Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #735: Kung Fu Panda 2 Kicks 3D In The Nads

Kung Fu Panda 2 had a $60+ domestic opening, and made about $57 million internationally.

Not a bad opening in my opinion.

But then again, I don't work in Hollywood or Wall Street. Both are having a little conniption fit about its "under-performance" in the face of the Hangover 2 juggernaut, and the stock prices of Dreamworks Animation, the company that made it, and RealD, the people behind the 3D process both took a bit of a shit-kicking in the stock market.

Well, it's not all the pudgy panda's fault.

3D movies have been heading for a crash pretty much from the moment they started. The problem is that the only people who don't see the brick wall heading their way are the people driving the damn industry.

Think about it for a second.

1. As if getting to a theater isn't a costly hassle already, you are expected to pay
more to wear special glasses that could have been last worn by a hobo with scabies, rabies, and the clap, to watch a movie that more than likely retroactively "processed" into 3D, leaving you with a muddy, dark picture, that might have some 3D bits to it in the big special effects scenes. Then there are the odds of headaches and nausea from the 3D images themselves.

It's just not worth it.

It's especially not worth it when the bulk of movies offered in 3D have stories that are forgotten before you even find your car in the theater parking lot.

2. Let's not forget that this has happened before. The 1950s saw the movie business hit a slump that affected it, more or less, until the 1970s. During this time they tried all sorts of "revolutionary" ideas to win back audiences from the rival television. Some, like widescreen and color stuck, but most, like 3D, became mere novelty acts in the great movie biz vaudeville show, short lived and usually just playing to the haircuts.

Of course modern 3D's biggest advocates are screaming "this time it's different!" with all the vehemence of the born again evangelist, or the addict to his parole officer after his 12th stretch in court-ordered rehab. They say that we now, or will soon, have the technology to do it right, and are spending tens of millions of dollars of investors money to prove it.

Well, it looks like the investors have seen the brick wall, and are looking to ditch before impact.

I can't blame them, because history is on their side.

If you don't know your history, and many in Hollywood don't, the only thing that stopped Hollywood's 1950s-1960s death spiral was the burst of then young Baby Boomer filmmakers who revolutionized the business by revolutionizing movie storytelling.

Do you see what I'm getting at?

The revolution that saved Hollywood was all about not
telling people what they should want to see, like gimmicky, overpriced spectacles, to giving them what they really wanted to see, which was interesting stories they considered worth their time and money.

But sadly, the Baby Boomer generation of filmmakers are either washed up, self-destructed, or transformed into the fat cats they once rebelled against. In their wake is an industry that believes that all they have to do is throw enough money at a problem to solve it, when the imagination is the key.

Don't believe me about that? Think about the simple fact that Hollywood and Wall Street are seeing a $60 million opening weekend as a "disappointment" and then think about what that is telling you.

3D history will repeat itself, and Hollywood is damned determined to make it even more expensive than it was before. The question is, will the revolution that resurrected the industry in the late 1960s and early 1970s repeat itself?

Monday, 30 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #734: A Record Does Not A Trend Make

This year's Memorial Day long weekend is breaking weekends and will go down as the biggest in movie history.

Now some folks are dancing in the streets of Hollywood singing "Happy days are here again," when it comes to the movie business.

However, those doing their little happy dance are only seeing the surface of what could very well turn out to be an isolated incident.

You see, despite the sunshine of the Memorial Day Weekend the overall movie market is under a cloud.

1. Audience attendance is trending downward with a decreasing percentage of the population going to the movies with any regularity.

2. DVD sales and rentals are down, and video streaming isn't taking up the slack as many expected.

3. It's also starting to sink in with the so-called "A-List" that their ability to sell movie tickets is no where near what they're getting paid for appearing in movies, so they're selling their nearly omnipresent mugs to anyone, for everything, from advertisements to personal appearances at parties for the children of oil rich dictators.

Now there are many reasons for this overall slump, some of these points I've discussed before, but it's summer, the season for reruns and repeats, so there.

1. Going to a movie in the theater is an expensive pain in the ass. The days of walking down to the Bijou on Main Street and dropping a dime on a double feature (with shorts & newsreel) are long gone. Now you have to get everyone in the car, drive to the theater, find and pay for parking, wait in line for a ticket, pay a hell of a lot for a ticket, even more if it's in 3D, wait in line for popcorn, then find a seat where your feet won't stick too badly to the floor. If you are taking kids, then all those hassles are exponentially increased. It's just cheaper and less painful to stay at home and watch something on television.

The fact that this h
oliday weekend and that the biggest winners are sequels shows that ticket buyers are becoming more cautious about their movie choices, going to what can be considered fairly reliable or appealing franchises, or filmmakers.

2. DVD sales/rental as well as streaming video revenue is down, way down. This is essentially all about quality. Name a list of films from the last 5 years that you can watch repeatedly and still enjoy? There aren't many.

A lot of films offer big visual spectacles that can attract audiences to see them on the big screen, but it's a different situation on the home-screen. The average TV screen is nowhere near as big, and the even the nicest home theater systems aren't the earth-shaking monstrosities found in theaters. On this smaller scale the big spectacles are often found wanting, and usually what they are wanting is a decent story. Thus you don't get the repeat home viewings that spur sales, rentals, or streaming video fees.

This is not the case on television, which is currently chugging through a golden age with many shows possessing quality in story, direction, and acting that would have been unthinkable as recently as a decade ago. Competition between network and cable channels alongside the major studios failure to produce the content they need in both quantity and quality, have created a perfect storm of conditions for quality television. So why go out, or rent, when there is so much good stuff available for free?

3. There are two types of stars in Hollywood right now. There are Media Appealers, people whose fame is based more on their ability to generate publicity and attract the attention of people in the media industry, and then there are the Audience Appealers, who set their sights on winning over the great unwashed.

One of the main problem with Hollywood is that they have been paying at least the same, and a lot of times way more to Media Appealers, than to Audience Appealers. You regularly see stories about "major stars" being paid in the tens of millions of dollars upfront, with plump back-end deals, while never having a significant commercial hit on their curriculum vitae. The audiences talk about them because they're omnipresent in the media, their faces gracing everything from magazine covers to advertisements. The studios see that as "name recognition" and assume that name recognition will mean that this time the punters will actually pay money to see them in the theater.

