Movie poster for movie Solo with brown haired guy head and shoulders in the middle and lots of scenes of science fiction around him

Like the balcony of a poorly-made condo, box office records don’t seem to stay up for long. Just so far this summer, Avengers: Infinity War has taken the top spot for the biggest opening weekend, dethroning Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which overthrew the only 6-month-old record of Jurassic World, which itself beat out… the original Marvel’s The Avengers.

Meanwhile, according to Variety, Solo: A Star Wars Story “earned a disappointing $103 million in North America” during its opening weekend, leaving plenty of fans online joking that they’d love someone to give them a “disappointing” $103 million. Maybe action movies about white men just can’t pull in big enough audiences – and maybe being “cool” doesn’t necessarily make a character interesting.

But it’s a sign of something that’s been plaguing Hollywood for years now: the attitude that every movie, or at least every movie that’s not made specifically to be niche audience Oscar-bait, has to break all the box office records. There’s no such thing as “good enough” anymore. And studios are reluctant to put big money – the kind of money you need for fancy special effects – into movies that won’t be a sure thing. The summer movie schedule is packed with sequels and franchise movies all the way to August.

That’s not to criticize the very idea of franchise movies. The same serial storytelling that works in comic books and TV shows can make for an epic movie experience. Just look at Infinity War – which I won’t spoil except to say it ends in a jaw-dropping cliffhanger in the truest superhero comics tradition. Sure, it guarantees the next Avengers movie will have an even more ridiculous opening weekend, but it’s also fun.

(For definitions of “fun” that include literally staring slack-jawed at the screen for a solid five minutes into the credits, unable to believe that it ended like that.)

But those can’t be the only sci-fi/fantasy/superhero movies we get. We’ll never get the next Jurassic Park if studios are only willing to bankroll literal sequels to Jurassic Park.

Some amazing movies flopped at the box office, only becoming classics once they were on VHS or DVD or late-night cable. The Iron Giant was a box office failure. The original Blade Runner was considered a disappointment, and just last year, the slow-burning but beautiful Blade Runner 2049 bombed despite being a critical success, likely because it wasn’t the sort of bombastic action-packed thriller moviegoers expect from sci-fi now. Pacific Rim underperformed in the US but found an enthusiastic audience overseas.

And I’m sure we can all name some movies that raked in the cash despite being terrible.

The way people see movies has changed. With movie tickets becoming more and more expensive as incomes stagnate and the cost of living goes up, most people no longer decide to go to the theater and then see what’s playing. Movies like Infinity War are events, not casual after-dinner entertainment. And movies like Solo are put off for a few months until they show up at Redbox because people already spent their entertainment budget on Infinity War tickets.

It’s worth celebrating when a movie that’s special, something like Black Panther, something that’s a risk taken on behalf of marginalized people, breaks records. But not every genre movie has to be a blockbuster, and if studios are going to be disappointed when they aren’t, soon we’ll have nothing but sequels.

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