Westworld has all the ingredients of a blockbuster!
Many mistakenly think that blockbusters are achieved by crafting storylines with extreme action for men and heartfelt romance for women. The secret blockbuster formula is much broader and more complex than that. To start, immense blockbusters possess story elements that align with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, made famous by the American psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow. The characters that inhabit Westworld, and the show's audiences by extension, are taken on an extreme emotional ride through survival, love and loss, self esteem, and the hopeful fulfillment of one's full potential.
Guests who visit Westworld can fulfill their indulgences in a safe environment, but they are tossed into a world gone dangerously haywire. And the bots themselves begin to become sentient, thus capable of perception and feelings as they strive to understand their reality and achieve their own true potential.
It's Maslow, baby, Maslow.
Westworld delves deep into the seven deadly sins, that of lust, greed, envy, anger, gluttony, pride and even sloth. It's a world that allows viewers to vicariously fulfill every desire and fantasy that they cannot achieve in the real world.
Westworld perfectly addresses the key six challenges that audiences crave to experience through storytelling, that of man vs. man, man vs. society, man vs. the supernatural, man vs. nature, man vs. technology, and man vs. himself.
Westworld delves deep into important, timeless questions regarding the nature of existence and morality. It's a world in which the robot hosts gradually develop far greater humanity than do the human guests, thus forcing us to examine ourselves.
Westworld also exhibits another hallmark of blockbusters; it both creates and reflects pop culture. The show satisfies our growing interest in virtual reality worlds. In fact, it was the original 1973 Westworld movie written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton that helped to launch that interest. It is now brought to life with advanced technology and is placed on a larger canvas by the husband-and-wife team of Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, and executive producer J.J. Abrams.
These are the deep genetics of blockbusters. Most films and TV shows contain a couple of these ingredients. Westworld possesses all of them. The superb execution is the flesh we see in Westworld, that being an immensely detailed world, deeply sympathetic heroes with critically important goals, extremely dangerous villains with opposite aims, diverse character personas that conflict, characters that transform physically and emotionally, and an abundance of suspense, surprise and action. All of which is brought to fruition by an outstanding production team and skilled actors who include Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton and Ed Harris.
The marketing of Westworld also contributed to its blockbuster potential in the way it heightened intrigue via its trailers, social media efforts and virtual reality initiatives. Once it proves its worth, Westworld will probably benefit from added promotional partners and licensing.
Given the show's reported $100 million budget for the first season of 10 episodes, expectations for Westworld are sky high...Game of Thrones high. But the size of the production budget should not be allowed to diminish the aura of this potential masterpiece.
There is no guarantee that Westworld will live up to its potential in the long run, but there are two things we do know for sure. Firstly, Westworld is made of blockbuster stuff. And secondly, Maslow would have made a lot more money as a Hollywood producer/director.