Bombshell and Joker are arguably two of the best movies produced by Hollywood this past year. Certainly they are among the most celebrated. Aesthetically they are two completely different movies that appeal to different audiences. More concretely however, both movies are underpinned by a story that focuses on social issues and personal struggle.
Bombshell focuses on the fight against the sexist environment that Roger Ailes fostered during his time at Fox News. Within that there are subplots that convey the personal hardship that fighting an ingrained culture brings. On the other hand Joker documents an individual’s struggles with mental health that exacerbates particular aspects of society. Both movies have received nominations at the BAFTA and Golden Globes while both have been relatively successful. In saying that however, Joker has grossed over $1 billion while Bombshell could only dream of such a return.
Movies do not need to be bombastic like Transformers to attract audiences. A smaller “character study” can provide a sizeable return also. However when Joker and Bombshell are compared there is a difference in financial attractiveness. This seems obvious given where Joker sits among fictional characters and may lead to the conclusion that similar characters are “bankable”. However I would suggest otherwise. Deadpool is an obscure fictional character but the movie was extremely successful grossing $780 million despite an age restricted market. Movies can be successful given the right conditions. These conditions do not need to be pre-existing and can be created as Deadpool shows.
The American economy is structured so that creativity is elicited through financial pressures. Yet it is executives who are sheltered most from these pressures. The conservative nature of American business is the very thing stifling creativity in the film industry. Are we doomed to sequels and reboots so long as this system persists?