Finding(s) Dory: The grim future for cinema

Angus Kidman 21 June 2016

FindingDory

Pixar's latest flick is a smash hit, but that's not entirely good news for movie lovers.

Finding Dory has proven to be a sound investment for Disney. The Finding Nemo sequel might have been 13 years later than the original, but that hasn't dented its performance. In Australia, it scored $10.2 million in box office takings for its just-concluded opening weekend. In the US, its opening take of US$136.2 million is a record for an animated film.

So what's not to like? That result underscores the reality for modern cinema: it's really hard to have a hit movie with anything that's not either a sequel or part of a broader cinematic universe (whether that's Marvel or Star Wars or DC or whatever.) Original ideas? No thanks. We'll take Toy Story 4 instead. That's not a joke, incidentally; Disney has scheduled that entirely unnecessary Pixar sequel for mid-June 2018.

Want more proof? Here are the 10 biggest movies at the Australian box office in 2015:

  1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  2. Jurassic World
  3. Fast and Furious 7
  4. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
  5. Spectre
  6. Minions
  7. Inside Out
  8. Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2
  9. Pitch Perfect 2
  10. The Martian

There are just two non-sequel titles in there: Inside Out (see Pixar, it can be done!) and The Martian. Leaving aside any anti-sequel snobbery, this raises another issue: in a decade's time, what will cinemas be showing? Eventually franchises run out of steam, but it's hard to pick up on a 13-year old title Nemo-style if everything that was successful a decade ago was itself a sequel.

Based on these numbers, we can confidently assume that in ten years time Inside Out 2: Outside In will be in active development, and that Avengers: The Never-Ending Crisis On Infinite Earths 2 will be available as a 4K download. If you don't want sequels and superheros? The cinema will be no place for you.

Will that matter? Maybe not. After all, streaming TV services allow (at least in theory) for more "niche" titles to find a home. But given the pathetically low rate of investment in Australian content so far, I'm not holding my breath. The best we can probably hope for is Son of Crocodile Dundee.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on finder.com.au.

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