The Top 7 Hollywood Entertainment Stories of 2017
2017 was a crazy year for a variety of reasons, and the fact that I didn’t have to strain too much to find ten stories that rocked the industry speaks to how much was out there. I probably could have done an entire list that was just about the box office and what various successes and failures signaled to the industry. But there were also stories outside of hits and flops that had us dropping everything and stunned at a recent turn of events.
With that in mind, here are the ten biggest entertainment stories of 2017. As a side note, these are stories that mostly affect the film industry as opposed to other aspects of the entertainment industry (TV, music, sports).
1- The Best Picture Announcement Goes Insane
No one batted an eye when Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway said La La Land won Best Picture because it was the favorite to win. It only went topsy-turvy when A) Pricewaterhouse Cooper completely botched their ONE JOB at the ceremony; and B) Producer Jordan Horowitz sorted it all out on stage by revealing that Moonlight was the true winner.
That’s Oscar history that will never be forgotten, and it shouldn’t be lost in the hubbub that the Best Picture trophy went to a movie with no A-list stars about a topic—a young black man and his closeted homosexuality—that was deemed too small and too niche by prognosticators to win. Moonlight’s win indicates that the Academy makeup could be very different, and the old “rules” of what can win may need to be discarded.
2-‘Logan’ Cements the R-Rated Superhero Film as a Viable Option
The success of Logan completes a story that began last year with Deadpool. Although studios still bank heavily on the PG-13 rating, the success of Deadpool and the success of Logan shows that studios can make R-rated superhero movies if they have strong stories, good characters, and thoughtful marketing. It takes a bit more work, but Logan pulling in $616 million worldwide shows that audiences are ready for superhero movies that push the envelope and that Deadpool was no fluke.
While some studios will stick to PG-13 (I don’t expect Marvel Studios to ever do an R-rated movie, especially since they’re under Disney), others will see that they have more room to tell the stories they want. Some will take the wrong lesson and just be vulgar or violent for the sake of vulgarity and violence, but other storytellers are going to take advantage of the freedom the R-rating offers and audiences will show up.
3- ‘IT’ Proves an R-Rated Horror Film Can Be a Blockbuster Smash
You don’t have to look too hard in any given year to see a horror movie that grosses far more than its budget, but a movie like IT is rare. Unlike the micro-budget horror released by Blumhouse that goes on to make hundreds of millions of dollars, ITshows that you can make a polished horror adaptation and absolutely dominate at the box office (to the tune of $698 million worldwide).
Although there’s only one IT movie left on the schedule (IT: Chapter Two for September 2019), you better believes that Warner Bros. will be trying to find a way to create the “Pennywise Chronicles” or something like that where the clown terrorizes people through prequels, sequels, and beyond. Also, The Dark Toweraside, 2017 was a pretty successful year for Stephen King adaptations with the critical acclaim for Gerald’s Game and 1922, so it will be interesting to see how future adaptations of his work pan out.
4- Get Out Makes $254 Million Worldwide off a $4.5 Million Budget
Get Out upends conventional wisdom to the point where I’m sure it’s tempting for some to simply write it off as an aberration. It’s a movie that doesn’t have A-list stars, it’s not based on pre-existing material, and it had a budget of less than $5 million. It didn’t matter. The movie became one of the most talked about and exciting pictures of the year. It could very well go on to win Best Picture at the Oscars.
It’s not just that Get Out is a great movie (it is), but rather that it connected with such a large audience. Writer-director Jordan Peele didn’t shy away from the racial subtext of his movie, and you don’t have to dig too far to find it, but he wrapped it an exhilarating thriller. Although there will likely be those who try to diminish the success of Get Out as an exception that proves the rule, studios would be wise to realize that audiences are happy to have thoughtful thrillers as long as the intelligence of the story matches the intensity of the thrills.
5-Wonder Woman Is the Highest-Grossing Superhero Movie of 2017 Domestically
Superhero fans had to wait a long time for a good female-led superhero movie, but Patty Jenkins didn’t disappoint with her marquee hero. Wonder Woman upended the conventional “wisdom” that said audiences weren’t ready for a female-led superhero movie. Although Wonder Woman largely plays by the rules of a superhero origin story, Jenkins makes the most of the genre without ever losing sight of what makes Wonder Woman unique.
What’s more, the film succeeded in a crowded summer marketplace. While other movies hope to dominate on their opening weekend and then expect a steep drop-off, Wonder Woman had legs as people kept coming out to see a hero that just made them feel good about the world. To be honest, I’m a little surprised other studios haven’t announced a spate of female-led superhero movies, and perhaps that will come in 2018. But Wonder Woman has certainly changed the complexion of the DCEU, proving that there’s nothing wrong with an uplifting tale that’s well told.
6- Zack Snyder Leaves Justice League; Joss Whedon Steps In
Zack Snyder stepped away from Justice League earlier this year to deal with a family tragedy, and Warner Bros. brought in Joss Whedon to finish the movie. What we didn’t know at the time and what became clear over the course of the year is that “finishing” Justice League basically meant reshooting Justice League. And yet, at the end of the day, the movie that WB ended up with was neither fish nor fowl. It has elements of Snyder’s aesthetic mixed with Whedon’s comic vibe, and yet you can feel the studio mandate bearing down on the picture that it must be less than two hours, so new characters rarely get time to breathe.
The ramifications of Justice League probably won’t impact either Snyder or Whedon’s careers, but it’s certainly a heads up to Warner Bros. The movie that was supposed to be their answer to The Avengers struggled to make an impact at the box office, and its failure will likely reshape (yet again) how the studio chooses to approach its superhero slate. The superhero landscape has radically changed, and yet the failure of Justice League shows that the DCEU still hasn’t found its place.
7- Disney Buys 21st Century Fox
We don’t yet know how everything will shake out with the Disney/Fox deal, but it will undoubtedly change the media landscape as we know it. While some fans are eager at the possibility of Fox’s Marvel properties being able to join the MCU and A New Hope falling under Disney’s control, there are much larger issues at stake with regards to who controls the content you see and what content gets created.
Both Disney and Fox will be radically different in two years if this deal is approved. Disney will be massive, and yet how much more output can they create? What happens to Fox’s distribution arms like Fox Searchlight and studio output? And what happens to the Fox assets that remain in Rupert Murdoch’s control like Fox News, Fox Sports, and Fox Broadcasting? There will be many prognostications, but ultimately, it looks like power will be further consolidated under Disney and consumers will be left with fewer options.
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