You may have been unplugged from social media, hadn’t paid your cell phone bill, or laying unconscious in a ditch. Whatever state life found you over the past couple of months, you may have missed Avengers: Endgame is finally the king of the box office mountain.
If you ask the regular subjective nerd, Endgame is “the best movie ever!” Breaking News: It’s not.
Endgame was a fantastic movie and easily the greatest culmination of cinematic journey that has ever been made. That said, it’s not the best movie.
It’s easy to understand (or, at least, it should be) why. That is a subjective term — “best.” What is the measuring stick for a superlative like that? What is the standard it measures against? It depends what cinephile you ask these days…
- “I like a movie where the plot feels more like a journey and the characters are just part of the plan.”
- “My favorites revolve around the writing. Without an excellent script that unfolds a story, the stars in the movie can’t breathe.”
- “Films without a ever-present theme don’t work because the characters don’t have a path.”
- “Big-budget films have eradicated the art of moviemaking because there is no discovery — it’s all big stars, visual effects, and pointless surprises.”
- Great movies influence culture. From sound bites to memorable characters, a movie must impact the viewer to be outstanding.”
These are all direct quotes from some of the most influential critics in entertainment. If you’re honest, you should agree with one of them.
The interesting thing is not one of those quotes mentioned box office receipts.
Show Me the Money?
Over the years, many things have changed — the cost of living, inflation of movie tickets, streaming, downloads, merchandising, ability to watch more than one movie in a sitting, or even some asshat wasting his (parents’) life savings to see Endgame 114 times.
(Yes, really. Get a life, dude.)
Despite this influx of money to the economy and movie theaters taking advantage of
people… eh, free enterprise, one salient thing has remained — the love of watching movies.
For a cinephile, there is nothing like going to a movie in a theater. Reclining in that seat, watching the great trailers, enjoying the ambience, and clutching that soda and popcorn like it’s a Boba Fett action figure still in its original packaging. That considered, is it no surprise that out of the top 25 highest grossing films in American history, all but one have been released in the 21st century!
Think about some of the most celebrated and regaled films of all time. G’head, I’ll wait…
- Citizen Kane
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Godfather
- Schindler’s List
- 2001: A Space Odyssey
- The Deer Hunter
- Apocalypse Now
I could go on, and the AFI already has. Are any of those in the Top 100 movies in the history of ever? Two… two! That’s it. Only two of the highest grossing movies ever are in the top 100 “best” movies ever:
- The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (No. 50 AFI, No. 24 $1.119B) — 2003
- Titanic (No. 83 AFI, No. 3 $2.187B) — 1997
If money was the sole determinate for a movie as “best,” then here are some of the “best” movies of all time (drumroll, please):
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($2.068B)
- Jurassic World ($1.671B)
- Furious 7 ($1.516B)
- Iron Man 3 ($1.214B)
- Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon ($1.123B)
- Minions ($1.115B)
All sequels. All not even the best movie in their respective franchises. And those are the “best” movies of all time?! Please. If those are some of the best films of all times, then the Kardashians will win “Jeopardy”. Easily.
Hands raised of those who see that happening? No one? Okay, moving on. Point made.
Why Pick On Peter Parker?
While Spider-Man: Far From Home was a dazzling movie, a wonderful cinematic experience, and–as of the time of this write-up–has earned $1.036B at the box office, there is no way it can be considered one of the best movies of all time.
It’s not even in the Top 10 of CBMs in terms of profitability, may be in the Top 10 of CBMs in terms of popularity, but to others, it’s not even the best movie in the Spider-Man prehistory. Yet, when the latest Marvel movie crossed the billion-dollar threshold, nerds everywhere begin the planning “best-ever” parade routes and clamoring for a crown.
Did it reach an impressive achievement? Definitely. There is no discounting that benchmark. $1B tends to be new mark of “ultra-success” in the movie industry, largely thanks to the Disney Empire (e.g., Marvel, Lucasfilm, Fox, Disney).
This is a hurdle 98 percent of independent will never ever smell, let alone see on the horizon. There are some “big-budget” films, even summer blockbusters that don’t even reach half that mark, let alone, its own budget.
Do you know what Battlefield Earth, Ishtar, and Hudson Hawk have in common with The Shawshawk Redemption, Fight Club, and Blade Runner? None of them met their budget at Box Office. Think about that. Those colossal, fart-and-fall-down movies in the same snooty conversation as those movies. Uncanny.
So, to say, Spider-Man: Far From Home is one of the “best ever” is wrong, at the least (foolishness, at the most). More money was spent to watch it–and Avengers: Endgame —than close to all but 40 movies in history. That is something no one can take away from them, but there is something we should all stand back and learn:
Much like a mentalist and marvelous parent I know says to his children: “Say what you mean; Mean what you say.” If a movie is “the best,” understand emotions are attached to your words — always. If it’s the best, then quantify that. As we have proven, just because more people went to see it, doesn’t make it the king because all the shine in that crown is fool’s gold.
And just because that turns green doesn’t mean you can spend it, because for every The Last Jedi you can find, I can call it with an Annihilation. Every Skyfall can be matched with a Dune. And each Incredibles 2 can be topped with a gift, like It’s a Wonderful Life.
That’s show business, folks.