Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Battle for Content: Creative and Commercial Interests

It's not surprising to read news articles pointing out that there is very little innovation within film creation. The currently released movies are nearly always sequels, stories based on popular books or comics, or series.  In reading the articles written by Harris and Kung and Schuker, movies are only produced if they are safe.  "Franchise" movies are also a very popular way for companies to make money.

A person only needs to look at The Walt Disney Corporation to see this trend.  Every movie that appears in theaters is accompanied by toys, apparel, and even new attractions and characters at Disney parks.   It's a system that feeds into itself over and over again; a family goes to see Disney's "Tangled" in theaters, they then travel to Walt Disney World so that they can meet Repunzel, and while they are there, they purchase Repunzel dresses and tiaras--and when they return home, the kids continue to watch the story and re-live it through their experiences with the real Repunzel.

But these franchises are not the enemy.  They do not limit creativity--rather, they are commercially driven to create a story that is relatable and marketable in many different venues.  This also may be a cause for the recent "comic book craze" driving movie creation.  For Roberts, there are many complicated issues that drive the content of film.  He argues that these factors are not mutually exclusive to either the creative or the commercial forces in the industry.  I believe that he is right in staking this claim.  As he states, there are many different decisions that are involved in the production of media.  Therefore, it is difficult to pin down who is the victor in this battle for content.  And, the truth is, the victor probably changes through each individual production.

So maybe "Tangled" isn't a new story.  It is, after all, based on a classic fairytale.  However, many parents felt that there was a need for a more independent and modern Disney Princess--and Repunzel certainly fits that bill.  The fact that someone will typically wait two hours to see her at any Disney park speaks to her success.  Perhaps, as Roberts argues, we have to work with a different definition of innovation.  If we attempted that, we may discover that there is more innovation than we have anticipated, and that commercial and creative drives can work hand in hand in the production of film.

No comments:

Post a Comment