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10 Things Wrong With Hollywood According to Steven Soderbergh
1. People Who Don’t Know Movies Are Picking Projects.
“The meetings have gotten pretty weird. There are fewer and fewer executives who are in the business because they love movies; there are fewer and fewer executives who know movies. So it can become a very strange situation. I mean, I know how to drive a car, but I wouldn’t presume to sit in a meeting with an engineer and tell him how to build one, and that’s kind of what you feel like when you’re in these meetings. You’ve got people who don’t know movies, don’t watch movies for pleasure, deciding what movie you’re going to be allowed to make. That’s one reason studio movies aren’t better than they are, and that’s one reason that cinema as I’m defining it is shrinking.”
2. Large, Global Cinema is Diluting What Studios Can Make
“How does a studio decide what movies get made? One thing they take into consideration is the foreign market. Obviously, it’s become very big. The things that travel best are going to be action-adventure, science-fiction, fantasy, spectacle, some animation thrown in there. Obviously the bigger the budget, the more people this thing is gonna have to appeal to, the more homogenized it’s gotta be, the more simplified it’s gotta be. So things like cultural specificity, narrative complexity, and, God forbid, ambiguity. Those become real obstacles to the success of the film here and abroad.
We had a test screening of Contagion once, and a guy in a focus group stood up and said, ‘I really hate the Jude Law character. I don’t know if he’s a hero or an asshole,’ and I thought, ‘Well, here we go.’”
3. Marketing Expenses Are Upside Down
“So then there’s the expense of putting a movie out, which is a big problem. Point of entry for a mainstream, wide-release movie: $30m. That’s where you start. Now you add another 30 for overseas. Now you’ve got to remember, the exhibitors pay half of the gross, so to make that 60 back you need to gross 120. So you don’t even know what your movie is yet, and you’re already looking at 120. That ended up being part of the reason why the Liberace movie didn’t happen at a studio. We only needed $5m from a domestic partner, but when you add the cost of putting a movie out, now you’ve got to gross $75m to get that 35 back, and the feeling amongst the studios was that this material was too [Laughs] “special” to gross $70m. So the obstacle here isn’t just that special subject matter, but that nobody has figured out how to reduce the cost of putting a movie out.
4. No One Learns From When They’re Wrong
“…on Magic Mike for instance, the movie opened to $38m, and the tracking said we were going to open to 19. So the tracking was 100% wrong. It’s really nice when the surprise goes in that direction, but it’s hard not to sit there and go ‘how did we miss that?’ If this is our tracking, how do you miss by that much?
I know one person who works in marketing at a studio suggested, on a modestly budgeted film that had some sort of brand identity and some A-list talent attached, she suggested, ‘Look, why don’t we not do any tracking at all, and just spend 15, and we’ll just put it out.’
They wouldn’t do it. They were afraid it would fail, when they fail doing the other thing all the time. Maybe they were afraid it was going to work.”
5. Marketing for Sequels is Even Worse
“The other thing that mystifies me is that you would think, in terms of spending, if you have one of these big franchise sequels that you would say, ‘Oh, we don’t have to spend as much money because is there anyone in the galaxy that doesn’t know Iron Man’s opening on Friday?’ So you would think, ‘Oh, we can stop carpet-bombing with TV commercials.’
It’s exactly the opposite. They spend more. They spend more. Their attitude is ‘You know, it’s a sequel, and it’s the third one, and we really want to make sure people really want to go. We want to make sure that opening night number is big so there’s the perception of the movie is that it’s a huge success.’
- There’s that, and if you’ve ever wondered why every poster and every trailer and every TV spot looks exactly the same, it’s because of testing. It’s because anything interesting scores poorly and gets kicked out.
Now I’ve tried to argue that the methodology of this testing doesn’t work. If you take a poster or a trailer and you show it to somebody in isolation, that’s not really an accurate reflection of whether it’s working because we don’t see them in isolation, we see them in groups. We see a trailer in the middle of five other trailers, we see a poster in the middle of eight other posters, and I’ve tried to argue that maybe the thing that’s making it distinctive and score poorly actually would stick out if you presented it to these people the way the real world presents it. And I’ve never won that argument.”
6. Testing Can Be Useful But It Can Also Be Ignored
“Now look, not all testing is bad. Sometimes you have to, especially on a comedy. There’s nothing like 400 people who are not your friends to tell you when something’s wrong. I just don’t think you can use it as the last word on a movie’s playability, or its quality. Magic Mike tested poorly. Really poorly. And fortunately Warner Bros. just ignored the test scores, and stuck with their plan to open the movie wide during the summer.”
7. No One Learns From Mistakes Either
“[Side Effects] didn’t perform as well as any of us wanted it to. So, why? What happened? It can’t be the campaign because all the materials that we had, the trailers, the posters, the TV spots, all that stuff tested well above average. February 8th, maybe it was the date, was that a bad day? As it turns out that was the Friday after the Oscar nominations are announced, and this year there was an atypically large bump to all the films that got nominated, so that was a factor. Then there was a storm in the Northeast, which is sort of our core audience. [Winter Storm] Nemo came in, so God, obviously, is getting me back for my comments about monotheism. Was it the concept? There was a very active decision early on to sell the movie as kind of a pure thriller and kind of disconnect it from this larger social issue of everybody taking pills. Did that make the movie seem more commercial, or did it make it seem more generic? We don’t know. What about the cast? Four attractive white people… this is usually not an obstacle.
