With the rise of faith-based movies, things haven’t been looking great for progressive films this year.
Adding to the troubles is the success of the pro-military themed Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Lone Survivor, which are quite the contrast from the film industry’s earlier works.
As Sensei, I noted earlier how progressive films started out pretty weak this year.
In fact, progressive films in general continue to have a dismal 2014 at the box office. The more recent examples being the Ronald Reagan bashing Cesar Chavez and the much maligned Muppets Most Wanted, which were hurt (not helped) by their political undertones. Both disappointed greatly at the box office. Even Noah with its controversial origins and environmental themes managed to disappoint (despite decent international sales). Film was just too expensive to produce and market.
There are hard lessons being learned this year (for progressive filmmakers anyway). Filling a potential franchise film (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Robocop) with progressive talking points doesn’t guarantee success. Audiences have gotten too smart for that with the rise of social media. These political talking points, or “sucker punches,” now can be called out on forums like Twitter as early as opening day.
Another hard lesson is progressive stars like George Clooney, Matt Damon and Tina Fey are no longer pulling high numbers at the box office. Fey greatly underperformed in Muppets Most Wanted, while both Damon and Clooney greatly disappointed on the numbers with Monuments Men. New talent is instead on the rise and will replace many of these names in due time.
Not surprisingly, being active in progressive causes may help get you roles in Hollywood, but actually making money with those films has become a task all itself. At the end of the day, it’s the financial bottom line that dictates future projects at studios. Progressive films were lucky they lasted as long as they did.
The progressive nightmare also continues with faith-based films. The industry has long been complaining they need more reliable demographics to open films. Enter the religious audience who have turned small-budget features like God Is Not Dead and Heaven Is For Real into box office hits. The fact that the films are remarkably cheap to produce also adds to the equation.
Suddenly, the film industry has found a new demographic to sell to, so the next expensive “progressive talking point” film just doesn’t appeal as it once did.
All of this adds up to remarkable shift we’re seeing in the industry. Studios now want the next Heaven Is For Real or Lone Survivor to increase their financial bottom lines. Much like a wealthy casino, progressive names in Hollywood have been playing with the “house money” for years, but that run is coming to an end. The house usually wins, but in the case of the recent box office, that’s no longer proving to be the case.