In an age of increasingly familiar extended universes, individual films simply don’t have the same cultural impact as they did 20 years ago.
Twenty years ago few would have predicted that superhero franchises would become the dominant force in mainstream cinema, much less that a new Star Wars film would be a yearly tradition. But one upshot of this is that fewer and fewer individual releases capture the collective public imagination in the same way that movies like Jurassic Park, Independence Day and Titanic once did.
The move towards shared universes may have opened up the possibilities of serialised storytelling, but the conveyor-belt production of sequels, spin-offs and reboots has undoubtedly had a homogenising effect on Hollywood. Audiences have become atomised through targeted content marketing and online distribution, and as a result, the film industry has reshaped itself with a combination of niche releases and cross-media shared universes. In the current climate, the notion of the era-defining event movie feels increasingly obsolete.
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