This weekend has another mashed up battle on its hands. Many eyes would be fixed on what the Michael Bay produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can deliver, as it will take on the mighty Guardians of the Galaxy which is in its second week, as well as the newly released sci-fi film Into The Storm. Then there is the Helen Mirren starrer The Hundred-Foot Journey for those looking for a light drama film. And in the midst of all this, one franchise delivers its fifth instalment. Yep, it is the Step Up film series with its latest movie titled Step Up: All In. While the movie may be a bit lost in the slew of big budget summer flicks and the packed up month of August, it may very well turn out to be another feather in the cap for the producers who would already be thinking about the possibility of a sixth in the franchise. So what has made this franchise extend its stay longer than expected?
This series began in 2006 with Step Up starring a rather unknown figure called Channing Tatum. It was to be his breakout film. Tatum danced and delighted, and along with his co-star Jenna Dewan, they dazzled the audience. Their chemistry was a joy to watch, and the fact that they later on got married, is just the kind of love story that would make you shed a tear of joy. Step Up had a small production budget of $12 million; it went on to earn ten times of its budget worldwide! Sequels followed in the form of Step Up 2: The Streets (2008), Step Up 3D (2010) and Step Up Revolution (2012). While the American audience lost a bit of interest in the franchise with each passing year, the global audience woke up to the joy of dancing that this film series promoted. As a result, each of the film in this series has been a hit, with cumulative worldwide box-office earnings of about $565 million while the production budget is just shy of $100 million.
The films in the Step Up series have never had any major stars, even Channing Tatum was not a well-known actor prior to his appearance in this series. They have thrived on one thing alone — dancing! The films in this series usually end up with a similar finale, where the good guys for some reason or the other have a dance face-off against another crew, and put up such a marvelous show that makes the watching audience go wild with joy. While the story lines are rather simple, the film-makers have not compromised on the quality of the dance shows. They have a fun vibe to them, full of hip hop styles, solo performances mixed with group work, and whether you are a good dancer or not, these movies make you want to move your body around! Dancing is an art form which many love, and Step Up is clicking with the audience on that front. Surprisingly, only a few studios have ventured out in this “dancing” genre, which again benefits the Step Up movies or else it could easily have come across as repetitive. In recent years, the horror genre has been talked about so much on operating in a shrewd manner, where the extremely low budgets are easily eclipsed by the box-office earnings, given the ready set of audience waiting for the chills and thrills. In a similar fashion, dance related movies too could benefit as there is no real star requirement here, only good dancers and good moves.
It is easy for such movies to break the language barrier in the overseas markets, than say, an intense drama film. For dance is a universal language. The previous two films in this franchise have each grossed more than $100 million in foreign markets, which is more than twice their earnings in the USA. That says a lot about the wider audience base that the Step Up movies have managed to accumulate because of its theme. The movie is also gender-neutral, and should appeal to men and women alike. And by now, this franchise has created a sort of goodwill amonsgt its audience, who tend to like it much more than the critics. So a name with Step Up written around it will automatically invoke some interest. And irrespective of whether you will get any sort of sensible story or not, one thing is for sure, you are going to get lavish and eye-popping dance moves to watch.
Step Up: All In brings in characters from the previous movies, though it is going to be Tatum-less, in case you were wondering. The crew now heads to Las Vegas for another showdown. If their showdown ends up generating another $140 million or so worldwide, then be ready for a sixth round of dancing pretty soon. As long as they dance with such vigour, oomph and grace, who is complaining?