MARK AUSTIN THOMAS:Technically, it’s still spring — but the summer movie blockbuster season is well underway. It’s been sequel after sequel with Spider-Man 3, Shrek 3 and Pirates 3. And based on the box-office revenue they’ve generated, we could be seeing some of these movies again next summer.Mike Speier is the Executive Editor for Daily Variety. Welcome.
MATT SPEIER:Thank you very much.
THOMAS:I’m tempted to think there can be too much of a good thing. But I guess it’s not true when a studio’s making money hand over fist. So is there a Spider-Man 4, Shrek 4, Pirates 4 coming to theaters next year?
SPEIER:There aren’t those movies coming to theaters next year, but you can almost guarantee they are people in rooms discussing whether to bring them back. However, it’s not a guarantee, because there is some level of studio executive saying “It is too much — enough is enough.”
You can’t believe it, because the money they make is incredible. And Shrek — Dreamworks has come out to say there will be more Shreks. But Pirates and Spider-Man? It’s not that easy… You gotta bring everybody back, a lot of them want to move on. The film world’s not like the TV world where people can be in a show for 10 or 12 years. It’s different.
THOMAS:Could this be one of those art-versus-commerce arguments? Studios believe they can make money, and it trumps the idea of whether they should if the plot is pitiful — like maybe the fourth Indiana Jones rumored film.
SPEIER:Well, there is something to be said for the fact that these companies are conglomerates — they have to appease shareholders. They have to make money. There are about 180 movies that get released every year — if there are seven of them that are just full of explosions and sequels, the argument is “so what?”
There are still great movies that come in the fall, and come Oscar time, everyone has their choice of wonderful movies like The Queen and The Last King of Scotland and Dreamgirls. There are original films. So to be an apologist for the studios come sequel time, it’s not the end of the world — because these movies are meant for kids. Kids are out of school, that’s the math and that’s the economics. It’s the summer.
THOMAS:Perhaps the creative way out of this is to copy TV and create spinoffs — like Puss ‘n’ Boots and Donkey in their own movie. Is there a chance of that happening?
SPEIER:Well, there’s a chance of that happening — and they already do that in the direct-to-DVD market. You see a lot of movies that come out with their own characters on a direct-to-DVD. Which, by the way, makes millions of dollars too.
So it’s not all about the feature film in the theaters. However, that’s the one people want to see — it’s the brand name. People want to see Shrek, people want to see Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s gotta be really unique to have a spinoff.
THOMAS:Mike Speier is executive editor for Daily Variety.
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