The Day The Movies Died

There’s a wonderful article in the February issue of GQ to help keep us all honest about going out to the movies. While the writer, Mark Harris, backpedals a little at the end and points the finger back at us, the moviegoers, for a bit, overall his thesis is spot on: Hollywood is not in any hurry to make any movie it considers a risk and, nowadays, an original thought-provoking and artistic movie is the least appealing project to bankroll. Even something as amazing as “Inception” would be passed on unless, of course, it was “Inception 2.” What is welcome is something familiar, something that already is a brand. In fact, the movie itself needs to be a brand. So, yeah, we are at the mercy of marketing which means as many Pirates of the Caribbean movies as humanly possible. We may have reached critical mass with that franchise.

Here is a delightful snippet from this think piece. Here, it is discussing demographics:

That leaves one quadrant – men under 25 – at whom the majority of studio movies are aimed, the thinking being that they’ll eat just about anything that’s put in front of them as long as it’s spiked with the proper set of stimulants. That’s why, when you look at the genres that currently dominate Hollywood – action, raunchy comedy, game/toy/ride/comic-book adaptations, horror, and, to add an extra jolt of Red Bull to all of the preceding catagories, 3-D – they’re all aimed at the same ADD-addled, short-term-memory-lacking, easily excitable testosterone junkie. In a world dominated by marketing, it was inevitable that the single quadrant that would come to matter most is the quadrant that’s most willing to buy product even if it’s mediocre.

Marketing doesn’t care one scintilla if what they’re pushing is any good. We know that, don’t we? Well, when I see “we,” I am assuming you agree that Hollywood generally sucks and that much, too much, of what is offered up to the general public as entertainment is questionable. It wasn’t always like that. There is oh so much written about that golden age of movies, back in the ’70s, when daring and intelligent movies reigned. And that went downhill when “Jaws” and “Star Wars,” both fine films in their own right, ushered in the concept of summer blockbuster movies. That began the downward spiral to fixating on movies as product to be pushed on as many rubes as possible. It led to the idea of spawning movies from old TV shows, which led to movies spun from just about anything that was already a brand. Soon, we’ll have a movie based on The Magic 8 Ball. Everyone knows what that is, right? Marketing smells a winner. Is the famous toy a metaphor for a bigger truth? No, that sounds too much like an arthouse film. It’s just going to be a movie about a toy and some fun stuff happens: some car chases, explosions, T&A, violence, comedy, and we’re done.

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2 responses to “The Day The Movies Died

  1. Thanks! I think that gives you a good frame of reference as to where I’m coming from. Now, I’m not totally against seeing Johnny Depp in this new pirate caper. It should be a hoot.

    But we don’t want to see all of our major motion pictures as mere comfort food. I usually don’t even go for the tub of pop corn and mega soda pop when I go out to see a movie.

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