ALLIGATORS IN A HELICOPTER

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

Friday, July 10, 2009

Weekend Box Office #142

This weekend in the cinemaplex:

BRUNO (2755 theaters). I've read predictions that this is going to make a ton of money (like $30-$40 million-plus opening weekend), and somehow I don't think it's going to do that well. The problem with the way they are selling this -- as another Borat -- is that I think people sort of got tired of Borat, while this doesn't seem like anywhere near as interesting a character. The reviews are solid, and it benefits from nothing else really opening this weekend, but I'm going to say that it may have trouble breaking $20 million for the weekend. Call it $18.2 million.

I LOVE YOU BETH COOPER (1858 theaters). I haven't really sensed the big hook that is going to yank in teen audiences. $6.4 million.

*************

Last weekend, ICE AGE: DAWN OF THE DINOSAURS made $41.7 million. PUBLIC ENEMIES did $25.2 million. Both should hold pretty well this weekend; I wouldn't be surprised if ICE AGE, which narrowly finished second to TRANSFORMERS last weekend, won the weekend.

52 Comments:

At 9:55 AM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

I'm kinda interested to see how "Bruno" does. Its insulting humor aimed at sterotypes may signal a new level of social conciousness; where it's okay to make fun of certain groups again without sufferning a big backlash.
Overall, just from the previews, I have mixed feelings about "Bruno." It looks like the kind of humor that works for 1 - 2 scenes -- but can it carry a movie?

Wish they made more movies like "I Love You Beth Cooper." This premice is SOOOO 80s; guy pines for a hot girl, ends up going on a wild ride. Unforotunately, I'm not a big Hayden Panettiere fan. And the previews of the adventure don't look that interesting or funny. But the good news is the 80s are back! We could use some of that fun now. Harbinger of things to come? I hope so, just hope later films do it better.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

 
At 10:17 AM, Blogger Matt said...

One review of Beth Cooper said something along the lines of:

"suffering through 'I Love You, Beth Cooper' is like being locked in detention with 5 idiots who are misquoting 'The Breakfast Club.'"

The fact that Chris Columbus directed it won't help. He's a hack in the worst way.

Bruno doesn't look nearly as interesting as Borat, but I'll still see it. Sacha Baron Cohen is probably the most talented actor in his age range.

 
At 2:38 PM, Blogger Emily Blake said...

The Beth Cooper trailers are terrible. They make it look like there's no conflict at all in this movie. Boy confesses love to popular girl. Popular girls likes it. Random stuff happens that they enjoy. The end.

 
At 3:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt: in the hopes that I don't offend our gracious host, Scott, do you actually like movies?

It seems that, apart from a select few, you have an unabashed dislike toward just about every director working.

I'm not a fan of Bay, nor of Columbus, but I just wouldn't callously chuck around that these guys are hacks "in the worst way."

(have you done better?)

That does lead me to question your history in filmmaking.

It's a tough gig.

Some things that are lyrical on the page have been tampered with to such a degree that the final product suffers from too many fingers in the pot.

But, that's the biz and we try and do the best with what we have.

Most people don't set out to make movies that offend your intelligence, Matt.

Most, including Bay and Columbus, have a niche. You don't like that niche, but others do. And they're successful at delivering.

That's a tough thing to do, Matt. Deliver to their audience. See, they don't care about you. They care about the people that invest their time and money in the films they make. And they try and live up to that expectation with varying degrees of success.

Your bitterness seems to ooze into your every word. It's getting a little tiresome.

I suggest you buy yourself a nice bottle of wine, relax and try and deliver to your audience. Then perhaps you'll have some authority on who and what are "hacks."

But anyone that has gone the distance to make a film knows that so many variables go into it, they come out far humbler than you've ever shown.

Peter

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter: Be careful.

You might be labeled as a "de-evolved" sniper who engages in unintelligent conversation with comments teeming with pointless dreck.

If this continues, our host might have to intervene and initiate another topic more suitable for intelligent conversation such as:

"Chocolate or vanilla -- does one really taste better than the other?"

"Discuss."

However, Matt's comments -- grunted with a sneer from his armchair -- propped up by the pages of that script he never quite finished -- are always welcome.

Mason

 
At 9:50 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Mason,

You add nothing of value to any conversation. I've finished several scripts, have advanced in a prestigious contest, and have made short films.

And I'm pretty new to the game, and far outside of Los Angeles. I like my chances based on feedback from professional screenwriters that have read my scripts.

Peter,

I've praised many directors on this blog in the past. Including Michael Mann just last week. The only directors I've outright dissed are Michael Bay, Chris Columbus, Brett Ratner, and McG. Yeah, I'm the only one that thinks those guys suck.

I'm not bitter. I just know a hack when I see it.

"do you actually like movies?

It seems that, apart from a select few, you have an unabashed dislike toward just about every director working."

I've mentioned four guys I don't like. If I thought about it, there might be a few more to add to that list.