The exit polls were very good, the reviews were good. How do we figure out what went wrong? The answer is ‘We don’t.’ Because everybody’s already moved on to the next movie they have to release.”
8. The Numbers Squeeze Out Smaller Budgets
“[Studios] don’t look at the singles or the doubles as being worth the money or the man hours. Psychologically, it’s more comforting to spend $60m promoting a movie that costs 100, than it does to spend $60m for a movie that costs 10. I know what you’re thinking: If it costs 10 you’re going to be in profit sooner. Maybe not. Here’s why: Okay. $10m movie, 60m to promote it, that’s 70, so you’ve got to gross 140 to get out. Now you’ve got $100m movie, you’re going spend 60 to promote it. You’ve got to get 320 to get out.
How many $10m movies make 140 million dollars? Not many. How many $100m movies make 320? A pretty good number, and there’s this sort of domino effect that happens too. Bigger home video sales, bigger TV sales, so you can see the forces that are sort of draining in one direction in the business.”
9. Filmmakers Get Punished For Executive Mistakes
“Now don’t get me wrong, there is a lot of waste. I think there are too many layers of executives, I don’t know why you should be having a lot of phone calls with people that can’t actually make decisions. They’ll violate their own rules on a whim, while they make you adhere to them. They get simple things wrong sometimes, like remakes. I mean, why are you always remaking the famous movies? Why aren’t you looking back into your catalog and finding some sort of programmer that was made 50 years ago that has a really good idea in it, that if you put some fresh talent on it, it could be
- really great. Of course, in order to do that you need to have someone at the studio that actually knows those movies. Even if you don’t have that person you could hire one. The sort of executive ecosystem is distorted, because executives don’t get punished for making bombs the way that filmmakers do, and the result is there’s no turnover of new ideas, there’s no new ideas about how to approach the business or how to deal with talent or material.”
10. Studios Are Forcing an Indie Landscape to Take Smaller Cuts
“In 2003, 455 films were released. 275 of those were independent, 180 were studio films. Last year 677 films were released. So you’re not imagining things, there are a lot of movies that open every weekend. 549 of those were independent, 128 were studio films. So, a 100% increase in independent films, and a 28% drop in studio films, and yet, ten years ago: Studio market share 69%, last year 76%. You’ve got fewer studio movies now taking up a bigger piece of the pie and you’ve got twice as many independent films scrambling for a smaller piece of the pie. That’s hard. That’s really hard.”
- Jesus, the comments at the source are fucking delusional.
But Soderbergh is correct. I'm glad he said it.
- Great points. He's ballsy to say all of this...very ballsy! I'd also like to know why Hollywood keeps paying big fees to people like Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon and so many others who are clearly overpaid.
There are lots more so called superstars who are overpaid...including many male stars who are box office poison as well.
- Pauline Kael basically said this... in 1980.
Filmmaking has adjusted to the economic realities of moviegoing. Studios make movies for theater owners, not audiences. Theater owners make money by selling popcorn and soft drinks. They want the kind of movies that will bring huge hordes of popcorn-eating masses into the theaters opening weekend - the under-25 male quadrant is the only dependable theatergoing audience these days, so Hollywood will spend its money making the films they want to see. Mature audiences have turned to cable television to satisfy their need for intelligent entertainment year-round, since Hollywood will only offer it for two months every year, during awards season.
- So, in other words, "capitalism" is what's wrong with Hollywood? At any rate, the brats who make money in movies can't make that money with many other systems--these things are inevitable. Part of me secretly wants to see entertainment utterly collapse. Whoops...I mean...um...
- His positions are undercut when he says things like "If I ran Hollywood I'd give people like Shane Carruth the freedom to make what they want." The movie business wouldn't survive long on films like "Upstream Colour." Left to his own devices Soderbergh makes things like "The Girlfriend Experience" that appeal to almost no one.
- I would totally do him.
- This is all and good, but when somebody comes up with a small budget movie that becomes a financial blockbuster hit, Hollywood basically promotes them to a God like status, contradicting all of this.
- #1 is correct. I know a studio guy who brags that he knows nothing about movies. He feels it would get in his way in making business decisions.
#7 Side Effects sucked. That is why it did not perform as expected.
- R10, movies that suck do well all the time. Side Effects had solid reviews, for whatever that is worth.
- 11. The Motion Picture Association still exists.
- Blow lots of s*hit up: Get the straights guy money
- Side Effects wasn't a bad movie. But some movies are just not 'gotta see it in the theater movies.' They are movies you wait the 2 months for the DVD. Movies are too expensive a proposition to just see everything that looks OK.
- Side Effects was OK for the first 30 minutes. After that it's a convoluted soap opera.
If it actually did explore the implications of the effects of psychotropic drugs on human interactions and culpability it would have been interesting. Which is how it was marketed, not as a straight up thriller.
Instead audiences were served a cheap pot boiler.
