I wonder if what movies need is really a new business model, or perhaps more of a return to the old...
Remember the old days when studios knew how to make a mix of high budget, mid-budget and low budget films? When the success of a particular year wasn't based on the success of a single title, but rather, how the slate as a whole did? When the people who ran studios weren't business moguls making decisions based on spreadsheets, but people who came up in the movie business and valued and understood storytelling?
Studios seem very good at the moment at either making $200+ million movies, as well as buying $200 indie films and budget thrillers at festivals. Everything else in between seems a lost art right now. The problem with a $200 million movie is the need for it to appeal to everyone and offend no one. We seem to be losing movies that appeal to many but not all, movies where filmmakers had a little money to throw around and a little freedom to experiment, but weren't expected to carry the entire studio.
In the race to make the biggest blockbusters ever and the potentially huge and quick grosses a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon can give you, studios are trying to make every single film the biggest thing ever. And the truth is, not every story needs $200 million to be told. I'm a little scared of how Disney, for example, has announced their intentions only to make tentpoles. On one hand, I like a good crowd pleaser. They've done well with Marvel, and I think they will do well with Star Wars -- and what's more, the audience has already signaled advance interest in those properties, so it's not the biggest risk ever to make one of those types, and I'm glad they exist. It's just too bad that they're trying that approach with everything. "The Lone Ranger" cost over $200 million -- was there really no version of that movie that couldn't have been made for half that? The upcoming "Maleficent" is coming up, and that's another $200 million production -- has anyone even asked for that movie?