Avengers. Toy Story 4. Aladdin. Spider-Man: Far From Home. The Lion King. You wouldn’t bet against those five films being the top five highest-grossing films of the summer. What do they all have in common? The D word. They’re all Disney films. Looking back over the past ten years of summer movie box office, the number of Disney films in the top ten has been steadily rising, as they’ve hovered up properties ranging from Pixar to Marvel through to Star Wars. However, never has one studio threatened to dominate the summer blockbuster season to the totality that Disney could next year.
Looking at the release schedule, they’ve essentially guaranteed that for each month of the summer they’ll have the number one movie. Cinema attendances have notably declined over the years, as both the economy and changing viewing habits make themselves felt amongst cinemagoers. Subsequently, people have become choosier about the films that they’ll actually spend their hard-earned time and money to get out of the house and go see. Despite the competition and counter-programming in each month, it’s hard to see past the Disney films being the number one pick for families and couples. That’s before even taking into account the fact that 20th Century Fox films are now also the product of Disney, so you can add the X-Men film Dark Phoenix, scheduled for release in June, to that list. Oh yeah, and the long-awaited Artemis Fowl adaptation being released in August is a Disney film as well.
When the Disney takeover of 20th Century Fox was confirmed, many expressed their fears about the growing centralization of the film industry, and the extent to which Disney was establishing an imperious monopoly over all of our beloved entertainment. In the future of David Mitchell's book Cloud Atlas, films are referred to as Disneys. With smaller, art house films increasingly turning to Netflix and next summer’s slate looking so Disney-centric, that future has never felt closer to a reality.
However, there is hope. As well as the teasers for Toy Story 4, another trailer dropped this week. It garnered a huge reaction online, with people already expressing their love for its humour and visuals. It is the first live-action adaptation of a beloved property and has one of the more bankable Hollywood stars of the moment. It’s Pokémon: Detective Pikachu, which in my opinion is the only film that can disrupt Disney’s iron grip at the top of next year’s summer box office.
Released in the wake of the next Avengers film at the start of May, Detective Pikachu might seem to have a fight on its hands. But just look at how rapturous the reception was to its trailer, with over 46 million views across social media in the first 24 hours. Consider the hunger there is for a live-action Pokémon movie. And just go to your local park and see how many people are still playing Pokémon Go. This film has the potential to be absolutely huge and the sort of blockbuster hit with crossover appeal that Disney usually specializes in.
Sure there’s going to be a new Godzilla, Men in Black, Secret Life of Pets and Angry Birds, however none of those films look like standing shoulder to shoulder with the ones listed above. Detective Pikachu, on the other hand, is a whole different proposition. Distributed by Warner Brothers, its success could be far more necessary than people currently realize. If Pikachu smashes the box office, then there’ll be competition left in Hollywood yet.
By Movie Parliament Prime Minister,