And now here is Soderbergh whining about the weather. Yes, Steve it was the storms in the east not your cheap audience-insulting pandering.
- I think the weather was a definite factor for Side Effects. Go back and Google images for winter storm Nemo. It was a bastard.
- Soderbergh is just pissy that the kinds of films he wants to make are not the kinds audiences are going to pay to see in theaters.
- Yeah, this fuckedupness wouldn't be as bad if people weren't just so damn mesmerized by movies and their marketing. But, that's obviously a catch-22.
- There is truth to what he says, but 80% of it could just as easily have come out of the mouth of Louie B Mayer in 1938.
People have been writing obituaries for Hollywood since they cranked the cameras by hand.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald was saying this in the 1930s.
- There are many films that make money with unknowns as leads, especially if they're low budget.
- I imagine he has a slender penis.
- Love him. Schizopolis is sucha fucking weird movie. He should star in his own movies more often.
- I imagine that sooner or later things like Kickstarter, YouTube, Netflix etc. will change a lot of this.
- Is he still married to Jules Asner?
- I loved Side Effects. It was totally not what I expected -- I walked in thinking I was going to see a somber drama about big pharma and pill addiction and instead it was a kitschy, over-the-top melodrama/thriller. The minute was over, I turned to a friend and said: "I love this movie, but it's going to flop -- the masses won't 'get it'"....
- R26 So are you still married to Jules Asner?
- Shakespeare was saying these things back in the 16th century.
- He's right
- He's really not a good enough director to presume a proper stance on the topics and expect to be taken seriously. As a talent who has regressed lately, it just looks like sour grapes.
- There are too many entertainment options. Maybe one movie breaks through the noise and clutter and compels me to go to a movie theater. Otherwise I have plenty of other things to do, no reason to shell out so much for an uncomfortable movie-going experience.
- So he's gay right?....How else to explain his loving tribute to the male form in Magic Mike?
- r32 Did you see Magic Mike? It wasn't that at all.
- It wasn't r33? ummm it was about male strippers, no?
- I hadn't really thought about it until reading this article but the globalization of movies will pretty much ensure that only movies starring White men (mostly) will be promoted world wide. Certainly not anything with Black people or other minorities (unless promoted to corresponding countries) or women will get made. Just gives more excuses to keep things the way they are.
- I agree with you r30, I'm not all that impressed with Soderbergh's career. He's a decent enough director but no auteur.
- R35 I think it means we will see more diversification to appeal to the global masses, which includes Asia, India, Africa...
- I'm glad he wrote this. I'm so tired of seeing the same tripe made for teenage boys over and over again and this helps to understand why.
The same thing in many ways happened to the music business. 90% of what you hear on the radio sounds the same. Sometimes a unique band or singer sneaks in there but usually it's the same 15 artists over and over.
There are great artists who are making interesting music but will never be heard by the masses and barely make a living touring. 2 companies own almost all the radio stations and computers and payola have replaced real DJs. It costs a million dollars to get a single on radio and they usually pick very sage music.
The guys who hit it big before illegal downloading and the end of rock on radio made a lot of money and had more freedom.
- TV is better than the movies nowadays.
- R35, white men? Maybe but they will be surrounded by Asians. Big action movies are adding Chinese characters specifically for the China movie market.
Related topic: The sequel to Wolverine after the original performed well below expectations is set in JAPAN. Think about that for a moment. (I bet it makes less than the original ($175) in the USA and goes to $250 million in the foreign market).
America? Welcome to globalization. It's not just your jobs that are being sent overseas......
- He makes all good points. The market for serious studio film is getting so small that people know months in advance what may be nominated for best picture.
- The markets are too diluted and there is too MUCH product. Back in the studio days, they still put out lots of drek but there were far fewer markets, no internet and the "big" money was much more heavily concentrated in the hands of the few. Sure, LB Mayer and Harry Cohn and the big heads of the studios wanted to make big money but it was the PARENT companies that drove profits by making the ultimate decisions. And they were smart.
Nick Schenck ran Loews with an iron fist BUT he entrusted MGM to Mayer who greenlit movies according to his own ideas about what good movies should be about. He "cared" about the product. In fact, all those fat cat Jewish men who ran the various studios cared about their product. They all came to America as immigrants and had a very idealized, romanticized vision of what America was. Yes, it was strained through rose colored glasses but they still had naive notions of a "perfect world" and this informed every decision they made. Tyrants or angels, they managed to get decades of classic films produced, films we still revere today. The Hayes office and the Production Code curtailed a lot of freedom, of course, but they worked around it.
The actual seachange started a bit before television with the disenfranchisement of studio ownership of theatres in 1948 (when the Supreme Court forced the studios to sell their theatres.) Then, a few years later when television got big, everything became a free- for- all. And it has been that way ever since, with moneygrubbing talent and vision free assholes paying to produce shit movies. There have been some "golden" periods here and there. The 70's were a good time for movies. Some of the 80's.
But Hollywood as it existed for the first half of the 20th century was the last time there was a consistency of quality product produced because there were "factories" (literally) producing them, with teams of talented people who moved from production to production. They were a family, of sorts.
- Also, point number 12:
NO PEEN IN MAGIC MIKE!!!
- If they raised the price of a ticket to $10,000, all of these problems would be solved.