It rarely ever works, and the success of relatively smaller films like the original Hangover show that big stars are not necessary for a movie to be a big hit. It's a notion that's seeping into the mainstream blockbuster, especially since Batman Begins with the only moderately known Christian Bale, and Iron Man, with the then "washed up" Robert Downey Jr. in the title roles both did gangbusters at the box office.

Couple this with a reality TV culture where people build multimillion dollar empires on the basis of being a rich man's kid in a sex tape and the whole idea of paying to see someone who is famous simply because they are famous just doesn't cut it anymore.

So while this record breaking long weekend is wonderful, it is not a guarantee of things to come. At least not without something really drastic happening.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #733: Gloating, Gloating, Gloating

Just a quick note in which I gloat about being proved right, yet again.

Almost a year ago it was announced that AJ Cook and Paget Brewster were being shit-canned, more or less, from the TV show
Criminal Minds. At the time I wrote a piece where I included the decision as one of Three Really Bad Ideas Hollywood had made that week.

If you're too lazy to click the link I'll do a quick summary of the three main points.

1. It made CBS look bad. They already treat
Criminal Minds like the network's red-headed stepchild, even though it's fairly solid in the ratings, so the cavalier attitude in which they treated the female cast members made them look like sexist assholes.

2. It bred resentment with the fans of the show who saw some of their favorites being jerked around by a bunch of network suits for no logical or rational reason. This resentment was then aimed, for good reason or not, upon...

3. The spin-off. You don't treat the cast members of a show getting a spin off that way unless there is some other agenda. Like trying to squeeze some extra money out of the show to pay for the spin-off. Now I don't know if this is true or not, and to be honest, it doesn't really matter. The fans of
Criminal Minds automatically resented the spin-off Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, and stayed away from it in droves.

So how was I proven right?

Well, Paget Brewster and AJ Cook are coming back to Criminal Minds, and
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior got a one way ticket to the TV bone-yard.

I was surprised by the rehiring though. Usually there's an unwritten rule against rehiring the recently fired, because it is seen as a sign of weakness by the people who did the firing. Of course the chuckle-head who came up with the idea of sinking the spin-off before it's even launched in the first place may now be gone for all I know.

Now I'm not the type to gloat, well, actually I am the type to gloat, so here I go...

You can't manage network television!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #732: More Random Drippings From My Brain Pan

CHARLES BRONSON'S ESTATE HAS A DEBT WISH

And by that I mean they think they're owed money from MGM and Warner Bros. over the TV and home video cash from his lesser known titles
Telefon, and St. Ives, and they've filed a lawsuit.

Personally, I think it's a shame. I am automatically assuming that the studios involved are guilty as homemade sin. I know that blows chunks on the tradition of "innocent until proven otherwise," but this happens way too often for there not be any meat on these bones.

Yet again another product of the super-short-term thinking that dominates the whole Hollywood business system. The folks who created the convoluted book-cooking recipes are long gone, the people running the studio now don't give a crap because it allows them to inflate their bonuses until they get fired, and neither do their replacements, because they know they won't be there long either.

Yet all complain about the high costs of doing business in Hollywood, from bloated star salaries, to constant litigation, and don't seem to see that such behavior is the cause of these problems.

To lighten the vitriol, here's the trailer for one of Bronson's lost classics, I think you'll enjoy it.



A CASE OF BAD IDEA IN A GOOD IDEA'S CLOTHING

Lionsgate TV is going to do a reality series about swingers. Now this isn't a series about the movie with Vince Vaughn, but about rich suburbanites who like to swap spouses to alleviate the boredom of their lives.

Now this is a case, as I said in the title, of a bad idea hiding in a good idea's clothing. On the surface it looks like it's got it all, good looking, upscale people, sex, sex, and sex.

But there's a problem that will probably sink the whole thing.

Swingers are boring.

Previous projects about swingers promise all sorts of lurid excitement, and what you get is a bunch of pseudo-philosophical noodling to justify their extra-marital canoodling.

It gets really boring, really quickly.

The best thing that can happen for the producers is if the lives of the people they'll be following fall apart completely during the filming. Then you get that schadenfreude market that keeps most reality shows alive.

I'M TOO SEXY FOR THIS BLOG

Some folks are wondering if Marvel is relying too much on sex to sell their upcoming
X-Men: First Class.

Personally, I don't see a problem.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Sorry: Technical difficulties

Hi.

Sorry no post today. Blogger won't let me sign in on my main computer. I have to figure some way around it because so far all they're suggesting doesn't work.

Blogger: The best advertising for Livejournal money can't buy.

UPDATE: It's letting me sign in again. But to fix that I had to clear all my cookies, cache, whatever, and now must re-sign into everything.

I'll hopefully have something up tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #731: Random Drippings From My Brain Pan

The news isn't getting my dander up today, at least not in the meaningful, analytical way you come to expect from me.

So I'm just going to do some little bits, maybe some snark, and anything else that drips out of my brain pan.

FINDER NEEDS TO FIND AN ACTRESS

The Finder, a spin-off of forensic crime show Bones, is recasting their female lead. They're ditching Saffron Burrows and looking for someone new.

Now I saw the stealth pilot they planted into an episode of
Bones and realized that the problem is not with the actress, but with the character. If you didn't see it the show will center on Walter Sherman, played by Geoff Stults, a former military policeman who now works as a private investigator specializing in finding anything or anyone. He's helped, in the pilot at least, by his "legal advisor" Leo Knox (Michael Clarke Duncan), and the sassy sexy bartender and pilot Ike Latulippe (the aforementioned Burrows).

Now what is supposed to make this show different from other procedurals and P.I. shows is that the titular Finder suffered a head injury in Iraq. His ability to figure out clues and process information is heightened, but his social skills, are pretty much dead. He's rude, insensitive, and pretty much incapable of being diplomatic, which means his usually dryly sarcastic partner Leo Knox has to smooth a lot of ruffled feathers.

Now this is where Saffron Burrows got the short of the character stick. Her character was portrayed as "tough" and "sassy." So you have the unlikable and unsociable lead, a diplomatic, but dryly sarcastic partner, and a tough and sassy dame that has a tattoo to prove it. That creates a troika of cynicism, a triumvirate of harsh, and that hurt the pilot. The character needs to be a counterweight, a ray of polite and sweet looking sunshine that happens to be hiding a hunk of iron re-bar.

Putting another actress in the same outfit will just repeat the mistake that cost Miss Burrows her job.

LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL CASTING UNIT

Law & Order: SVU star Chris Meloni will not be returning to what used to be the most stable cast in the history of the Law & Order franchise. Now folks are asking who should replace him, personally, I don't know. I used to be a loyal fan of all the L&Os but now I find myself only occasionally watching Law & Order: Criminal Intent partially because I liked the actors on the show, and when the case looks particularly lurid.

Since I have long given up my L&O expert card I'm asking you who still watch the show: Who should replace Meloni?

JUST SHUT THE HELL UP PTC

The Parents Television Council once again provided free publicity, this time for the Billboard Music Awards, comparing it to a "Vegas stripper show."

This only confirms my theory that the PTC is just a scam set up by publicists to get their clients names in the papers. I mean they kept up the Janet Jackson nip-slip nonsense going for years. Freaking years. Sure, it's the only thing that's kept her career on life support, but the madness must stop.

If PTC is real, then they're not the brightest berries on the bush because they don't know about the law of unintended consequences. By attempting publicly shame the unclean for their sins they have given them something they want even more: lots and lots of media attention. So you get them doing things like having a sexed up duet between two singers whose careers haven't been quite as sizzling as they were just a short time ago for an awards show that normally hardly anyone watched. The media goes along because they love mixing puritan condemnation with repeated airings of the so-called "offensive" material.

So please, shut the hell up. The networks won't turn into hardcore porn stations without you on their backs. In fact, if they do, it will be only because you made them do it.

I HAVE A THEORY FOR WHOVIANS

If you watched
Doctor Who: The Rebel Flesh, you are watching humans fighting copies on an isolated island that's even more isolated because of a solar storm. Now I have a theory about the ending, but I don't want to spoil it for fans if I turn out to be right. So I'm putting it here, in white letters that you can highlight if you want to read it.

Here's my theory:
The TARDIS is stuck in a sinkhole, surrounded by acid is leaking all over the place, burning up everything on the island the humans and the "gangers" fight and chase each other, leaving only a few survivors, including the Doctor, Amy & Rory. They find a way to reach the TARDIS, open the door and find the real Doctor, Amy, Rory and the island's human crew taking shelter from the storm and the acid. Turns out they were all gangers. This revelation hits just as the acid overtakes them, leaving the people in the TARDIS with no clue as to what happened outside their doors.

That's my theory, let's see if I'm right!

I Don't Normally...

...post plugs for people. Probably because I'm a contrary crank, but I recently got a message from an independent film company in Toronto called Dark House Films to post the trailer for their ghost story movie Unleashed, which is premiering on June 25 at the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Toronto.

It made me feel all important and I can't say no to an indie company trying to get a film released in today's messed up market, so here it is.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #730: Television Is History... Sort Of...

Television is on a bit of a history binge. As I reported yesterday, FX is doing Port Royal with Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Pictures set in the world of 17th century pirates. FX's sister network Fox must think it's going to do well because they've signed with Ridley & Tony Scott's Scott Free production to do their own pirate themed limited series called Pyrates. Meanwhile, the resurgent MGM is teaming with the people who made The Tudors into a soapy success to do a show about Vikings called Vikings, and the History channel have found two families who won't threaten them over a miniseries and have greenlit a miniseries about the Hatfields VS McCoys feud starring and produced by Kevin Costner.

But wait, there's more.

There's the aforementioned
Tudors, The Borgias, recent miniseries like The Pillars Of The Earth, Downton Abbey, the Upstairs/Downstairs revival, and many more, including Mad Men have all won audiences and awards by taking them on a trip to the past.

Why?

Well it's simple.

1. History is inherently dramatic. It's loaded with all sorts of things that audiences find interesting. There's courtly intrigue, there's war, there's love, there's lust, and danger around every corner. Everything you need to make great TV.

2. History is exotic. I'm not just talking about the colorful and sometimes strange costumes worn by the actors. I'm talking about attitudes, customs, and cultures that are both radically different, and yet strangely familiar. It's also all new to a lot of people in the audience, because they don't teach jack-shit about history in schools these days.

3. History is free. Sort of. Technically, the source material, AKA history, is for the most part, public domain. You don't have to pay Rodrigo Borgia for the rights to his story, because he's been dead for 500 years. (If you did have to pay him for his story, I think he'd make Hollywood pay through the nose, and none of that "net profit share" talk.)
Budgets are not as much of a hindrance as they used to be. The recently liberated nations of Eastern Europe have loads of medieval-early 20th century locations available at affordable prices. You don't need armies of extras in costume, because computer technology can turn a handful into a legion with the click of a mouse. (I will always think of I, Claudius, starring Derek Jacobi when I think about big budgets. The show was cheaply made, the sets were cardboard, and no on location shooting, yet it's compelling, even by today's standards.)

4. History is hard to find on the big screen. For decades the grand historical drama was the province of the big screen epic studio movie. Today is a different story. Historical settings are only deemed fitting for fantastical stories of pirates battling sea monsters, and cowboys fighting aliens. If you want a serious historical drama, you're out of luck in the theaters, and it's a gap that the small screen is happy to fill.

Now what is the secret to making a good historical drama that the audience will watch?

Well, it's not really a secret, just some careful planning.

1. Good material. Find a story and characters that would make good TV, then find a good writer(s) to adapt it, and good filmmakers to film them. If there aren't any talented people with a passion to tell the story in the best way they can, you've got nothing but a soap opera in fancy dress, and audiences will be bored.

2. Good casting. It takes a special kind of actor to be convincing in a costume drama. I fear that most contemporary Hollywood stars wouldn't take a job that might force them to change their hairstyle, or hide their trendy tattoos. This is probably why it looks like everyone in the past, from ancient Rome to medieval Spain, speaks with a British accent.

3. No judgement. One trap that people making historical dramas make is to judge historical figures and characters by modern standards and attitudes. That's a mistake. It turns your drama into a lecture about how wrong people were, and nobody likes lectures. A classic example of the "no judgement" formula is the infamous meeting scene in the pilot for Mad Men. In it a bunch of tobacco executives are complaining about government regulations hindering their advertising options because of health concerns. Meanwhile they're wheezing and gasping for breath in a cloud of toxins created by their product.

Now while there is loads of irony inherent in the scene, there is no malice among these tobacco executives. They aren't acting like they know their product is harmful, they can't bring themselves to believe what all the doctors are telling them. When Pete Campbell suggests using the "death wish" as a selling point, the reaction of the head tobacco guy is a horrified: "We're selling cigarettes, not rifles!"

