‘Lightyear’ Minus Tim Allen Equals a Flop

Hollywood is in love with franchises, and the public enjoys them too.

When it comes to entertainment industry product, franchises oftentimes provide a safe harbor for execs in the risky day-to-day struggle to come up with new projects.

Hard to believe, but a major Disney franchise recently went down in flames. It’s the latest in the “Toy Story” series.

Yes, “Lightyear,” Disney-Pixar’s “Toy Story” spin-off is a dud.

The movie tanked at the box office, taking in only $50 million domestically in its first week. And the following week it took a 65 percent dive, earning less than $18 million.

With a production budget of $200 million, and an additional $100 million or so in marketing costs, Disney is likely looking at a significant loss, despite the fact that the film was thought to be a sure shot.

Franchise power, in the conventional sense, was shown in the box-office performance of prior sequel “Toy Story 4,” which took in a haul of $120 million in its first week.

Moviegoers definitely didn’t show the same love for “Lightyear.”

There are two major reasons for the film’s apparent failure.

1. If you want to draw “Toy Story” franchise fans, it’s not a good idea to ditch the guy who made Buzz Lightyear famous in all four previous “Toy Story” flicks.

That’s right. The filmmakers left actor Tim Allen out of the project, despite the fact that Allen’s voice is what madeBuzz buzz.

A lot of excuses have been given as to why Allen was cut out.

Claims were made that Allen’s voice was the film-version voice of a toy, and the voice of “Captain America” actor Chris Evans is the film-version voice of a supposed living, breathing, real-life Buzz.

However, plenty of folks sense that politics are at play. That’s because fans of Allen’s successful “Last Man Standing” sitcom remember all too well that Disney-owned ABC inexplicably canceled the show at a time when it was still popular with the public.

“Lightyear”’s Evans-for-Allen swap prompted a number of celebrities to take to social media and express their chagrin over the decision.

– “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Patricia Heaton used her Twitter account to post, “Disney/Pixar made a HUGE mistake in not casting my pal Tim Allen. Tim Allen in the role that he originated, the role that he owns. Tim IS Buzz! Why would they completely castrate this iconic, beloved character?”

– Tom Hanks, who voiced Buzz Lightyear’s sidekick Woody in previous films, entered the fray via a CinemaBlend interview that was posted on the publication’s Instagram account. The actor discussed how his film “Elvis” hit theaters at the same time as “Lightyear.”

“I actually wanted to go head-to-head with Tim Allen and then they didn’t let Tim Allen do it,” Hanks said. “I don’t understand that.”

Allen revealed that quite a while back he had been in on discussions about the “Lightyear” concept, but the new spin-off didn’t have the same filmmakers involved as the original.

“We talked about this many years ago,” Allen said, and he remarked at the time, “What a fun movie that would be.”

He explained, “But the brass that did the first four movies is not [the same one]… this is a whole new team that had nothing to do with the first movies.”

2) A big reason for “Lightyear”’s tepid response is the unmistakable woke-influence. Inserted in an animated movie for children is a same-sex kiss.

The scene has resulted in “Lightyear” being banned in many locales that have typically welcomed Disney films, including the countries of Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

It seems as though Disney has been on a self-destructive course. There have been a series of decisions that have led the public to believe that the company wants to shed its family-friendly brand.

Guess we can just chalk it up to one more thing we thought we’d never see –Mickey’s smile turned upside down.

Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ Misses the Mark

Remakes of iconic films are rarely able to match, or even come close to, the level of artistry, entertainment value, and outright magic of their original movie counterparts.

This hasn’t stopped New Hollywood from continuing to give it a try.

Steven Spielberg is the most recent one to have a go at it. Just released is Spielberg’s remake of directors Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s 1961 enduring musical film classic “West Side Story” (music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim).

Spielberg may be wishing that he had chosen a different flick to try and reconfigure. The legendary director’s remake, which bears the original’s same name, has come up short at the box office.

