Wednesdays with Will: Entertainment’s Golden Goose

Over the last decade, “fantastical” storylines have dominated the entertainment industry. While science fiction, comic books and epic fantasy stories may have been reserved for “geeks” in previous generations, that’s not the case anymore. If you look at the top 5 most profitable films of all time, the most watched TV shows and some of the most important events in entertainment, the quintessential “geek culture” rules.

Since 2000, the most talked about entertainment pieces have each involved some element of fantasy. Major box office blockbusters such as Lord of the Rings (2001), Spider-Man (2002) and the Star Wars prequels (2002, 2005) comprised of stories threaded together by fantastical components. In fact, four out of the top five highest grossing films of all time have fantastical elements which are essential to their stories. (See chart below).

Our Space Top Grossing Movies

Chart based on data from http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

What caused this “geek culture” audience to explode and what has entertainment execs funneling hundreds of million of dollars into films, commercials and television shows to get a piece of any fantasy content they can get rights to? Perhaps the idea of a better world– one with superheroes, magic and other imaginative elements– provide a safe haven for audiences.

 

 

Fantastical elements offer more than entertainment—the heroes are the embodiment of hope, strength and perseverance. For generations, comics, graphic novels and books have influenced modern society.  The entertainment patterns lend some weight to the well-known theory that people need escapes when times are hard. Take 2002’s Spider-Man for example. The U.S. was still reeling from the events of September 11th, when the “friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man” landed in theaters. Spider-Man premiered at a perfect time to comfort audiences, coming out as the first summer block-buster of 2002. The film had the highest opening weekend until 2006 when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, another fantasy, took the crown.

Our Space Will C2E2

Fantastical elements aren’t limited to film. The appeal stands at the core of San Diego’s Comic Con International, one of the largest entertainment industry events, which has grown 1300% since its inception in 1970. Every studio from Universal, to Marvel, Fox and Sony has panels and booths set up to show that they understand the importance and impact of this audience.

Only time will tell if the entertainment industry will oversaturate the market over the next decade. During a time where economic problems attribute to high stress levels,  you can count on a devoted audience with viewers like me enjoying the comforts of another world—whether that be on the couch on a Sunday watching Game of Thrones (the most illegally downloaded show in the world), watching the next super hero save the world from imminent destruction in a theater or lying on the grass meeting old friends face to face in a comic.

Cover Photo Source: donaldmctim via Flickr
Photo Source 1: Box Office Mojo All Time Worldwide Grosses

 Wilhelm Lawrence is an Account Executive at SJG. He graduated from DePaul University in 2011 with a BA in Marketing and a BA in Management. The devious mind behind Wednesdays with Will, Will considers himself a jack of all trades whether that be sports enthusiasts, film guru or grand master of pop culture. Will always enjoys learning and stepping up to the challenges of the world we live in today.