Studios— Drink a bottle of Neuro Bliss and take a step back—-
According to several sources, including the article linked above, Green Lantern cost $200m and only raked in $219m worldwide- barely covering itself—- and it wasn’t even good (opinion or fact? you decide). Forget the additional $100m they pumped into marketing that you won’t hear about.
Meanwhile, ‘Buried’ which also starred Ryan Reynolds— in a box underground for 90 mins, equipped with a zippo lighter and a dying cell phone— raked in the same $19m worldwide yet cost under $2m to produce. Something to think about—- I wonder how much more it would have made had it been marketed to the masses at even a fraction of the green lantern P&A? (for those that are just waking up from NYE, I’m not really ‘wondering’. It’s more of a trigger word than anything.)
I don’t mean to spotlight Hal Jordan exclusively— it’s not his fault they f*cked him up. I’m sure on certain planets he’s still pretty cool, but it’s a prime example demonstrating the need for studio execs to take a breather and go back to basics yet again. Now, let’s hope all involved can make use of the cliches of New Year’s, Auld Lang Syne, resolutions and such to make this happen posthaste.
People will think about seeing, and many of those will actually go see, anything that has been advertised enough— this we know— It’s why they pump so much marketing into bad movies. So try this— start being budget conscious for one— then you can afford to take some risks like you did when the system was falling apart in the 60’s and Easy Rider comes storming in alongside movies like The Graduate, Taxi Driver, The Godfather I & II, Don’t Look Now, Rosemary’s Baby, M*A*S*H*, Dirty Harry, Blazing Saddles (these are just a quick few off a long-list— please feel free to add your own— you all know the era to which I refer…)
Don’t take your losses on mega blockbusters. Continue to make them, by all means— we love them—-just do a better job when it comes to making them. Don’t murder Superman ever again. Jesus F*ck, that was bad. Granted, ages ago, relatively speaking, but I just had to get that out before Man of Steel rightfully corrects the ship (hope hope)
While you’re figuring out how to make these right again (hint: screenplay), take your calculated risks on more avante garde product— no, not a man in a latex suit masturbating in chocolate pudding with a lion mask on, shot in black and white at a dutch angle to illustrate the the dichotomy between what it means to be human and animal all the same. (please not that)— I mean start buying product before you go making new stuff that you have to con everyone into seeing. Vet your development execs better— give them an allowance and have them choose 3-5 films at festival/market – low budget fare, to measure their ‘eye’, and then see how they fare, then take risks on Owen Wilson/Kate Hudson vehicles written by someone with a few great ‘Modern Family’ specs.
Buy product that gives you chills, nightmares, makes you laugh your ass off, even blush while doing so, cry in front of your associates… spend money on that for a little bit— or hand a camera and a dollar bill to those who have proven their ability to do that for you in the first place and then, get the f*ck out of the way. Write the checks and let them do what THEY do.
We’re in for a shake-up, this is for certain— as the pendulum swings, the film market’s digestive track is simply going through a cleansing phase, squeezing out the last bit of waste and fecal matter before the real auteurs come in and steal the screen back, once again, en masse. I cannot wait to see what this new era brings!
I should also add, and this is crucial to the demise of this year’s B.O. decline, I think the home video market is shaking things up quite a bit more than the entertainment media gives it credit for— yes we’ve all read articles about what’s happening now and that VOD is strong and markets are being tested, etc.—but look into your crystal ball a bit more— the 80” flatscreens a mainstay on shopnbc, 3D glasses at home, 7.1 sound systems, vs. poor service, selection and pricing at movie theater concession stands, inflated ticket prices in a down economy, turnaround time from theater to La-Z-boy, not to mention a growing concern for overall health, spreading of germs, heating/cooling preferences in theaters,— these things make most say outloud- I’ll just watch it at home.
I love going to the movie theater, as, when its full, the warmth of a crowd— the laughs, the kleenex dabs and the jumps and screams can make even a below-par movie seem a lot more satisfying—-but I see far less the crowd each and every year. Roger Ebert echoes some of this in his own commentary this year. I’m not an extremist- they’ll always find a way to keep the movie theater alive (or at least ‘present tense’ Mark hopes they do), but home entertainment is where a good portion of the box office is going and I’m certain that many of the ‘box office failures’ of 2011 will do just fine in the Home Entertainment market.
That said, here is my short, off-the-cuff List of Studio and Independent Movies of Late That Show We’re Still Alive and Feeling (and all is not nearly as hopeless as we’ve feared):
The Adventures of TinTin (SAS finally figured out how to successfully re-incarnate Indiana Jones!), Inglourious Basterds, Pan’s Labyrinth (a ways back, but still an all-time fave), The Social Network, Tree of Life (He’s still got it…Malick, that is), Melancholia, Doubt, Let Me In (remake done right), The Fighter, Toy Story 3, Black Swan, Drag Me To Hell, Quantum of Solace (thank you for resuscitating this guy), Drive, Bridesmaids…again, there are a good handful of others that could be mentioned here, so feel free to add your own!
An education in review: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Hollywood