The film’s estimated take for its debut weekend is around $10 million, despite its having had a production budget of about $100 million and a likely larger marketing cost. Expectations for its opening weekend had been as high as twice that amount.

Filmmaking is, of course, a uniquely collaborative art. It typically involves a large team of creative individuals who work together on a singular cinematic goal.

Sometimes everything comes together to create the perfect piece of entertainment art. That’s what happened with the original “West Side Story.” It is one of those rarities where all cinematic cylinders were fired up at peak levels.

The story by Arthur Laurents sublimely meshes with Bernstein’s musical compositions and Sondheim’s lyrics, creating a beautiful framework from which the Shakespearean inspired tale takes flight.

All things work in concert, including the impeccable casting, choreography, and screen presentation, which at the time resulted in the film’s winning 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

The plot revolves around the lives of two teenagers who are madly in love with one another. Tragically, though, each one has an allegiance to family and friends of a different ethnicity and gang affiliation.

The inter-rivalry between the gangs is fierce, and they are continuously at odds with one another in an ongoing effort to dominate the New York City neighborhood.

In Spielberg’s remake, creators made what I consider to be a storytelling error that tends to worsen over the course of a movie-making process; that being, creators appear to have allowed an agenda to take precedence over fundamental artistry.

In other words, it looks as if the message derailed the medium.

In the remake of any iconic film, a mistake such as this may prove to be very troublesome. Here’s why.

In the remaking process, it is extremely important that deference to the original film be taken. This is because a classic movie has permeated society to such a degree that it has become an integral part of our shared cultural experience.

In the Spielberg version of “West Side Story,” the underlying storyline, song lyric content, and personality traits of some of the characters were significantly changed. This appears to have been done in an effort to comply with an invisible mandate contained within the film’s agenda of preference.

To compound matters, certain scenes are much less accessible, particularly for viewers who are not bilingual in English and Spanish languages. Portions of the film are actually in Spanish language only; however, there are no subtitles included, which many audiences have come to expect in such cases, and/or individual scenes.

Spielberg shared an explanation for the decision regarding language. He told IGN that the choice of not using subtitles in any of the Spanish speaking scenes was “out of respect for the inclusivity of our intentions to hire a totally Latinx cast to play the Sharks’ boys and girls.”

He also indicated that the decision was made to avoid an inequity that might be created if a language became over-empowered.

“If I subtitled the Spanish I’d simply be doubling down on the English and giving English the power over the Spanish,” he said.

Here are more ways in which the remaking process, minus the proper deference to the original, may be creating trouble for the reboot.

The late Natalie Wood, who was not of Puerto Rican descent, famously portrays Maria in the original film. Creators of the remake, likely in an effort to avoid the criticism of “cultural appropriation,” cast a Colombian American named Rachel Zegler as Maria.

Despite the apparent attempts to gain favor from those who subscribe to the tenets of the remake’s preferred agenda, the film is being slammed anyway for its ethnic insensitivity.

“I have an issue with Hollywood once again fumbling the easiest of opportunities to elevate a Puerto Rican actress. They seem to think that as long as the actors are Hispanic, that’s enough,” Daily Beast Assistant Managing Editor Mandy Velez wrote.

In terms of the music, many folks vividly remember the song “Gee, Officer Krupke,” the cleverly choreographed performance contained in the original film,

In Spielberg’s remake, the scene that contains this song and performance has unfortunately been twisted into an anti-police presentation. The setting is the 21st Precinct of the New York City Police Department, and it is here that members of the Jets proceed to mock the police and wreak havoc on the facilities.

Lyrics to the iconic “America” tune are altered as well. The snappy back-and-forth between Anita and boyfriend Bernardo about whether the U.S. is a good or bad place to live has been contorted into a flat lyric with no measurable zing.

Ditto for the original Rita Moreno scene-stealing performance. The remake seems to have put it through a redacting machine.

