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Now that BuzzFeed has sufficiently memorialized the '90s, it's time to start incessantly whining about how totally flawless the 2000s were -- starting with the movies. We had a Spider-Man series that was 66.6 percent not-shit, Peter Jackson wasn't phoning in an all-CGI Middle Earth, and the Joker wasn't spending thousands of burnable rake on sick nihilism tats. Not to mention that going to the theater didn't equate to watching the same characters get blown and rebooted more times than a Super Nintendo.

So what in the balls happened? After some thoughtful digging (Googling box office numbers while drinking Black Velvet Cinnamon Rush), I've discovered the ground zero of this explosion of desperate spinoffs and remakes ... and it's the same culprit who taught a generation of Satanists that magic was real. That's right: Harry Potter And The Gradually Diminishing Whimsy is to blame. Here's how your favorite kid wizard cursed us to decades of crappy cinematic franchises.

The 2000s Were A Great Time To Be A Giant Fantasy Franchise

Warner Bros.

If it's not too much, take a gander at all the top-grossing films per year from 1988 to 1998:

The Numbers
It was a big decade for the "resourceful orphan kicks ass" genre.

Notice anything? Before 1999, we didn't really have active franchises hitting it huge at the box office. For the most part, the highest-earning films came and went as single stories -- eventually followed up with a sequel (or four) years later that never made as much money as the original. Then hit 1999, and this happened ...

The Numbers
The only non-derivative movies are "Pixarized French storybook" and "every movie ever, but with blue cats."

The aughts began an era in which sequels actually mattered. Star Wars, Spider-Man, The Dark Knight, Shrek, and Pirates emerged as top dogs, and other butt-destroying series like Lord Of The Rings, the Bournes, and The Matrix were not far behind. For one reason or another, the fantasy/sci-fi trilogy slowly began to engulf Hollywood. This made a seven-part book series like Harry Potter the Burrito Supreme of all money hogs. When the fairy dust cleared, Warner Bros. had made a nation-buying $7 billion in a decade from those itty snake-murdering scamps.

Warner Bros.
And they couldn't spare a few hundred bucks for scar-removing surgery for the main actor? For shame.

And what's more, Warner Bros. would also spend that decade making a king's ransom on films that were also good, if not future classics. Directors like Christopher Nolan, Peter Jackson, the Wachowskis, and Alfonso Cuaron boosted WB to surpass $2 billion in overseas box office dinero by 2004. The Brothers Warner were more slick, high, and mighty than Dumbledore on a cocaine-fueled alpine slide. But much like all blow-related excursions, the comedown is a beast ...

Studios Are Unable To Downsize Once They're On Top

Warner Bros.

I know how much you guys love looking at numbers, so here's a bunch more:

The Numbers
Aww, yeah. That's the stuff.

That's a list of Warner Brother's top-grossing films of all time ... which is almost exclusively Harry Potter or Batman films from that sweet spot between 2001 and 2012. Since then, these Animaniacs-harborers have completely run out of billion-dollar franchises. And while that sounds like nothing to cry about, considering all the money that was made from said billion-dollar franchises, remember that the studio system is one that constantly treads water when it comes to finance. It's why we've had the same studios since the '50s, and why the expected profit growth of the industry is at 0.6 percent. In other words: Making movies isn't all that profitable, because of how hard the system is to sustain.

It's like running a circus exclusively comprised of juggling elephants. Along with maintaining and feeding them, you have to hope that the public will never get sick of seeing your large mammals get debased for their entertainment. That means competing with all the other companies specializing in humiliating grassland beasts. Suddenly, you have to buy bigger and flashier elephant-sized juggling hats than everyone else -- and so the growth becomes exponential.

Den of Geek, The Hollywood Reporter
In both cases, you'll inevitably end up with some giant turds in your hands.

Let's also pretend for a second that this act, which I will now call "Merry-Mammoth and the Madcap Masto-Funs," becomes so world-famous that you pummel all the other circuses in town. Congratulations on swinging the biggest dick! Now continue to hire more employees, maintain your tortured animals, and try like hell to forget that your prized elephants will eventually die.

The New York Times, Deadline
They're down to a Warner Bro now.

Your Masto-Funs are in the ground, Warner Bros.! You're now the Dirk Diggler of mammal entertainment (or, I guess, SeaWorld). Point is that once a studio is sustaining on a billion dollars a year, it's hard to suddenly roll over to the competition ... which is exactly what has happened to Warner Bros. in 2015, after Universal and Disney completely buried them with Age of Ultron and Jurassic World. Their biggest moneymaker was San Andreas, a movie destined to be forever watched with the TNT channel logo burned in the bottom-right corner.

