Chris Pratt, star of The Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World feature film spectaculars, can add another notch to his franchise belt with sequel plans being announced for last weekend’s mega-streaming success, The Tomorrow War.
Amazon cheerily informed Wall Street, subscribers and Hollywood information-junkies about plans for a second film, as news broke of the startlingly high numbers The Tomorrow War achieved in its first weekend.
David Ellison’s Skydance, the entertainment industry’s leading force for turbo-charged, character-driven, feature-film action titles – – including The Terminator franchise, The Mission: Impossible franchise, Maverick (the sequel to Top Gun) and the upcoming Snake Eyes, spin-off from G.I. Joe– – has smoothly added streaming dominance to its massively successful theatrical film, genre-fueled portfolio.
Last year, with Charlize Theron’s Old Guard (on Netflix), Skydance showed how new action franchises could perform just as successfully for streamers (or more so, as they do compared to theatrical exhibition) by introducing fresh characters, played by A-list talent, with satisfying genre-busting narratives that are sequel-ready.
Like the recently announced The Tomorrow War sequel, Skydance also has Old Guard II well underway. And like The Tomorrow War, Old Guard was the dominant “made for streaming” title the weekend it opened, easily outperforming competing titles such as Palm Springs and Greyhound (which were originally intended for theatrical release, but premiered via streaming instead, due to the pandemic.)
Don Granger, long-time chief of film production, and former Paramount and Disney film executive, lead’s Skydance’s efforts in blockbuster movies — whether designed for theatrical or streaming. He’s currently overseeing Skydance’s first high profile, action-series effort: Jack Reacher, adapted from the film franchise of the same name (based on the wildly popular Lee Child novels.)
Tom Cruise won’t be reprising the title role; this Amazon-based streaming effort will be led by Alan Ritchson, of DC’s Titans fame.
It wasn’t long ago that certain A-list movie stars and A-list directors shunned the temptation of streaming. Superstar filmmakers and actors rejected digital content as just another version of premium cable, but less established.
Now it seems there’s no star too big to attract, nor a budget too large, to satisfy a streamer’s appetite (save, perhaps, for Mr. Cruise, as noted above.)
Steven Spielberg, arguably the most successful filmmaker of all time, and once a major critic of streaming (comparing it to making “movies for TV”) just announced a giant Netflix deal, showing that major holdouts have changed their minds, realizing streaming, for better or worse, is likely not only here to stay, but the very future of entertainment.
It’s no secret that Amazon is paying close to $1 billion for the first episodic season’s streaming adaptation of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, a title that less than 20 years ago (2004) won the Best Picture Oscar (among many others) for Peter Jackson’s film adaptation.
With every streamer promising both Wall Street and their subscribers “at least one original movie a month,” greater scrutiny will fall on just how much streamers are paying for films, and whether that cash is better spent on series versus movies with sequels.
In other words, imagine how many episodes of The Tomorrow War Amazon might have received had it committed to a series – versus simply making a sequel every two or three years, with budgets likely north of $200 million per film.
But would Chris Pratt have agreed to do an episodic series, even with a stratospheric budget like The Lord of the Rings?
As Hollywood scrambles for titles worthy of “winning the weekend bragging rights” – deeper debates are sure to be happening about how best each streamer spends their treasure chest for content – and whether there’s enough money to spend on big budget movies and big budget series.
Black Widow, Marvel’s much-anticipated Scarlett Johansson-starring MCU spin-off, is expected to rule the box-office this weekend.
I wonder what Marvel would’ve paid Scarlett Johansson to simply do a Black Widow series, and skip the one-off nature of movies altogether?
Blockbusters are here to stay.
What format they take – whether it’s longer lasting, bingeable series like The Lord of the Rings, or stand-alone films like The Tomorrow War and its many sequels to come – will be the next big mountain studios and streamers are bound to climb, if they’re not already scaling it.
And believe me, there isn’t enough money to go around for every studio to fund all of these big-budget expeditions much longer.
Consolidation or elimination is on the way and one day, someone will make a lower budget, likely ad-supported cable documentary about the time that streaming took over Hollywood — and nearly bankrupted it.