Sunday, July 22, 2018

OP-ED: Is Sci-Fi Fading Out Into The Stars?

Source: MGM Pictures

It's been a while but I'm back!!! I want to begin by extending a thank you to all of those who have been patiently waiting for a new write to be posted and fortunately that time has arrived!

I freely confess to being a big sci-fi fan for as long as I can remember. Star Trek was the first show/series that I followed intently (and still do to this day), followed by other great sci-fi series of the time- Star Wars, Buck Rogers (the television series), Battlestar Gal├íctica, and Dr. Who just to name a few. Science Fiction was often used as a clever means to address social issues of their respective times which used aliens or monsters in place of singling out certain groups of people or countries. I still believe, as many fans did back then, that a solid sci-fi story, complimented with solid directing and good performances, can stand with any other genre there is. But most recently, based on this philosophy, I’m somewhat stifled by what appears to be a lack of interest by the movie going public in some recent sci-fi films that, in my opinion, deserve a lot more credit then they received during their run in cinemas.

The Star Wars films have been a glowing exception to this philosophy due to the masses that adore the franchise to no end. With that said, surprisingly, even the Star Wars franchise has been susceptible to this downward trend. Solo, the latest chapter in the “Star Wars Story” series of films, was marred with headlines about it’s alarming under performance in the box office. There are varied theories addressing the reason behind the disappointing numbers but I was certainly taken aback hearing this news- especially when it turned that out that I really enjoyed the movie! Earlier this year we had Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman, which I found to be a very solid, original sci-if adventure that had the distinction of being a good stand alone film- something of a rarity in today’s franchise heavy Hollywood. While the movie did take number one at the box office it’s opening week, it was by no means a “hit” grossing a modest $32 million in Domestic ticket sales against a $40 million production budget.

Equally shocking to me was the lukewarm reception to last year’s Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the original 1982 classic starring Harrison Ford. Some argued that the film suffered from the time gap between the first and second film (35 years), but I found that to be irrelevant. Blade Runner 2049 was a solid film on its own merit, let alone a strong follow up to the original. Domestic earnings for the film came in at just over $92 million on a budget of $150 million. Once again this was an example of good, well devised sci-fi film being overlooked by the masses.

I could certainly go on with more examples of sci-fi films not meeting their box office expectations (notably 2016’s Star Trek Beyond)  however there’s no need. The point seems to be that audiences are not getting excited about sci-fi films as they once did. Superhero films have certainly taken a stronghold on the film industry as demonstrated by the staggering earnings each successive film produces- even some of the "disappointing" earnings for these movies would be considered a major success for films of other genres. I profess to be a devoted member of the superhero followers but it does disturb me to think that their success is also the cause of other genres suffering as a result. Hopefully Hollywood still has it's share of devoted sci-fi film makers who are determined to bring us another stellar, groundbreaking hit that could reinvigorate out interest. Way back in the 1950's sci-fi films had a lot of popularity which slowly faded until hits like 2001: A Space Oddity and Star Wars brought it back to the forefront. We will just have to continue to look to the stars and hope.

Thanks for checking out my latest write up and be sure to leave your comments to share your thoughts. Until then, I'll catch you after the credits!!!


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