On a Moreno side note, the enduring star is also an executive producer of the remake, and she definitely provides some bright spots in the dull new version. She portrays a character that wasn’t in the original’s cast, Valentina, who is a widow that runs her store while simultaneously dispensing sage advice.

Too bad Doc, the “conscience” character of the original film, was left on the cutting room floor.

Other problems in Spielberg’s revised version include a lack of chemistry between lead characters Maria and Tony. This perhaps is partially due to a loss of an idealism that the original contains, as well as an innocence that is manifested by the characters.

All the seemingly forced alterations in the reboot simply don’t work. And one of the worst things about it is that this happened to a film that is considered by many to be the best movie musical in all of cinematic history.

I’ve been thinking, though, that the lackluster reboot might have the effect of bringing a whole new generation back to the movie experience of the real deal.

Young people could enjoy it with their moms and dads and grandmas and gramps, who in their drama club days sang and danced to the high school musical of their times, the original “West Side Story.”

Viewers Show Their Christmas Love for ‘The Chosen’

Dallas Jenkins, filmmaker son of “Left Behind” series author Jerry Jenkins, is the creator of the streaming series “The Chosen,” which is the first multi-season series that focuses on the life of Jesus Christ.

The series has become a global phenomenon. It currently holds the record for being the highest crowd-funded project of all time.

Its devoted audience has funded $40 million in crowd-funding financing to date, which has facilitated the production of two full seasons of programming.

The number of viewers of “The Chosen” keeps growing exponentially, thanks to the series’ multiple streaming platforms and its very own app.

The New Testament project has been translated into 50 languages and has made its way into the world’s top entertainment app list.

The success of “The Chosen” has resulted in an upgrade of the project’s production facilities, allowing future filming of the upcoming third season to take place with a historically accurate set design, one that sits on 900 acres in Midlothian, Texas.

The series is available on the app with no fee or subscription required. The opportunity for viewers to voluntarily “pay it forward” is provided via crowd-funding at the conclusion of the screening.

Plans for the series to continue for seven full seasons is in the works, allowing for a full exploration of all aspects of the life and ministry of Jesus.

Part of the uniqueness of the approach that has been taken by the creators of “The Chosen” series has to do with the emotionally relatable characters that are featured in their cinematic story lines.

Bible believing Christians adhere to the doctrine that Jesus is both human and divine.

While still staying true to Scripture, Jenkins and company have focused more heavily on Christ’s humanity. This is in contrast with what many of their predecessor filmmakers have done.

“The No. 1 word that we put on our wall, the banner across everything we do, is ‘authenticity,’” Jenkins says. “So many past Bible projects telling Jesus’ story have been a little stiff, maybe a cleaned up, sanitized version of the story. We desperately seek to pursue a portrayal that’s as authentic as possible.”

For the role of Jesus, Jenkins went with an actor that he had used before, Jonathan Roumie. Having been raised in the Greek Orthodox Church and being a convert to the Roman Catholic faith, Roumie is highly knowledgeable about the Gospel story.

He had played Jesus in a touring multi-media project about the life of Saint Faustina called “Faustina: Messenger of Divine Mercy.” He had additionally played the role of Jesus in a short film by Jenkins, titled “The Two Thieves.”

As we move further into the Christmas season, the timing is perfect for a remembrance celebration of the birth of the holy infant. It is also a welcomed time to experience a cinematic retelling of the time-honored Christmas story, particularly a retelling that is respectful in its presentation. And the following one truly is.

Multiplying the joy of the season, the producers of “The Chosen” have created an additional stand-alone big-screen movie titled “Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers.”

The recent Christmas feature contains the same high-level production value and powerful storytelling as that of “The Chosen” series, which pleases devotees of the initial project as well as others in the movie-going public who are seeking to escape the darker and more cynical movie fare that poses as holiday entertainment.

The Christmas edition of “The Chosen” has broken yet another record by becoming the bestselling movie in the history of its distributor, Fathom Events, with $8 million for 640,000 tickets in 1,700 movie theaters nationwide.

