Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group CEO Tom Rothman recently appeared at CinemaCon to promote the company’s upcoming theatrical releases and also noted how he believes there is a major risk in boring audiences with “sameness.”

Tom Rothman, former Member of the National Council on the Arts Photo Credit: National Council on the Arts, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

As noted by The Hollywood Reporter’s Pamela McClintock, Rothman addressed the fact that major film production studios are massively risk averse and avoid originality because of the huge risk of not making a return on the investment. The thinking is better continue with a tried and true franchise that will more than likely have a minimum guarantee rather than an entirely original film that does not already have a built-in audience.

Rothman addressed this saying, “As you can see at Sony, we aren’t f***ing around. Originality is always a risk, but to me, the bigger risk is boring the audience to death with sameness. No balls, no glory.”

Ty Simpkins in Screen Gems Insidious: The Red Door

Not only was Rothman addressing this fact, but it also appears accusatory in nature and that he believes his competitors are indeed putting out films that are boring the audience to death with their sameness.

One need only look at the most recent Marvel Studios offerings to see how sameness has taken over the studio and has resulted in audiences evaporating as most recently seen with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

Adam Driver stars in 65.

Rothman’s comments also beg the question of what Sony has offered that is different than other studios. Their CinemaCon presentation consisted of Bad Boys 4, Kraven the Hunter, Dumb Money, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, Insidious: The Red Door, The Equalizer 3, the Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel, and a Gran Turismo film adaptation.

I don’t know about you, but there might be one film from that entire slate that looks original. For the most part it’s a bunch of sequels. Gran Turismo is a video game adaptation, but we’ve seen Need For Speed already and the Fast and the Furious franchise has had a lock on films featuring fast cars for quite some time now.  There might be an argument for Kraven the Hunter, but at the end of the day there have been dozens of comic book films and TV over the past two decades. Finally, Dumb Money is a book adaptation about a recent event, how many of those have we seen in the past two decades?

Jessica Drew (Issa Rae), Gwen Stacy (Hailee Steinfeld), Peter B. Parker (Jake Johnson) and his daughter Mayday in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animations’ SPIDER-MAN™: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

Nevertheless, Rothman didn’t just take shots at his rival studios for their lack of originality and boring audiences to death with sameness, but he had some strong words to say about streaming services and their inability to create movie stars.

He said, “The other thing pundits say is movie stars don’t matter anymore. I really hope all my competitors believe that s**t. True movie stars matter more than ever, they are just more rare than ever. Streamers don’t create movie stars, only global hit movies do.”

Denzel Washington stars as Robert McCall in Columbia Pictures THE EQUALIZER 3. Photo by: Stefano Montesi

There’s definitely some credence to what Rothman says. One of the biggest pieces of evidence is the massive box office haul for Tom Cruise’s Top Gun: Maverick. The film grossed nearly $1.5 billion and it’s more than likely Cruise had a massive impact on that, not just as an actor, but his dedication to actually entertain audiences and provide them with a fun, well-written, and exciting film.

However, there’s also the other side of the coin, where characters have indeed trumped movie stars. One need look no further than Warner Bros. and their numerous Batman films with numerous different actors playing Batman. In fact, they are going to have at least two Batman characters played by different actors in their upcoming The Flash film. It’s the character and the script over the actor in this case.

Diego Tinoco in Stage 6 and Toei Animation KNIGHTS OF THE ZODIAC

This is also one of the major flaws the Marvel Cinematic Universe is still coming to grips with. They wrote out all of their main characters and have been replacing them with cheap diversity knock offs instead of just recasting the characters with different actors that still look the part of the original character. The result is declining box offices.

Warner Bros. Discovery has seemingly learned this lesson as they are going to do a completely new adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series with new actors. They also plan to do more Lord of the Rings films albeit it’s not clear if these will be new adaptations of Tolkien’s novels or will explore other parts of his legendarium. Still, these moves are more in line with the power of the story and characters rather than the star power of an actor.

Spider-Man/Miles Morales (Shameik Moore) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animations’ SPIDER-MAN™: ACROSS THE SPIDER-VERSE.

What do you make of Tom Rothman’s comments about the movie star and the risk of boring audiences with sameness?