- Don't really understand why they are taking a one size must fit all approach. Why not have a branch of your studio in Asia making product to appeal to Asian audiences and do that with whatever market you want to move into?
The other thing is I thought that up until this whole globalization thing exploded that we were doing well sending Titanic, Terminator, Finding Nemo, Spiderman etc. and making good BO without twisting ourselves around trying to be sure we appeal to the global audience.
- Making one movie is much less work. You dub it or subtitle it and then it's a cash cow all over the world. You make toys and games to make even more money. You also need less jobs and all the money goes to people at the top.
- All I know is that in recent years, there haven't been many films that pique my interest or films that I have really enjoyed. Good films are still being made, but they're just fewer and farther between. Same goes for television shows.
Movies are now made for teen boys and adults who still like bathroom jokes.
- R42 is right, the troubles started when the Feds made the studios sell off their theater chains.
Until that happened, the movies were a way to sell popcorn, and the popcorn profits paid for the real estate development and speculation that was the real business the movie companies were in.
Now the studios depend on the likes of AMC (5000 screens), Regal (7000 screens) and Carmike (2500 screens), and a more talentless, money grubbing, bunch of hacks would be hard to imagine. No surprise that those companies are located in Kansas City, Columbus, GA, and Knoxville, TN.
- Hollywood is a sorry piece of shit
- Can't wait for Adam Pally's new movie that he's filming, by the writer of "Hangover Part II."
Anyway, it's gonna get international distrib. And even gay men will like it, suckers, because of the oh-so-appealing frontally naked man it will feature (Tom Middleditch).
[quote]Friends try to reunite their buddy Nardo with his estranged fiance, whom they scared off at the altar. After Nardo is carjacked and left naked and broke in Mexico, they begin a series of misadventures south of the Rio Grande.
I feel like this is going to set the bar lower. It's like, the dumber you are, the more money you make or something. Wish I had known.
- And this is coming from the filmmaker who is responsible for some of the shittiest movies in recent years?
Good god, the "Ocean's" trilogy and Magic Mike were all major shit-fests.
That said... "King of the Hill" is fucking brilliant, and "Erin Brokovich" deserved all its acclaim.
- Soderbergh's films are garbage. Solaris is his only half-decent movie.
- Are you nuts? Erin Boredabitch was pathetic...anchored by the camp fest horse faced no talent woman.
Ocean's movies? Really? Magic Mike? Sex Lies and Straight Tape?
It is just my opinion but these shit films are well...shitty. He's lucky anyone gave him a dime.
- I mean, of course the guy sounds like a major hypocrite. They all are. But it encourages interesting conversation to be had about media. It's good as long as people try to have these conversations.
[quote]all the money goes to people at the top
AND all the super brave, hardworking actors!
Honestly, I believe ALL actors under a certain age in features and high-visibility TV are now either one of two things: not just average, but bafflingly undeserving, OR sellouts who call themselves "artists." NO. Directors and writers=similar.
And then they rant and rave to the public about what's wrong with the world, and it's like, "ummmm...you just did a hit movie that encouraged everything you're apparently against."
- He looks very different when he doesn't shave his head. Very Woody Allen-ish.
So, does he still cheat on his wife?
- If only film visionaries had guns ...!
- If only we still had the studio system.
- r40 it's the tent pole movies, big action films, the bro comedies too I guess, animated films that get world wide distribution. Unless Will Smith or I guess Jaime Foxx is in one of them the stars of those movies will be White. White (men) is still the world over considered to be acceptable and desirable to be the lead face in entertainment. There might be a woman in there but I doubt it.
This means that it will be a struggle to break out of the same old shit we've already seen over and over and over again. And sure you might see an Asian (insert other race/nationality) as a villian or love interest or side kick on occasion but if it is coming out of Hollywood costing 200 million dollars to make best believe it's White guys or like I said maybe Will Smith up front and center.
- Yeah 54 I have complained about the actors too particularly on TV. All very bland looking talentless actors. There are some exceptions but it's times I watch things like Game of Thrones and see these Brit actors of all ages that give performances that are layered and amazing, especially the younger actors, I think how difficult it would be to cast using only American actors. Too many people thinking that acting is just posing in front of a camera, having crazy white teeth and a good haircut.
- Oh shut it, lying PC twat at r59.
- [quote]all those fat cat Jewish men who ran the various studios cared about their product. They all came to America as immigrants and had a very idealized, romanticized vision of what America was. Yes, it was strained through rose colored glasses but they still had naive notions of a "perfect world" and this informed every decision they made.....The Hayes office and the Production Code curtailed a lot of freedom, of course, but they worked around it.
You contradict yourself. The reason the Hayes office, the Breen office, and the Production Code came into power was that many of the studios engaged in a "race to the bottom" to make movies with racy, violent and ribald themes. LB Mayer may have been personally dedicated to promoting wholesome Americana but Adolph Zukor, the Warner Brothers, and Harry Cohn were willing to crank out anything the market would allow.
- Hollywood is consuming itself and is as behind the times as it was in the 1960's making musicals like The Music Man when Easy Rider was revving up at the gate. Hollywood formula movies are now made to be drooled through, laughed at, texted over, only tolerated. Major studios are sorry, cold, dull places to work. This didn't use to be the case.
