Could the Hollywood studio system become the lost world of meaningful franchises from a Hollywood era now gone.
Last week at CinemaCon, Hollywood’s leading studios took to the stage to present their upcoming slates, the majority of which were headlined by reboots, spin-offs and sequels. However, while this might be a good play at the box-office are some of Hollywood’s most prestigious franchises forgetting the time from which they were came.
Since Universal Studios announced in 2012 that the Jurassic Park franchise would be returning from extinction, admires of the original trilogy were thrilled. Although, last week at CinemaCon it was confirmed that Jurassic World had become an imperfect clone of the original. Back in 1992, when the production of Jurassic Park began, it was one of the most groundbreaking events in cinematic history, just a short while earlier Spielberg had decided for the first time to implement the idea of mixing live action footage with CGI and intercutting it with Stan Winston’s life-sized animatronic dinosaurs. This became the staple for the trilogy of Jurassic Park films that followed, all of which featured a combination of animatronics, live action and where needed CGI.
Jurassic World on the other hand appears to have lost its way, the film features an excessive use of Computer Generated Imagery and we have not been able to confirm the use of any animatronics on set. While the film, starring a cast lead by Chris Pratt will undoubtedly be entertaining the film appears to have been produced in a similar way to the premise of the film itself, with a corporation looking to entice younger audiences with an exciting new lab concocted product. That is till they discover that not everything has gone exactly to plan, but this is cinema not genetics and it’ll be a while before a man made dinosaur exits the screens and begins to terrify audiences — that pleasure is reserved for a future generation of Hollywood.
As for Disney’s Star Wars, while there has been limited footage shown, without George Lucas at the helm this new instalment of Star Wars could follow Jurassic down the slippery slope. When Lucas originally created the Star Wars universe and began to pitch his idea he had a thick manuscript, which he separated out act-by-act to create the original trilogy, which was preceded by the prequels. However, the prequels to this day are still not well received by traditional Star Wars fans and with George’s only tie to this new production being the thread of his position as a creative consultant. In this age of excessive CGI and the unnecessary reinvention of iconic props, including the lightsaber, will Disney have shredded the final sliver of Star War’s original magic.
On both Jurassic Park and Star Wars there was from the very beginning a bond between the cast and crew, from Lucas’ exhaustion and storms leaving crew huddled together inside their hotels to solving the problems created when breaking into new types of movie making. In today’s Hollywood studios operate their productions like investments. Without the old magic of Hollywood, today it would be almost impossible for Lucas to have made Star Wars and for Spielberg to have kept rolling on the production of Jaws a challenge which was even difficult at the time. Jaws being Spielberg’s first film gave him enough creative licence to make Jurassic, today the studio would have pulled the pereriable plug, shutting down production with a heavy loss, which would have been a catastrophic end to the directors career before it had even started — not to mention the death of the first blockbuster.
However, at CinemaCon there was one studio that hasn’t strayed too much from the origins of its franchises. Paramount Pictures presented footage from the two centerpieces on their slate Terminator Genisys and Mission Impossible 5, which both currently appear to be following in the footsteps of their predecessors. While Terminator is still battling the theories and effects of time traveling scenarios, Mission Impossible’s Tom Cruise is continuing his franchise tradition of out-matching his last stunt. This time his stunt literally took him into the air, in this installment he holds onto the side of a large aircraft as it takes off — despite being in his own words “scared shitless“.
In this golden age of billion dollar movies, are Hollywood’s historic franchises being diminished by their less equipped modernised counterparts. Amongst the major releases of the next three years it will be interesting to see which productions have stayed true to their cinematic ancestry.
However, while we admire the films of the past we are also trading in our generations groundbreaking franchises and movie magic for a hefty return on our investments. This missing magic of Hollywood is in part caused by the industry’s decision to perceive digital technologies and the internet as a threat, which if enbrased could bring back the magic to todays headlining films. Could it be time for another Hollywood shake up.
About the Author
Editor-in-Chief of Tastic Film Magazine James Rush.