And so, after years of studio expansions and shady accounting, Warner Bros. is receding their spending with cost cutting and layoffs while maintaining a hopeful future, even though they cannot stop dwelling on their past ...

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Warner Bros. Is Still Stuck In The 2000s

Warner Bros.

While the era of dark franchises like Harry Potter and The Dark Knight was winding down, something else happened in the late 2000s. It was a film called Iron Man, and its popularity and rise coincided with the silly cliche of the "gritty reboot" created by Christopher Nolan. Suddenly, Marvel was making more money than any superhero franchise -- and doing it with charisma and lightheartedness.

Naturally, Warner Bros. got the message ...

Warner Bros.
Oh wait. Shit.

... and cry-murdered that message like it was a sick cat. While the presence of Batman at least tonally justifies Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice's gloom, Man Of Steel has forever marred the series by giving us a Superman who opted to let people die in funereal tornado attacks rather than make rational decisions. I'm not talking about what you, the reader, personally think of the film, but rather the objective truth that this series is now popularly associated with literal overkill.

None of this is helped by the utterly tone-deaf justification from WB chief Kevin Tsujihara that future films about characters named Aquaman and Shazam are going to be "steeped in realism" and "edgier than Marvel's movies." All of this adds up to a company that can't tell which way the wind is blowing -- even after the giant flop of Fox's gritty, un-fun Fantastic Four. And speaking of colossal dumps, if you want further proof of WB's stagnation, check out the spoilerrific new trailer for Batman v. Superman:

Warner Bros.
This is what happens when you eat nothing but Reese's Pieces.

What you're seeing is supposed to be Doomsday, the monster who death-punched Superman back into relevance in the '90s, who is either too steeped in realism to adhere to the laws of physics or riding some kind of diabolical Segway. If you haven't noticed, he also looks exactly like the monsters from Harry Potter and Lord Of The Rings (with some Incredible Hulk thrown in) ...

Warner Bros., New Line Cinema, Marvel Studios
That's one orgy we're all strangely curious to see.

... because Warner Bros. can't stop reminding us of the days when it was making films we wanted to see. This devotion to habit also explains why they compulsively hire the Wachowskis to make potential franchise-launchers, even though the Wachowskis haven't made a profitable film since The Matrix, and by all accounts are in fact costing the studio money at this point. But it's not exactly like they have any other option either, considering how ...

Everyone Is Desperately Failing To Find The Next Harry Potter-Sized Hit

Warner Bros.

Unless you're a movie studio, it seems stupid obvious that not every idea is a good fit for an eight-film cinematic universe. After the 2003 bomb, it was clear that nobody wanted to see one Peter Pan film, let alone a whole series of them. Only our hilariously naive hero Warner Bros. still signed their Pan actors for multiple sequels like they were anticipating the next big theme park ride.

Warner Bros.
Now we'll never find out which white actors would play Rufio and Thud Butt.

Unless it's some mind-bending or tragic arthouse film, we no longer live in a world in which a movie can be successful and not result in as many sequels as it takes to burn out. Like a junkie before payday, everything gets stretched ... which is why Warner Bros. was able to bullshit three Hobbit films out of a single book. Did you like The Lego Movie? Well now you're gonna get an entire Lego cinematic universe, with Lego Batman, Ninjago, and a sequel that explores what the kid in the basement is up to four years later as a teenager.

Warner Bros.
The broken pieces of this submarine will make a great bong.

It's not enough that Guy Ritchie is making a King Arthur movie; Warner Bros. has already greenlit a six-film series! This is before they even know if the first film will make a profit -- a statistical challenge, considering the only notable Arthurian adaptations are more famous for their French taunting and uncomfortable squirrel romances.

Walt Disney
Pictured: Warner Brother's relationship with every successful film it makes.

It's the flies and honey pot approach to filmmaking. As if they're in a twisted Twilight Zone episode, Warner Bros. is determined to give us our favorite thing until we're so sick of it that we hate them for it. Did you enjoy Godzilla and King Kong? Well prepare to see Kong: Skull Island, Godzilla 2, and then Godzilla vs. King Kong, leading into an entire cinematic universe of giant monsters. Then prepare to watch these films until everyone is so numb that they die a little at the sound of a behemoth roar. And that's if they don't completely fuck up the franchise first ...

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The Obvious Desperation Is Starting To Hurt Upcoming Films

Warner Bros.

In poker, the term "going on tilt" refers to a player who's taken one too many bad beats and has slowly begun a desperate spiral of reckless frustration -- making him or her more liable to continue down a path of defeat. It's hilarious to watch, especially when applied to some loathsome fuckface writhing in the piss stain of their last drops of notoriety, like a dying parasite or George Zimmerman.