Here is a list of current directors I like:

Fincher
PTA
Wes Anderson
Shane Black
Walter Hill
Richard Donner
Spielberg
Clooney
Park Chan-wook
Mann
Gus Van Sant
Chris Nolan
Coen Bros.
Sean Penn
Kathyrn Bigelow
James Cameron
Tarantino
Mel Gibson
Judd Apatow
David Gordon Green
Sam Raimi
Terry Zwigoff
Spike Lee
Curtis Hanson
Martin Scorsese
Richard Linklater
Tony Gilroy
Tony Scott
Ridley Scott
Spike Jonze
Steven Soderbergh
Peter Greengrass
Clint Eastwood
Rob Reiner for the stuff he did in the eighties and first half of the nineties
Tim Burton
Terry Gilliam
The Hughes Brothers
Ted Demme obviously before he died
Jonathan Demme
Guillermo Del Toro
Peter Jackson
Woody Allen
Oliver Stone
Jason Reitman
Wayne Kramer
Ben Stiller
Cameron Crowe
I even like Joel Schumacher when he's not given too much money.

And with each of the directors I listed I like the majority of their films.

I've mentioned before that I liked the Hannibal film that Ratner did, The Rock was a good film, and from Chris Columbus I like Home Alone and Adventures in Babysitting.

You really shouldn't open your mouth too wide before you actually know anything about me. But seeing as you and Mason are obsessed with my opinions, I can see how that would be difficult.

It's funny, crappy filmmakers always have so many excuses made for them.

"the studio screwed with my movie"

"it's a popcorn movie"

"I make movies for people that want to forget their troubles"

"he blows shit up real good"

Bullshit. If you have talent, balls, and a good track record you don't have every movie you make screwed over. Look at Columbus's track record:

Only The Lonely
Home Alone 2
Mrs. Doubtfire
Nine Months
Stepmom
Bicentennial Man
Beth Cooper

I've heard mixed things on Rent, and I'm not a fan of Harry Potter so I can't judge him by those. But the films I listed are shitty. A hack to me is somebody that doesn't care, doesn't push himself, and is happy to be a whore for the studios.

(being a whore for the studios is completely separate from being a good filmmaker that makes studio films, very different)

Anybody can make a bad film. Soderbergh has made a few. But Soderbergh makes studio films, and personal films. Some make money, some don't. Some crash and burn, some are creative triumphs.

But you could never call him a hack. He tries. He's not in it for the pussy or the money. Even when he's making a straight up studio film like Ocean's 11 he tries to inject it with some wit and intelligence. Then he goes and makes Bubble and Che.

I have nothing to be bitter about. That's the go to insult for people like you, because basically it's all you've got.

I suggest you buy a bottle of wine and a clue. I'll leave it to you what to do with that bottle.

Scott,

Sorry about this. I'm not sure why these guys obsess with me. I won't read anything they respond to on this particular blog (but you know they'll still write it) and hopefully they'll stop writing idiotic comments and personal attacks on future blogs.

 
At 10:13 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Hey don't worry about me. I like a little back-and-forth. And all the posts show up in my mailbox, so when people cross the line, the post doesn't stay up long.

 
At 7:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt:

You're very selective when you want to push your agenda of sullying successful filmmakers.

Columbus was the writer of such classics as:

Reckless
Goonies
Gremlins
Young Sherlock Holmes
Heartbreak Hotel

and... I just love how you point out Columbus was the director of Home Alone 2 but fail to mention the smash that was:

Home Alone (the original)

... and fun little flicks like:

Only the Lonely

... the commercial success of:

Mrs. Doubtfire

Not one, but three:

Harry Potter films

Now... we're all of these "great" films? Hardly. But, once again, did he deliver to his audience? Most definitely.

If you call that a hack, you're missing the fundemental point of filmmaking:

the project has to make a buck...

I think your resentment of so-called hack writer/directors goes somewhere deeper. Perhaps you just disagree with the concept of capitalism, which is fine.

You just may be trying to break into the wrong business?

 
At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s.

full disclosure, that last post was written by Peter. Thought I'd clear that up before I was ordered to "grow a pair."

 
At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Through his comments and chronic avoidance of certain questions, Matt has made it abundantly clear that he has no real concept of the development process.

And although he's sensitive to anyone pretending to know anything about him from his comments here, that doesn't stop him from pretending to know everything about the directors he speaks of. Most of us won't have any idea if our favorite scene from a film was the result of the writer's genius, the director's brilliance, a development guru's note, a hired gun's on-the-spot rewrite, an actor's demand, a producer's favor, an improvised solution to a logistical problem or just a fortunate accident. To get the even most schlocky film made and shown on tv or the big screen is a minor miracle. To get any film made that still resembles what was initially intended by the screenwriter is like getting struck by lightning twice -- in the same spot -- while scratching off the winning numbers on your lottery ticket. Although I'm not a fan, CC's track record as a successful working director who's entrusted with major studio projects speaks to his ability. Unlike Matt, I can appreciate the arduous task of making a film that works for an audience -- and the rare talent it takes to achieve this -- without being a fan of that particular director or film. In this context, personal taste is irrelevant. Columbus may have to go to "director jail" for Beth Cooper (I haven't seen it); but most of us aren't talented enough to be given the chance to misfire on a project.

