All the red ink that “Jupiter Ascending” will spill will make studios all the more conservative and risk-averse. There will be more reboots, retreads and revivals as companies try to give facelifts to geriatric franchises such as “Star Wars,” “Indiana Jones” and “Ghostbusters.”
As Lana Wachowski told the Los Angeles Times on Friday, “When I was young, originality was everything. A sequel was like a bad word. We’ve gone to the opposite place where [audiences] actually are more excited about a story we know the ending to.” Movies are not going away anytime soon, but they are definitely in a tough spot right now. TV and video games are edging out movies as our go-to entertainment medium of choice. TV is getting better very quickly, and is more compelling than most movies that are coming out. Even a show like House of Cards, essentially a web series, is just as smart and stylish as any political thriller you'll see coming out of Hollywood.
Despite some pessimism in the tech press, video games are also growing faster than they ever have before. They cost more than movies, and they give you a lot more bang for your buck. Kids in particular are more likely to get engrossed in a game like Minecraft and learn its ins and outs than they are to get obsessed with a good movie.
When you are threatened like this, of course you're not going to take as many risks. If you know that Marvel movies make money, of course you're going to make like 12 of them at the same time. You gotta spend money to make money, right?
I think that the Wachowski siblings are very talented artists, and I have been a fan of their work since 1996's Bound. The Matrix remains one of my 3 favorite movies of all time, and while I think the sequels were better thought experiments than movies, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas were better than most people game them credit for. I haven't seen Jupiter Ascending yet, but I suspect I'll enjoy it. I like their style, but it appears that most of the world is not that into them.
I for one would not be that upset if the Wachowskis go back to making smaller movies, but I will be upset if Hollywood thinks that becuase the Wachowskis couldn't make money on these non-franchise films, that other artists will not get a similar chance.