It's the same with The Borgias. While the ads sell them in Canada as the "first crime family," the series itself shows that, when compared to their compatriots, they were products of their time, surrounded by wolves, and forced to be alpha Wolves to stay alive. That total envelopment into their world makes sure that it's not a lecture, but an intriguing drama.

For me, this looks like the beginning of a TV Golden Age, because I'm a freaking history buff of the first order.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #729: Talking About Television

Today two terrifically time-wasting tales about television!

REELZ FINDS ASYLUM

Fledgling cable channel Reelz has inked a deal with Asylum Entertainment to produce new shows in the aftermath of the ratings boon Reelz reaped with the History Channel's rejected
Kennedys miniseries.

First things first. Asylum Entertainment is a management and production company, it is not The Asylum, the company that makes those low rent mockbusters you sometimes see on the SyFy channel.

Now that we have that out of the way, let's look at
the pros, cons, and what they can both do to make this deal work for everyone.

The Kennedys did bring in viewers to the Reelz channel, but that's not a guarantee that they'll come back. The mini-series had a lot of publicity attached because of the hissy fit the Kennedy family had over it, and the History Channel's dropping it to not only avoid their wrath at anything less than a complete hagiography, but to make room for more "documentaries" about aliens visiting bigfoot in Nostradamus' living room.

Whatever they do afterwards cannot possibly get that sort of publicity. Unless all their new scripted shows will be about the peccadilloes, both fiscal & physical, of deceased Democratic presidents. I could whip up a screenplay,
Woodrow Wilson: Sex Machine, that they might be interested in, if that is their plan.

But even then, they can only go so far.

However, they're going to have to start producing their own content if they're going to survive. Reruns and cheap reality shows are not the brand you want to have if you want to thrive as a channel. The TV audience is getting increasingly fractured, and more picky about what they're going to watch. Meanwhile the major studios and production companies who would normally provide the programming are not going to waste their "A" material on a deep cable channel.

So what can they do?

Here's what I think:

1. Find gaps, fill gaps. Look at the TV landscape, look at what the other channels are doing when it comes to original programming, then look at what they're not doing. Look at what people want to see, usually expressed by cranks of the internet. Then see how you can fill those gaps.

2. Sketch comedy. Face it, a lot of shows produced for a relatively deep cable channel will be cheap. It's the nature of the beast. Nothing makes cheap work for a show better than sketch comedy where it can be used as a plus. Good sketch shows can spark the word of mouth needed to lure viewers without spending a lot of money. Wondering where you're going to find the sort of talent who can do quality sketch comedy on the cheap? There's the internet, improv and sketch troupes, and YouTube. Set a time slot for such comedy, and keep various comedians, or groups rotating through said time slot.

3. International markets/co-productions. You're going to need partners to get things done, and foreign markets are just as hungry for affordable quality content. Look at what can not only sell here, but abroad. Crime shows, science-fiction, whatever the audience wants.

4. Don't be afraid to take a chance, just don't bet the farm on it. Some risks will have to be taken. Making movies and TV will always be a gamble, even with the best of talent and intentions. The trick is to not spend so much on a risky project that it could take the whole operation down with it.

PIRATES ARE COMING TO FX

Warm up your "talk like a pirate" vocal chords because Cable network FX and Fox TV International are teaming up with producer Gale Anne Hurd's Valhalla Pictures and GK Films to produce a new drama series titled Port Royal.

If you're not historically inclined Port Royal was, for a time, the biggest British ruled city in the new world. It was a major center of commerce and foreign policy for the British Empire in the late 1600s. Of course that commerce and foreign policy involved a hell of a lot of piracy.

That's right ye scurvy dogs, I'm talking about pirates. And not your dainty, guy-liner wearing pirates you see in big budget Disney films, or the kind who sell homemade bootlegs of movies on street-corners, but real sea-faring pirates. The kind that would tie a man's lower intestine to a mast, while they were still alive, then throw him overboard just to see how long it would stretch out.

Personally, I've been thinking that a dramatic, non-fantasy based, story set in and around Port Royal would be extremely interesting. It was not only the "wickedest city on Earth," populated by pirates and prostitutes, but also housed churches, synagogues, and probably the most ethnically/racially/religiously diverse population of any single city in the world at the time.

It was also rife with conflict. Not just with the Spanish Empire, their favorite target, but also inside the community. There was a hell of a lot of jockeying for power between the privateers/pirates, and the rising landowner class who were making their fortune in sugar, tobacco, and slaves. I mean come on, who can resist the sort of moral dilemmas raised in conflicts between cutthroat thieves, the whores who love them, and the more "respectable" people who make their fortunes off of slaves.

Plus, if you know your history, you'll know that the series will have one hell of a finale episode.

I wish them good luck on this one.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Saturday Silliness Cinema: Hitler Wants To Meet Von Trier

You've probably heard about Danish director Lars Von Trier making comments where he "sympathized" with Adolph Hitler and the Nazis. He forgot the cardinal rule of European society, which is to keep their pro-Nazi statements private, and he was turfed from the festival. Well word is about to reach one of Von Trier's biggest fans, and he ain't happy about it.

NSFW- For some saucy subtitles.



Don't forget to visit yesterday's post, and pitch your ideas for remakes that MGM should do.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #728: MGM Needs Your Help!

Yep, another summer rerun, so to speak, but I did it like 2 years ago, so there's no harm, I guess, especially since it's newsworthy again.
Link
If you haven't already heard the recently revivified Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer movie studio has announced that they've hired a writer to scribble down a remake of the 1976 horror classic Carrie. Now I accept that MGM is going to have to do some remakes as part of their reconstruction plan, but I think that they're doing the wrong remakes.

First came
Fame, which didn't live forever, or learn how to fly. Then it was Red Dawn, which is still unreleased because the filmmakers are busy digitally recasting the villains from a country that could believably invade the USA, to a country that can't feed itself, for fear of having bootlegs of the movie sold in corner stores in Beijing.

Now it's
Carrie, which was already remade as TV pilot in 2002 that flopped.

This has to stop.

MGM needs to look at their library and find the
right movies to remake.

Movies that unlike
Fame, Carrie, and Red Dawn, aren't loaded with a lot of baggage from the eras they were originally made in. Movies that could be made better than the originals with advances in storytelling techniques, FX technology, and acting.

