By: Tristan Mabee
Moviemaking is all economics. Unfortunately good economics often leads to mediocre film. It is naive to not believe that the largest profits are now found in the release of sequels, reboots, or movies tied together in the same shared universe. While relatively unique films like Titanic and Avatar both sit at the highest grossing films of all time, the next ten movies on that same list are either part of a shared universe or are a direct sequel to a previous film.
Consider how most Marvel films have a large production cost but have almost always brought in a large profit. The average production cost for a Marvel film, provided by the-numbers.com is around $187 million, and the amount made in the opening domestic weekend alone is $125 million. Marvel and similar studios are able to reliably profit off of a similar formula, year after year. This allows them to take risks and make more expensive films, while still being able to expect to break even within the first month at worst. Unfortunately, most studios who don't have the luxury of a prefabricated franchise or other reliable way to make money have decided on a middle road when it comes to movie budgets. A project that's not guaranteed to at least break even, such as Sony Pictures’ 2017 attempt at turning the then-literary Dark Tower universe into a movie franchise, therefore won't have as large of a budget compared to a movie like Avengers: Infinity War. Both films have a substantial difference in production budget and worldwide gross. Avengers: Infinity War clocks in at a budget of $300 million and a worldwide gross of two billion; The Dark Tower had a $60 million budget and a worldwide gross of only $113 million. A larger budget may have helped the Dark Tower become more of a commercial success, but as it stands, many of those who invested money into its production probably wished they had put less money in this film. Many other original or at least unique film ideas are limited by their budgets due to investors not wanting to deal with the inherent risk of such an idea failing. This limiting factor can often lead to a good idea devolving into something mediocre at best, turning what may have been a great, unique movie into another pannable movie destined to sit in a bargain bin. Expect to see more studios allocating their yearly budgets into movies that can reliably profit, such as sequels, tie in films, and reboots.