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Saturday, December 27, 2014

Day 670: How to Make a Box Office Hit

Think about some of the most popular movies you know - most of them involve very specific patterns and storylines, like
  • Main character = hero
  • Damsel in distress / love interest
  • Action scenes
  • Something happens to break up the lovers
  • Main character and love interest go through some sort of trial and re-affirm their love in the end
  • Action scenes
  • Sex/sensual scenes (optional)
  • Hero overcomes some kind of hardship
  • Hero is very likeable and good at everything he/she does
  • Action scenes
  • Good visual effects are a bonus
The idea for this post came from  a discussion with a friend who had recently watched all the Harry Potter movies - she pointed out a side of the movies that I hadn't considered, a side that most of us probably haven't considered:
  • His mother died protecting him with unconditional love, which continues to protect him in all the movies
  • Harry's family is not his real family (hardship, he starts off as being unwanted and unloved - symbolism for how many people feel at some point in their lives - also that he "doesn't fit in" - another common feeling in the world)
  • He suddenly finds out that he is extremely wealthy (everyone's dream)
  • He turns out to not only be a wizard, but the most special wizard in the world of magic - The Boy Who Lived
  • He is a great athlete, the youngest ever to join the team
  • He is never punished for breaking the rules when he's is "saving the day" and is actually rewarded points
These are only some aspects, I am sure that there are more. Consider how all of these things play on so many common feelings and desires within us - we are given a smorgasbord of blissful fantasies. Everyone wants to be more special than everyone else. Everyone wants to be so with an heir of humbleness and competence. Everyone wants to be that lucky.

So many movies rely on emotional manipulation in order to ensnare their viewers and get them emotionally invested in the film - this is a sure way to get people to spend money. Emotional manipulation can happen as much in a romance as it does in an action movie - the point is that the movie elicits specific emotions and feelings from people and cause a kind of a rift between their fantasy world and the real world. The fantasy world consists of all the things you have seen and want to experience, whether that desire is "rational" or "irrational" - let's face it, these days most of it is irrational. The things we see in movies, magazines and even in everyday life is very seldom a true reflection of reality. It's really no wonder that psychological disorders consisting of people "losing touch with reality" are increasing exponentially. The fact is that we are fed all of these fairytales without the knowledge or skill to assess what is real and what is not, and then to help ourselves out of our self-created delusions.

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