My prediction is that in under three years, a new indie film uprising will occur, with enough creativity, cachet and kink to attract "early arriver" audience members to actual theaters or to pay up using VOD. The price of the movie ticket will actually be worth it, based on the intelligence, care and quality of the film. A new wave of adult-thinking audiences will trigger a niche market surge, probably fed by social media marketing, which is relatively inexpensive and can be done creatively. Just not by corporate entertainment providers.
- Off topic, but to echo R60; there are very few good, young, American actors today. Whenever I see a decent performance by a young actor today, said actor is always not from America.
- You're optimism is awesome, R63. I wish I could make the same prognosis.
- R63, Look at the success of low budget "art house" films and those that go against the norm. There was a time when religious themed projects, Black-starring and populated casts, foreign flicks, etc were considered box office poison. The studios will come sniffing when an offbeat films are profitable. The only color Hollywood knows is "green." Too bad for them they're never ahead of a money-making trend.
- Agree, R66. That's the thing. People in film sell out...and at a higher percentage than those in other visual art media, it seems, because of the sheer amount of money involved. The money is obviously hard to get to, but still. Because of the money prospects--and this is my opinion only--the actual art of film doesn't attract very many actual artists. Or, they're kind of artists who may be good at aesthetics, but they're hoping or believing that they'll get to the money. Not so with most people who sign up to be glassblowers for life.
- Film directors can support themselves by directing commercials and TV shows on the side. They have no excuse to not to make artistically challenging films. But for the most part, they ALL want to make MILLIONS. Every indie director dreams about making an 80 million dollar film and reaching wide audience.
- Theee things to add... One: it seems as it all actors and actresses today are interchangeable not only in looks but also in ability. Can't get Elizabeth Banks then get Rachel McAdams. Emma Stone can be swapped for Jane Levy etc. To me, this dilutes the quality when you go for a certain look as opposed to talent.
Two: the same thing is going to happen to American TV as shows and accompanying DVDs go global. A good example was the since canceled ABC series "The last resort.". I think only Andre Braugher and one other cast member were actually American. We are already witnessing shows that are trying to encompass to broad of interests to succeed in general or that piqué audiences in the U.S.
Three: Movies that were made primarily for U.S. audinces are being remade and reissued not for the U.S., but for audiences abroad. Why make Spiderman again? Because there were way less global markets for these movies when they first came out not all that long ago. Just recast with actors that have a broader global appeal.
If Alien were made today, the cast would look more like Prometheus and Sigorney Weaver would have had a bit part.
Also, up-thread someone mentioned having big studios develop regional entertainment arms... There was something about this today in the news. Will post a link if I can find it.
In the meantime, the Internet will radically change Hollywood, and I think it will happen rather quickly.
- I'm not some kind of Marvel syncophant, but...
R40, The Wolverine being set in Japan has more to due with that being a major element of the character's story in the comics. But yes, it will probably help the international sales.
But Spiderman...Garfield and the rest are probably *less* well known internationally than McGuire, Dunst and Franco. This had more to do with the fact that if a Spiderman film isn't released every so often then Sony loses the rights, they revert to Marvel(Disney). If Raimi had been able to develop the 4th film in time I imagine we'd still have the original cast.
- r60. Much to it is also because of bland, cliché writing. Let's face it, the 95% of tv shows are pure garbage with very uninspiring scripts, insipid characters (especially on the woman side), lousy or simplistic directing.
When the script allows, some American actors are able to deliver. Michael C. Hall delivers as Dexter, the same can be said for Brian Cranston or the guy who plays Jesse. All the Sopranos cast was able to deliver, even the kids. A lot to it has to do with good writing and great directing. GOT is, indeed, on HBO, not ABC.
- r70 it was Sony's Amy Pascal who kibboshed Sam Raimi on Spiderman 4, plus the producer wanted the 2nd villian "The Viper" which made no sense and kind of ruined Spider3. Plus of course Pascal and the producer wanted the main actors - Toby & Kirsten, both of whom can NOT act.
- He must know some rich, influential people that care about movies as an art form. Why don't they start something new in terms of financing and distribution?
- Part of the problem is the lack of quid pro quo between execs and creatives. Executives used to greenlight riskier projects from artists who delivered a commercial hit (or wrote screenplays).
The shareholder model has destroyed the idea that the focus is the product itself (movies).
Now, the studios are part of the byzantine accounting practices of larger conglomerates. Wealthy individuals are now coming into the business in order to have access to the lifestyle and to wash their money. Maybe a movie gets made out of that, maybe not.
- I agree with him. I used to go to movies ALL the time. At least two a week. Things changed. When I realized -- after seeing the awful Hangover 2 -- that studio movies were simply just a money-grab, I stopped seeing them. There's no artistic vision. No desire to say something different. No integrity. No story I can relate to. It's just about making money, plain and simple. I'll still go to the occasional indie theater, but I have such a bad taste in my mouth for the industry, that I have a hard time even enjoying that.
- I don't know why the execs are freaking out and changing anything just to go "global". The only thing that does not translate are certain colloquialisms and some humor but otherwise we are all human and interactions between humans are governed by all the same things the world over. The audience will understand if you are an intelligent filmmaker.
