Top 12 Film Industry Stories of 2012: #10
Consumers Eschew Deja Vu
By Reagen Sulewski
January 3, 2013
For what seems like decades now, people have been complaining about the creative bankruptcy of Hollywood, particularly when it comes to adaptations of new franchises and reboots of said same when the inevitable sequel fatigue ruins the initial franchise - not to mention the occasional Way Too Late Sequel to the film that you didn't think was all that great anyway. The problem about complaining about these projects is that until this year, people kept seeing them, so there was no incentive to stop making them. 2012 might finally have been the breaking point for this trend, with a good portion of this year's potential franchises just fizzling.
The first of these largely irrelevant and unasked-for films was American Reunion, a.k.a. The Jason Biggs Employment Program, which marked the 10th anniversary of anyone caring about the American Pie franchise. A decade of pumping out juvenile straight-to-DVD spinoffs has a way of ruining a franchise's reputation that can't just be fixed by saying, “hey, we're getting the gang back together!” Mostly this served as a stark reminder of just how little the cast has done with their fame, with just Seann William Scott from the core group getting steady work (Allyson Hannigan was already famous prior to this, and doesn't count). Although it opened to a solid $21 million, that was the high water mark and it limped home to just $56 million domestic.
Johnny Depp has had a very successful last decade or so, bringing in several billion dollars' worth of box office through various projects. That's led studios to just throw money at him to make all of his pet projects, and more power to him for doing what he likes. Of course, just because Johnny Depp likes the idea of something doesn't mean that's going to be what audiences like, and his own personal weak spot for the campy vampire soap opera Dark Shadows became the summer's first flop, with just $79 million total. Ultimately this proved to be just too many things thrown into a pot for people to handle, what with the supernatural elements, the 1970s throwback and the just plain weirdness that seemed to think it was funny in and of itself.
This summer saw the wall being hit for non-traditional adaptations as well, with Hasbro's Battleship not surviving the ridicule to earn only $65 million against a $200 million-plus budget. Admittedly, overseas money helped this one out a lot more than other films, but a board game-based action film is one of those ideas where you wonder how anyone thought this even might work.
Your mileage may vary as to whether Men in Black 3 counts in this category, as while it wasn't a true reboot, it might as well have been, with Tommy Lee Jones effectively being recast as Josh Brolin. That clever bit of impersonation aside, there didn't seem to be a lot of reason for this movie to exist, and the fact that this series is continually undoing all the resolution from the previous films doesn't lend a lot of weight to the proceedings. Now, Men in Black 3 didn't do all that badly, grossing $179 million, but this is almost $100 million below what the first film grossed *15* years ago, which effectively represents the fanbase of this series being cut in half.