Choosing The Movies We Choose To See
So buried in the comments in the post below, which largely center on whether it is racist to have never seen a Tyler Perry movie, is a larger-arcing question -- why do we choose the movies we choose to see?
When I was younger and living in Manhattan, I literally saw 12-20 movies a month in theaters, which pretty much encompassed anything that had any possibility of being good.
Now I'm down to 1-2 a month in theaters, maybe more in the early summer and the end of the year, when there is stuff crying out to be seen. In other words, I've sort of morphed into an approximation of an average filmgoer.
And pretty much my pool of movies I want to see is this:
1) Movies that are supposed to be at least very good, or entertaining, or just plain really funny. But the bar is fairly high here.
2) Movies starring people I like, or from directors I like, or with subject matter than might interest me, or which promise to be funny enough to counter their not being that good, or in which Natalie Portman is naked. In all of these instances, the bar is lower -- I might go see a mediocre (or worse) example of one of these films.
When it comes to Tyler Perry movies, it isn't a matter of race. It's a matter of their not being good enough to break into category #1 (so far) and because he hasn't made a movie that really hits my #2 yet.
Not because it's full of black people, but because of the subject matter. I'm not big on wacky movies about men dressed up as women (Tyler Perry's usual m.o.), unless they are great. The current WHY DID I GET MARRIED? is about couples getting together to talk about their marital problems. Cast this with white people, and it would probably be horrific -- hell, I'm more likely to see it with the current cast.
The problem with Hollywood is that they know about the #1 and #2 thing, and I think too often they see #1 as elusive -- they won't want to count on their movie being great, or even very good. So that's why they fill their movies up with stars, or remake TV shows or movies that people are familiar with, or go for the big spectacle stuff, because they are trying to hit as many people's #2 as they can. Unfortunately, again, in this category, films don't need to be great to make money.
The day that audiences just stick with #1 -- only seeing movies that are great, or at least very good -- is the day Hollywood will change the way they do business. But it'll never happen.
Give WHY DID I GET MARRIED? credit though; it made $21.3 million over the weekend, to get first place in a runaway. Though the reviews (when they finally came; they didn't screen the film for critics) make it clear that this isn't the Perry film that is going to make many people's #1 category.
THE GAME PLAN did $11 million to take second; it's another #2 category type hit. People will see mediocre if it brings enough funny.
Despite good reviews, WE OWN THE NIGHT and MICHAEL CLAYTON each did between $10 and $11 million; again, quality isn't everything. Sadly.
ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE opened with a disappointing $6.1 million. THE FINAL SEASON did a horrific $664,000 in over 1000 theaters.
In limited release, SLEUTH didn't do very well. I'm not sure why not.