That is why a director like Ang Lee could direct Sense and Sensibility. He understands humanity and human relations and he used his understanding to make a good film.
All this "we must change for globalization" bullshit is either stupidity and panic from the upper levels or some kind of calculation devised to fuck everyone over who is not at the upper levels in some kind of way.
A great story told well translates. It has always been and always will be.
- r75, it's not the Hangover2 per se, it's the fact that no money is taken from the profits to finance a relatively smaller movie by a more artistic director.
That was SOP back in the day in entertainment generally, especially the record industry.
There are no old school "A&R" people who actually go out in the trenches and look for emerging talent.
The famous story of Jac Holtzmann going several times to see the Doors is a case in point. That would never happen with an entertainer now.
Michael Bay made billions of dollars for the studios. It took him 12 years to make Pain & Gain, his small ($20-30mil) character movie. Even then, he had to tie it to directing Trans4mers.
Quality considerations aside, that says a lot about the industry. They are too risk averse and won't spend money to make money. The middle level films in that budget range have a better chance of return than true indie level films. Often studios won't even fund these outright, but will distribute them.
- The baby boomer generation is the largest segment of our society. That generation came up watching everything from the golden age pics of 30's and 40's on Saturday afternoon TV to the dreck that comes out now. It's a huge segment of society that is not going to be stuck in front of a computer in their spare time. Why not at least attempt to target a few films at that sampling and see what happens?
- r76, the first answer that comes to mind is that "well told stories" don't sell merch.
They can't be franchised and merchandized. The personnel can change and the product lives on. That makes it easier to deal with talent.
What a studio is betting on there, essentially, is an individual's vision. That's very hard to put in a spreadsheet and project into the future.
Now, if they hired real, talent spotting executives, like they used to, they would bring profitability to smaller, quality storytelling by finding and nurturing talent.
- [quote]I'm glad he wrote this. I'm so tired of seeing the same tripe made for teenage boys over and over again and this helps to understand why.
Agreed, R38. I'm not really a fan of Soderbergh's, but for the past several years I've been wondering why at least half the movie commercials/trailers I've seen may has well have all been for the same film entitled "Scenes of Shiny Shit Exploding, Strung Together by the Lamest and Most Hackneyed Excuse For a Plot Possible." I mean, I knew why, basically - but he articulates much better than I could have.
- They act like any business/conman - obsessed with quick big profits so they cater to the most stupid. That is how it is done these days - tv, music, movies, politics etc etc
- Well 79 I'm gonna climb out on the limb.
The Superman with Christopher Reeves was a story that was told reasonably well. The casting was good etc. So dub it or subtitle it and send it the fuck overseas. How about Men In Black? Decent script, fun to watch, good cast. Same thing. Dub it, send it. Both big movies. Both entertaining.
They don't even make movies half that entertaining anymore. I did enjoy both of those. Great films? No. But I was entertained. That seems to be an impossible task these days. So now they put this must be marketable overseas label on everything. Now what? What has to change?
If you make a good movie, it will translate. Whether it is just a fun movie or a drama movie
you just have to make it good. Use good actors, make it funny or heartbreaking. . .
If you build it, they will come.
The wheel still has to be a circle.
- [quote]obsessed with quick big profits so they cater to the most stupid. That is how it is done these days
Hellooooo.... that's how it's always been done.
- The schmucks with the power and the money all just want to make MORE money so they crank out big budget movies that they THINK the public wants to see. And the "public" is usually a defined demographic with disposable income i.e. teen boys. Hence the Judd Apatow toilet humor movies and the CGI heavy IronMan and other comic book crap movies. Same with Twilight and Harry Potter. Mindless drek for thinking adults.
- [quote]"Scenes of Shiny Shit Exploding, Strung Together by the Lamest and Most Hackneyed Excuse For a Plot Possible."
Otherwise known as [italic]Battleship[/italic]
- OK, the super hero movies are designed to attract teen boys. How is that any different than the Westerns that Hollywood cranked out for decades?
Are the romantic comedies today any worse than the endless Andy Hardy movies, or the Elvis movies, or the beach party movies of years gone by?
Are the Hangover movies really any worse than the stuff Martin and Lewis cranked out?
If we take off the rose colored glasses, Hollywood has always cranked out about 80% crap with some vanity projects and Oscar bait mixed in for good measure.
- Didn't see Hangover I but liked the monkey and scenery of Thailand in Hangover II. Seeing free critics' previews, you never know what the movie is really about in advance. I've sat stone-faced through many, many "comedies" and overly sappy rom-coms watching the entire audience laugh hysterically. People are so desperate to chuckle that they'll go to see any supposed comedy or rom-com, no matter how low the ratings. In contrast a better movie like "Never Let Me Go" received many complaints because some hated the depressing ending.
Now why don't we have better written comedies and rom-coms, that are also well acted?
- All of the things listed by both Soderbergh and the people of this thread are merely symptoms; all of these symptoms were brought on by the lack of a studio system.
