Even though failures like John Carter have given film producers pause about greenlighting the next jumbo project, and even though I have written before about recent back-pedaling when budgets have gotten out of hand, success stories like Marvel's The Avengers still provide studios with ridiculous returns on their investment that will not stop funding those over the top, special-effects-laden popcorn flicks in the hope of make more money than any smaller movie ever can.
Sure, if they are a hit then low-budget pictures might make more of a "percentage" profit than that of the high-cost six-figure tentpoles, but overall the little films rarely make the totals globally that something like The Dark Knight Rises hopes to reap. Movies like The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity are the exception rather than the rule.
Although Jaws and Stars Wars arguably started the summer blockbuster craze and changed what kind of movies Hollywood typically makes, the mega-picture has always been a part of show business, even back in the days of Birth of a Nation, The Ten Commandments, and so on. The belief is that if you give audiences a spectacle with a cast of thousands, they will come. Spend money to make money, that's the driving mantra -- art is secondary. The risk might seem high, but in fact smaller films are a bigger gamble for film producers.
As much as I would love to see better written movies with more original characters and more thought-provoking storylines, the instant-gratification visual extravaganzas that are often easily forgettable but still manage to rake in a fortune at the box-office are not going away anytime soon.