Signs of tilt include but are not limited to large gambles, rash decision-making, and sudden changes in strategy. A person might, for example, go really big on a lukewarm hand, only to realize that they are in over their heads and fold at the last minute ... which appears to be exactly what Warner Bros. is doing with its new 180-million-dollar Tarzan film.

As if the phrase "$180 million Tarzan film" wasn't hilarious enough on its own.

After losing $150 million on Pan's Nirvana-tuned slide into oblivion, WB has reportedly hit the abort button on their push for more reimagined children's stories. To wit, they've prematurely reassigned Tarzan's director to the next Harry Potter film instead of finishing up post-production on the July 1st release. They've essentially shot Tarzan in the leg to better the dashing herd, hoping to cut their losses for a stronger 2016 and 2017.

Warner Bros.
The announced spinoff series for each of Tarzan's abs is now on hold.

I'm not saying the strategy won't work; just that it speaks volumes of WB's self-destructive state of mind. As did seeing the first full Batman v. Superman trailer a full year before the film's release, followed by the brand-new one completely spilling the entire plotline, start to finish. If you've ever wondered why a production company is compelled to spoil their own movie, look no further than this MTV interview with trailer editors explaining that the technique is used specifically to appeal to investors and drum up merchandising hype. In other words, Doomsday was spoiled because Warner Bros. wants its action figure line to be successful.

Warner Bros.
"This premature money shot was brought to you by corporate synergy!"

What we're seeing is a less-than-respectful treatment of the audience in order gain back strength as a successful franchise producer. When the CW was debuting their Flash series, their parent company Warner was busy drowning out their hype by announcing a seemingly competing Flash film. So instead of building on the show's good reception and high ratings, they were already moving onto the next big moneymaker like a litter of puppies clamoring for their mother's milk. Only in this case, all their heads are attached to the same body like that three-headed dog from Harry Potter -- who will no doubt make an appearance in the new franchise.

And that brings us full circle ...

All That's Left To Do Is Repeat The Same Films Over And Over Again


So we've witnessed a production company with a meteoric decade see their prized ponies take simultaneous deadly dumps, desperately attempt to reignite their success by copying the now-outdated model which allowed for their rise, and finally get left holding their steadily-deflating wangs in wonderment as to what comes next. Countless jobs are on the line, with very little time for recovery. Can anyone blame them for putting out the exact same films as before?

Slashfilm, The Hollywood Reporter
Calling it: We'll get Matrix ReReloaded by 2021.

More Potter! More Batman! More Kong! Think of all those times your friends couldn't decide on where to eat, and ended up hungrily dining at the hot dog place you've been to a million times. Studios are too big to try something new and risky, which is why Warner Bros. announced that Batman was coming back to us just one year after The Dark Knight Rises came out. It's why they are now doing ten DC films in the next decade. It's why they announced a King Kong prequel to an audibly confused Comic-Con audience.

Probably Jack Black.

It's why they're taking a 42-page J.K. Rowling book and turning it into as many movies as they can. They've even created a special task force for stretching the franchise to its ultimate limits. It's promoting the Pottermore website, setting up theme parks, and producing the story-continuing stage play that will no doubt be stretched out into four films.

West End/Palace Theatre
"Plays have interludes, right? That's two more."

And I'd be lying if I said that Warner Bros. was the only studio doing this ...

Tech Times
Disney is doubling their carbon emission to make sure.

Disney plans to release Star Wars movies every year until everyone gets sick of watching them or the sun explodes in a cacophony of screams and hell rain -- whichever happens first. You might think that's good news, but any Star Wars fan might recall that the charm of the original trilogy partly came from the fact that it told a complete goddamn story, and was not a purgatorial series of connecting events for the rest of time. Not unlike how any Harry Potter fan wouldn't want the last feeling they have for the series be a mixture of pity and disgust as the franchise begs at their feet after 30 years of sequels and spinoffs.

Warner Bros. had an amazing long-term relationship with a magical brown-haired boy and his wizarding goings-on. And like everyone trying to get over their ex, they are now banging every chestnut floozy who reminds them of what once was.

Entertainment Weekly
Ah, yes, The Theory Of Everything I Don't Want.

By the taint of God they will either make billions or die dragging all our favorite characters down with them like a dying sea serpent. And it's up to us to stop enabling their compulsion by having the strength to say "no" ... starting now.

Or maybe after Batman v. Superman, since Affleck looks hella swole and it'd be stupid not to check that out.

If you're Ben Affleck and want to go hang out, or just talk on the phone or something, you can hit up Dave on his Twitter.

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Be sure to check out 6 Horrifying Implications Of The Harry Potter Universe and 6 Harry Potter Films According to Someone Who Never Saw Them.

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