Here's the list I came up with last time with a few modifications:

TELEFON: The original was a Charles Bronson vehicle where he played a KGB agent hunting Donald Pleasance who is using the phone to set off brainwashed people and turn them into killers.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Liam Neeson plays a KGB agent sent to America as a "sleeper" in the 1980s, who stayed when the Soviet Union collapsed and built a nice life for himself. Suddenly the country is hit by a wave of terrorist attacks being performed by seemingly normal, middle-age, middle-class, average Americans. Neeson's character knows that they're the leftovers from a KGB Cold War brainwashing project. The son of the KGB General who ran the project (Gary Oldman) has the codes to set them off and is now renting the brainwashed people out to terrorist groups. You got explosions, a race against time, action, gunfights, and an ambitious & sexy FBI agent (Christina Hendricks) who joins up with Neeson, and you're golden.

THE SATAN BUG: A thriller about a mad scientist threatening to "play god" with vials of stolen bio-weapons and the secret agent tasked to stop him.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Despite being directed by action movie legend John Sturges, and a script by top action/adventure writers Alistair McLean, James Clavell, and screenwriter Edward Anhalt, was surprisingly light on real thrills. They were trying to be more cerebral and procedural than the Bond films but was found wanting by critics and audiences. My advice, take the thrills and suspense that's inherent in the story, and run with it. But instead of the usual CGI, try to use practical effects and stunts wherever possible to make it stand out from the others.

THE BRIDE WORE BLACK: A French film by Francois Truffaut, about a woman out for revenge when her husband's killed at their wedding.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Beautiful woman, action, suspense, and revenge among beautiful European locales, the film makes itself.

FROM NOON TIL THREE: A rare Charles Bronson romantic comedy. The premise is kind of complicated, an old west outlaw is on the run and separated from his gang. He finds a massive mansion in the middle of nowhere inhabited by a young widow and her overactive imagination. They have a three hour long tryst, and he runs off, only to be arrested for another person's crimes in a case of mistaken identity. While he's in jail, she thinks he died, and writes a book about their brief affair. The book becomes a global sensation, and when the Bronson character gets out of prison, not even his friends know him, only the image of him in the book. That's when things get weird.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: This only works if the lead actor is the absolutely last person you would imagine in a sort of romantic/comedic role. It can't be someone who has tainted their macho image trying to recapture the Kindergarten Cop magic by doing a silly family comedy. It needs someone like Jason Statham as the outlaw, and someone like Reese Witherspoon, as a romance-novel addled version of her Tracy Flick character as the widow. Another idea is updating the story to the Depression Era 1930s, and include a movie within the movie based on the widow's book featuring someone completely miscast playing the outlaw. Then you can have something that can be not only a raucous romantic/sexual comedy with action, but also a sharp satire of the modern image based media.

SECRET ADMIRER: An old fashioned romantic farce in the guise of an 80s teen sex comedy about a misdirected anonymous love letter that wreaks havoc wherever it goes.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: This will only work if the script is really, really, funny. Really. Then you need a good comic director, and a great young cast without going to the now "old" standbys.

YOUR PAST IS SHOWING: A mostly forgotten Peter Sellers black comedy about a TV star with a taste for elaborate disguises plotting to kill a blackmailing tabloid editor.

THE REMAKE CONCEPT: Jim Carrey dons a variety of disguises as he plots to snuff out an obnoxious gossip blogger who is blackmailing half of Hollywood. Trust me, the hissy fits it'll cause among real gossip bloggers will be worth millions in advertising.

Now this is where you come in. I want you to look at MGM's library (click here), and find something you would actually
like to see remade, that is right for MGM to remake. Now thanks to corporate bankruptcies this means no MGM films from before 1986, but you can include most films from the libraries of:
  1. United Artists (mostly post 1952)
  2. Orion Pictures
  3. American International Pictures
  4. Filmways Productions
  5. Motion Picture Corporation of America (pre-1996)
  6. Polygram Filmed Entertainment
  7. Island Pictures/Atlantic Releasing
  8. Empire Pictures
  9. Scotti Bros. Pictures
  10. Hemdale Pictures (sans Terminator)
Leave your suggestions in the comments, including how you'd pitch the remake, and then I'll steal your ideas and sell it to MGM for millions of dollars.

I might have a shot at that now that they have financing.

Bwah-hah-hah-hah!!

*cough*

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #727: Fall TV Preview

The major US Networks have set their schedules for the upcoming Fall TV season, and I've got their complete Fall TV line-ups peppered with my own brand of snark.

NBC
MONDAY

8/7c The Sing-Off

10 pm THE PLAYBOY CLUB- NBC is hoping to catch that Mad Men vibe with this show set at Chicago's premiere Playboy Club in the early 1960s. The problem is that despite the critical praise and awards, Mad Men doesn't get the audience that would make it a viable network show. A nudity clause in the contracts got up the kilt of the Parent's Television Council, which pretty much ensured that the show would be picked up. Furthering my theory that the PTC is really just a scam set up by publicists.

TUESDAY

8 pm The Biggest Loser

10 pm Parenthood

WEDNESDAY

8 pm UP ALL NIGHT - Will make you want to go to bed early. Just kidding, I don't know anything about this show, and probably never will.

8:30 pm FREE AGENTS- Feh agents.

9 pm Harry’s Law [new time slot]- There's a show called Harry's Law?

10 pm Law & Order: Special Victims Unit- Last Law & Order standing. Used to be a fan, but have long since drifted away.

THURSDAY

8 pm Community - Best comedy on TV. If you are not watching it, you sir, are a PUSILLANIMOUS POLTROON!

8:30 pm Parks and Recreation [new-ish time slot]

9 pm The Office- Will get a new boss, and probably canceled, because audiences don't like change.

9:30 pm WHITNEY- A sitcom centering on a comedian best known for the Comedy Central Roasts. Will she sell in the censored environs of network TV? Don't know, don't really care.

10 pm PRIME SUSPECT- Wow, a cop show about a tough no-nonsense policewoman who cracks the cases her male counterparts can't. I've never seen that premise before.


FRIDAY

8 pm Chuck [new time slot]

9 pm GRIMM- Basically a rip off of the comic book Fables, but without the imagination, that's about a cop who fights fairy tale monsters. The outlook for this show is grim with one "m."

10 pm Dateline NBC

SATURDAY

Repeats “Encore programming”

SUNDAY

7 pm Football Night in America

8:15 pm NBC Sunday Night Football

ABC

MONDAY

8/7c Dancing with the Stars

10 pm Castle

TUESDAY

8 pm LAST MAN STANDING- Feh.

8:30 pm MAN UP- If you have to be told to man up, it's already too late.

