We are two thirds of the way through the calendar year and, as far as box office figures can tell us, the multi-media powerhouse of Disney is currently well on it’s way to becoming the most profitable Studio of the year.
Passing a monstrous, cumulative sum of $5bn at the international box office, the House of Mouse knows how to rack up the dollar bills – but how much of these box office smash-hits will stand the test of time?
Disney’s recent space of movies released under it’s Marvel brand, as well as its continued spate of live-action remakes of it’s animated classics, have earned the studio a reputation for quality family-friendly movies. However, there is a danger that the movie going public will tire of Disney’s rehashed ideas?
Instead of focusing on entirely original content, Disney have made a real business out of recycling and remaking old franchises. By buying out Marvel and re-branding characters that are decades old, Disney could simultaneously draw a new demographic of younger people whilst reigniting a sense of nostalgia amongst the older, cash-rich 30 and ups.
Similarly, within the female skewing live-action animated remakes, a whole generation of Disney Princesses have been created for a young, empowered audience – giving the older generations a trip down memory lane with musical numbers but keeping them surprised with reworked plot twists and unconventional character arcs.
For now, it would seem that Disney have got a pretty good thing going. If they maintain the momentum that they’ve built up to now, they could successfully train several generations of movie-makers to revere the properties as gospel – allowing them to revamp and remake the same properties indefinitely.
Is their style of aggressive serialisation and franchise building good for the movie industry though?
Disney’s modus operandi, when it comes to hiring personnel for their big-budget projects, is to sign on actors for multiple movies. This allows them to create a string of stories that can be easily linked to one another, keeping the all important continuity in check. This is mostly a good thing for the actors they hire. Before the release of Iron Man, leading man Robert Downey Jr. was seen by many as a washed up has-been. However, the film relaunched his career making him one of the most highly-paid actors in the world.
The studio similarly launched the careers of Tom Hiddlestone and Chris Hemsworth, whilst keeping respected heavy-weights such as Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo relevant to the masses.
Likewise with the group of directors and writers they’ve hired, Disney have made sure to keep costs down by hiring relatively new talent to helm and scribe their pictures.
The likes of the Russo Brothers and James Gunn were given the reins to films that had over 10 times the budget of films they’d made in the past, creating the kind of fresh cinema that brought new respect to the series.
Of course, all of this comes with a critical proviso. You could argue that the combined acting talents of all these people could be put to better use, having a stab at more serious fare.