Fathom, which has been going strong for 17 years, is the 11th largest distributor of content to movie theaters.

In the lead-up to the box-office event, $1.5 million in tickets were sold during the first 12 hours of availability. As a result, the original 2-day run had to be expanded to 10-days.

On a musical note, “Christmas with the Chosen: The Messengers” is loaded with performances by an all-star roster of contemporary Christian music performers that include For King & Country, Phil Wickham, We The Kingdom, Matt Maher, Maverick City Music, Brandon Lake, Cain, Leanna Crawford, Jordan Feliz, Dawson Hollow, One Voice Children’s Choir, The Bonner Family, and Bryan and Katie Torwalt.

The music component of the film culminates in an epic performance of “Joy to the World,” featuring a collaboration of star musicians playing and singing the venerable hymn.

May all enjoy this miraculous time of the year when Earth receives her King.

‘Charlie’s Angels’ Takes a Box-office Tumble

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When it comes to box office, Hollywood’s latest remake of an iconic TV classic recently experienced a fall from grace.

The latest “Charlie’s Angels” reboot has studio executives scratching their heads in search of an explanation as to how a popular franchise with a name director, notable cast, and $50 million production budget could fail to attract a decent-sized audience.

“Wokeness” in today’s left-tilted culture is the overarching theme that is mandating current PC standards. The hyper-liberal ideology is so accepted by Hollywood’s mainstream community it makes even the savviest power players repeatedly muck things up, financially and otherwise.

Shoehorning far-left politics into what are supposed to be entertainment projects, Hollywood studios are continuing the pattern of releasing loser reboots, prequels, sequels, and the like, including “Ghostbusters,” “Men in Black,” “The Last Jedi,” and “Terminator: Dark Fate.”

The reason the “Charlie’s Angels” franchise was viewed by insiders as a viable project for a reboot in the first place was its long track record of success. It all began with a hit television series that starred Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson.

Fawcett lost her super hero battle with cancer in 2009. But at the height of her award winning career, she was a genuine cultural phenomenon, the pin-up girl of her era, setting trends for everything from a hairstyle that in modified form would live on to this day to a poster that would adorn bedroom walls and locker doors in untold numbers. The wildly popular “Charlie’s Angels” TV show dominated the airwaves from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, garnering consistently high ratings. However, there was an innocent charm to the show that would be lost in the revisions to come.

As studios are so often prone to do, the television series became repackaged, and it emerged as a “Charlie’s Angels” movie in 2000, starring Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore, and Lucy Liu in the lead roles. The film debuted with a $40 million box office.

In 2003, Diaz, Barrymore, and Liu teamed up for a sequel, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle,” which took in almost $38 million in its first weekend. Left-wing propagandists had not yet infiltrated entertainment content to the degree that would ultimately come to fruition.

So here we are sixteen years after the “Charlie’s Angels” sequel. Sony brings in Elizabeth Banks to direct, star, and write, partially due to her successful directorial debut with Universal’s “Pitch Perfect 2,” but perhaps more importantly, for her having expressed her desire to redo “Charlie’s Angels” with a feminist overlay.

Opening up with a dismal $8.6 million box-office take, the current iteration of “Charlie’s Angels” makes it clear that the filmmaker had a different goal than that of making an entertaining action movie.

A montage of images from the world-over, featuring young women of supposed power, is meant to convey to movie-goers that they are in for something other than your average everyday cinematic diversion.

An opening scene features Kristen Stewart’s character subduing a male villain after he makes dastardly sexist remarks to her.

In a recent profile in WSJ Magazine, Banks evidently felt a need to highlight the film’s feminist bona fides, saying, “You’ve had 37 Spider-Man movies and you’re not complaining! I think women are allowed to have one or two action franchises every 17 years — I feel totally fine with that.”

However, “Charlie’s Angels” features a number of anemic action scenes, which end up being a major disappointment to viewers who came to see something more than an insipid “You go girl!” after-school special.

