Sin City: A Dame to Kill For | Edge of Tomorrow | Dawn of the Planet of the Apes | Transformers 4: Age of Extinction | Godzilla | Maleficent | X-Men: Days of Future Past | Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles | Guardians of the Galaxy | Expendables 3
Jupiter Ascending | Hercules: the Thracian Wars | Amazing Spiderman 2
What's the point of me pointing out the most obvious flaws in these movies? I'm trying to show that these movies could lose a lot of people a lot of money, and fundamentally change the way the industry does business. Let's start by saying that the George Lucas/Steven Spielberg idea of Hollywood's next evolution is ridiculous. To sum up their theory: the movies will move to being more like Broadway; expensive tickets, longer runs, fewer movies made, etc. My counterpoint is a simple one: you know what won't happen if Hollywood loses a boatload of money on these blockbusters? Theater chains won't pay a boatload of money to convert their locations to suit an industry undergoing a ton of uncertainty, especially not after they've probably taken a hit with all those empty seats that made the blockbusters fail!
If the industry transitions in a distribution sort of way, it would be towards a pay-per-view model, where people don't even have to leave their homes to see the latest releases. Seriously, 4k televisions put a theater's viewing experience to shame. They cost $25k (!) now, but they'll keep getting cheaper and Hollywood would be wise to anticipate that when deciding their next move if they need to make one. But honestly, I don't think that sort of titanic shift is coming. Any belief in it is half wishful thinking, half "wanting to see the old model fail". The problem is, any assumption the industry would adapt, assumes it moves as a cohesive unit. There are far too many filmmakers, producers, studios, production companies, and distributors for that to happen. And even they were all on the same page, they'd be swimming upstream against audience expectations and a general resistance to anything but the status quo.
So what will happen if this $2 billion summer fails to recoup its cost (my money's on Maleficent for the biggest bomb)? I think that after The Lone Ranger, and if Maleficent tanks, Disney might sit the next few rounds out on big budget films that don't start with "Marvel's" or "Star Wars". I think we might finally be done with the idea of Tom Cruise as a bankable star playing anyone but Ethan Hunt. Michael Bay might finally get put out to pasture (there's my wishful thinking). But industry-wide? I think you'd pretty much just see the cinematic equivalent of a market correction. A general downturn in large budget movies, with probably no more than 2 a month even in the summer. The downside, though is a doozy. Almost definitely, we'd see even more sequels than we already do. Their profitability is much easier to gauge, and the built-in audience will assure the uneasy producers that they'll recoup their money.
The rather depressing conclusion is that there appear to me to be only two options: either people will spend enough money on what will undoubtedly be at least a couple of terrible movies this summer to keep the machine humming along, or make peace with the idea of endless Saw/The Purge/Paranormal Activity-style sequels. Now, realistically I just don't think there are enough dollars to go around in ticket sales to buoy ALL of these, and it's always possible a studio will push one of two of their entries out of this murderer's row to try to put in a better position, but it's also entirely likely that Hollywood will lose more money than it makes next summer, and the most entertaining theater might be what comes after that.