The record-breaking performance of "The Force Awakens," the new Star Wars sequel, demonstrates marketing's victory over creativity in the movie industry. Hollywood, however, isn't to blame: Because of the way we watch movies, the industry is increasingly dependent on a few enormous financial bets -- and sequels are the safest.
"The Force Awakens" grossed $238 million in the U.S. alone on its opening weekend, making it the fastest movie in history to make its first $100 million, $150 million and $200 million. Our family went, of course, and so probably did yours. Since Star Wars is a Disney franchise now, acquired for $4 billion, and the result was designed to recoup a big part of the investment.
As with its acquisition of the Marvel comic book universe, Disney's goal was to awaken as little outrage as possible among Star Wars fans, while at the same time driving merchandise sales with new characters such as the cute BB-8 robot. It's a marketing feat for business school students to study: "How to push the original creator aside and produce what the target audience wants."