Blue is the new orange

A data analysis of paintings across the decades shows a market share gain for the color blue at the expense of the still predominant color, orange.

Orange and blue happen to be the two most popular colors in Hollywood's palette as well. Part of the predominance of orange is because human flesh tends to fall somewhere in that spectrum. There are many theories as to why color correction suites everywhere lean this way.

One explanation is that it's an over-adherence to complementary color theory.

This screenshot from the excellent color theory and exploration site, kuler, shows what happens when you apply complementary color theory to flesh tones.  You see, flesh tones exist mostly in the orange range and when you look to the opposite end of the color wheel from that, where does one land?  Why looky here, we have our old friend Mr. Teal.  And anyone who has ever taken color theory 101 knows that if you take two complementary colors and put them next to each other, they will "pop", and sometimes even vibrate.  So, since people (flesh-tones) exist in almost every frame of every movie ever made, what could be better than applying complementary color theory to make people seem to "pop" from the background.  I mean, people are really important, aren't they?

Knowing a bit about the Hollywood blockbuster movie production process, it's not that surprising that a particular color palette would come into vogue. The whole idea behind franchises is risk mitigation and building off of what has worked before. The same colorists probably work on many of these movies, at this point they've probably got the orange and teal color palette saved as a preset. What's the economic incentive to innovation here? How many viewers go to such movies for the distinctive color palette?