For more than a century, films have topped the list of entertainment choices for humans. We all know that movies have evolved over the years. But do you know which were those groundbreaking movies in the industry that raised the bar for other upcoming films and forced filmmakers to think out-of-the-box? Every now and then, a new breed of film came along that changed the archetype of movies made before that. Here we have compiled a list of 12 movies that changed film-making forever.
1 Harry Potter (2001 – 2011)
The entire series of Harry Potter takes you to a totally different imaginary world of wizards. These movies have opened the floodgates for children’s fantasy novels to become major blockbusters and have also proved that movies starring children can become mega-franchises.
Harry Potter movies are a series of eight fantasy films adapted from J.K. Rowling’s legendary novels. Produced by David Heyman with three budding child artists, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, these series will continue to be popular for a long time to come. Harry Potter also happens to be one of the first fantasy novel series made into a movie series. The production house, Warner Brothers, reaped a total of $7.7 billion in profit from the films made on a budget of $1.2 billion. The series was also the first one to use the style of 2-part endings. It made multi-part franchises not an option, but a rule.
With so many firsts-of-its-kind in the movie industry, The Harry Potter series created magic not only inside the movies but also outside in the industry. They pushed the imagination limits of filmmakers, compelled them to get creative with children/teen concept movies, and encouraged them to include the element of magic/witchcraft generously. (1, 2)
2 Star Wars (1977 – 2018)
The first Star Wars movie kick-started the series with a bang! It was the first of its kind to shift Hollywood’s focus from deep, meaningful dramas, themes, and conflicts to unimaginable special effects on the screen. The franchise had a staying power and immortality factor as they are still being made 45 years later!
The epic American space opera franchise, Star Wars, was created by George Lucas with a total of 9 movies that quickly were turned into a pop-culture prodigy. The eponymous 1977 film of Star Wars opened the gates of this series into a multimedia franchise expanding into books, novels, short stories, comics, comic strips, magazines, toys, and even themed park attractions. Star Wars was successful at rooting the world into its fictional universe. As of 2020, the series is estimated to pull off a gross value of $70 billion. It is the fifth-highest-grossing media franchise in the industry.
Star Wars changed the way aesthetics and narratives would function in Hollywood movies. These movies had spectacular visual effects and also won the best visual effects award in the 1978 Academy Awards. The series raised the bar for visual and special effects in all upcoming film-making projects. It was also the first series where a single man, George Lucas, wrote, produced, and directed the high-concept blockbuster. (1, 2)
3 Avatar (2009)
This was the film that brought 3D films back in vogue! Avatar is the most ambitious film to date and is said to have been in development since 1994! James Cameron scaled the movie to be the highest-grossing film of all times. The movie changed the way animated movies were made with realistic 3D effects.
Avatar is a 2009 epic science fiction film, written, directed, produced, and co-edited by James Cameron. He was rebuked by major film production companies for his idea of Avatar. But he knew what he was doing and did not let the negativity settle in. What we got to see because of his unwavering passion and mission to change cinema was the best 3D animated film ever made. This movie effectively transported the world into an animated world of never-seen-before computer graphics with an engrossing storyline. The film made extensive use of new motion-capture filming techniques that brought about a revolutionary change to the 3D world.
Although Avatar did not win an Academy Award, it did manage to invent a form of technology that will be used for many animation films for many years into the future. The story was in development for almost 15 years as the technology required for the animation was not initially available. The story of Avatar is not only enhanced by its technology but it also cannot be told without it, so beautiful are the animation, computer graphics, and technology intertwined. Today, it is common for any action-packed movie to be released in both 2D and 3D mediums. This doubled the revenues of the movie-makers and doubled the enjoyment of the viewers. (1, 2)
4 Toy Story (1995)
This was the movie that bid adieu to hand-drawn animation forever! Toy Story was the first-of-its-kind computer graphics animated film that brought an end to repetitive musicals or drama stories.
Toy Story is the first full-length animated movie created by a small company, Pixar, in 1995. The film was the first to bring about innovation, action, comedy, and emotions in an animated movie. It brought an end to traditional animation technologies used in movie-making. Pixar also created a new animation software that could help them navigate this style. But, not only the computer graphics, but the film also had a very warm and special relationship showcased between an astronaut and a cowboy that won the hearts of viewers.
This movie and its upcoming two sequels, Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, managed to compel the tradition-laden Academy Awards to create a new Oscar Award for the Best Animated Feature in 2001. It was also the first kids’ movie with witty dialogue that appealed both to kids and adults. Later, Pixar roped in $6 billion revenue ten films later. (1, 2)
5. Godfather (1972)
One of cinema’s greatest masterpieces, The Godfather was the first of its kind to bring on an epic trilogy. It was also the first movie that forced the audiences to look into the dark. With noir lighting effects exploring the world of shadows, this movie changed the basic rules of exposure and three-point-direction lighting.
Godfather is a trilogy of American crime dramas directed by Francis Ford Coppolla based on the famous novel written by Mario Puzo. The trilogy is based on the life of the Italian-American Mafia Corleone family and its patriarch, Vito Corleone. The series has bagged nine out of 28 Academy Award nominations and is considered to be the greatest film of all time.
Directed by the not-so-successful-at-that-time Francis Ford Coppola, little did anyone anticipate that this movie would change the scene of Hollywood forever. The film was mostly shot in the dark using special lighting effects. In spite of the dark background, there was always a strong directional key light focusing on the main part of the frame. The film used some ground-breaking exposure and lighting directives that resembled the paintings from the Renaissance. The director also managed to bring a sun-drenched love story and a Kodachrome wedding look all shot in IB technicolor. The resultant films were iconic and paved the way for future directives and film-making projects. (1, 2)
6 The Blair Witch Project (1999)
The unprecedented The Blair Witch Project skyrocketed to the top of paranormal activity-related films. It was also the first-of-its-kind shoe-string budget movie that roped in millions in earnings. The movie required novel “warning signs” to be posted in theaters alerting viewers of possible nausea. This was the first horror movie with paranormal activity.
Created for under just $10 by amateurs Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez, The Blair Witch Project did prove that all it takes to make a good movie is dedication, idea, and hard work. The film was shot on cheap cameras and literally had no script, but yet managed to change the horror film industry forever. The craziest part of the film was its brilliant marketing strategy. The makers presented the film at The Sundance Festival, with all actors listed as either “Missing” or “Deceased.” This was enough to create an eerie sense of excitement in the viewers.
Although this movie cannot be lauded as one of the best horror films, it was the first of its kind to have a sprawling marketing campaign. The movie begins with a statement alerting the audience that what they were about to see was real footage, even though it wasn’t. This movie did end up being a huge commercial success, giving the audiences something unexpected and thrilling to watch. Whether the initial alert message was true or false, who cares? The Blair Witch Project threw all the film-making rules out of the window and created some new ones, totally! (1, 2)
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