I mentioned previously how comic book movies are in our foreseeable future, to such a degree that even non-successes are possibly being greenlit. Well, that future seems even more likely, though “comic book movie” ought to be changed to “big budget genre franchise” now that both Sony and Lionsgate have already announced release dates for sequels to The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hunger Games, respectively.
In case you’re as confused as I am, wondering if you stumbled into an invisible wormhole and now find yourself in August of 2012… fear not, true believer! It is still 2011 and no, neither The Amazing Spider-Man nor The Hunger Games have been released yet, but apparently a film’s success is no longer a factor in whether or not its franchise continues. Because, at this point, with the second Andrew Garfield Spider-Man premiering on May 3, 2014 and the
Mystique Jennifer Lawrence Katniss’d Catching Fire on May 30, 2014 making the premise abundantly clear, the only thing that matters is the franchises itself.
Now, I suppose that one could interpret this news as the studios having seen rough cuts and dailies of these movies, been so encouraged by the footage that they believe the films’ box office successes are gauranteed, and thus are doubling down on their investments in the belief that they are now simply printing money. That would definitely be the glass-half-full approach, and considering all we’ve seen are a teaser trailer and limited production stills of either film, that perspective isn’t any less valid than the alternative. But, at least in terms of the new Spider-Man flick, I am of the firm belief that this is merely part of Sony’s insurance policy not to lose the rights to such a lucrative character. That doesn’t necessarily mean the outcome is negative (see: Fox’s critically acclaimed and decent hit X-Men: First Class, also with Jennifer Lawrence), but it’s very hard to cheer for purely check-cashing motives. After all, if Sony doesn’t make a new Spider-Man movie every couple of years, the rights do revert back to Marvel/Disney.
In all honesty, I don’t know diddily squat about The Hunger Games other than the production stills I’ve seen, including these two of Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, as Katniss and Peeta, that were released on the movie’s Facebook:
It looks to be a very handsome production, and the plot definitely intrigues me, so I could be convinced that Lionsgate is banking on having a new Harry Potter instead of a new The Golden Compass (which I enjoyed immensesly, for what it’s worth). But, when one considers the world’s current economic state and that Disney has also announced release dates of May 16 and June 27, 2014 for two of their untitled Marvel projects (either Captain American 2, The Avengers 2, or Dr. Strange, presumably), then it isn’t hard to imagine that all of the studios are hedging its bets in the hopes they have winners. I can’t blame them, but, again, fiscal responsibility and good art don’t necessarily make the best of bedfellows. But, again-again, Jennier Lawrence.
Rob Payne also writes the indie comic The Unstoppable Force, co-hosts the internet radio show We’re Not Fanboys, and can be reached for orignal movie pitches on the Twitter @RobOfWar. He really does hope these movies are good, but he also really hopes Spider-Man fails so horribly that Donald Glover gets his webshot.