But I'd like to congratulate Matt on one thing. He got through more than half of his lengthy post before the profanity and the mandatory references to genitalia bubbled up from his hater soul. I'm glad to see his post is still here though -- so I know what doesn't qualify as "crossing the line".

 
At 11:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruno -- 14mil on Fri

 
At 1:15 PM, Blogger Jim E. said...

$20 says Peter/Mason are the same - (or insane)

 
At 5:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

testing? testing?

 
At 5:34 PM, Anonymous bcdfilms.com said...

?

 
At 6:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it is thee Peter Sheldrick, huh?

I thought you might've been joking like my "Mason Reese".

Jim E.: Scott can verify that our IP addresses are not one in the same. And there's a few other anons here as well -- so the insanity is actually distributed across more players. Anyway, I'd like to collect the $20 so I can go see Transformers 2. I accept cash, check or PayPal.

Peter: I'll split it with you (although $10 might not cover the cost of a ticket in my area).

 
At 6:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon:

I'm a cheap drunk... I take what I can get... Splitting the cost sounds as good as it's gonna get...

Thanks for thinking of me...

Peter

 
At 6:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Paramount's Transformers 2: Revenge Of The Fallen was 3rd with another $7.3M Friday and $9.8M Saturday for a $25M weekend and humongous $340M domestic cume. No. 4 was Universal's Public Enemies, down a big 57% from a week ago for just a $4.1M Friday and $5.6M Saturday for a $14M weekend and $66.4M cume. Several rival studios don't think the Michael Mann/Johnny Depp biopic of John Dillinger can make it to $100M domestic, continuing Universal's string of summer disappointments. But the studio disputes that."

 
At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to take this moment to point out that Transformers 2 has already eclipsed the domestic gross of the first film. Hats off to the director for another successful execution of his artistic vision.

Hip Hip For Bay!
Hip Hip For Bay!!
Hip Hip For Bay!!!

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

With all the talk about Michael Bay, I looked him up on IMBD. In the quote section I read this I though the readers of this blog might like...

"I love it when people get really mean and call you a 'hack'. It's like, don't they see how well these movies are doing? They make an impression around the world. I met this guy in Bali who lives in a hut with a TV, and he loved The Rock. That means something, doesn't it?"

Also dude made like 25 million for "Pearl Harbor." Can you believe that?! He's dated Playboy playmates, has directed music videos, and for the all the ladies out there he's 44 -- and single! Best o' luck plunkin' your line in and reelin' that fish up! And o yeah, he works with Jerry Bruckheimer a lot.

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger LHOOQtius ov Borg said...

(a) Yes, Scott likes movies. He's also very talented himself. Whether or not he's made a more financially successful film than Michael Bay or not is no measure of his talent. Anyone who knows how the industry works would know that.

(b) Bruno has 30M on BoxOfficeMojo as of today. Looks like the initial predictions were right. Which I think is great, because Sascha Baron Cohen is the heir to the mantle of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Andy Kaufman, and I'm glad that sort of insanity still has a place in our society.

 
At 1:48 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

My opinion of Michael Bay is this:

I think he does a very good job with spectacle, with realizing big setpieces on the screen very visually.

Pearl Harbor is not a very good movie, but the whole attack setpiece is very solid.

At the same time, though he has often worked with good actors, their performances tend not to ultimately be viewed as very solid examples of that actor's work, because his films tend to treat characters and plot very superficially, if not incoherently.

He's very good at certain things -- and audiences clearly like spectacle. And at the time where visual work is seen as being very key to commercial work, he'll always get work.

But he doesn't seem like the kind of director who ever elevates a story with his being part of the project, or through the way he tells it. Plot and character are things that seem like they survive him, rather than being his friend.

He does certain things well. In many ways, he's also symptomatic of what is wrong with how Hollywood approaches the movies they are making today.

 
At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

LoB: No one was questioning Scott's talent.

Peter

 
At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"he's also symptomatic of what is wrong with how Hollywood approaches the movies they are making today."

Meaning that Hollywood tries to make movies that make money --i.e., make movies that mainstream audiences want to see?

Perhaps Hollywood and Bay are reflections of audience preference rather than being the prime movers. Maybe Bay doesn't focus on the elements you feel he's lacking because the audience doesn't focus on them either. I think he's attacked by critics and film snobs for being proudly commercial because they still buy into some false dichotomy between art and commerce.

And again, I'm no fan of Bay's films.

 
At 3:31 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

"Meaning that Hollywood tries to make movies that make money --i.e., make movies that mainstream audiences want to see?"

No. That Hollywood tries to make movies that they think they can convince the biggest audience possible to go and pay money to see them, even if they suck.

