Twentieth Century Fox Film Chairman and CEO Stacey Snider appealed to Hollywood studios Monday to continue providing a broad range of content for diverse audiences instead of relying solely on tentpoles “based on caped crusaders.”
“The studios need to have a bigger appetite for big cinematic, tentpole-type entertainment that isn’t necessarily based on branded material,” Snider said at European film exhibitors’ conference CineEurope in Barcelona, Spain. “When you think about ‘The Greatest Showman’…what we had to hang onto was that the music was incredible and that, if ever there was a person to be ‘The Greatest Showman’ at Christmastime, it was Hugh Jackman. The same with ‘The Martian’ – it was based on a book that was self-published. It was hardly a bestseller.”
Snider said she was concerned that, as the film business becomes more globalized and focuses on more universal themes, movies “can’t just be based on caped crusaders.” Hollywood should continue to make movies aimed at the “the non-event-film goer,” Snider added. “If we don’t continue to reach out to the folks that come more than just to see ‘The Avengers,’ we are going to have just the weekend business.”
Snider said studios had to stay on their toes in a social-media world where word of mouth was amplified, and where they could go rapidly from having their best month to their worst month. “[This] is a reality that we have all had to live with for the last several years. I think it is a result of a consumer who is more knowledgeable – they have more information about the quality of the films, they’ve got more choice, so they can opt in or opt out based on word of mouth and other recommendations.”
A broad selection of content helps, she said. “For the studios that expect that more of the same will always bring a result, there is folly in that. We want to continue, for example, with our ‘X-Men’ movies and our ‘Deadpool’ movies, but at the same time we have great success with a movie like ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ or ‘The Greatest Showman,’ where we are very mindful of speaking to this global audience, but not doing it in a way that in the past has homogenized all of the product,” Snider said. “Where things fall off the cliff is when that bright consumer says, ‘I have seen this movie.’”
She conceded that globalization and market consolidation brought challenges for the industry, but pledged to continue to invest in a diverse range of movies, with diverse casts and crews, and to stay attuned to local markets.
“There are plenty of examples out there that signal that including diversity and including a local perspective in these larger movies is great business,” she said. “When you look at a movie like ‘Black Panther’ or ‘Coco,’ or in the case of ‘Deadpool’ – it is led by Ryan Reynolds, a Caucasian, but we have a diverse cast that surrounds him – I would venture to say that Zazie Beetz is as popular in the film as he is. We are mindful that these big franchise films need to be original, need to respond to local cultures, and local diverse casts.”
She said Fox was committed to producing a wide variety of films, adding that her colleague Stephen Gilula, Fox Searchlight co-president, told her last night that Guillermo del Toro’s Oscar-winning “The Shape of Water” was close to grossing $200 million overseas, and in Latin America did better business than “Star Wars.” “We just have to be able to be responsive to the world audience that is available to us,” she said.