10 Great Movies That Accidentally Made Cinema Worse

Napoleon Dynamite encouraged Netflix to improve their content algorithm. Yikes.

Napoleon Dynamite
MTV Films

Generally speaking, a great movie will not only entertain viewers but also remind them of the wonderful, magical things that cinema is capable of - of both providing escapist entertainment and encouraging audiences to think about life in a totally different way.

But sometimes a brilliant film, whether a blockbuster or a drama, can have an unfortunate, unintended side effect on the wider industry.

Perhaps a film's success sends the wrong message to Hollywood about what audiences actually want, or inspires a whole generation of filmmakers to rip-off its stylistic and narrative achievements in massively inferior fashion.

While some of these problems have somewhat subsided today, others are still running rampant, and are actually only likely to get worse in the future as Hollywood continues to evolve.

Though you can't really blame these movies for doing the great things they did, through their popularity they emboldened studio heads, executives, marketing departments, and streaming service employees to actively make the movie business worse.

Not to get too dramatic, but as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and these well-intended classics all left a cascade of awfulness in their wake...

10. Star Wars: The Force Awakens Popularised Cynical "Legacy Sequels"

Napoleon Dynamite

After suffering through the wildly uneven Star Wars prequels, The Force Awakens sure was a welcome return to terra firma - a safe and familiar yet thoroughly entertaining space opera which affectingly united beloved legacy characters with a new cast of appealing heroes.

J.J. Abrams' long-awaited sequel successfully passed the torch from one Star Wars epoch to the next, effectively ensuring the franchise could live on past its ageing original heroes. That the sequel trilogy as a whole ended up being a hot mess is really neither here nor there.

But The Force Awakens' mammoth commercial success basically kickstarted the "legacy sequel" as know it - nostalgia-soaked entries into flagging franchises that basically replay the original hits, while shuffling the legacy cast into supporting roles as younger actors carry the starring load.

While these types of movies can work, they more often feel like crass commercial exercises intended to distend dying or creatively bankrupt IP, as with Terminator: Dark Fate, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, and the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion.

When these movies succeed commercially, as they often do, they typically confirm that pandering to our collective dew-eyed nostalgia works, that it's easier to condescend to our most infantile desires to re-live the past than roll the dice on something truly new.

Again, legacy sequels can work when they come from a place of genuine heart and creativity, but too often they simply rake over stories and character types we've already seen, while showering us in "memberberries."

With the pandemic further heightening the risk factor of truly original blockbusters, expect to see Hollywood regurgitating the past even more aggressively in the years to come.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.