Thursday, February 24, 2011

The End of Hollywood Story-telling?

Just in time for the Oscars, here's a great article from GQ about how marketing demands has turned Hollywood from an institution that creates films to one that adapts reliable brands. Here's an excerpt:

For the studios, a good new idea has become just too scary a road to travel. ...
With that in mind, let's look ahead to what's on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children's book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title .*
* Captain America, Cowboys & Aliens, Green Lantern, and Thor; X-Men: First Class; Transformers 3; Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides; Rise of the Apes; Cars 2 and Kung Fu Panda 2; The Hangover Part II; Winnie the Pooh; The Smurfs in 3D; Spy Kids 4; Fast Five and Final Destination 5; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.

Now I understand that people want to feel like the creative environment is one in which, y'know, creativity can flourish. But let me play devil's advocate here for a while.

Simply because an idea is new, it is not automatically better than something which is adapted. Let's remember that:

Now I'm sure we could all go on about this ... but would the first "Pirates" have been better if it hadn't used a pre-known name and a couple images from the ride that people only know because they're in the movie?


People like familiarity. The expectation that people can only enjoy something that's new speaks to a predilection for ADD and infidelity. Also if something is new, and is good, is it too much to expect that people might want to see more of that? Or does something have to be new to be good?

No. "Cars" was new when Pixar did it ... and it was drastically inferior to "Toy Story 2" or "Toy Story 3."

Having said that ... they are releasing "Cars 2." So ... well, maybe these people have a point.

But then again WHO CARES? If you want creative films, go to the Sundance Film Festival. If you just want quality story-telling, there is more better writing on TV than ever before: were there dramas as good as "Mad Men" in the 1990s? No. Were there comedies as good as "The Office" in the 1980s? Hardly.

Or forget about traditional entertainment entirely: if you want to find creative work, there is the whole g-d Internet. Movies are the laziest, greediest form of entertainment we have. If that medium has one foot in the grave, I say push the rest of it in.

Note: The Red Letter Media review of the Star Trek reboot has some good insights on this subject.

1 comment:

Ashley C said...

Favorite line of that article: "the studios, which have realized that the closer you get to (or the farther you get from) your thirtieth birthday, the more likely you are to develop things like taste and discernment, which render you such an exhausting proposition in terms of selling a movie that, well, you might as well have a vagina."

I agree that remakes aren't necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes I love the continuation of a good story. I really look forward to the new X-Men movie, for example. But I also have gotten bored with going to movies in the past couple of years because there is so much that is crude and/or just plain awful. I now often go for the word of mouth variety movies where people actually assure me that something is worth seeing.


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