Even the hit song from the film, titled “Don’t Call Me Angel,” which features Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, and Lana Del Ray, couldn’t put viewers in theater seats.

The Hollywood Reporter extolled “Charlie’s Angels” for “unapologetically raising a feminist flag, championing female friendships and subtly making a point about the urgency of the ongoing climate crisis.”

That pretty much says it all, spelling it out in big bold letters why the November 2019 film turns out to be such a turkey.

‘Overcomer’ Lights Up the Box Office

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Executives at Sony Pictures and its faith-based unit Affirm are no doubt elated over the box-office performance of the big-screen release “Overcomer.”

Alex and Stephen Kendrick’s most recent film opened in 1,700 theaters this past weekend and brought in a higher than expected $8.2 million, the third largest opening for a movie from the faith-based filmmaker brothers.

The film secured a third place slot in the weekend box-office line-up, just behind the major studio releases “Angel Has Fallen” and “Good Boys.”

Surprisingly, “Overcomer” took in more than $3 million on its first day, with its best box-office showings being in theaters located in the Midwest and the South.

It is the Kendrick brothers’ sixth movie outing, and all of their films have been solidly in the faith-based genre. The current film’s opening numbers are actually higher than those of “Fireproof,” the movie in which the Kendrick brothers partnered with Kirk Cameron.

“Fireproof” ultimately garnered $33 million in total box-office revenue. If “Overcomer” is able to come close to reaching this figure, the profit margin will be enormous since the production cost is reportedly a modest $5 million.

“Overcomer” brings a tear-inducing tale to the big-screen, not only because there is a poignancy that underlies a portion of the story line, but also because the Kendricks have become adept at creating through their filmmaking artistry scenes that convey the universal emotions experienced on the journey from despair to hope, waywardness to redemption, and isolation to love.

High school basketball coach John Harrison, played by Alex Kendrick, is forced to deal with the loss of his team, but Principal Olivia Brooks, played by Priscilla C. Shirer, gives him a new assignment, albeit a less desirable one, that of coach of the cross-country team.

Harrison soon discovers that the cross-country “team” consists of a mere single member, a young girl named Hannah, portrayed by Aryn Wright-Thompson, who among other challenges in her life also suffers from asthma.

In getting to know Hannah, viewers come to find out that she had been told that her father, having succumbed to drug addiction years ago, left her in the care of her grandmother. Hannah has since grown to be an introverted person, yet one who has a compulsion to steal what doesn’t belong to her.

In her mind, Hannah believes that her father is dead. In reality, however, the man she will come to know as her dad lies in a hospital bed, stricken with diabetes and complete visual impairment. Coach Harrison acts as the bridge to the healing of this relationship and so much more. In ways unexpected and uplifting, a miraculous new life is in store for Hannah.

The film critic community has unfortunately panned the movie, as is often the case with faith-based fare. The movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes shows “Overcomer” with a paltry 38% rating. Critics predictably slammed the film, calling it “religious propagandizing,” “churchy,” and an “extended sermon.”

Another movie review aggregator Metacritic gave the film a rating of 17 out of 100, which according to the site indicates “overwhelming dislike.”

Interestingly, moviegoers have a distinctly different take. Those who viewed the film gave it a rare highest rating of “A+.” On average, two films a year earn the coveted A+ CinemaScore rating. Alex Kendrick is now the second director in history to have had three different films merit the score, the other director being Rob Reiner.

One remarkable back story to this film is worth noting. Not uncommon for believers who seek careers in the entertainment business, actor Cameron Arnett, who plays Hannah’s father, had to walk away from Hollywood in order to eventually be led back to a career in faith-based films.

Arnett was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and has starred in some high-profile television series including “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Meet the Browns.”

Arnett’s plans were fundamentally altered, though, when just prior to signing a contract, he was asked if he would be willing to appear in a project while partially clothed.

“Hollywood told me that in order for you to be an actor, you have to do partial body nudity, and I had to choose career or Christ,” Arnett said in a Facebook Live interview with Miami pastor Diego Calderon. “And I chose Christ, but when I did, I lost everything.”

