So you want to make a movie -- a hit movie, no less -- in the 2010s, one that truly captures the zeitgeist of pop culture in the Tens?
Obviously, there's no formula.
But there are trends and common elements emerging in Tens cinema that might help you create that au courant blockbuster you dream of writing or directing!
Here are ten Tens trends that all should consider when making a new movie:
1. Have your characters use a bow-and-arrow. From indies to blockbusters, the bow-and-arrow is now the weapon of choice on screen. Technology has reverted to the age of the Sherwood Forest! The two top-grossing films of '12, Marvel's The Avengers and The Hunger Games, both make prominent use of archery. Even the independent film world has gotten on the bandwagon, with the flick We Need to Talk About Kevin, staging a (somewhat implausible) bow-and-arrow massacre at a school. Archery has become an essential element to 21st century films!
2. Give the movie a reality-TV component. Face it: reality TV is the newest genre in movies. Who knew that the great visionary of Tens cinema would turn out to be... Mark Burnett? After all, isn't The Hunger Games really a sort of "Survivor: Panem"? And check out the new Three Stooges feature film, in which Moe becomes a reality TV star! With Hunger Games sequels slated for the rest of the decade, expect this trend to grow.
3. Offend an underdeveloped country. Some of the biggest hits have (and you can, too!). Currently, The Avengers is angering some people in India who believe their nation is portrayed negatively on screen. And The Hangover, Part 2 is sharply irreverent toward aspects of Thai culture. Meanwhile, both Fast Five and Bridesmaids have been criticized for putting Brazil in a bad light. (And who knows what the people of the Republic of Wadiya will think of Sacha Baron Cohen's depiction of their proud nation in the upcoming The Dictator?) Many nations to choose from!
4. Show someone gargling/spitting. Though it's semi-repulsive to watch in real life, somehow it works onscreen. The King's Speech and Casino Jack are two notable recent movies to use gargling and spitting prominently.
5. Make sure a character or two is blue. The trend started with Avatar, of course, but has been carried forward by Megamind (and, outside of cinema, by those blue bears in the Charmin television commercials!). Truly, this might be the right time for a Huckleberry Hound feature!
6. Make a sequel.
Sure, the big franchises -- Harry Potter, Spider-Man, Iron Man, etc. -- make for natural, lucrative sequels. But think outside the blockbuster. What about making a follow-up to more modestly successful movies? How about Midnight in Paris 2, or The Vow 2? Or, The Artist: In the Land of the Talkies? Just follow the thread of a previous film to its logical conclusion.
7. Put a bunch of characters from various hit movies in the same film. A brand new trend that is likely to heat up, what with the mega-bucks being made by The Avengers. How long before there's a D.C. Comics version of The Avengers, putting Batman, Superman and Wonderwoman all in the same flick? And when will someone think to put Bella Swan (from the Twilight series) with Katniss Everdeen (of The Hunger Games) for a SuperYouth picture? Or perhaps the ensemble from The Hangover can do a party flick with the crowd from the American Pie series. Limitless possibilities!
8. Have the characters talk to themselves. Yes, The King's Speech took a great leap forward by suggesting that talking to yourself is actually healthy. Other recent films featuring people talking to themselves include Woody Allen's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, 127 Hours, Buried, Casino Jack and Olivier Dahan's My Own Love Song. Almost an epidemic.
9. Breach airport security! Bridesmaids obviously wins the Oscar for Best Violation of Airline Security (thanks to a hilariously drunk Kristen Wiig!). But the opening sequence of Due Date, in which a mistaken impression on a plane becomes very serious quickly, is a close second. In this era of pat-downs and security searches, audiences long to see someone break this very 21st century taboo.
10. Plot Confusion is a Must! What's going on in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, or Ghost Protocol, or John Carter, or Melancholia, or any number of other obscurely-plotted mainstream flicks? No moviegoer could possibly figure out what, say, "Tinker, Tailor..." is about based on seeing the film only once. Or even twice (with closed captioning!). Still, audiences watch such opaque flicks with rapt attention because they know something very intriguing must be going on. Must be. Right? Audiences assume they're just not getting it, when in fact the filmmakers may be using obfuscation to cover for a fizzled plot line. So if your storyline flops, go for obscurity instead!