutal for the production with an estimated budget of 125 million dollars. And maybe there just wasn’t as much interest in a “Shazam!” sequel to start. The original “Shazam!” it opened with a solid $53 million, but it wasn’t a huge success, finishing with $140 million domestically by a multiple of 2.6x since its debut.

It may have been just hard to get DC fans to care.

“Shazam!” starring Zachary Levi was always a bit outside of DC’s mainline galaxy, and the sequel was a holdover from Warner Bros.’ previous regime and doesn’t play into the future of the franchise, so it’s a bit fatal victim of a change of strategy.

That situation makes it difficult for audiences to invest time in a movie, even with millions in studio marketing behind it (although there have been some complaints in town that Warner Bros. media spending kicked in too late).

Superhero fans want interconnected stories, like James Gunn and Peter Safran were doing for Warner Bros. Discovery long before they took over from DC.

But there’s a broader issue at play: superhero movies have a serious quality versus quantity issue.

After last weekend’s dismal box office results, I kept coming back to the comments Gunn made to entertainment industry journalists in January to explain his vision for the future of DC.

One of the most refreshing parts of that talk, given on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, was Gunn’s admission that the uniformity of superheroes in Hollywood is a real thing that matters, and not a mirage that bothers only the underdogs. originality-hungry film critics who roam the industry. desert of blockbuster creativity.

“Superhero fatigue can be real, once movies start to get repetitive and too similar to each other,” Gunn said during the Q&A, after outlining his and Safran’s plans for DC Studios and their expanding universe of film and television.

The genre can’t sustain itself by telling the same “good guy, bad guy, giant thing in the sky” stories over and over again, said the “Guardians of the Galaxy” filmmaker. Superhero movies need more moral complexity. They need movies that “don’t just pretend to be from different genres,” but are actually comedies, horror movies, and dramas involving superpowers.

Beyond variety, quality control is also an important factor, as we mentioned earlier with the challenges at Marvel that began to show up during its Phase 4. If audiences keep getting mediocre superhero content because studios are trying like Silly Putty to fill streaming services and theaters with more and more stuff, that’s going to hurt the art form.

Kevin Feige’s previously unassailable operation at Disney, since the end of the Infinity Saga, has featured some real critical misses, including the recent “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” and, to a lesser extent, “Thor: Love and Thunder.” . ” The quality of Marvel’s VFX and the crisis to make the movies has lately become a focus of criticism.

Opening-weekend grosses for Marvel movies are still basically uncritically proof, as far as anyone can tell, but the latest “Ant-Man” suffered a Drop of 70% the weekend following its debut.

Longtime Marvel executive Victoria Alonso, who was in charge of visual effects and post-production, recently left the studio, Disney confirmed Monday. No reason was given for her departure, a rare example of high-level turnover in Feige’s shop.

Yes, Marvel is still the most successful operation in the film industry. Still, it matters if the movies are good, even if it doesn’t always seem that way at first. At some point, the loss of fan goodwill hurts the business, as we saw in the diminishing returns of Warner Bros.’ Zack Snyder era. Even DC’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and the first “Suicide Squad “They did a great deal despite the terrible news. The fallout didn’t really happen until later.

The dire need to get it right is why DC isn’t taking any chances on “Superman: Legacy,” and the studio officially confirmed last week that Gunn will direct the film by July 2025, in addition to writing the script.

Gunn spoke at the event in January about the importance of making sure scripts are in tip-top shape before shooting, rather than pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a movie when “a script is only two-thirds done and we have to finish it.” “. while we make the movie.

That kind of rushed production, followed by expensive reshoots, is driven by the need to meet release dates set months and years in advance. Gunn called this the main reason for the “deterioration” in movie quality over the past two decades, while noting that it’s not just a superhero problem.

When asked how much is at stake for the new Superman movie, Clark Kent/Kal-El’s first standalone film since 2013’s “Man of Steel,” Gunn replied: “A lot.” There’s an eight to 10-year plan at play here, and entertainment companies have a mixed track record of creating interconnected franchises without first building on beloved, hit movies.

Even Marvel didn’t plan that much, at least in the beginning.

This is a moment of dramatic and much-needed transition for DC. There’s a reason DC’s new leaders are keen to push back heavy hitters, including Patty Jenkins, Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson, the latter of whom spoke during the “Black Adam” press tour about directing. from the DC franchise. like he was sure he would have a big part in it.

Gunn and Safran still have a few legacy movies to wrap up before 2025. DC has its $200 million “The Flash” in June after it opens at CinemaCon next month. Gunn called it “probably one of the best superhero movies ever made” and there’s bound to be some interest in the controversial Ezra Miller element.

Sure, “Fury of the Gods” suffered from falling into the liminal space between the Jason Kilar-Ann Sarnoff era of Warner Bros. (where, according to Gunn, “nobody gave a mint” and intellectual property was passed around as “favours.” party”) and whatever the DC Universe looks like under the new David Zaslav-approved management team.

But if the movies aren’t very good, there’s not much corporate strategic planning can do with them.

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week number

Another week, another massive downsizing at a tech company. Amazon announced 9,000 job cuts on Monday in addition to the 18,000 it previously disclosed.

Amazon Studios isn’t taking the hit here. Instead, workers are being cut at cloud computing unit Amazon Web Services (CEO Andy Jassy’s former stronghold), advertising, human resources and Twitch, the streaming platform for live video and other video programming. Web.

Clearly this has a lot to do with the broader struggles in the tech sector amid post-pandemic burnout and the ad slowdown. Facebook owner Meta also recently reported a second round of cuts, cutting 10,000 posts.

Twitch is cutting around 400 jobs. “Like many companies, our business has been impacted by the current macroeconomic environment, with user and revenue growth not keeping pace with our expectations,” new Twitch CEO Dan Clancy wrote in a statement. blog post.

Amazon bought Twitch for $970 million in 2014 as a way to engage with the growing world of gaming and esports. But while Twitch has grown, it hasn’t exactly become Amazon’s YouTube. Twitch’s former CEO, Emmett Shear, resigned last week to take on an advisory role, saying he wanted to be home to raise his child.

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Finally …

Whenever The Wire star Lance Reddick appeared in a movie or TV show, whether it was the John Wick franchise or Lost, the project was made better by his presence. He died Friday at 60.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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