9 pm Dancing with the Stars Results Show

10 pm Body of Proof

WEDNESDAY

8 pm The Middle

8:30 pm SUBURGATORY - Comedy about wacky suburbanites. Probably feel like purgatory to the audience.

9 pm Modern Family

9:30 pm Happy Endings [new time slot]

10 pm REVENGE- This will be the network's revenge on the audience.

THURSDAY

8 pm CHARLIE’S ANGELS-

9 pm Grey’s Anatomy

10 pm Private Practice


FRIDAY

8 pm Extreme Makeover: Home Edition [new time slot]

9 pm Shark Tank [new time slot]

10 pm 20/20

SATURDAY

8 pm Saturday Night College Football

SUNDAY

7 pm America’s Funniest Home Videos

8 pm ONCE UPON A TIME - Another Fables rip-off.

9 pm Desperate Housewives

10 pm PAN AM - Another Mad Men rip-off, this set in the then sexy world of air travel, with sexy stewardesses, and sexy pilots on sexy planes flying to sexy places to do sexy things with other sexy people, then a sexy commercial break for a sexy ad for Depends.

FOX

MONDAY

8/7c TERRA NOVA- Fox canceled The Chicago Code to make room for this landlocked version of SeaQuest DSV with Dinosaurs. The only reason it will last more than one season will be Fox's desperation to make something back from the gazillions spent on making the show.

9 pm House

TUESDAY


8 pm Glee

9 pm NEW GIRL- Completely dependent on the charms of star Zooey Deschanel, which are considerable, and go beyond her physical beauty. The audience needs to love her somewhat naive and spazzy character, and the show has to make them love her without being too preciously cutesy.

9:30 pm Raising Hope

WEDNESDAY

8-9:30 pm THE X FACTOR- Simon Cowell returns to make shitloads more money. Warm up your vocal chords nut-jobs, you have another shot to be the next guy like that one who did "She Bangs" so badly he got a full 14 minutes of fame.

9:30 pm I HATE MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER - I hate this show and I haven't even seen it yet.

THURSDAY

8 pm THE X FACTOR (Results Show)- The results of a show I don't really care about. I'll be watching Community, and you should be too.

9 pm Bones

FRIDAY

8 pm Kitchen Nightmares

9 pm Fringe

SATURDAY

8 pm Cops

9 pm Encores/America’s Most Wanted (Specials)


SUNDAY

7:30 pm The Cleveland Show

8 pm The Simpsons

8:30 pm ALLEN GREGORY- New animated show about some sort of genius child who I assume gets his intellect and ambition crushed by the dysfunctional American public school system.

9 pm Family Guy

9:30 pm American Dad

CBS

MONDAY

8/7c How I Met Your Mother

8:30 pm: 2 BROKE GIRLS- If it's a show about wacky single life in New York city I'll be shocked, because that's never been done before.

9 pm: Two and a Half Men- Sans Sheen, avec Kutcher, sans me watching it.

9:30 pm: Mike & Molly

10 pm Hawaii Five-0

TUESDAY

8 pm NCIS

9 pm NCIS: LA

10 pm UNFORGETTABLE- Probably mis-titled.

WEDNESDAY

8 pm Survivor

9 pm Criminal Minds

10 pm CSI [new time slot]

THURSDAY

8 pm The Big Bang Theory

8:30 pm HOW TO BE A GENTLEMAN- How to be a show I'll probably not watch.

9 pm PERSON OF INTEREST- New show from the JJ Abrams empire. Will no doubt plop a lot of mysteries on the audience, then never answer them, and call anyone who calls bullshit on it stupid for not "getting it."

10 pm The Mentalist

FRIDAY
8 pm A GIFTED MAN- I read a report that said it's about a surgeon who gets advice from the ghost of his dead wife. If they're not solving mysteries by mid-season the show will collapse with viewers.

9 pm CSI: NY

10 pm Blue Bloods

SATURDAY

8 pm Rules of Engagement [new time slot]

8:30 pm Comedy Encores

9 pm Drama Encores

10 pm 48 Hours Mystery

SUNDAY

7 pm 60 Minutes

8 pm The Amazing Race

9 pm The Good Wife [new time slot]

10 pm CSI: Miami

The CW

MONDAY

8 pm Gossip Girl [new time slot]

9 pm HART OF DIXIE- If this isn't a southern-fried reboot of Hart To Hart, I will disappointed, because Robert Wagner needs the work.

TUESDAY

8 pm 90210 [new time slot]

9 pm RINGER- Sarah Michelle Gellar is back on TV. Hope it's as good as Buffy, and can get beyond the very narrow, "can she get away with it," premise.

WEDNESDAY

8 pm H8R- Celebrities get to meet the people who don't like them. Never has uncomfortable silences been so compelling.

9 pm America’s Next Top Model

THURSDAY
8 pm The Vampire Diaries

9 pm THE SECRET CIRCLE- Vampire Diaries with witches.

FRIDAY

8 pm Nikita [new time slot] - The American TV remake of the Canadian TV remake of the American movie remake of the French film gets a second season. Just its origins are confusing.

9 pm Supernatural

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Book Report: Amazon Expands Into Mystery

Internet bookseller Amazon is expanding their nascent publishing operation with the launch of new mystery imprint Thomas & Mercer. I'm assuming that they've named the company after Canadian comedians Dave Thomas and Rick Mercer, but I could be wrong.

Anyhoo... This new imprint with join their other publishing Montlake, which specializes in romance fiction, an imprint specializing in translating international books, and one for new authors.

What does this tell you?

Take a moment to think about it, while I tell you what this news tells me.

It tells me that the mainstream publishing industry isn't pumping out the product that Amazon needs to stock its virtual shelves in either quantity or quality.

For Amazon to be a profitable bookseller they need to a variety of product, and lots of it. Like the movie studios, many publishing companies are reducing their output because, like the studios, they have a bad business model. The biggest trend in publishing lately has been to invest most of their resources in a handful of "star" related projects. Basically tossing book deals to anyone with the slightest modicum of fame who isn't a writer.

Now this broad generalization includes people in the news whose memoirs might be of interest to the public, but it also includes almost every second rate basic cable reality TV star whether they have anything of interest to say or not. Basically books by people who don't write, for people who don't read, by people who don't care.

The publishing industry's usual defense is to point at the New York Times Best-Seller, and go "See! See!" at the names of those same reality TV stars peppered on the list like the spice on a shit sandwich.

