You can chart the rise and fall of movie trends like the tides: in the 1960s, any Western movie was a guaranteed hit, but these days if you give your hero a six-shooter and a horse then your movie's a guaranteed bomb now matter how absolutely incredible it is. Because this is the era of the superhero movie, and it will last until the sun explodes.
...but there are other, subtler trends, and boy was 2017 home to some weird ones. We basically became obsessed with three totally random people, and if you can figure out why then....well, you're smarter than any of us.
1. Two John Denver songs were everywhere
Remember sitting in the theater for Alien: Covenant and being baffled that in 2104, people were still big fans of John Denver? Well, assuming you went to the theater to see Alien: Covenant, that is, which may not include all that many of you.
It wasn't just in the trailer -- the song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" plays a key role in the plot: It's the song that Dr. Shaw (from Prometheus, that movie everyone loved and had no issues with) broadcasts into space, and the signal that the Covenant picks up that sends them to the alien planet populated by a handsome robot and his slimy albino murder-puppies.
You might assume that Ridley Scott just has a grudge against John Denver fans, but then the same song showed up at the beginning and end of Logan Lucky, when Channing Tatum gets to hear his daughter sing it a capella at a beauty pageant. Speaking of Channing Tatum, the song also played a key role in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (released just a month later). Again, it's written into the most emotional part of the movie, as it's the song Mark Strong sings before he (spoiler alert!) explodes. Oh, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul also uses "Take Me Home, Country Roads" for a sad scene, but nobody gets killed to it or starts to cry so it hardly even counts.
Also, I guarantee 100% you did not see Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul.
Remember, this is only that one song. If we widen our net to movies that feature other John Denver hits then we can count Okja and Free Fire, both of which -- holy crap -- used "Annie's Song." Jeez, Hollywood, if you're gonna get arbitrarily obsessed with a dead folk singer, at least dig into his catalogue past the first two songs listed on his Wikipedia page.
2. Everyone suddenly became obsessed with Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill is most famous for being the Prime Minister of England during World War 2 and earning some truly awesome-sounding British honorifics like "the right honourable" and "Knight of the Order of the Garter." And 2017 is the year we got really, really into him.
Maybe it started with the first season of The Crown, which debuted at the squeaky-end of 2016 but wowed everyone with John Lithgow's performance as the intimidating old curmudgeon (and came close enough to 2017 that we're counting it anyways). Since then, Churchill had a foreboding off-screen presence in Dunkirk, and then a starring role in both The Darkest Hour (where he's played by Gary Oldman, who had to wear a number of prosthetics to pull of Churchill's look) and, naturally, Churchill (where he's played by Brian Cox, who already looks a little like Churchill so he didn't need much). That's 4 separate projects where the Prime Minister of England from 70 years ago is a central figure - which is up pretty significantly from the usual number of big projects focusing on Churchill on a yearly basis, which is more like "mayyyybe once."
Hopefully Hollywood isn't taking cues from what our weirdly-World-War-II obsessed uncles all think is cool. If they are, then in 2018 we're gonna get seven movies about how the Russians don't get enough credit for their role in the war, and three more about how we should come over this weekend and see if we can't get his 1986 Camaro running again.
3. For three months, Stephen King was....king
There's no question why IT broke every record associated with horror movie releases. Who doesn't want to fantasize about teaming up with their friends to battle an ancient evil that takes the form of that guy from Hemlock Grove? Also, the Stranger Things kid was fucking funny as shit, you fuckers. And while Dark Tower certainly looked cool, it's no surprise that it failed because (as already mentioned) everybody knows cowboy movies flop...especially cowboy movies weirdly adapted in a way that pisses off the fanbase AND proves confusing to new audiences. But what you might not have realized is that this was just the beginning.
There have been more Stephen King movies in 2017 than any other year in human history (or stretching back to 1976, when we made the first Stephen King movie adaptation). The others are Netflix's Gerald's Game and 1922 - and we kinda have to count the new season of Stranger Things as a Stephen King adaptation, since it borrows HEAVILY from King's stories IT and Stand By Me (and was created after The Duffer Brothers lost out on the chance to helm the IT remake). That's four movies (and one TV show) based on a guy who, yes, is extremely talented and prolific, but also has been exactly that for over forty years now. What's even CRAZIER is that ALL OF THESE projects came out within THREE MONTHS OF EACH OTHER:
- Dark Tower - August 4th, 2017
- IT - September 8th, 2017
- Gerald's Game - September 29th, 2017
- 1922 - October 20th, 2017
- Stranger Things 2 - October 27th, 2017
It's actually LESS than three months - it's 87 days of a big project based on the works of Stephen King being released about every few weeks. And if we expand this to TV, there were also new shows released based on The Mist and Mr. Mercedes...WHICH WAS ALSO RELEASED IN THE SAME TIME PERIOD (The Mist - however - came out in June 2017, so that expands the window by about 45 days). So why now?
Well, considering how many of his movies involve the end of the world, let's just hope the reason isn't "he knows something we don't."