I have no problem with big special effects movies when they work -- and movies like The Dark Knight and Iron Man show that when these movies work, they make a ton of money.

The movies that irritate me are the ones that they make because they know that, even if they aren't very good, they'll make a ton of money. So quality becomes a diminished value.

I haven't seen Transformers 2; I'm not a snob, I just have a lot of other movies on my list that I'd rather see (and have no time to see either).

But from what I've heard, it isn't leaving a majority of the audience leaving the theater thrilled with the film.

"Maybe Bay doesn't focus on the elements you feel he's lacking because the audience doesn't focus on them either."

Well, to me that's story and character. And honestly? Most audiences love story and character. Pixar has made a mint doing that right.

Every once and a while a movie franchise will come along the will make a lot of money despite not being very good. But let's not pretend this validates making mediocre films just because audiences sometimes like to see things blow up real good.

 
At 5:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't that Hollywood's business? To gamble on a project and get as many butts in seats as possible?

That's not to excuse poor writing, not at all. But, once a script has been green-lit, it's in the hands of the producers and their goal is to make money. Serious money.

And those guys needing to make money know that a Michael Bay takes $150 million and turns it into $750 million.

They can't turn to too many people to make this happen.

They can't turn to Christopher Nolan (who is seriously considering on passing on the third Bat-film he helped give birth to). Why? The pressure is immense... Everyone would expect Nolan to deliver another one billion dollar film. Something he's never come close to before on any other project outside of Batman.

But Bay has hit huge marks. Over and over again. With different projects.

Full disclosure: I'm also not a fan of Bay. Most of his movies give me a massive headache, suffer from A.D.D. and A.D.H.D, and obviously the women he hires come from casting couch 101.

But I can't deny he hits his target, hits it hard and is able to capitalize on it for the studios.

William Martell writes about this time and again: do you have a project that will bring 6 million butts into seats?

Most of us, no matter how far we peer down our noses at the Bays, the Columbus', the Ratners of the world, can't boast that we have one project that could break $5 million, let alone $700 million.

Peter

 
At 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Hollywood tries to make movies that they think they can convince the biggest audience possible to go and pay money to see them, even if they suck."

How come the audience wasn't convinced with this last Terminator after its opening weekend?

"I have no problem with big special effects movies when they work -- and movies like The Dark Knight and Iron Man show that when these movies work, they make a ton of money."

Since Transformers 2 has already made more than Iron Man, what doesn't "work" about the former? And why didn't the we-have-CGIfx-exploding setpiece-franchise-so-who-cares-if-this-sucks approach succeed with T:S? What does TROTF have that T:S didn't? Even more brutal reviews from film critics, and the absence of a star like Christian Bale? Is Megan Fox the difference between 123mil and 340mil?

"The movies that irritate me are the ones that they make because they know that, even if they aren't very good, they'll make a ton of money. So quality becomes a diminished value."

They "know" that, huh? Geez, you make the tentpole picture business sound easy. I think WB would argue that it's not that simple. They're thanking the movie gods for the unexpected success of The Hangover after Watchmen and T:S grossly underperformed. I guess you must hate Spielberg and Lucas for that last Indiana Jones offering. That one fits your description better than any of Bay's films; but somehow the reviews were still decent -- and it made over 300mil. Slam dunk at the box office; they just had to make another one.

"I'm not a snob, I just have a lot of other movies on my list that I'd rather see..."

I didn't say you were a snob; but you bring up a good point. You don't go to the theater (like EC) most weekends and plunk down your money. The film biz couldn't exist if it depended on those who go now and then -- or wait for the dvd or cable. IOW, you're not really representative of the mainstream audience.

"But from what I've heard, it isn't leaving a majority of the audience leaving the theater thrilled with the film."

The numbers don't reflect your unofficial poll. Transformers 2 has legs. It didn't fall off the table by that dreaded percentage. That means word of mouth is solid. I'm sure you've read of the interesting trend with Bruno this weekend. It fell off dramatically from Fri to Sat. That means EC saw it Fri -- then told his friends that it sucked before they went on Sat. That usually happens from the 1st to 2nd weekend rather than the 1st to 2nd day.

"Well, to me that's story and character. And honestly? Most audiences love story and character."

Lack of focus doesn't suggest that it's totally absent from Bay's films. (And for the record, I've loved most Pixar offerings.) But I'll give you some results from one of my unofficial polls. TDK was the hit of the decade; but when I talked with regular people about the film it was clear that they didn't "get" most of it. By this I mean those things that Nolan did with theme, plot and character to "elevate" the material as you say were lost on them. They liked the Bay-sian popcorn stuff, but those other things were either missed, ignored or led to confusion. It reminded me of those who say they love The Godfather films, but didn't pick up that Michael had Fredo killed or that it was Barzini all along -- or even who Barzini is.

"Every once and a while a movie franchise will come along the will make a lot of money despite not being very good. But let's not pretend this validates making mediocre films just because audiences sometimes like to see things blow up real good."

