Producers and Audiences (Film Studies)

This essay was completed for TV and Film (Extended Diploma)
Part 1 Old Films for New

In this superhero themed video essay, I will be exploring into the making and promoting of a blockbuster, the connection a blockbuster has with an audience and firstly, comparing a popular remake.

Spiderman is one of the biggest movie franchises in the world, and has had many renditions in various formats. With the announcement of an even newer and complete remake of the franchise staring another new box office draw, one could say the superhero is being drained for as much money as it can, as not only do the films sell but in 2015 Marvel sold approximately 1.3 billion dollars worth of merchandise, and with a new star comes a new lunch box and a new t-shirt.

The two films I will be comparing in this video essay are the known original Spider-Man starring Tobey Maguire in 2002 and after two sequels, its remake The Amazing Spiderman starring Andrew Garfield a decade later in 2012.

Although Tobey Maguire is a box office draw, Andrew Garfield was a clever choice for Marvel  at the time as he is not only a massive box office draw but fits the part well and a draw for the female gaze, as a male dominated superhero fanbase can be swayed more evenly by subtly changing Peter Parker’s character from just a nerd to a nerd with sex appeal. Just like the original, the genre trends are almost identical, using the iconic logo as much as possible, showing the american flag and of course, Spiderman himself in his American coloured skin tight suit. One thing that the remake does apart from add sex appeal and of course better image quality and special effects is stay incredibly true to the comics, it has more of a real tone and feel to it but also the original, Peter had organic webbing while the remake is closer to the comics and has the web shooters. This pleased the original comic book lovers. The Amazing Spiderman was released in 3D as well as 2D, a cinematic experience that wasn’t common at the time of the originals make, they made sure to market this on many posters as another draw to watching the same story. The princess of the remake is renamed to Gwen Stacey and unlike the original Spiderman and Gwen fall in love very quickly and have numerous dates throughout the show, again appealing to the female audience more as the film can then add romance as a sub genre. This was also a great casting by Marvel as Emma Stone who plays Gwen was dating Andrew Garfield at the time, therefore anytime the couple end up in the news the film may be mentioned.

The remake looks visually stunning, and thanks to the fast evolution of technology, a subtle decade is easily told through the look of the film. The remake is set in the present day, not the date of the original. This is always a great selling point, as it is another difference to the original which makes it worth the watch, it’s not just the same film with better visual effects. The synergy between both films is strong, having exactly the same company produce the film and market the franchise. It is not a remake of a forgotten film, it is a remake of a demanded chain of movies and comics, sequels will be made and spiderman will never be forgotten or left alone by marvel, as with the release of the even newer sequel in 2017 the spiderman franchise can only go up in sales.

Part 2 Bums on Seats 
A movie that the character Spiderman is in is The Avengers, a huge blockbuster franchise combining all of Marvel’s most loved superheroes. The producers of the film considered their target audiences massively when creating the avengers, you can tell because the film catered to a variety of audience groups through different genres, the film has action … drama and adventure … comedy… sci fi escapism… and of course everyone’s favourite superheros. It doesn’t matter if you dislike the director, loath Captain America or dislike Scarlett Johannson, if you like Iron Man you will watch the movie. The same applies for any other superhero in the film, all having their own comic strips and dedicated fans and some having their own movies and billion dollar franchises.

Leading up to the films release their has been many marketing strategies put into place to attract as wide an audience as possible. These strategies include standard things such as posters, billboards and interviews with cast etc. but, as this is a combination of heroes from previous Marvel film releases little hints of the film have emerged since way back in 2008 when a post credit clip at the end of iron man had shown Nick Fury ask for Tony Starks assistance in an upcoming avengers initiative. This was huge as the films follow the marvel comics and the audience of these movies will have put two and two together and known that an avengers movie was possible. Marvel have often used their infamous post credit scenes and cameos to promote their own movies, and are always noticed and theories are created by super fans to keep the mystery and promotion alive.

Marvel are known for their merchandise, and with not just one superhero in the film, chances for expansion of merchandise was inevitable, especially after signing a contract with lego for the film, lego and a lot of the action toy companies appeal and provide to the same target audience of comic geeks to super hero movie fans.

The Avengers is Marvel’s highest grossing film of all time, and rightly so. It is every comic book fans super hero film, and every film goers necessity. The Avengers grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, 600 million of that in theatres alone, which is incredible.

Part 3 Me and My Movies
The Avengers is such a massive movie that they attract a massive variety of people all over the world. People watch films in different ways, different people interpret films in different ways. The two main groups of film viewers are passive and active spectators. Generally, the vast majority of audiences  are passive spectators, when watching a film, they would react in the same that a mass audience would, and they accept the director’s intended meaning. For example, when watching a film like X Men, a passive spectator would accept that the director has used a variety of techniques to ensure that the intending meaning of being an outcast, a mutant, is seen and related to.

An active spectator is basically the opposite. When an active spectator watches a film, they watch it as an individual, and can take their own meaning from it. Active spectators generally analyse film and their meaning and can react differently to a film due to their personal experiences. Sometimes filmmakers create movies with little closure to create ambiguity for the active spectator, opening up many theories and keeping the conversation and franchise going years after the release. Fans will always come up with theories, especially with superhero films, and will re watch the movies at home after seeing them at the cinema and try and capture every detail, die hard fans take advantage of media literacy and immerse themselves in their favourite film almost as much as the director. Huge events such as Comicon enable fans to connect with others and show their love for their favourite comic or superhero, and big companies such as Marvel and DC seize these opportunities to promote their film and sell more merchandise. Fans are made aware of events and competitions to get involved in the Marvel and DC film community through social media, now the worlds biggest platform for almost all forms of promotion. Trailers are now shared not just on dedicated video hosting sites such as YouTube but also on the most popular   all round networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Fans can comment and interact with friends and others that are excited by a film. If a fan shares a trailer of a film, all their friends can see the trailer, no money needed!

Intertextuality in film plays with a genres default storyline and theme. For example to 2008 spoof film ‘Superhero movie’ pays homage to other films which had been released before this film, which all belong to the same genre of superhero films(hence the film’s title). In particular, this film uses the superhero film ‘Spider-man(2002) as its main template , since Superhero movie contains as similar storyline with similar characters.

A director will always have a vision, and it is amazing if the viewer understands it completely, but it is also wonderful if they see it differently, it’s being immersed in the film that is the experience. An expanding franchise is not just a money making flow of content, it is an overflowing adrenaline rush for the viewers, and not just linking genres of films, but linking genres of people.