Arnett found himself alone, as in his words, “Agents left. Everybody left. Friends left. I was left behind by the world and by everything that I had.”

Years later he decided to try acting again, this time choosing projects that reflect his deeply held beliefs, all of which culminated in an injection of new life into his career.

Arnett’s path led him to portray an essential character in “Overcomer” and graced him with the opportunity to be a contributor to the film’s success.

Looking out on the Hollywood horizon, the hope is that more stories of miracles that embody truth and light await a thirsting audience.

Liberal Rants Aren’t Silencing ‘Lion King’’s Box-office Roar

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Editors at the Washington Post recently made the inane decision to publish the radical ramblings of Dan Hassler-Forest, assistant professor in the Media Studies Department of Utrecht University, which is located in the Netherlands.

In an entertainment world that produces excessively violent, sexually aggressive, and politically correct product to the max, Hassler- Forest makes the nonsensical assertion that the plot line of Disney’s current iteration of “The Lion King” is a fable that is riddled with fascist ideology.

“The Lion King” is a photorealistic computer-animated remake of Disney’s conventionally animated 1994 film of the same name. The movie’s plot line revolves around a young lion named Simba, who struggles to accept his place as the rightful king of his nation after his father Mufasa is murdered by his uncle named Scar.

Because the story involves a monarchy in which lions comprise a ruling class, Hassler-Forest concludes that the film depicts “a society where the weak have learned to worship at the feet of the strong.” Hassler-Forest also contends that the movie “presents a seductive worldview in which absolute power goes unquestioned and the weak and the vulnerable are fundamentally inferior.”

Using Hassler-Forest’s argument as a basis, one would have to conclude that a vast majority of folk legends, fairy tales, and classic fables featuring kings, queens, princes, and princesses will eventually be forced to face the chopping block.

In addition to the Washington Post piece, the metropolitan media critic community is generally slamming “The Lion King,” giving it a dismal 55% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes aggregation website. Critics thumbing their respective noses at the movie include those from the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, and NPR.

Despite the Washington Post’s hit piece and the critics’ jabs at “The Lion King,” the public is giving it a whole lot of love, grading the film with an A rating on CinemaScore and additionally making it a record-breaking blockbuster at the box office.

“The Lion King” has taken the record for a July opening, with $185 million gross, an amount that not only outperforms pre-release forecasts but also bests the previous July record holder, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” which took in more than $169 million. The movie is also the second largest debut of the year so far, trailing behind only one film, “Avengers: Endgame.” “The Lion King” reboot has additionally topped another Disney live-action remake, “Beauty and the Beast.”

The idea for the story on which “The Lion King” is based first arose during a conversation between senior executive Roy E. Disney (son of Disney co-founder Roy O. Disney), Dreamworks co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, and first president of Disney Animation Peter Schneider. (The conversation took place in the late 1980s on a plane to Europe to promote “Oliver & Company,” an early Disney animated musical film adaptation of Charles Dickens’s “Oliver Twist.”)

As “The Lion King” idea was being developed, Katzenberg added his own thematic material involving coming of age and death, and some ideas from his own personal life experiences. Katzenberg has stated that “The Lion King” “is a little bit about myself.”

Although he may be a died-in-the-wool liberal and has had his share of rotten political ideas, Katzenberg is no fascist.

The new live action reboot of the film seems to have been packaged so that it would escape the unfavorable judgments of left-wing gatekeepers. It features a predominantly African-American cast, with a story that takes place in Africa. The voices in the film include those of Donald Glover, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Alfre Woodard, John Kani, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, and James Earl Jones, who reprises his role of Mufasa from the original film.

It is preposterous that these celebrities would become involved with a movie that had fascistic undertones. The same for Elton John, who along with Tim Rice wrote several evergreen tunes for the original animated version and have contributed a new song for the reboot titled “Never Too Late.”

