“Fight Club” was a movie that was well appreciated by the critics. Indeed, it deserved to be, for its unconventional story and unorthodox method of storytelling. However, it ended up performing poorly in the box office.
At the same time, the “American Pie” series, the Marvel movies and even the Fifty Shades franchise for that fact were box office blockbusters.
Analysing the returns of similar movies, it has time and again been proven that it is profitable to make a film which maybe lacking in what cinephiles call ‘substance’.
The nuances of the economy of the film industry are indeed intriguing, seeing how movies that lack substance go on to become potential blockbusters.
This trend can be used to trace out a pattern. Before explaining what the pattern is, I’d like to acquaint the reader with an essential knowledge. Entertainment through visual media primarily appeals to two sub personas of human beings. One is the hormonal persona. This is the persona, which if left on its own, can trigger a person to any given stimulus. This is the persona that can be pleasured by the colourful and power packed entry of “Thala Ajith” or when Chulbul Pandey takes care of a truck filled with goons twice his size. This kind of persona is predominant among the people who lovingly call Salman Khan ‘bhai‘. One may hazard a guess that this is the same kind that wastes gallons of milk in washing the feet of statues of film stars in a poverty-stricken country such as India.
Then comes the second persona – the intellectual. This is the kind that appreciates movies for its subtle ability to convey a powerful message. This is the kind that despise the quintessential ‘masala‘ films, as they are able to make out the story of the film even before it commences. However, this persona is seldom seen in isolation and is often accompanied by the hormonal being.
Having acquainted the reader with this essential information, I’d like to present my hypothesis on the film economy.
Two kinds of people make movies. The first type consider it an investment and expect doubling and probably even tripling the returns. The other type considers it to be an art. These people go on to make a film to project the vivid images that had been playing on the back of their heads, to a larger mass.
Now, the former may not necessarily be a half-wit. They are the ones capable of making movies appeasing both the hormonal and the intellectual personas to a certain extent. A prominent example is the Marvel movie franchise.
However, most members of the former group are hell bent on just making easy money. Hence, they pander to the masses. They don’t bat an eye while using the same old recycled plot line as long as it generates sufficient returns. “Kya Kool Hai Hum”, “Kya Super Kool Hai Hum”, “Great Grand Masti” are movies that were panned by the critics. However, their sexual appeal helped make amazing returns.
Members of the second group consider cinema to be a holy grail that should be used to make legitimate works of art. While the movies that appeal to this group have a lot of soul in them, they are destined, most of the time, to fail at the box office. The latest victim was “Blade Runner 2049”. It appealed to a small group of people who were sensitive enough to notice and appreciate the difficult questions the film tackled while the rest considered the movie to be a two-hour long drama, made bearable by the charms of Ryan Gosling.
The pattern visible here is pretty much obvious for the average Joe by now. If you want to make money – if film-making is a business for you – then all you got to do is not abide by the artistic association it possesses. A movie targeting the intellectual being alone will seldom be successful, though there are exceptions such as Nolan’s films.
If all you want is an assured profit, stick to appeasing the hormonal being primarily. While Tarantino’s films can be thought-provoking, the gore and the duel between the symbols of good and evil often lead to an upsurge of adrenaline, appeasing the hormonal being.
The bottom line is if you want to make money from a film, stick to the same old formulas. If you want to make money whilst attaining fame for your witty style of film-making, all you got to do is add elements of Karan Johar and probably even a pinch of Rohit Shetty to your plot.
However, if you want to distinguish yourself as a renowned director and make public appearances at Cannes, make sure your ouvre is filled with works that actually inspired you.