warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Blockbusters: Bigger Is Better

Michelle Man |
March 30, 2014 | 3:44 p.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

Transformers 3 (shelikesacatinheat/tumblr)
Transformers 3 (shelikesacatinheat/tumblr)
Blockbuster was used to describe a successful movie or play but nowadays, some people will agree that Hollywood is slowly becoming the definition of blockbuster movies.

Some would even say that the movie industry is slowly dying because of the rising number of studio high-budget, visual-effects-packed action movies. But to some, blockbusters are better.

In the past decade, there are blockbusters that made over a hundred million dollar in box office domestically despite getting terrible critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Here are some movies that are visual effects packed blockbusters with mediocre plots.

 Retaliation (totalfilm/tumblr)
Retaliation (totalfilm/tumblr)
Michael Bay's "Transformers" had a domestic gross of over $300 million while Jon Chu's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" had a domestic gross of over $120 million in domestic gross. To put things into perspective, this year's Academy Award winner and arguably a film with a better-than-mediocre narrative but a much smaller budget, "12 Years A Slave" made a domestic gross of $56 million, that is less five times that of "Transformers"'s box office result. 

Yet, "Transformers" scored a 57% "rotten" rating and even worse, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" scored a 28% "rotten" rating while Steve McQueen's "12 Years A Slave" scored a 97% "fresh" rating. For studios and businessmen, however, blockbusters are better when they are bigger with and explosion of CGI throughout the film. Even though critics may say it's "two-and-a-half hours of mostly incoherent special effect" or that people are watching them just for Channing Tatum or the visual thrill, there will still be people walking into theater and contribute to the many millions studio make from these movies. 

"Kick-Ass" in 2010 (hellotoxoplasma/tumblr)
"Kick-Ass" in 2010 (hellotoxoplasma/tumblr)
An action movie with a smaller production budget that scored a "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes would be "Kick-Ass" in 2010. It had a production budget of $30 million dollars which is less than a quarter of that of "Transformers" and "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." But despite its "fresh" rating, it made a domestic gross of around $50 million which is much less than the two action blockbusters mentioned previously. 

To studio guys in suits, it is a concern that they're making big bucks out of the movies they produce and a CGI-packed blockbuster seems like sure-fire way to go while movies with better narratives but lower budgets are doomed to a smaller box office success. Of course, there are exceptions to this argument. The recent "Lego Movie" made nearly as much as "Transformers" despite having less than a half of its budget and an astonishing 97% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Perhaps the movie industry is not dying after all.

Reach Staff Reporter Michelle Man here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.