Out of all movies previewed at this year's SXSW, it seems the top five films expected to make the strongest impact have an overly independent nature about them. Exceptions might be a remake of a once popular horror franchise and perhaps a new Tom Cruise sci-fi movie if he can survive his recent public drubbings. But even those two films might veer off in their own directions to a point where the mainstream features will start to look independent.
Of course, that's somewhat of the point to SXSW, even if a few major, mainstream hits have been previewed there before. It's the plots of the above films, though, that seem to be telling audiences that perhaps we won't be seeing connect-the-dot storylines all year long until the fourth quarter Oscar season. That more independent frame of mind might end up making most of the titles cult favorites on Blu-ray later rather than box office winners.
There couldn't be any better example than "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone", despite a terrific comedic cast. Signs are already emerging it won't do well at the box office. And that's with a slightly arched eyebrow due to the content about Vegas magicians being so overdue and so ripe for comedic potential.
Perhaps "Wonderstone" is only approachable for individuals who've been to Vegas to see those particular magicians. You can be sure it'll do better on Blu-ray, especially when extras are available to see how and why it was put together. It may also become a future cult favorite when audiences perhaps find out it was the last comedy Steve Carell made for a while before going serious.
The same thing above may happen to the brilliant Joss Whedon experiment of "Much Ado About Nothing", which was also previewed at SXSW. This low budget feature could become a sleeper, yet seems unlikely when most Shakespeare adaptations are generally reserved for a minority thoughtful crowd. In the end, however, it may be as watched on Blu-ray by adults as much as Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo and Juliet" has been by 20-somethings.
Then there's the prurient "Spring Breakers." This may be as indie as "Much Ado" due to James Franco's strange turn playing a gangster rapper. The film perhaps thinks it'll be a sweeping success because of the shockingly adult transformations of Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and other former teen starlets. Regardless, it may backfire because of that obviousness and end up becoming a cult favorite with those who also made "Project X" huge as 2012's most pirated DVD.
You could say the two films mentioned in the beginning will be wild cards. Sam Raimi's remake of the original "Evil Dead" is already an independent idea in the first place, considering the respect behind the 1981 original. Those older fans may shun the remake, and the younger set may stick to the usual franchises. That leaves the cult audiences who prefer something different in their horror films a la "The Cabin in the Woods."
What will happen to Tom Cruise's sci-fi thriller "Oblivion", though? Because it's halfway similar to the upcoming Will and Jaden Smith film "After Earth", it may be one of those delayed reaction films that shows its worth down the line rather than immediately. Cruise has already been there and done that after starring in forward thinking "Minority Report."
No matter what happens, all of the above is very independent thinking on Hollywood's part. May it stick around before the illogic comes back.
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