Don’t Panic In Large, Friendly Letters

Posted: February 11, 2015 in Uncategorized
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I’ve seen a number of people being very worried that the (expected by everyone, including my cat) dismal box office showing of Jupiter Ascending (domestically – it is doing better internationally) is going to result in Hollywood shying away from making original SF/F movies. Now, I know very well that if the film industry can take a wrong turn, it will, but at the same time, I submit that it is too early to panic. Especially with Interstellar (over $670 million worldwide) having barely left the theatres.

I’ve put together a little list of SF/F films made since 2010. I’ve limited it to big-budget studio releases, and eliminated all sequels or franchise films, including reboots. Thus, you will find no Guardians of the Galaxy or Prometheus or either of the Planet of the Apes movies, and only the first Hunger Games entry. I have allowed adaptations, but not of super-hero comics that could tie in to others (so Big Hero 6 squeaks in).

So here we go:




Cowboys and Aliens


Cloud Atlas

The Hunger Games

John Carter


After Earth


Ender’s Game



Pacific Rim

World War Z


Big Hero 6


Edge of Tomorrow




Some of these films are very good, some are atrocious. Some were huge hits. Some were bombs. None of the failures brought about the end of the form (and I don’t recall people worried that After Earth or Transcendence were going to result no more original SF/F). Remember, too, that plenty of movies are already in production, and a dud now is not going to mean that the spigot is suddenly going to be turned off on all these projects.

Furthermore, I was surprised to see just how many films were on this list. All things considered, SF/F is in pretty good shape at the major studios (insofar as any genre is).

Does that mean it’s easy getting these movies made? No. Is there a preponderance of safe sequels and franchises? Yes. The blockbuster era continues apace, and shows no signs of ending. Original, challenging movies of any stripe face a struggle to get made. This has been so since the American Film Renaissance, Hollywood’s second Golden Age, came to end. Ironically, one of the two films most responsible for destroying that period, and for making it harder for original work to be made, was itself an original SF film. One that had a great deal of success: Star Wars.

  1. Paul Weimer says:

    Hunh…there are more than I expected, from your list.

    I do wonder if adaptations of books count as “original”, though.

  2. That’s a point, and I went back and forth on including them. Even if we take them out, I think the overall picture is similar. I’ve left them in since, in many cases, the wider audience wouldn’t know they’re adaptations, as in Big Hero 6. And then we have the case of Gravity, where only now are we learning that it is one…

  3. So, what was the second film responsible for destroying the American Film Renaissance?

  4. Jaws. It and Star Wars were the double whammy that taught the studios how to make a lot of money very fast.

  5. Ah. right. I’d forgotten about /Jaws/. . . .