To them I would ask:
How long do these books by celebrity authors usually stay on the New York Times Best Seller list?

Does their usually short stint on the best-seller list mean that the publisher made a profit on the often hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, spent on advances to those authors, manufacturing, shipping, and marketing their books?

How many of these same "celebrity authors" fail to make it onto the best-seller list after spending hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions spent
on advances to those authors, manufacturing, shipping, and marketing their books?

How many more traditional books of fiction and non-fiction could have been published and marketed properly if the money hadn't been wasted pursuing the snake-oil panacea of celebrity authors?
If anyone has the answers to those questions, let me know in the comments.

But that's not the only problem affecting the industry. The New York centered industry is becoming increasingly New York centric, mimicking the movie studios/TV networks that enveloped them during the leveraged takeover era of the 1980s and 1990s. Either chasing the aforementioned cash expensive but creatively cheap "celebrity" projects, self-important "literary" fiction that get them awards and pats on the back from their colleagues for their "courage" and "daring," while mostly ignoring the genre fiction that is the backbone of the industry, or chasing every fleeting trend that comes their way in the vain hope that it will become the next Harry Potter or Twilight blockbuster.

So you see, Amazon doesn't really have much of a choice, it's publish or eventually perish. In conclusion, if Amazon treats authors right, and not like that boondoggle screenplay contest they recently held, I wish them all the luck in the world.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #726: Random Snark Attack

Not much business news for me to harp on at the moment, so I'm just going to dump a hell of a lot of snarkasm at people way richer than me!

Let the fun begin!

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger has separated from his wife Maria Shriver after 25 years. The cause for the split was him impregnating one of the family's maids.

But that's not the shocking part.

The part that has shocked Californians are reports that the maid in question was a legal US Citizen.

What pissed Maria Shriver off the most was that her husband was acting like a Kennedy.

In a related story Schwarzenegger's planned
Terminator comeback project will now be retitled The Sperminator.

2. Seth MacFarlane has been contracted by Warner Bros. to do a reboot of the venerable cartoon
The Flintstones. I can now present to you an excerpt from every script of the upcoming rebooted Flintstones.
FRED: Hey Barney, this reminds me of the time I... (Insert Random Visual Gag Here)
3. Actor/Raconteur/Race & Marital Relations Expert Mel Gibson got a standing ovation at a screening of The Beaver at the Cannes Film Festival.

Oh those wacky French and their love of Anti-Semites.

4. The Fox Network canceled
The Chicago Code to make room for Stephen Spielberg's time-travel/dinosaur soap Terra Nova. That's technically incorrect. To be more accurate: Fox canceled The Chicago Code to make room for the show that will be on after Terra Nova gets canceled.


5. Recently Twitter suggested that I follow the US Secret Service, and I had to ask:

A) Why are they on Twitter, aren't they supposed to be secret?

B) Isn't it their job to follow
me?

*KNOCK-KNOCK*

Who could that be?

Oh, it's the US Secret Service, and they have a gift for me. Sweet! It's an all expense paid vacation at a resort called Guantanamo Bay. Sounds like a sexy Club Med kinda place.

Why is my ticket one way?

What's with the tasers?

*ZZZZZZAAAAAAPPPPPP*

AAAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!!!!!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #725: This Blog Is Now The Property of The Walt Disney Corporation

Thanks to reader Kit Johnson who reminded me about this story.

If you're too lazy to click the link I'll sum it up for you. The Walt Disney Company, the world's biggest purveyor of family friendly entertainment and related merchandise has filed applications to register the name, crest, and any affiliated symbols of Seal Team 6, the special forces unit that recently took out Usama Bin Ladin.

This raises a couple of questions for me that I think the folks at Disney have forgotten to ask.

Why?

&

Can They?

Now let's look deeper into those questions.

WHY?

What does Disney expect to accomplish with registering everything about Seal Team 6 as their property? Their last attempt to tackle the ripped from the headlines subject matter of terrorism and American foreign policy, ABC's mini-series
The Path To 9/11, was such a political hot-potato the company took it after it's initial airing and buried it somewhere beneath Robert Iger's backyard swimming pool.

Also we have to remember that Disney has been phasing out anything with a rating harsher than PG, and prefers things to be G-Rated, and involve cute characters that can become merchandise they can sell at Christmas-time.

Any movie or TV show that climaxes with a gangly psychopath getting his face blown off with
an assault rifle is not going to be G-Rated. While young boys would think that heavily armed Navy Seal action figures would be cool, I doubt they'd mesh well with Disney's Princesses, and let's not forget the anti-violent toy/game parents groups who love raising hell as much as that gaggle of malcontents who flood the FCC with letters everyone mutters a bit of the ye-olde Anglo Saxon on TV.

Which brings me back to the original question.

Why?

The only reason I can think of is that while Disney might not be able to profit properly from owning Navy Seal Team 6, they sure as hell are going to make sure that no one else does.

Now the second question.

CAN THEY?

Something about
this doesn't pass the smell test. I mean if Disney succeeds, then I could literally walk down to the trademark registration office and apply to own the name, logos, and bric-a-brac of the US Marine Corps.

Now if I did that, I'd expect to not only be visited in the night by grumpy Marines forced to pay me to wear their "globe & anchor" that they earned in the field of battle, but by lawyers from the US government saying that I was violating the property rights of the United States government.

I assume, and I might be making an ass of you and me, that such material of the US military is the property of the US military, and not of any corporation that can swan in and take it, because they have a lot of loud lawyers with fat retainers.

I fully expect this application to be challenged in the courts. How it will end though, is anyone's guess.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #724: Bridesmaids Busts The Chick Flick

Judd Apatow and Paul Feig's chick flick Bridesmaids has over-performed at the box office, earning $24 million to put it at second place after comic book fantasy epic Thor. Joe Flint, Media reporter at the LA Times made a salient point with his Twitter, he says that he's expecting most movie reporters to use the film as evidence that the female audience is under-served, but he thinks its success comes from that it's not like all the other "rom-coms" that are usually aimed at women.

I have to agree, and after I make my case, I think you will too.

I want you to take a minute and think about the films aimed at a female audience from the past five years.

How many can you name?