Thankfully, moviegoers are not buying the whole fascist meme. They are, however, expressing their delight with Disney’s fanciful remake by buying tickets in droves.

Superheroes Save Hollywood’s 2018 Box Office

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After a great deal of handwringing, Hollywood is breathing a sigh of relief.

The 2018 box office showed growth, and the movie business owes its positive performance to an aggregate of superhero films.

After hyper-anxiety over the possibility that streaming entertainment was going to kill the movie theater business, Hollywood ended up raking in a record $11.9 billion in revenue last year.

The 2018 domestic box office was up 7 percent over 2017 as well as being up 4 percent when compared to 2016. The audience has grown, and although the actual number of tickets sold remains below the high mark that was set in 2002, attendance for 2018 was higher than the previous year by 4 percent.

With more than 26 percent of all domestic box-office revenue in 2018, Disney commands an unprecedented portion of the market share. CEO Bob Iger’s strategy of buying franchises and rights to superhero characters paid off enormously, and the company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Disney’s share of the market is likely to increase in 2019, with the planned release of another “Star Wars” film and the fourth and supposedly final “Avengers” movie, as well as two animated features and three live-action versions of classic Disney tales.

Based on the 2018 box-office performance, filmgoers can expect movie studios to continue to deliver two predictable types of entertainment product in 2019: 1) additional sequels; and 2) more cinema that features costumed crusaders with super-human powers.

Of the top five box-office films of the year, four were superhero films, and amazingly the ten highest-grossing films of 2018 were either superhero movies, sequels, or both.

The top film of 2018 was the superhero offering “Black Panther,” which earned over $700 million domestically making it the third highest-grossing movie in the history of cinema. Following close behind was another superhero flick, “Avengers: Infinity War.”

The biggest take from last year’s ticket revenue arrived courtesy of the superhero genre, with four out of the top five films bringing in more than $2.3 billion. The “Spider-Man” spin-off “Venom” and “Ant-Man and The Wasp” hauled in another combined $429 million. The newly released “Aquaman” and “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” added an additional combined $300 million to last year’s superhero gross.

The enduring success of comic book characters that come to life begs the question: What is it about these superhero movies that draws people to the multiplex?

Family films pay the bills for Hollywood, and since parents are on an eternal quest for places to take their little ones, superhero films provide a relatively wholesome type of fare that adults and appropriately-aged children are able to enjoy together.

That the superhero phenomenon has become so deeply ingrained into the fabric of our culture suggests something more significant is occurring within the public consciousness. People instinctively long for stories in which moral tensions in plot lines are ultimately resolved in a fundamentally fair manner. Similar to the mythological gods of antiquity, superheroes possess powers and abilities that can rectify unjust situations. Superheroes also travel through storylines in which forces of good and evil have clearly marked boundaries and good generally triumphs over evil. In this fanciful realm, the universe is ordered and stability secured.

The successful releases in the superhero category typically feature characters with extraordinary powers, who, as they go about saving the world, must deal with ordinary relatable problems. When superhero characters possess an aura of authenticity, the stories surrounding them communicate a sense of hope that problems can be solved and obstacles overcome.

A study that took place in Kyoto, Japan, published in January 2017, explored attitudes of very young children toward heroic characters.

Six-month-old infants were presented with animations that depicted a character bumping into another character while a third onlooker watched from a distance. The onlooker intervened in one version and in a second version ran away.

When the infants were given the opportunity to select a real life replica of the intervening character or non-intervening character, the young subjects were more likely to choose the intervening character as opposed to the one who ran away.

The findings of the research indicate that pre-verbal six-month-old infants are able to recognize heroism, suggesting that the ability to identify a hero is an innate one.

This innate human attraction to heroism has been capitalized upon by the motion picture industry and explains, in part, the omnipresence of superhero characters in movies. Hollywood executives will soon debut even more superhero films. Scheduled for release in 2019 are Disney’s “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” and Fox’s X-Men sequel, “Dark Phoenix.”