Big Budget Films and Perception
I think people lose sight of what a movie is supposed to be about. It's entertainment. Often times, entertainment is not perfect. A musical track may not be mixed the way you wanted it, maybe the bass was a little light or you didn't like how they buried the background singer. Someone else may have a different opinion on both points. Movies are in the same boat but usually, when we don't like a film, we don't watch it again and again.
Some films are once and done. Some dramas, difficult biopics, whatever the case may be (I'm thinking something like Syriana but don't necessarily mean to pick on that). Others get people coming back to catch things they missed or simply because they enjoyed the experience so much the first time, they couldn't resist. A great example would be any Star Wars movies. When people dislike them, they still revisit 3+ times. And yet some would call the prequels failures.
The problem with saying a movie like 'The Phantom Menace' is a failure is that the numbers don't add up. This movie cost $115,000,000 to make. It made $474,544,677 domestically and another $552,500,000 world wide. The total amount made? $1,027,044,677. Now, it had the advantage of being the first Star Wars film in a bazillion years but people go off about how terrible it is all the time. You don't get numbers like above without people seeing something MANY times. I'll tell you this, when I don't like a movie, I don't subject myself to the torture of seeing it 3 to 4 times. (By the way, it made a 55% on Rotten Tomatoes with critics and 60% with viewers. Rotten by critics, Fresh by viewers).
I say that the point of movies is to entertain people. They aren't necessarily being made to win the popularity contest of critical review or to cater to any specific agenda. Most films, especially the 'blockbuster' variety, aren't there to teach or change your life. They're popcorn cinema and while they can be moving, exciting, or thrilling, they aren't DESIGNED to do the same thing as say...Money Monster, which is there to cast a spotlight on some important matter.
And these block buster movies cost a TON of money! When you see the chart I put together, you'll note that these studios spent outrageous money on these. Let's take a look at the grudge match that made me create this whole write up in the first place: Marvel vs. DC, a grudge match that has lasted since long before I was born probably. The fans of these two extended universes can be as rabid as Star Wars vs. Star Trek. Many will claim that DC Universe movies aren't as 'good' as Marvel movies. I don't accept that simple statement as the full truth.
My opinion, based on the chart I'm about to present, is that 'good' is perspective. A TON of people have seen all of the movies I'm about to share. And they did it over and over again. Despite good or bad reviews, these movies were, by and large, successes when it comes to money. I equate that to a lot of people getting out there and spending some cash for these films.
A long time ago, as a teenager I wrote to the local newspaper reviewer and went off on him about his bad review of Braveheart. I called him out, saying 'This movie did fantastic financially, how can you pan it the way you did? Clearly everyone loved it. Who are you to say it was terrible then?' His response was that financial success doesn't indicate good--it just indicates that people saw it enough to get it a lot of money. He said 'they might've even enjoyed it but that doesn't make it good'.
So the next point is you have to decide what YOUR barometer for 'good' is. Do you consider a movie good if the critics loved it? I personally don't and I'll tell you why. Most of them are jaded and cynical. If you read their comments, they come up with the snarkiest shit they can, like click bait, to get you to read their particular review. I personally feel like they WANT movies to fail because the ruder their review, the more hits they get.
The point of this rant is to say this: when someone says a movie did not do well or that it was terrible, they are really only speaking from their personal perspective. They have likely not done much research to see if it did indeed fail. Maybe they saw some critical reviews that panned it. Assassin's Creed failed financially ($125,000,000 budget, $46,845,783 domestic, $44,099,981 wordwide for a total of $90,945,764) and critically (17% Critics, 58% Fans). Suicide Squad failed Critically (26% Critics, 64% Fans) but succeeded Financially ($175,000,000 budget, $325,100,054 domestic, $421,000,000 world wide for a total of $746,100,054).
Movies are open to attack. It's the nature of putting anything out there for the world to see. There are complete maniacs who will say anything regardless of feelings, folks who are cool and try to keep it positive, the ambivalent that only want more entertainment and the truly optimistic who like everything. I tend to be a little more critical these days than I used to be, which is one reason I don't get out to the theater much. In any event, I'd like to draw some attention to this little chart comparing the successes of Marvel Movies to DC Universe Movies. They are damn close.
What's my point with the data below? Just this: They are both good for what they are and they're both doing great. The fact that they're doing well is good for ALL fans because you'll get more of what you want. If you're not a DC fan, that's okay--you have a LOT of options. If you are, that's great too because your stuff is winning in the only arena that matters to the studio: money.
1) For those who lament 'Why are they STILL making super hero movies? I just want them to stop!' They won't. They're making gobs of money so just don't see them if you're not happy with them.
2) For those who say 'DC Movies are shit compared to Marvel'. That's just an opinion, one that's shared by critics for the most part, but people are voting with their dollar. These movies, while generally panned compared to Marvel films, are still doing just fine and there will be many more to come.
3) For those who say DC should take a page from Marvel, it doesn't seem necessary. Unless they think Critical Acclaim is going to win them an oscar (The Dark Knight won 2 oscars), I'm pretty sure they can keep doing what they're doing. It doesn't seem necessary to alter their course when the fans who like them keep coming back.
4) Marvel spends less on average for their movies so while their average total returns is lower than the average total returns from DC, I'd say they're coming out ahead for the most part. As a personal note, exceeding 200 million for a movie budget seems crazy to me and I have no idea how they recoup that when they have to pay the box office so much. But hey, whatevs.
5) Fans tend to agree with Critics in regards to Marvel movies and have a lot of polarity with the DC movies.
6) Bottom line: superhero movies from both houses are here to stay.
Author of several books, composer of several CDs. Please check out the rest of the site for some of my work.