Hi, Answer B!tch! What's up with Hollywood's recent fascination with fairy tales? Grimm, Once Upon a Time and two Snow White movies? Is this trend on it's way out or is it just getting started?
—Kelly T., via Facebook
The fairy-tale genre is never leaving us, at least not as far as I can see in my crystal ball. In fact, stars ranging from Angelina Jolie and Kristen Stewart to Jeremy Renner and Emma Watson apparently plan to jump onto that bandwagon soon. Why, you ask? I mean, besides the very real pot o' gold at the end of their rainbow? Well:
That's pretty much it. It's the pot o' gold at the end of their rainbow.
Fairy-tale movies have a greater than average chance of making money. If producers are smart, fairy tales cost less to bring to the big screen, at least in the development and marketing stages.
"They're public domain, and the scripts are easy to generate," points out Wheeler Winston Dixon, the Ryan Professor of Film Studies, at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. "They're also pre-sold" because people know the story before the movie is even made. (You know how the Hunger Games people had to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to Suzanne Collins for the rights to her novel? You don't need to pay that to the Brothers Grimm, you know.)
Then, once the movies debut—if they're well-timed and halfway decent—producers can rake in plenty of lucre. Sure, the latest outing in the genre, Mirror Mirror, has cracked. But other movies have raked in quite the treasure: Disney's Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and others have become classics, of course. One could argue that Shrek, which lampoons fairy tales, counts, too.
"Family entertainment at the theaters—when the movie is good—does phenomenal box office," film distribution consultant Jerome Courshon tells this B!tch. "The reason? Not enough G-rated movies are made that parents can take their kids to."
And of course, there is the worldwide box office and merchandising cash to consider.
Finally, moviegoers really do love familiarity. And fairy tales provide plenty of it.
"Hollywood is always going to err on the side of the formula because part of said formula is box office results, or at least some vision into what could be results," says Eduardo A. Braniff, a marketer and film producer whose credits including Kissing Jessica Stein.
So what's next? Stewart and Theron, of course, will soon bring us Snow White and the Huntsman. Next year, look for Renner and Gemma Arterton in Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Hailee Steinfeld is attached to a new version of Sleeping Beauty, and Watson has been similarly linked to a re-imagining of Beauty and the Beast. As for Jolie, her own Sleepy Beauty tale, Maleficent, is currently in pre-production.
With all of these projects, there's one thing you can bet on, says Rachel Weingarten, a marketer who helped sell the Shrek franchise, among other projects.
"You know," she says "you're going to leave happy."
And producers are likely going to leave rich.