×

5 Trends Making the Movie Business Lose Sleep

Blockbusters like “Jurassic World” and “Furious 7” powered the movie business to record numbers in 2015. But not everything Hollywood touched turned to gold. There were plenty of “Pans” and “Victor Frankensteins” to splatter red ink around. Here are five things that should keep the studios and filmmakers up at night.

Indie Crisis

Arthouse cinemas are beginning to feel like ghost towns. Sundance favorites like “Dope” and “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” scored big deals, only to die at the box office. In response, distributors kept their checkbooks closed at the Toronto Film Festival. Plus, there are fewer buyers after Relativity Media went belly up and the Weinstein Co. cut the number of movies
it will release in half.

Incredible Shrinking Stars

Norma Desmond was wrong. It’s not the pictures that got smaller, it’s the stars. Big names like George Clooney, Channing Tatum and Adam Sandler couldn’t save “Tomorrowland,” “Jupiter Ascending” and “Pixels.” Diminishing drawing power threatens that most cherished of Hollywood institutions — the passion project. Hoping to nurture relationships with the likes of Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie, studios greenlit such risky projects as “Our Brand Is Crisis” and “By the Sea,” losing millions of dollars in the process.

Netflix and Amazon Fail to Make a Stir

Popular on Variety

Streaming services can write big checks and field buzzy TV shows like “House of Cards” and “Transparent,” but they haven’t had a breakout movie. Netflix says “Beasts of No Nation,” a brutal drama about child soldiers, was widely viewed online, but it was barely seen in theaters. The company’s  deal with Sandler also raised eyebrows after “Pixels” flopped. Amazon has been more tentative, launching its first theatrical release with Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq.” Though the services have revolutionized the way content is watched at home, they haven’t made many revolutionary movies — yet.

R-rated Comedies Are Running Out of Laughs

Amy Schumer emerged as a bona fide star with “Trainwreck,” but most films hoping to ride raunch to box office gold derailed. “Vacation,” “Ted 2” and “The Night Before” left audiences cold,
and even well-reviewed “Spy” fell short of previous Melissa McCarthy efforts such as “The Heat” and “Identity Thief.” Nothing matched the success of 2014 smashes like “22 Jump Street” and “Neighbors,” and some studio executives fret that gross-out gags aren’t delivering belly laughs.

Feast or Famine

The hits were big, but so were the flops. For the first time, at least five films this year will top $1 billion globally. But even as movies like  “Jurassic World” mint money, misses like “Pan” are leading to nine-figure writedowns. Fall was weighed down by adult dramas that cannibalized one another, leaving the likes of “The Walk” and “Steve Jobs” to wither. The year had two of the 10 best openings in history with “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” but also suffered four of the worst wide-release debuts ever with “Burnt,” “Victor Frankenstein,” “Jem and the Holograms” and “Rock the Kasbah.” Not every record is worth breaking.

More Film

  • NENT Group to Focus on Scripted

    Scandinavia's NENT Group to Focus on Scripted Content Production, Distribution

    Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group), one of Scandinavia’s biggest media groups, is set to reorganise and focus on scripted drama and film production and distribution. The company is looking to bring in a minority equity partner on board to bolster its scripted drama production business. As part of the reorg, NENT Group will divest its [...]

  • Goteborg Film Festival The Gynecological Cinema

    Anna Odell Puts Men in a Gynaecological Chair

    After William Castle’s “Percepto!” or John Waters’ “Odorama,” it seems like the time has come for Swedish provocateur Anna Odell’s “The Gynaecological Cinema Chair” – an interactive experience created specially for this year’s Göteborg Film Festival. A concept that’s more than just an attention-grabbing gimmick, however, as the director behind 2013’s “The Reunion” was quick [...]

  • The-Intruder

    Watch the Trailer from Just Announced Berlin Competition Entry ‘The Intruder’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  —  Just minutes after the Berlinale confirmed on Wednesday its selection in main competition, the pedigree producers of Argentine Natalia Meta’s “The Intruder” (“El Prófugo”) have dropped a first teaser-trailer for what has been described as a “pyscho-sexual fantastic thriller.” They have also confirmed more details of one of the buzziest new titles from [...]

  • Roman Polanski’s ‘An Officer and a

    Roman Polanski’s ‘An Officer and a Spy’ Leads Cesar Awards Nominations

    Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” is leading the race for the Cesar Awards, France’s top film honors, with 12 nominations, followed by Ladj Ly’s Oscar-nominated “Les Miserables.” “An Officer and a Spy” earned nominations for best film, director, actor (Jean Dujardin), cinematography, set design, costume and music, among others. Although he’s been at [...]

  • Berlin Competition Lineup Features Kelly Reichardt,

    Berlin Film Festival Competition Lineup Revealed: Sally Potter, Kelly Reichardt, Eliza Hittman, Abel Ferrara

    The Berlin International Film Festival has unveiled its 2020 line-up, with 18 films playing in competition from directors such as Abel Ferrara, Sally Potter, Christian Petzold, Hong Sangsoo, Kelly Reichardt and Eliza Hittman. Abel Ferrara’s Willem Dafoe starrer “Siberia” is a world premiere in competition, as is Sally Potter’s “The Roads Not Taken.” Among the [...]

  • Amy Ryan appears in Lost Girls

    'Lost Girls': Film Review

    It’s exciting, and fascinating, to see a great director of documentaries try his or her hand at a dramatic feature, since in theory the essential skill set should all be there. The best documentarians possess an acute visual sense, and they are all, of course, potent storytellers. Yet for every attempt at this sort of [...]

  • "Jojo Rabbit" and "Schitts Creek" Win

    'Jojo Rabbit,' 'Masked Singer' and 'Maleficent' Win Top Honors at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The Costume Designers Guild handed out its trophies for the 22nd annual CDG Awards with “Jojo Rabbit” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” receiving top honors among the costumers. In the TV category, the hit “The Masked Singer” and designer Marina Toybina beat out reigning designer Zaldy (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) for excellence in variety, reality-competition, live [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content