When it comes to producing content, there are three clear ways to drive innovation. The first is within a product. This is based on how a show is composed. Through an engaging character, a novel storyline, a unique concept, a creative script, a mixture of genres, and an extravagant production, innovation within a product is achieved (Quintero 2015). Recently, Rick and Morty (2013-present) has been an example of innovation driven by all of the above. Because it is a soft concept regularly testing the boundaries of storytelling, Rick and Morty develops a casual following that engages because of its appeal to popular culture and fanbase of dedicated borderline-obsessive followers that take their own devotion to the show to the same extremes that the show consistently surpasses.
Rick and Morty is successful because of its eccentric characters and highly original plots (Gilyadov, 2017). The titular character, Rick, has an instantly recognizable blue unibrow and hairstyle and acts like a madman toeing the line between superhero and villain. His partner, Morty, balances him by being the character regular audiences can relate to. They blend the buddy-cop story with captivating themes of depression, alcoholism, existentialism, and family (Gilyadov, 2017). It is a refreshing take on the adult cartoon genre. It is a show based in science fiction that delves into story lines and writing that would ordinarily seem appropriate for a Christopher Nolan film or a South Park (1997) episode. It is regularly surprising the way it adapts pop-culture references into its humor and tests the limits of modern-day story-telling tropes, opting to break the fourth wall in a self-referential way.
The second key driver of innovation is innovation driven by technology, and it is apparent all around us in the way movies are filmed and the quality of the simplest commercials. The effort behind modern media travels through the advances of technology hand over fist. The Earth at Night in Color (2020) produced by Apple TV is a perfect representation of innovation driven by technology and services. It depicts a world that has never been captured on camera. It would not have been possible five years prior to make nighttime videography look this impressive, let alone appear as if it’s daylight. The production never fails to remind the audience that these animals were filmed on high-ISO super-fast astral lenses (Maglio 2020). Paired up with Tom Hiddleston’s British accent destroying the pronunciation of the word “puma” as “pew-ma”, The Earth at Night in Color (2020) uses technology to engage both eyes and ears in an innovative way.
The last key driver of innovation comes from business models. Recently, the new Uncharted (2022) movie is trying to accomplish the feat of successful “video-game turned movie” that has been so unbelievably hard for any to accomplish. With only seven films out of fifty ranking over 50% on Rotten Tomatoes (2021) and none above 90%, it’s clear that the 360 model of exploitation is better said than done. I haven’t seen Uncharted yet, so I can’t speak directly about it, but in my experience it’s not easy to exploit a product in so many platforms. Some brands are simply not meant to live in the multiplatform world.
On the other hand, movies turned video games like Star Wars (1977-present) have had a much better campaign at expanding the multiplatform world of a brand. If there’s only one thing going for Uncharted, it’s the current notoriety that Tom Holland can bring to consumers, but that may not be enough to carry it into the realm of movies, music, episodes, podcasts, and theme park rides. Not every piece of media is meant to be as universal as Pirates of the Caribbean.
Quintero, M. (2015). Innovation for Media Content Creation. J. Ross Publishing.
Gilyadov, Aleksander. (2017, August 5). Why Rick and Morty Works So Well. CGM Backlot Magazine. https://www.cgmagonline.com/articles/features/rick-morty-works-well-season-3-get-schwifty/
Maglio, Tony. (2020, December 15)). Apple TV+’s ‘Earth at Night in Color’: Here’s What Really Happens When All the World’s Asleep (Exclusive Video). The Wrap. https://www.thewrap.com/earth-at-night-in-color-apple-tv-plus-docuseries-night-vision-tech-exclusive-video/
Rotten Tomatoes. (2021) 48 Video Game Movies Ranked by Tomatometer. Rotten Tomatoes. https://editorial.rottentomatoes.com/guide/video-game-movies/