From Jaws, Star Wars and Back to the Future, to Independence Day, Armageddon, and all the way up to Transformers (insert installment number here), the action movie blockbuster has become extremely international, and even more American. But for some reason, that doesn't sit too well with some of us. Why is it that only the richest of movie producers become richer? Why is it that our ideas never somehow make it to the production table?

While Michael Bay and James Cameron sit in their tiny little director's chairs making millions, all we're left with is our amateur inner movie critic offering up snarky commentary while still being mildly entertained. 

So, how can you get your ideas "out there?" How can you be the one calling the explosions?

When unsuspecting inanimate objects become bloody, your audience knows, "SOMETHING'S GONE AWRY." Ask yourself this question: do you really think you've got the balls to blow up CGI buildings and create your own action movie? Don't get miffed, not all of us are capable of exploiting Megan Fox and rendering unbelievably flammable worlds at the same time. That kind of talent is hard to come by, and many of us aren't willing to make the time commitment to sell sex and fire to millions of movie-going Americans.

But, for those of you who are ready, I'm going to reveal something that you'll want to keep close, read over and over again, and reference through every step of the creative ideation process. Here now, I lend to you the paramount guide to action movie conception consumption, a "chamber of secrets" if you will, the skeleton key to what makes action movies great. Read on as I seek entry into the witness protection program.

Action Movies That Will Sell?

Action movie explosion fire
Don't worry, she ends up shedding her clothes as she runs away because it's just TOO DANG HOT!
Up-tempo rock music. Blood. Guts. Fire! Those are the four key ingredients to any good action movie. But what if we adjust the proportions of each of those ingredients? For example: HEAVY METAL. Blood. GUTS. FIRE!!! SEX! Too much adrenaline? Or is this what a "full throttle" niche in America has been craving all along: non-stop action, nitro-fueled steel shredding guitar riffs, really hot babes with extremely white teeth getting rescued, a hero who can kick just about anyone's ass, and FIRE!

Once produced, your action movie franchise is guaranteed one of two things: 1) a $400 million payday or 2) an insane amount of royalty checks from multiple appearances on late night Cinemax. 

But enough with the build-up, let's get to the meat and gravy. Just as Rambo, Predator, and Terminator defined a generation of dudes before, now comes the action movie series of our generation: EXPLOSION!

EXPLOSION I: Die Until You're Dead

What makes an action movie great has a lot to do with how it looks before it's even released. The sub-title is essential. The poster design and marketing campaign are neck-and-neck in secondary importance. If you don't have an equally badass and dutifully cheesy sub-title, you might as well forget going to theaters in the first place.

EXPLOSION II: The Beast Returns

It is also crucial that your sequels are numbered with Roman numerals. The 80's are over, and the likes of Lethal Weapon and Beverly Hills Cop are behind us. If you want your box office numbers to swell, then stick with numbers that have stood the test of time. Also, to further insure the production of more movies, you need to satisfy another key element, in that something needs to come back. In this case, Explosion II delicately reveals that "The Beast" does in fact return.

Once you've established your sequel, it's time to get back to the studio and kick production into high gear. All great action movie franchises have made too many movies. Remember, it's all about excess….


When unsuspecting inanimate objects become bloody, your audience knows, "SOMETHING'S GONE AWRY." Is the blood ON the faucet or IN the faucet? Or is the faucet MADE of blood? These are questions most people would pay $10 to know the answer to. Just be sure to save the explanation for the end; that way, everything up to that point seems compelling.


Never underestimate the importance of a good pun. This shows your audience that your creative reach stretches beyond blood and gore.

EXPLOSION V: Undercover Kill Zone

By now you've thrown every loud, in-your-face trick in the book at your audience. It's time to remind them that explosions are a privilege, not a right. By making your star action sequence lurk ominously in the background, threatening to do all the damage of the previous four movies, you invoke cost-effective fear and excitement.

EXPLOSION VI: Blood Faucet 2

Blood Faucet 2 movieThe movie poster is crucial to box office success. As you can see from this crudely assembled one, don't forget to include the blood and flames while keeping the storyline a mystery.

EXPLOSION VII: Rattlesnake Diaries

After you've made too many movies, it's time to make one more. The notable concept here is that the sub-title should get a little softer, and make a little less sense than its predecessors. You're raking in the dough now, probably a guaranteed $20 million after production costs (which are even more streamlined since you're still earning off of the first installments of the franchise), and you can afford to try pulling in a new demographic to the series.

EXPLOSION VIII: 20 Years Later

Emphasizing the historical success of a franchise tells current generations, "Massive amounts of data indicate you will like this," and loyal fans, "Damn, you're getting old."

EXPLOSION IX: Sinister Allies

Your ninth movie will be the worst. But this is intentional. You are ready to move on, and a flailing movie franchise with huge revenue potential will attract a young hotshot producer ready to squeeze the remaining drops out with enthusiasm.

EXPLOSION X: Blood Wreath: The Final Showdown

You have now sold the rights to your action movie franchise. Many years after the last movie you produced, the subject matter and trademarked titles will be reintroduced to a new generation of action moviegoers. The newly assigned producers will usually follow the blueprint laid out by your first seven action movies, and will definitely do their best to not forget what made your action movies so action-packed. They will also remember to include "blood" in the final sub-title. And by this time, you and Bruce Willis are going to be very, very rich.