2 for 2 while starting with that source material (not exactly a Batman-like following)? Bay made it a film franchise. He must be plugged into something else that audiences like, since they didn't like the explosions in Terminator even half as much. Maybe Bay should take over the helm of that franchise. I bet it would work out better somehow.

And with a RT rating of 19% few have been kind enough to review the movie as being "mediocre".

Hatred for Bay goes way beyond his films.

 
At 6:40 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

The comparison between Transformers 2 and Terminator: Salvation really doesn't work. Because Transformers 2 is getting a huge audience of under 13 year olds that the harder-edged Terminator: Salvation didn't touch.

Terminator: Salvation would have made a lot more money if it had sold out and tried to appeal to everyone. So semi-kudos to it for not doing that, but in not doing that (and being a mediocre movie) it topped out at only $122 million.

Maybe the problem is that I give Bay zero credit for the creative content of the film. I don't think he has any idea what audiences are plugged into, other than "action setpieces with transforming robots". I think he's a guy who is good at doing action scenes, and audiences like action scenes. Don't paint him as a genius.

As for Spielberg and Lucas, well, Jagger and Richards got old too.

 
At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mason:

If you have the time to chat...?

Peter

 
At 8:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The comparison between Transformers 2 and Terminator: Salvation really doesn't work. Because Transformers 2 is getting a huge audience of under 13 year olds that the harder-edged Terminator: Salvation didn't touch."

I'd say it gets a bump from that -- but I disagree that T:S doesn't touch that audience (kids are a little more sophisticated these days -- and it was PG-13, not R); I'm sure there's plenty of overlap. And you conveniently left out the draw of the genre's a-list leading man coming off the film of the decade. That's not a factor too?

"Terminator: Salvation would have made a lot more money if it had sold out and tried to appeal to everyone. So semi-kudos to it for not doing that, but in not doing that (and being a mediocre movie) it topped out at only $122 million."

But it had "action setpieces with transforming robots"!! And audiences like that as you point out below. I thought that was the gist of Bay's "who cares about story and character" approach. They "blow up things real good" in both movies. No one complained about the action in McG's film. The reviews of both films were very similar except for the personal venom spit at Bay. Great action/fx (a little too much sensory overload at times) -- not much else. T:S just didn't work for some reason -- while T2 keeps rolling.

"Maybe the problem is that I give Bay zero credit for the creative content of the film. I don't think he has any idea what audiences are plugged into, other than "action setpieces with transforming robots"."

Hmmm... Bay, the box office leader of '09, isn't plugged into what audiences are plugged into? Maybe they didn't get the memo -- or maybe you should go to the multiplex more often -- and look around at Bay's people -- and tell them they shouldn't be there. They've never heard of Moon or Tetro; they think the The Hurt Locker is a new basketball movie with LeBron James; but they looked
up at the marquee and picked Transformers over Public Enemies -- then Jack proceeded to the concession line to buy a jumbo popcorn and drink for himself and Jill. That's the deal. Hollywood didn't call the tune; they just dance to it. Mainstream audiences don't care about the same things you or I might -- and they don't take it as seriously either. Bay and few others realize that and embrace it. Like the music producer creating the next hit pop song for Miss Spears -- the key word being "pop".

"I think he's a guy who is good at doing action scenes, and audiences like action scenes. Don't paint him as a genius."

I guess we'd have to define genius, huh? I'd call Bay a genius of the blockbuster (commercially successful) action film. And I haven't liked any of his that I've seen; but I can give credit where credit is due.

"As for Spielberg and Lucas, well, Jagger and Richards got old too."

You mean they didn't commit the crime of making money by "selling out" with another Indiana Jones movie that tries to "appeal to everyone."?? How dare they be appealing to audiences?! You'd think they were trying to entertain them or something! Geez.

 
At 8:44 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I have no problem with people trying to appeal to wide audiences, as long as they are trying to make a good movie.

You could argue that the Big Mac must be something to worship too, because so many people eat it every day even though it's bad for them.

And I guess any food critics that complain about the Big Mac would be wrong, since so many people eat it. How dare they suggest that it might not be good food?

I tend not to give as much respect to uninspired crap that panders to the masses. Yeah, Transformers 2 is making a lot of money -- and that's a frigging tragedy. Because any time the lesson is "even though it's not good, audiences will eat it up", that's not a good thing.

 
At 10:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Big Mac? And you thought my analogy with T:S was a stretch??

Anyway, I'll try to use what you gave me...

"He sensed that America was a nation of people who ate out, as opposed to the Old World tradition of eating at home. Yet he also knew that people here wanted something different. Instead of a structured, ritualistic restaurant with codes and routine, he gave them a simple, casual and identifiable restaurant with friendly service, low prices, no waiting and no reservations. The system eulogized the sandwich — no tableware to wash. One goes to McDonald's to eat, not to dine."

That monster!!!