The names
Sex & The City and The Devil Wears Prada are probably the first ones to pop into your head. Yet a lot more were made, look at this most likely partial list I dug up:
  1. It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006)
  2. Just My Luck (2006)
  3. Failure to Launch (2006)
  4. P.S. I Love You (2007)
  5. My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006)
  6. The Holiday (2006)
  7. She's The Man (2006)
  8. The Heartbreak Kid (2007)
  9. I Think I Love My Wife (2007)
  10. Knocked Up (2007)
  11. Music and Lyrics (2007)
  12. Good Luck Chuck (2007)
  13. The Other End of the Line (2008)
  14. Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
  15. Sex and the City (2008)
  16. 27 Dresses (2008)
  17. Mamma Mia! (2008)
  18. Another Cinderella Story (2008)
  19. My Sassy Girl (2008)
  20. Definitely, Maybe (2008)
  21. Fool's Gold (2008)
  22. Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008)
  23. Made of Honor (2008)
  24. What Happens in Vegas (2008)
  25. Picture This (2008)
  26. How to Lose Friends and Alienate People (2008)
  27. Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008)
  28. My Best Friend's Girl (2008)
  29. Over Her Dead Body (2008)
  30. The Break-Up Artist (2009)
  31. Falling Up (2009)
  32. Bride Wars (2009)
  33. He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
  34. Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)
  35. Duplicity (2009)
  36. The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (2009)
  37. My Life in Ruins (2009)
  38. The Proposal (2009)
  39. The Ugly Truth (2009)
  40. Did You Hear About the Morgans? (2009)
  41. It's Complicated (2009)
  42. The Rebound (2009)
  43. I Hate Valentine's Day (2009)
  44. Play the Game (2009)
  45. Leap Year (2010)
  46. Valentine's Day (2010)
  47. When in Rome (2010)
  48. She's Out of My League (2010)
  49. The Bounty Hunter (2010)
  50. The Back-Up Plan (2010)
  51. Letters to Juliet (2010)
  52. Killers (2010)
  53. Sex and the City 2 (2010)
  54. Going the Distance (2010)
  55. The Switch (2010)
  56. You Again (2010)
  57. Life as We Know It (2010)
  58. Love and Other Drugs (2010)
  59. How Do You Know (2010)
  60. No Strings Attached (2011)
  61. Just Go With It (2011)
We're talking about an average of about 10 films a year, give or take, that's pretty good for a single genre in this era of shrinking studio outputs. So there goes the claims that women are under-served, at least in the field of quantity. Quality however, is a different story. The bulk of these films, even the commercially successful ones, are usually forgotten by the audience within 15 minutes of leaving the theater. The most common complaints about such films is that they're formulaic, dull, predictable, and rely too much on consumerist fantasy with make-over & fashion montages more dominant than any actual romance.

It wasn't always like this. There was a time, otherwise known as the Golden Age of Hollywood, where "chick flicks" ruled the roost. A lot of Hollywood's output was geared towards women, and not just romantic comedies, but dramas, mysteries, and just about any other genre of film that didn't require monsters, shoot-outs, or slapstick to keep people watching. However, over the decades, times changed, and the female audience began to fall by the wayside in the mind of Hollywood's major studios, at least when it came to feature films. Here's why:

1. NEW MEDIUMS: Television took a real bite out of the women's film market in the 1950s. TV shows, from soaps to sitcoms, whittled away at the time women used to spend going to theaters. The studios responded by trying to turn modest melodramas into cinemascope and technicolor epics, with mixed, occasionally disastrous, results. Big screens demanded big drama, and outside of historical epics a lot of it was lost, especially because of the...

2. THE SEXUAL REVOLUTION: Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, and of the chick flick, things like infidelity, divorce, and sexual promiscuity had serious social consequences. During the 1960s and 1970s those serious social consequences were, for the most part, swept away. Also swept away was the dramatic weight they carried in anything outside of historical costume drama. So the films got smaller, and fell from audience interest because of...

3. SHIFTING DEMOS: Demos are short for demographics, the mathematical system of tracking the personal attributes, age, sex, income level, and education, of audiences. Back in the Golden Age, EVERYONE went to the movies on a regular basis. Large swathes of the population lived within walking distance of their local theater, and went at least twice of more times a week. Starting in the 1950s things began to change. Communities became less concentrated in and around cities and small towns, became more suburban, more car-dependent, and more spread out. Going to the theater went from an on-foot jaunt, to a automotive slog through traffic to a mall/multiplex parking lot, and every step of that costing money.

As these things developed, the ranks of regular weekly movie-goers went from 75% to around 11% and the bulk of them being males in their teens and early twenties. The sort of movies that women liked became less important as Hollywood caught a bad case of...

4. BLOCKBUSTER-ITIS: Males in their teens and twenties not only went to movies regularly, they would pay to see movies they really liked multiple times. Then they'd buy the home video version.

That kind of customer could turn a regular little action/sci-fi film into a record breaking mega blockbuster, that could not only fill the coffers of the studio making them, but get nice promotions and bonuses for the executives who gave them the green-light. The female audience didn't normally break records, and that made them less important, and projects appealing to female audiences tended to be passed down to the increasingly demographically fractured television market, leaving only "romantic comedies" to serve as "date night" fodder. However the studios weren't going to burn many calories on them because...

5. ROMANTIC COMEDIES DON'T MAKE GOOD FRANCHISES: Think about your favorite romantic comedies.

Then think about their sequels.

There aren't many, and the few that do exist are usually forgettable, and often regrettable. Why? Because romantic comedies are all about the happy ending. The couple ride off in the sunset to live happily ever after. Making a sequel basically tells the audience that all the characters they loved went through was for nothing, now give us more money as we rehash everything all over again.

Space travelers always have a new planet to go to, cops always have a new criminal to pursue, and superheroes always have a new supervillain to foil. Not so with romantic comedies. The studios will keep making them, because they're relatively cheap, unless James L. Brooks makes them, and have a captive audience as the only game in town, but they aren't going to put much effort in breaking the formulas with any originality.

Then along comes Bridesmaids, a low-brow farce with heart, and farts, and now the game looks very different. Of course, since the studios run by their own rules they will go down two different tracks. One will be imitation, and turn the breath of fresh air that is Bridesmaids into the blueprint of a legion of limp imitations, or they will just ignore it, and go back to the same old/same old that they've relied on for decades.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Saturday Silliness Cinema: My Little Watchmen

While Blogger is still acting up a bit, it seems to be functioning again. So let's take a break from my usual ranting about pop culture and the business behind it for a little laugh.

Today, a trailer that shows that if Zack Snyder went cute instead of gritty, his movie Watchmen would have made more money.



PS: If anyone knows the name(s) of the music playing in the background let me know. Trying to remember where I heard it before is bugging me.