[LINK] The Day the Movies Died

Frank O'Connor francisoconnor3 at bigpond.com
Mon Feb 21 12:19:53 AEDT 2011

This was pretty much the case 20-25 years ago, when I was developing 
a screenplay with a local producer/director.

Pretty Woman was the surprise success story then, and every Hollywood 
producer had big dreams about reproducing its 'cheap-to-make with big 
returns' formula. But remakes and sequels were the story of the day, 
and originality was discouraged. I found my screenplay going from 
original and fresh to bland and formulaic from the moment the 
Hollywood suits got involved - and pulled the plug after a number of 
Hollywood go-arounds.

Learned a bit about 'the industry' though ... so it wasn't a total 
waste of time.

In many ways I can relate to the big-time economics of traditional 
Hollywood film-making (big bucks even for small films, milking the 
moolah all the way along the line, creative accounting, huge budgets 
for stars and promotion etc etc) because only one in seven Hollywood 
films actually makes a profit - so everyone makes hay while the sun 
shines (the sun shines when a film is in production).

Remakes and sequels mean that they can economise on publicity and 
advertising - because they're going with a brand which has already 
proved successful. And with video and DVD, even if the remake or 
sequel only makes half of what the original did in box receipts 
there's still a hige market out there for the take home content.

And the processes they use in pre-production and production are so 
dated ... and so tiresome. (People have a strange idea that being on 
a film set would be exciting ... I spent two of the most boring days 
of my life watching the guys I was working with can three minutes of 
film. Those of us not involved in set-ups - writers, actors, etc etc 
.. spent most of our time waiting as they shifted stuff around, 
messed with lighting and angles, and generally set-up the next 15 
seconds of canned film.)

That said, I have big hopes for the new Indie model ... with much 
lower production costs and capital requirements, concentration on 
high end video rather than film, and cheaper more accessible special 
effects and post processing thanks to the wealth of digital solutions 
out there, to spice up the final product. Hollywood will probably 
still be a factor in marketing and distribution ... but they won't 
have the strangulating control of what gets produced that they had in 
the past. (And it would be so much easier to go to Hollywood with a 
completed film, rather than getting them involved in the production 

I told the guys I was working with way-back-when that in a couple of 
decades film would be on the way out, it would all be going digital, 
that the camera they used could be carried on their shoulders and be 
in effect a production house, and that digital effects and 
post-processing would be the go. They laughed ... but in retrospect 
it seems I was a bit prophetic.         :)

So I'm optimistic that Hollywood's role will be reduced in the new 
technological environment, and am cheered by some of the Indie and 
other offerings that I've seen over the last couple of years. The 
end-product can only be improved by this.


At 10:27 AM +1100 on 21/2/11 you wrote:
>>  The Day the Movies Died
>>  You want to understand how bad things are in Hollywood right 
>>now-how stifling and airless and cautious the atmosphere is, how 
>>little nourishment or encouragement a good new idea receives, and 
>>how devoid of ambition the horizon currently appears-it helps to 
>>start with a success story.
>>  Consider: Years ago, an ace filmmaker, the man who happened to 
>>direct the third-highest-grossing movie in U.S. history, The Dark 
>>Knight, came up with an idea for a big summer movie. It's a story 
>>he loved-in fact, he wrote it himself-and it belonged to a genre, 
>>the sci-fi action thriller, that zipped right down the center lane 
>>of American popular taste. He cast as his leading man a handsome 
>>actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who happened to star in the 
>>second-highest-grossing movie in history. Finally, to cover his bet 
>>even more, he hired half a dozen Oscar nominees and winners for 
>>supporting roles.
>  >
>>  Sounds like a sure thing, right? Exactly the kind of movie that a 
>>studio would die to have and an audience would kill to see? Well, 
>>it was. That film, Christopher Nolan's Inception, received admiring 
>>reviews, became last summer's most discussed movie, and has 
>>grossed, as of this writing, more than three-quarters of a billion 
>>dollars worldwide.
>>  And now the twist: The studios are trying very hard not to notice 
>>its success, or to care. Before anybody saw the movie, the buzz 
>>within the industry was: It's just a favor Warner Bros. is doing 
>>for Nolan because the studio needs him to make Batman 3. After it 
>>started to screen, the party line changed: It's too smart for the 
>>room, too smart for the summer, too smart for the audience. Just 
>>before it opened, it shifted again: Nolan is only a brand-name 
>>director to Web geeks, and his drawing power is being wildly 
>>overestimated. After it grossed $62 million on its first weekend, 
>>the word was: Yeah, that's pretty good, but it just means all the 
>>Nolan groupies came out early-now watch it drop like a stone.
>>  And here was the buzz three months later, after Inception became 
>>the only release of 2010 to log eleven consecutive weeks in the top 
>>ten: Huh. Well, you never know.
>>  "Huh. Well, you never know" is an admission that, put simply, 
>>things have never been worse.
>>  With that in mind, let's look ahead to what's on the menu for this 
>>year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation 
>>of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. 
>>One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an 
>>amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to 
>>cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children's 
>>book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with 
>>a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel 
>>that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 
>>1/2 in the title.
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