The quote is from a Time article on Ray Kroc, the innovative genius responsible for those golden arches and fast food concept. Billions and billions served.

"You could argue that the Big Mac must be something to worship too, because so many people eat it every day even though it's bad for them."

I'm not sure how/why you brought the word "worship" into this -- since I don't worship anything or anyone. Not climbing aboard the Bay hate train is not the equivalent of worshipping him or his films.

"And I guess any food critics that complain about the Big Mac would be wrong, since so many people eat it. How dare they suggest that it might not be good food?"

You seem to be singing more and more of Matt's song (minus the genitalia references), a friend perhaps? Critics can complain all they want -- and give their opinions by all means. But should that render me mute on the subject if I happen to disagree? I always give a reasoned argument. I don't say, "He sucks." or "He's great." then disappear without any rationale like some do.

"I tend not to give as much respect to uninspired crap that panders to the masses. Yeah, Transformers 2 is making a lot of money -- and that's a frigging tragedy. Because any time the lesson is "even though it's not good, audiences will eat it up", that's not a good thing."

No accounting for taste, huh? Maybe we need a govt film czar to tell us what we should (or must) watch.

I don't pretend to know what people derive from things they like. I won't pepper you with questions, but I'm sure you engage in some less serious activities for pure mindless recreation at times. Popcorn movies serve that function for some. So, I hope you won't petition for the banning of future Bay films, cotton candy, carnivals or party supply stores. But for me, if someone gets a kick out of dunking the clown with a softball, who am I to damn them? Not everyone wants to debate the merits of a movie at the diner afterwards -- and that's fine. As some say when I prattle on too long about a film, "It's just a movie." There's a lot more of them than us. Despite that, I'm sure some of your favorite films or tv shows -- past or present -- don't qualify as high art. C'mon, you switch over to Wipeout during the commercials for a few seconds when your wife's not in the room. Don't lie.

p.s. And these days, save the word "tragedy" for real cases. We certainly have enough them. After your recent scare, I'm sure you know what qualifies and what doesn't.

 
At 11:16 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

As I said in my original comment, Bay does certain things well. And if you measure someone's success at putting heinies in the seats, he's doing something right.

Not the same thing as being a good movie maker though.

Imagine how much money Transformers 2 would have made if it was good...

 
At 3:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm reading a book right now called Caveman Logic where the author discusses Einstein's brain versus the rest of us.

Some people, the author states, assume that Einstein is "smarter" than the rest.

"Whatever 'smarter' means."

The author opines that Einstein, a socially awkward man, a below average student, just "got it."

He "got" spacial differences in the universe and was able to make some profound commentary.

How it relates to this: What is a good filmmaker. Can you easily define it? And, is it part of this discussion?

There's an argument that Michael Bay's genuis is, he just "gets" the average movie Joe.

He's able to put butts in seats.

He "gets" his audience.

It is a genius, one that we should all aspire-- that I'm going to create something from nothing and it will attract people to come and watch.

And Bay's thing, as Mason Anonymous has said time and again, can't be so easily summed up by just being "spectacle." It can't because, as has been rightly noted, T:S would be killing at the B.O. as well. But it's not. It was dead after the first weekend.

Transformers, for whatever reason, has legs. So, Scott, your final comment about "Imagine how much money Transformers 2 would have made if it was good..." is kinda weak. That hypothetical can't be measured nor answered.

The fact is, whatever you feel about a movie you haven't seen (and I've seen it and lost several millions of brain cells for my troubles; felt like I deserved Worst Father of the Year Award for taking my kids and; I forgot to spell my name for a week after), it's killing, not only at the domestic B.O., but the foreign B.O. as well.

That can't be easily explained other than, Bay and his team just "get" the audience and all this has nothing to do with blowing up stuff (or every good rock 'em, sock 'em special f/x film in history would be B.O. champs... But they're not)...

Peter

 
At 7:52 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I can't define why Michael Bay isn't a very good storyteller. But I just get that he isn't.

 
At 8:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Scott

What is a good storyteller?

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Let's attack it from this angle: The Hurt Locker.

I'm sure Michael Bay could have made a big spectacle version of the Hurt Locker, in which stuff blows up real good, and Nic Cage sweats heroically while defusing the big climactic bomb.

The Michael Bay version would probably make 10, 20 times what the current version will make, despite being 1/3 (or 1/10) as good.

If I'm the producer, I'm thrilled, because it's money in the bank.

The audience might be happy enough, if things go boom. But too many will never realize what the good version might have consisted of.

The ability to make a movie big enough to make a lot of money is certainly a skillset, but to any writer, the news that Michael Bay is going to be directing your script is not going to be good news.

Because at the end of the day, what's not going to emerge is a very solid version of what could have been. And Bay's track record shows that.

 
At 9:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can tell you one thing Scott: if any writer found out Bay, or Ratner or Scorsese or Singer or Mann was going to direct their script, they'd be elated 'cause it means you're going to get paid.

