‘Avengers: Endgame’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ highlight peak-geek culture
If you need further proof that the nerds have inherited the earth, look no further than this coming weekend, when “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers: Endgame” will wage separate battles for pop-culture supremacy.
As it happens, the hugely anticipated war for the future of Westeros in the HBO drama will coincide with the release of the latest Marvel sequel, which will feature its own separate melee to save the universe from the clutches of Thanos.
Beyond a “peak geek” moment, the twin arrival of these events — an overused term in entertainment circles that actually applies in these cases — says something about both the “show” and “business” side of the media landscape.
Culturally speaking, both the movie and TV show reinforce the importance that science fiction/fantasy/comics have come to occupy in terms of the increasingly rare phenomenon of shared mass entertainment. At a time of a la carte TV viewing and “Netflix and chill,” “Avengers” is likely to eclipse the record $257 million domestic haul of its predecessor “Infinity War,” while “Thrones” surely has a good shot of surpassing the season premiere’s record same-day rating of 17.4 million viewers.
In terms of the business aspect, the two also demonstrate just how much studios have come to rely on such properties — with the avid followings they command — to drive their revenues, and stand apart in a crazily crowded stew of entertainment options.
That’s especially true as the media shifts toward a pay-to-view streaming environment, as Marvel parent Disney embarks on its own streaming venture, and HBO becomes the linchpin of WarnerMedia’s budding efforts in that arena. (CNN is also a WarnerMedia unit.)
While there’s no way to clearly determine the overlap between the two fan bases, it seems safe to say that many movie-goers will feel extra-inclined to frontload their weekends, seeing “Endgame” on Thursday, Friday or Saturday — on one of the thousands of screens that will carry the Disney release — before queueing up HBO to watch “Thrones” live on Sunday night.
In each case, the fevered speculation is on who will die and who will survive, with plenty of noble sacrifice expected on both fronts.
The ascendance of such fare has been evident for some time, illustrated every year when Comic-Con in San Diego becomes the centerpiece of the entertainment universe. But the juxtaposition of these two events is noteworthy, and will only be magnified by the breathless analysis and social media response in the days ahead, as media outlets latch onto commodities that still possess enough mass-appeal bulk to drive web traffic and ratings.
In that respect, add to “The geeks shall inherit the earth” the more direct maxims that the rich get richer, and nothing succeeds like success.
As for those not afflicted by the sci-fi/fantasy gene, who won’t be rushing either to the multiplex or home to watch HBO “live,” rest assured, you’re not in the minority. But by the end of a weekend in which coverage of “Avengers” and “Game of Thrones” will be difficult to avoid — providing a gaudy display of their pop-culture power — it’s understandable why someone who doesn’t care who lives or dies in either fictional universe could wind up feeling that way.
Oh, and when “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” rolls out come Christmas? Get ready to do it all again.