First of all, I’m not a filmmaker. I have a very layman’s understanding of lighting and camera angles. But I do enjoy good movies. Mostly great ones. I’ve seen more “great” movies than the average person.
But I’m not advising on the greats. This is a general guideline to making movies in 2017. Most importantly, movies that sell. You want to reel in those box office dollars. So without any further ado, here are five things to keep in mind:
1. Find a franchise that already exists
Nothing says sale like a long-awaited sequel. Especially to something that was done in the 80s or 90s. Nostalgia is your friend and commodity. People love things that already exist, so it’s best to contribute to something in that range. Or, you could resurrect an old franchise with a good-new-fashioned reboot. It’s always interesting to remake a story with the same elements, but a different cast. That way your movie serves as a reminder, rather than something random or completely out of the blue. That’s what you want to give your audience as a visionary: reminders. And plots that reinforce that: let’s find out how Voldemort went bad. Or what Han Solo was like growing up. What happened five seconds before the beginning of Star Wars? A two-hour backstory might clear that up.
2. Use Superheroes (with cameos)
That’s a given. Supers sell. Especially reboots and sequels. Make sure you follow the carefully constructed algorithm of introducing a not-so-average Joe or Jane who has to balance power with personal responsibility. And a power-hungry villain who wants to punish humanity for its sins. Or convince the hero that the world “isn’t worth saving”. Since the trope has been successful countless times, it gives you a basic formula to work with. Make one and then plan another superhero story right after. Followed by a backstory to one of the sidekicks. Have them branch off and create a Netflix show. And then have all the characters reunite for another superhero movie.
3. Find A-List Actors
Get them to play your superheroes and reboot characters. Or else have the A-List character serve as a wise mentor for the new, up-and-coming star. Batman teaches the League. Who better than Ben Affleck? Iron Man teaches Spiderman: Robert Downey Jr. Han Solo teaches Finn: Harrison Ford. Deckard (Ford) teaches ??? in Blade Runner 2049: throw Ryan Gosling in there. He’s pretty familiar. Familiarity, like nostalgia, breeds content. It’s better to pick someone we’ve seen a hundred times, rather than someone we’ve seen only two or three.
4. CGI Beautification
Nothing looks better than video games. You want to give your movie an authentic video-game look to it. Spectacle speaks very loud. Much more than substance. So blow shit up. Blow big shit up. And when filming locations, use some of the most exotic green screen you can possibly find. You know what looks better than one spaceship blowing up: two blowing up simultaneously. Have it in 3D.
5. DON’T Take Risks
This one’s incredibly important. Go by the Star Wars example: if you want your film to make money, take an incredibly safe approach to it. Do everything that “fans” love and appeal to a specific, well-tuned formula that doesn’t venture too far. Have the action right here and the humor right there. DO NOT do something that you wouldn’t see in every other modern success. Replication is crucial. With a franchise you’ve already got your source material, so you don’t have to go through the arduous process of trying to think of something kind of…er…different. Use things in your movie that look exactly like other things in other movies. Or else, in the case of reboots, point your audience back to what they loved about the original. Every five minutes. That way the familiarity sticks and your movie doesn’t risk becoming authentic. Risk is the enemy.