David Hettinger Contributing Writer
It’s no secret that franchise films have dominated the box office for years. The top 10 highest grossing movies of all time are coming from the biggest franchises in the world, except for “Titanic.” However, while I was extraordinarily entertained by franchise films when I was younger, I felt more inspired by events such as the “French New Wave.” This event took place in the 1950s-60s and helped revolutionize how movies are made. It all started when certain French directors including Francois Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, and many others felt like they were seeing the same kinds of movies over and over again’ this enabled them to decide to change that. Director Francois Truffaut stated the following during the “New Wave”: “The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure.” This meant his intention, along with the list of other directors, was to make filming more complex and create absorbing adventures that had legitimate artistic integrity.”
While the “French New Wave” changed cinema forever, in recent years there have been many big-name franchises that dominate the entertainment industry. For example, the Marvel
Cinematic Universe is standing strong, especially their movie “Avengers: Endgame”, which is the highest grossing film of all time. Several other franchises such as “Star Wars”, “Transformers”, “Harry Potter”, and the “DC Extended Universe” used to produce hit after hit. However, recently franchises like those have started to fizzle at the box office. The latest movie in the “Star Wars Saga, Solo: A Star Wars Story” was so unsuccessful that Disney cancelled a planned trilogy. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”, which is a spinoff from the “Harry Potter universe”, was the lowest rated film of the franchise. “Transformers: The Last Knight” was the fifth movie of the Transformers franchise at Hasbro, which was a total box office failure. More recently, the DC Extended Universe had to do a soft reboot after its biggest movie yet, “Justice League”, underperformed at the box office. Those are just a few examples of how over the past few years, big blockbuster franchises have been losing their popularity.
This is why I think that the movie industry as a whole would need another “New Wave”. I thought that movie studios were getting uncreative after the summer of 2017, which contained numerous box office failures. But even now Disney is constantly producing remakes of magical stories from decades ago, such as “Cinderella”, “The Jungle Book”, “The Lion King”, and more, despite that there was no demand for them. This should serve to prove that big studios are slowly running out of ideas.
I recently saw a film called “Moonlight” again, which follows a gay black boy at 3
important times in his life. We see him as a little kid, then as a teenager, then as a full-grown
adult. That is one example of a story that has never once been told in cinema before, and that is why the film is so important. It is also new. Moonlight went on the win Best Picture at the “Academy Awards”, which is a good sign for the future of indie movies. After that, another original film titled “The Shape of Water”, also won Best Picture. “The Shape of Water” was directed by Mexican filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro, and follows a deaf woman who works as a janitor in a secret government facility; eventually, she comes across an amphibian creature who she forms a special bond with. It is an excellent story that portrays love in ways no romance film has ever done.
Two indie films in particular that are getting a lot of attention are “The Peanut Butter Falcon”, and “The Lighthouse.” “The Peanut Butter Falcon” follows a man with Down syndrome, wwwplayed by Zack Gottsagen, who breaks out of his nursing home in order to meet his pro wrestling icon. Along the journey he befriends an outlaw, played by Shia LaBeouf, who accompanies him on his adventure. “The Lighthouse”, which was filmed in black and white (inspired by a 1960s horror movie) follows two men, played by Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, who became in charge of a lighthouse but then begin to slowly go insane due to the isolation.
Movies like “Moonlight”, “The Shape of Water”, “The Peanut Butter Falcon”, and “The Lighthouse”, are all unique and fascinating stories that should be considered very important in the world of cinema. With the trope of blockbuster sequels and remakes slowly fading away, it is most likely a sign that audiences are ready to embrace stories that have never been put on the big screen.