- R83, to some degree, but I think the focus now is solely on the stupid. The intelligent or moderately intelligent are marginalized or completely ignored. The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Bob Newhart show were in prime time on networks and were meant for a mass audience. Now the masses get reality tv 24/7. There were a lot of good movies in the 1970s, again meant for a mass audience. Now anything intelligent is going to be quite rare and "indie."
People have analyzed the speech of politicians in debates and speeches and they now speak at a grade five level of vocabulary whereas decades ago it was college level.
- [quote]Now why don't we have better written comedies and rom-coms, that are also well acted?
That wouldn't improve anything. They're trying to make that happen though, and it will surely even worsen the overall effect of rom-coms and dude comedies on the public.
- [italic]Danny Boyle talks about a "Pixarification of movies[/italic]":
- [quote]Danny Boyle talks about a "Pixarification of movies"
Nothing new. Look at the top films by decade. Animation and kiddie pictures have always minted money:
Song of the South (1946)
Samson and Delilah (1949)
Lady and the Tramp (1955)
Peter Pan (1953)
The Ten Commandments (1956)
Sleeping Beauty (1959)
The Sound of Music (1965)
101 Dalmatians (1961)
The Jungle Book (1967)
Doctor Zhivago (1965)
The Graduate (1967)
Mary Poppins (1964) (tie)
- [quote][R121], Ted's art director has cancer, so maybe the new firm will need to make a new hire . . . perhaps opening the door for the return of Sal?
Good call. I never connected those dots, but that would make sense.
- ^^^^^ Crap, wrong thread. Sorry.
- "Global box office" is a bit of a scapegoat for the dumbing down of pictures. A studio, AT MOST, will take in about 40% of the international box office gross. GLOBAL FINANCING is the actual cause. The studios don't want to actually pay for the movies that they make. They look to overseas film financing companies (Legendary Pictures, Village Roadshow, etc.) to provide equity in exchange for a share of the international box office, TV distribution and home entertainment rights. These investors, in turn, want a product that will do well internationally, or even in a specific territory. The best example is Iron Man 3, which was cofinanced by China's DMG Entertainment. In addition to portions of the film set in China, the movie also contained scenes made especially for Chinese audiences.
- I was presenting a professional filmmaker's (Danny Boyle) opinion, R93. And he's partly right.
I don't think we'll ever get back to the way things were unfortunately. The only way that could happen would be the reestablishment of the studio system (and allowing said studios to own cinema chains).
- R91, I really don't understand your post. Why wouldn't hiring better writers and actors improve the extremely popular genres of comedy&rom-com. I'm a straight female and I can't believe how bad some of the sappy product is coming from Hollywood.
- China bought the AMC movie theater chain.
- I guess the mafia money in the States isn't what it used to be. Less money to launder.
- Hollywood is like govt, it's corrupt and doesn't really care about the people.
People that care have break away and start something new, that is how it has always been with political and artistic change/developments.
- R100, Can you please explain your post, or should I start a new thread on "laundering Mafia and other $$$ in Hollywood."
- [quote]Why wouldn't hiring better writers and actors improve the extremely popular genres of comedy&rom-com.
The comedies that appeal to the lowest common denominator, which will not quit any time soon, quickly became too influential despite their unrealistic, "outrageous" premises and situations (I don't know about you, but nothing in comedies shocks me; It's all been done).
What the people expect and want to see in comedies are nudity, sex, sex jokes, body fluid jokes, drugs, drug jokes, explosions, and characters with no dignity either getting what they want, or being cruelly humiliated. Oh, and snazzy cinematography to tie it all together.
Mask these elements with "good acting" and "good writing," and you've got a very loathsome, paradoxical hybrid that will dumb down most people even more, as well as set the bar even lower as it continues to descend.
- that's true, R103. Kind of describes a lot of the "quality" HBO dramas as well...
- You can change people's taste by changing what you provide. Low brow comedy has always been but low brow comedy hasn't always been the dominant form. It helps certain factions to keep things dumbed down and dumb shit becomes easier to sell when people get dumber.
Just like in music, who is deciding the marketplace? Somebody made the decision to promote gangster rap instead of the conscious rap that was coming out at the beginning of that genre. That was a choice made by an industry and perhaps other factors. Rap was selling well, it was not in danger BUT it was also making people aware of what was going on in the streets and the inequalities and corrupt police etc. So gangster rap had to turn into "bling and hoes and cronic" rap keep em high and looking at shiney things.
This shit does not happen by accident.
- and putting all that dumb stuff worked - people got dumber, more passive, apathetic
- [quote]Just like in music, who is deciding the marketplace?
Twelve-year-old girls determine the marketplace for music. Twelve-year-old boys, the movies.
- Well, they are not running the record and film companies, R107. Some business types decided to market to them and other illiterates only.
- Hollywood keeps trying to make Julianne Hough happen.
She is purely Hollywood marketing, not consumer's taste.
- Fuck off R6, just because you don't like movies doesn't mean everyone feels that way.
- no, R6 is right and has some of the best comments on this thread
The people in Hollywood putting out all that crap are the ones who don't like movies.
- No, R110, R6 is right. Should Soderbergh just be given 100 million dollars to make a money that no one would go to see? Should Gwyneth Paltrow be paid ten million dollars to star in a movie, when in fact she might stop people from going to it?
