2018 has been a great year for cinema, there’s no doubt about it.
From epic superhero capers to indie dramas, nuanced horrors, and crazy romances, audiences have been treated to a wide variety of movies to suit every taste.
But there’s always room for improvement right?
Here at Yahoo Movies UK we’ve had a think about what worked and didn’t work on the silver screen this year and came up with a few things Hollywood might want to think about going forward.
Singing is winning
Musical movies have had a massive impact on the box office this year. Bohemian Rhapsody is the highest grossing musical movie of the year, earning £472 million internationally, followed by Mamma Mia Here We Go Again! with £312 million while A Star Is Born has earned £293 million as well as critical acclaim to boot.
There’s no doubt that Mary Poppins Returns will bank a significant dime when it’s released on December 21 and The Greatest Showman, though it was released on Boxing Day last year, is the best-selling DVD of 2018.
Clearly, there’s an appetite for great songs even when the non-singing bits aren’t quite up to the same standard. We could be heading towards a new Golden Age of musical cinema if studios invest more in the genre and get great songwriters (and musical artists) involved.
CGI has really changed the aesthetic of the action movie forever as more and more films resort to visual effects to create outlandish sequences. In many cases, this is necessary, especially when the film is dealing with superpowers or otherworldly beings, but when a story is centred in reality like Skyscraper, Robin Hood or Tomb Raider, it can be jarring to see a too much computer-generated action.
Mission Impossible – Fallout proved that practical effects can not only look phenomenal but also create just as much drama and suspense as anything a VFX artist could cook up. It’s really a testament to Tom Cruise’s daredevilry that stunts like the Halo jump, the helicopter chase, and that bone-breaking leap across London buildings were achieved for real, and the movie was all the better for it.
Retire Robin Hood
As much as Otto Bathurst tried to reinvigorate the Robin Hood story for a modern audience his efforts went down like a lead balloon and earned a dismal £52 million at the global box office with equally bad reviews too. Though maybe the film’s failure wasn’t just because it was utterly ridiculous.
The folktale hero has been brought to the big and small screen so many times over the last 100 years that really there is nowhere else to go with him and audiences are bored with pretty much the same story told just with a different dodgy accent.
Maybe if filmmakers built stories around Maid Marian or Little John people might buy into the idea but right now Robin Hood needs to be benched indefinitely.
Fans have your back
There’s been lots of talk about the critic-proof movie this year and the success of Venom, Bohemian Rhapsody and Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald have been used to back-up this concept. However, we don’t believe there is a disconnect between critics and audiences in these cases, rather it’s the case that each film has in-built fandoms backing them already.
Venom is one of the most popular Marvel characters ever and the Marvel fanbase is growing every day. Queen is one of the most iconic rock bands in history with a massive global fanbase thanks to the continuing touring of the group while the Harry Potter fandom might be the most diehard over the 21st century.
Each film has a substantial, guaranteed audience so if studios can tap into stories with a built-in fanbase then it won’t matter whether critics like a movie or not when it comes to box office success.
The Rom-Commaissance has arrived
Romantic comedies are very much back in fashion but not as we’ve seen them before.
Audiences are looking for more diverse and progressive narratives that don’t perpetuate the somewhat sexist tropes that dominated those of the ‘90s and ‘00s.
Netflix has been a trailblazer for new rom-coms from Set It Up to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, the latter of which is one of the most viewed Original films on Netflix this year, but it’s Crazy Rich Asians that has set a new benchmark on the silver screen.
It’s the top-grossing studio rom-com of the last ten years and it did that with an all-Asian cast, so not only does it show that audiences want the rom-com back but they also want to see more than just white leads falling in love.
The Get Out effect
Get Out changed the game for horror movies and was an antidote to the basic franchise or stack-em-high scares that had been dominating the genre. Jordan Peele’s film was a signal for great horrors to come discernible by great writing, direction, and innovative ways to instil fear in the viewer.
A Quiet Place, Hereditary, Mandy, Overlord, Suspiria, Upgrade, and Cam, are all examples of this new class of horror that have distinctive concepts backed up by brilliant storytelling. The critical and/or commercial success of these films stand in opposition to such lazy 2018 horrors as The Strangers: Prey at Night, Truth or Dare and The Slender-Man.
Hollywood needs to ensure this effect becomes a staple of the genre.
The Meg could have been written off as a middling addition to the shark movie genre but its marketing campaign turned it into the second biggest, original film release from Warner Bros. It’s campy ad campaign tailored to niche audiences – like dog lovers and nature fans – focused on the comedy side of the Jason Statham-led horror-comedy turned it into a surprise summer hit.
The same can’t be said for Solo: A Star Wars Story which had people wondering when the marketing campaign would begin. The Disney team had the difficulty of trying to give audiences breathing room after The Last Jedi before introducing a new story but they left it rather late and it had people wondering if it was a sign of a bad movie to come rather than just bad timing. It ended up being the least profitable Star Wars film since the franchise restarted in 2015.
The lesson: when the odds are against you go against the grain and get creative.
Make theatrical releases count
Netflix is hoping to entice more A-list filmmakers to make Original movies with them by promising a theatrical release but in the UK and Ireland – because of an exclusive deal with Curzon Cinemas – not everyone is able to get to see them on the big screen.
Several independent cinema owners have complained about Netflix not allowing them to screen films like Roma, Outlaw King and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs because of this as well as cinema-goers in the regions who want to see the films.
We get it, the filmmakers want the release for awards season qualification but if you’re going to do a theatrical release do it properly so film fans don’t lose out.
OK, this is more a personal issue but this year there were far too many movies over the two-hour mark. The average length of a film has been steadily increasing over the last decade and some of the worst culprits were Suspiria (152m), Burning (148m) and First Man (141m).
We’re not saying these are bad movies but we reckon at least 30 minutes could have been knocked off of each and the story would have still flowed well.
Please, directors, try not to let self-indulgence expand your movie’s runtime unnecessarily.