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
The Hunger Games
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.