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Top 10 Game-Changing Hollywood Movies

VO: Rebecca Brayton

Written by Nick Spake

Movies that were so iconic that they created lasting and deep trends that changed the way films are made, through their stories, special effects, and CGI. WatchMojo presents the Top 10 Movies that Started Industry Trends. But what will take the top spot on our list? X-Men starting the Superhero craze, Jaws creating the need for annual summer blockbusters, or The Avengers starting the shared universe craze? Watch to find out!

Big thanks to Shawn Mark, 25billionaire, and EmJay for suggesting this idea, and to see how WatchMojo users voted, check out the suggest page here: WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Famous+Movies+that+started+Real+Life+Trends


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If it worked once, it’s bound to work the next hundred times… right? Welcome to and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Movies That Started Industry Trends.

For this list, we’re taking a look at movies that instigated popular fads in Hollywood. Many of these trends are still prevalent in today’s cinema, although some of them are slowly starting to fade out.

#10: “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” (2010)
Trend: Splitting Movies into Multiple Parts

Since the final “Harry Potter” book covers so much ground, the filmmakers decided to split the adaptation into multiple movies. Studios quickly realized that two movies could mean double the profits. Thus, the final entries in the “Twilight” and “Hunger Games” franchises were expanded into two movies as well. Meanwhile, “The Hobbit” went from being a relatively short children’s book to being an epic trilogy. As time went by, however, audiences grew tired of the Hollywood stretch and split. So while the last “Divergent” novel was supposed to get the two-part treatment, “Allegiant” disappointed at the box office, so Lionsgate aborted the plan in favor of a made-for-TV closer instead.

#9: “The Matrix” (1999)
Trend: Bullet Time

At the turn of the 21st century, “The Matrix” revolutionized action movies with its ideas, symbolism, and style. Most importantly, it perfected the Bullet Time effect. Other movies, like “Kill and Kill Again,” had previously experimented with this slow motion effect, but The Wachowskis turned it into a mainstream phenomenon. Suddenly, every other movie was seemingly parodying Bullet Time. While “Matrix” spoofs have officially become passé, time slice photography is here to stay. Countless movies still utilize this effect and it’s practically become an action picture staple despite the gimmick being long past its sell by date.

#8: “Alice in Wonderland” (2010)
Trend: Live-Action Remakes

Going into the 2010s, audiences became obsessed with anything nostalgic. Disney notably tapped into our childhood memories with their live-action remake of “Alice in Wonderland.” Although most felt the film fell short of the 1951 animated classic, that didn’t stop it from grossing over a billion dollars. As a result, Disney decided to give several other animated features the live-action treatment. Over the next few years, the studio put a new spin on “Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” and “The Jungle Book.” A live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” saw the light of day in 2017, but Disney isn’t stopping there. The studio also has plans for remakes of “Mulan,” “Dumbo,” and “The Lion King,” just to name a few.

#7: “The Sixth Sense” (1999)
Trend: The Twist

Even if you haven’t seen “The Sixth Sense” you likely know how it ends. But at the risk of spoiling the finale, let’s just say it has one of the most shocking surprises in the history of cinema. This twist helped the film grow in popularity and motivated audiences to come back for multiple viewings. In due course, more movies started to work in last minute twists in the hopes of becoming the next “Sixth Sense.” In most cases, critics and audiences generally argued that these twists felt tacked on and didn’t make a ton of sense. Even M. Night Shyamalan could never quite deliver a twist that lived up to his breakout blockbuster.

#6: “Toy Story” (1995)
Trend: Computer-Animated Features

Feature-length animation took a significant turning point in the mid-‘90s with the release of “Toy Story.” In addition to being the first computer-animated motion picture, the film was a runaway critical and commercial sensation. Other animation studios followed Pixar’s example, leading to massive hits like “Shrek” and “Ice Age.” Meanwhile, many traditional animated features began to suffer on both a storytelling level and a financial level. While there would be an occasional success here and there, CG animation eventually took over the market. At least that’s the case in Hollywood. Foreign companies, like Studio Ghibli, still regularly produce traditional animated features, earning big bucks overseas. But as far as the North American box office goes, however, computer-animation continues to reign supreme.

#5: “Paranormal Activity” (2007)
Trend: Found Footage Movies

“The Blair Witch Project” might’ve launched found footage movies into the public eye, but it was “Paranormal Activity” that turned the genre into an industry trend. With a budget of only $15,000, this supernatural thriller became a runaway success thanks to positive word of mouth and ingenious marketing. Movie studios then realized that found footage movies could rake in big dough for a small investment. Consequently, the push for handheld camera movies skyrocketed. The more widespread this genre became, though, the more people started to get sick of the shaky cam and jump scares. Of course since found footage movies cost next to nothing to make, they usually show a profit, even when they’re lousy.

#4: “Jurassic Park” (1993)
Trend: CGI Effects

Featuring the first photorealistic computer-generated creatures, “Jurassic Park” gave us the most lifelike dinosaurs ever to hit the silver screen. And with that, anything seemed possible through CGI. Without this technology, other groundbreaking movies, like “The Lord of the Rings” and “Avatar,” probably never would’ve seen the light of day. That said, many critics have complained that Hollywood has become too reliant on CGI in recent years. Models and animatronics have been mostly phased out completely in favor of computer-generated imagery, and the results aren’t always convincing. With major blockbusters like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” though, it appears that some filmmakers are making a genuine effort to strike a balance between CGI effects and practical effects.

#3: “X-Men” (2000)
Trend: Superhero Movies

Films like Richard Donner’s “Superman” and Tim Burton’s “Batman” got the ball rolling for superhero movies, but clunkers like “The Phantom,” “Steel” and “Batman & Robin” did just as much to halt that momentum. But then Bryan Singer’s “X-Men” brought the genre back in a big way, reminding audiences that superhero movies could be smart, fun, and faithful to their source material. The film was a huge hit with comic book fans and casual moviegoers alike, ultimately influencing studios to take chances on projects like “Spider-Man,” “The Dark Knight,” and the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. Superheroes continue to dominate the box office today and this can largely be attributed to our favorite mutants.

#2: “Jaws” (1975)
Trend: Summer Blockbusters

“Jaws” kept audiences everywhere out of the water during the summer of ‘75, and that’s because they never left the theatre. Becoming the highest grossing film of its time, “Jaws” showed studios that summertime was the ideal period to release potential blockbusters. From that point on, this season became all about the big event pictures. Many critics would debate that summer movies peaked in the 1980s with “E.T.,” “Back to the Future,” and “The Empire Strikes Back.” Since then, however, summer releases have ranged from incredible to disastrous. Even if summer entertainment can be hit and miss, though, this season is always bound to attract the masses.

Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
- “Gladiator” (2000)
Trend: Sword Epics

- “The Hunger Games” (2012)
Trend: Young Rebel vs. Evil Government (Again)

#1: “The Avengers” (2012)
Trend: Shared Cinematic Universes

This mega blockbuster not only brought some of our favorite superheroes together, but also proved that shared cinematic universes could forever change blockbuster franchises. “Iron Man” laid the groundwork for this ambitious endeavor in 2008, making leeway for standalone movies featuring the Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America. But when they finally joined forces for the MCU’s big event, hype was through the roof. DC would follow a similar formula, pitting Batman against Superman in their own cinematic universe. Now, even more studios are jumping on the shared universe bandwagon. In the years to come, Godzilla and King Kong will duke it out on the big screen. Meanwhile, the even Mummy will serve up scares in a Universal Monsters shared universe, and we can’t wait to see them all.

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