And, trust me, whether any of these guys was going to direct one of our scripts, it's a good bet to assume that a significant amount (if not most) of the original script won't see the light of day (after your contracted re-writes, you'll most likely get the boot, John August will be hired to do the clean-up, Tom Cruise will be cast and demand a scene in the rain, Bay will ask for that motorcycle-ass-shot from the soon-to-be-cast Megan Fox, the producer is about to be fired and, in a last ditch attempt to keep his job, asks for a "kid" to be written in 'cause "they're cute"... and so on...

Peter

 
At 10:19 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Well the scenario I was thinking of was the one where the studio buys your script for beaucoup bucks, but then drops this bombshell the following week: "Good news! Michael Bay's gonna direct your movie!"

Ummm.... yay?

Otherwise, I think your post proves my point exactly. As writers, we know that one's script is going to go into the Hollywood grinder and come out differently. But better to have a director who is going to do a good job shepherding that film to the screen.

I'd rather have the director that is going to make a movie that is going to be remembered in 20 years, even if it doesn't find the same box office as the bombastic, mediocre version Bay would turn out.

And I'm sure most producers would disagree. And that's the problem.

Best case scenario is that a director takes a project, and turns it into a great, money-making film. And if he can do that even though he is shitting on my vision, cool -- just make a good frigging movie.

Michael Bay isn't that director.

 
At 10:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still missing the point Scott, but even I'm exhausted now.

And this line...

"I can't define why Michael Bay isn't a very good storyteller. But I just get that he isn't."

...isn't the best advertisement for someone who gives script notes.

Although Peter has already reiterated what you, Matt and others continue to ignore, I'll say it one last time: Why not give a big budget (like 200mil) to any director (like McG) for a franchise pic (like Terminator)where he can get f/x guys to make big robots and even bigger explosions -- then count the receipts?

You don't need Bay, right? Any action director who can't tell stories will do, right? Just huge action set pieces, CGI and gas bombs.

Or could it be -- just a possibility -- that Bay has developed a secret sauce with special spices for his brand of extra crispy chicken that people come out for rather than what's playing in the theatre next to them.

He's directed 8 films in 14 years:

1 flop
1 break even
2 hits
4 blockbusters in the top 100 grossing films of all time.

Sorry, but it's more than robots; and I liked Charlie's Angels -- We Are Marshall, not so much.

That's what I'm saying about Bay. And for some reason I don't think Orci and Kurtzman will mind being credited as writers for a hit like this -- especially when they negotiate their next deal. Writers tend to complain that the director ruined the material when a movie flops -- saying that it didn't represent their vision. But when a movie hits big, they say "Yeah, I wrote that." even if it didn't represent their vision any more than the first example.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Well, if we're comparing Michael Bay to McG (which I never did), I'll happily admit that Michael Bay is a much better director than McG is. Charlie's Angels 2 could well be the worst big-studio movie of the past 20 years.

I've never said that Bay is a terrible director. I just don't think he makes very good movies.

Ironically, if you look at Bay's films (and I've seen all of them, except the Transformers movies), you can argue that his first 3 -- Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon -- were his best; all three are dumb fun. Mostly because he just let the cast loose to chew up the screen, and had plots strong enough to allow this.

His next 3 -- Pearl Harbor, Bad Boys 2, The Island -- are not very good at all. And I'll have to take the word of friends I respect that the two Transformers movies are often train wrecks as well.

I will stand by this statement: Michael Bay has never made a movie that wouldn't have made another $50-$100 million if it had actually been a really good movie.

So I'll give him credit for making box office hits, but not a lot of credit.

As for Tranformers 2 vs. Terminator: Salvation: one looked like dumb (and kid-friendly) fun, and the other looked gloomy and dour and not much fun at all. Guess which one made a lot more mone?

McG screwed up T:S; give him a D. Michael Bay at least made The Tranformers look like a movie people wanted to see; give him a B-.

 
At 11:11 AM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I'm not a directing snob. All Bay needs to do to prove himself to me is to make a good movie.

He hasn't done it yet. And making Transformers commercial just isn't enough in my book.

 
At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Well, if we're comparing Michael Bay to McG (which I never did), I'll happily admit that Michael Bay is a much better director than McG is."

I was just using McG as a current example. But that doesn't matter, right? Take another director off the rack, give him enough budget to add CGI, robots and bombs and he'll rake'em in at the box office. He doesn't have to be good; he just can't be terrible. Not hard to find, right?

"I just don't think he makes very good movies."

At some point you're going to have to define what's a "good movie" by some objective criteria. Without that I suspect you're making reference to your personal tastes in film.

"Ironically, if you look at Bay's films..."

Like I said, I saw The Rock, Armageddon and the first Transformers -- all at home and a long time after their theatrical run. The Rock was fine for the genre I suppose, but not my thing; Armageddon seemed silly to me (but I'm a big fan of The Right Stuff -- so you can imagine...); and I checked out Transformers only because I was curious as to why it was so immensely popular.

