From cult to mainstream

Was having a conversation with siblings a couple of months ago about how things make the leap from cult to mainstream – for example, Spider-Man, the comic – largely cult. Spider-Man, the movie – definitely mainstream. Some don’t succeed – the Hitchhiker’s film, much as I enjoyed it, was clearly one of those that failed to break the ‘cult’ barrier.

The X-Men are a trickier. Have they brokered the divide into the mainstream with their recent set of films? I think they did with the first two – but the third suffers from Too Much Source Material – the writers clearly got confused as to which of the universes they wanted to draw upon.

See, I really enjoy the little jokes they bury in the film for fans to enjoy – but when character development is stunted (as it is for Colossus in the X3, for example) – it becomes that much harder for non-fans to understand the emotional subtext in key scenes.

I can’t say much more without spoiling the film (and it still doesn’t open for a couple of days!), but would be interested to hear thoughts on other films that have successfully bridge the gap between cult and the mainstream and what made them successful.

For me, there are always two components – solid character development and a simple, believable plot – and by ‘believable’ please don’t assume I mean realistic, I would never ask for that – but rather one that passes its own laws of internal consistency. Like Mr McKee, I’m not a fan of deus ex machina