a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Crap Wins Again

This past weekend at the box office again just underlines that Hollywood doesn't have to make good movies to make money. So why should they?

The number 1 movie in the country is "Doom", which (if Ebert and Roeper are to be believed) is the worst movie of the year. Still, it made $15 million in its first three days. It'll go on to make some more here, lots more overseas, and then I'm sure Blockbuster will order 50 copies for each of its stores.

No one is going to get fired for this. Even if it is the worst movie of the year.

Though overall, according to Rotten Tomatoes, "The Fog" got worse reviews. Still, it was number 1 last weekend, and has done a fairly solid $21 million in its first ten days, for a movie with no stars that is supposed to be dumb, dumb, dumb.

Meanwhile, solid adult-skewing movies like "History of Violence", "In Her Shoes" and "North Country" (which I saw, good acting, worth seeing) are going to struggle to reach $30 million each, even though they are good of their type. Not great movies, but very good ones.

And that's the problem. You're setting out to make a movie. Which do you make -- the one based on the video game/TV show/remake of an old movie, which tend to do solid business even if (when) they stink? Or take a shot at doing a prestige movie like "North Country", where if it had gotten terrible reviews would have made about $5 million, instead of the $30 million it might stumble along to?

And that's Hollywood. Where low risk and low quality is more important than high risk and high quality.

So kudos to eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll, whose Participant Productions is geared to making social-minded films, from "North Country" to "Goodnight and Good Luck", to the upcoming "Syriana", which looks like it is going to be great -- movies that, if they sucked, wouldn't make a dime. That takes the kind of courage that Hollywood has less and less of nowadays.

And shame on audiences that go see crap like "Doom" and "The Fog", which just confirms to Hollywood that quality doesn't matter.


At 9:09 PM, Blogger shecanfilmit said...

I just saw Capote and spent half the movie on the edge of my seat. Bravo!

I think I'll see In Her Shoes next -- both you and another reader friend found it well done.

At 9:09 PM, Blogger writergurl said...

I went to see "Domino" the other night with two of my friends. What an utter piece of crap. THEN, I read a review of it, somewhere online, and the reviewer just about proclaimed that the damned thing gave him a woody.

Made me wonder if he even saw it.

At 11:29 PM, Blogger Chris (UK Scriptwriter) said...

Alas, I think this is the state of things.

Isn't there a Halo movie of the X Box game in production?

I bet the pitch went something like this.

Pitcher: "It's a Halo movie!"
Exec: "Huh?"
Pitcher: "It's a movie based on the best selling X Box game!"
Exec: "Perfect! Let me sign this cheque... Now I'll write in how much I'll give you... shit my pen has run out... it doesn't matter, you just fill in the rest with whatever you want."

Or am I just a cynic?

At 8:36 AM, Blogger Jennica said...

Chris, I heard that Microsoft actually commissioned a script by Alex Garland, then had a representative dressed as "Master Chief" from Halo deliver said script to the major studios on the same morning, each saying "you have today to make your bid".

Turns out you're not cynical at all!

At 11:42 AM, Blogger Shawna said...

Here's the problem. NO ONE WANTS TO SEE THOSE MOVIES! Who wants to go to a theater and see grubby Charlize Theron, who may give an astounding performance, but is nonetheless grubby and all 'Norma Rae'? *I* don't even want to see that. Maybe on DVD. Not in a theater.

I understand your frustration, Scott, and I'm not saying we should be trying to push the drek on the masses, but movies like the ones you mentioned are like 'movie spinach' -- they may be good for you, but you have to be really hungry to want to take it in.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Still, it's a shame that if you're in the mood for something escapist and fun, there just aren't the quality choices out there, because we don't really demand there be.

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think people really want to see The Rock. He's very charismatic and is great on the big screen. I truly feel he will be a huge success and should look to follow a career path similiar to Arnold.

At 6:14 AM, Blogger Maura said...

Hey Scott, don't get too depressed. I don't think it's as bad as you think. I've just written an entry (inspired by your post) analysing some box office returns.

The bottom line still points to an audience desire for decent stories that are well-told.

So chin-up, and write that amazing script that audiences crave and love. :)


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