"I will stand by this statement: Michael Bay has never made a movie that wouldn't have made another $50-$100 million if it had actually been a really good movie."

So you're saying that it would make more if it was better? Wouldn't they all?
If a movie you dislike (but have never seen) makes a lot of money, the director is "pandering to the masses" -- but if he makes the movie better by some ineffable standard of yours -- and makes even more money, he's no longer "pandering to the masses", but making a "good" movie with "wide audience appeal"?? Interesting.

"So I'll give him credit for making box office hits, but not a lot of credit."

I give him more credit than you since so many others fail in that same endeavor despite having similar access to money, technology and stars.

"As for Tranformers 2 vs. Terminator: Salvation: one looked like dumb (and kid-friendly) fun, and the other looked gloomy and dour and not much fun at all. Guess which one made a lot more mone?"

Compare the tone of the two trailers below:

http://www.apple.com/trailers/wb/thedarkknight/

http://www.apple.com/trailers/paramount/ironman/

It wasn't called The DARK Knight for nothing. Guess which made a lot more money?

Geez, looks like Favreau took a page from the Bay playbook on that one, huh? Just swap Aerosmith for AC/DC.

 
At 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I'm not a directing snob. All Bay needs to do to prove himself to me is to make a good movie."

"He hasn't done it yet. And making Transformers commercial just isn't enough in my book."

Joe Sixpack and his kids might disagree -- and they actually go see movies at the theater. Bay needs to entertain them, not prove himself by the criteria in your book that you never seem to make explicit.

 
At 1:41 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

The Dark Knight made a lot of money because if it was a very good movie. If you are going to go big-budget dark, bad reviews are the kiss of death.

If McG directed the Dark Knight, it probably would have topped out at $120 million, if he was lucky. And I don't think Bay's Dark Knight would have been very good either, and wouldn't have made half as much as what The Dark Knight made.

I have nothing at all against mass-market movies; I love love love a good popcorn movie. I saw those first 6 Bay movies in a movie theater.

What I hate is what Hollywood gives the reins to a guy not because he's going to make the most satisfying version of the movie, but because he'll make the version that will bring people in even if it sucks.

And those aren't the same thing. At all.

And yeah, Bay is good at that -- I guess he's king of the guys who can make mediocre movies that make money, because he knows what puts asses in the seats.

And if that makes him a great director in your eyes, that's your opinion.

Me? I like to ponder the finished work, outside the question of whether it was condusive to luring people in to see it.

The weird thing is that I seem to like Bay's movies better than you do -- and I still don't think he has made a good movie.

I don't think he can. He can put together an exciting sequence, he'll get the money on the screen, you can cut great trailers from his work. But he doesn't have the chops to make his movies work as more than eye-candy.

 
At 1:49 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Joe Sixpack? Is that like Joe the Plumber?

I have talked to people who have seen Transformers 2 (and not intellectuals with their pinkies in the air; actual moviegoers, some of which I'm related to), and they are of two basic minds.

Some thought it was really stupid. Others thought it had its moments, and stuff blew up real good, though they weren't all that thrilled about it. Didn't think it was a waste of money, but weren't gonna go back and see it again.

At its best, the movie is mediocre fun. I haven't heard anyone tell me anything better.

And the movie isn't holding that well. Dropped 42% this past weekend, even though the weekend before that had been a slowish July 4 weekend. Word of mouth is not buzzing.

In comparison, the Hangover only dropped 11%. The Proposal 18%.

 
At 2:21 PM, Blogger Skullen said...

Scott, you really don't need to keep arguing with this dick. We come to read you not the trolls :)

As for Bay - surely he's the man the term 'director-proof' was coined for? After all, who couldn't get kids to come and see non-scary day-glo transforming robots?? With a 100 million dollar ad campaign to bludgeon them into submission?? No. Brain. Er.

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

I know. But I always liked playing whack-a-mole.

Though some of the posts in the Monday thread above are making my point for me well anyway.

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But I always liked playing whack-a-mole."

But that game is simple entertainment?!? You should go back to the chessboard -- then look up and snicker at the arcade crowd. Those idiots. Hey, there's EC!

"who couldn't get kids to come and see non-scary day-glo transforming robots??"

You're right. NO MOVIES FOR KIDS! I hate those little trolls. They should stay home and play whack-a-mole or some other silly fun game. We have some serious movie watching to do. Don't they know that?

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Chess? Is that what you think we're playing?

 
At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, Scott. I was referring to you preferring chess to an arcade game like w-a-mol. As you might prefer a "good" movie to a crappy Bay offering. An analogy. No reference to our back and forth was intended at all. Get it?

You miss the Bay point -- and you missed this too.

 
At 3:54 PM, Blogger Scott the Reader said...

Nah. Love whacking moles. Haven't played chess in years.

You seem to see me as an elitist guy, and I'm not, at all. I love a good popcorn movie. And that's the point.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger E.C. Henry said...

Anonymous, E.C. may some issues... but he sure is cute!

 

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