Whilst there are many flaws in Hollywood today, Soderbergh fails to sum up it's core systematic flaws. He also fails to understand that movies still have to make money. Millions of dollars can't just be spend for him to create his [italic]art[/italic].
Such things didn't happen under the studio system. Except for some rare exceptions, if the public didn't like you - you were gone. And they still made high quality adult movies without dumb, unfunny, blue-humored jokes.
- How about "Meet The Fockers?" Yes it had some dumb, low-brow jokes but it didn't become so successful just on that one note. Wasn't it one of the top grossing comedies?
- [quote]How about "Meet The Fockers?" Yes it had some dumb, low-brow jokes but it didn't become so successful just on that one note. Wasn't it one of the top grossing comedies?
That's actually a good movie, as is it's predecessor. "Little Fockers" however, just proves the point of what's wrong with Hollywood today. Also, don't confuse top-grossing with quality.
For bad "comedies" in recent years look no further than here:
- Hate all you want, however Freaks and Geeks (TV show created by Judd Appatow) was excellent.
I didn't see any of his movies apart from This Is 40 and I found that one good, surprisingly good in fact. And I would call it far from shallow.
- [quote]I didn't see any of his movies apart from This Is 40 and I found that one good, surprisingly good in fact. And I would call it far from shallow.
You don't have to feel bad for liking one, but they're dumb, unfunny and blue-humored. Hollywood only caters to teenage boys nowadays.
"This Is 40" (featuring Apatow's wife) brings up another ailment of Hollywood today. Many actors in the business are there thanks to nepotism. Nepotism (amongst actors only) happened far less in the days of the studio system.
- Indeed This Is 40 featured not only his wife (who has a small role in Freanks & Geeks as well) but also his two daughters. Agreed on the nepotism, it still seems like a necessary evil though, as some of those offspring do have talent (the Chaplins...)
The only film I enjoyed this year was NO (w/ Gael Garcia Bernal), and Bernal's father is a director and his mother is a model.
I hardly go to the movies anymore.
- Most of the posters on this thread, and those who complain about the soundtrack of Gatsby, need to watch the following:
- No argument with what Soderbergh says.
A disconcerting sign is the ever increasing extent to which the public have adopted the bottom-line argument: that blockbuster success is the sole indicator of a good film.
- [quote]A disconcerting sign is the ever increasing extent to which the public have adopted the bottom-line argument: that blockbuster success is the sole indicator of a good film.
I was just thinking the same to myself, R120; brought on by recent discussions at DataLounge. It seems as though people now seem to believe: success equal quality
- [quote]Should Gwyneth Paltrow be paid ten million dollars to star in a movie, when in fact she might stop people from going to it?
No one is paying GP 10 mill to be in a movie and stop always blaming actresses. Christ actors are revolting and I cannot name one I like.
- [quote]No one is paying GP 10 mill to be in a movie and stop always blaming actresses. Christ actors are revolting and I cannot name one I like.
I don't quite know what you're saying, R121. What I was saying was that actors today are overpaid, they don't give value for money. No one goes to see a movie because Paltrow is in it. Unlike the days of Old Hollywood when people went to a Joan Crawford Movie because Joan Crawford was in it.
- I meant to address my post to R122.
- 1 is a reaction to people who love movies but make shitty ones, like Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers.
- r120, I never hear or read anyone who claims this.
Instead, people say they know that these films aren't deep, well written or character driven; they just want good fun/entertainment.
- I'm not R120, R126. But after a few recent discussions on DataLounge, I had to agree with him. It seemed as though several people I was arguing with thought success and status equaled quality and talent (which of course isn't true). I imagine some are still able to differentiate between the two, but I was shocked at other's thoughts that success in always proportionate to quality.
- If I am a movie theater chain, I am splitting the box office with the studio, right? So my profits are coming from the $18 box of popcorn, right?
If I show Ironman I can figure on high popcorn sales to the teenagers, just tossing out a number, but maybe my concession stand will do $3 in sales for every ticket sold.
If I show Meryl Streep in whatever Oscar bait she is doing this year, I will get all seniors at 4:00 for the earlybird show. They will come in, buy their discount ticket, and not spend a fucking dime at the concession stand.
Is this not the real problem, the real reason no one makes movies for adults?
Louie B Mayer called himself a popcorn salesman for a reason . . .
- Yes, cinemas only make money from the concession stand nowadays, R128.
[quote]Louie B Mayer called himself a popcorn salesman for a reason
Mayer would only have been a popcorn salesman whilst the studios still owned the cinema chains.
- If theatres only make money off of concessions how do those smaller theatres who show indy, or smaller artsy films stay in bizz?
- [quote]If theatres only make money off of concessions how do those smaller theatres who show indy, or smaller artsy films stay in bizz?
This is all general. Generally teenage boys going to "Avengers Assemble" buy more popcorn. Smaller cinemas have smaller profit margins, but to Hollywood there's no more market outside the one that makes the most money.
- [quote]A disconcerting sign is the ever increasing extent to which the public have adopted the bottom-line argument: that blockbuster success is the sole indicator of a good film.
That's also a symptom of American culture in general, where money is it's own morality and in many ways the only morality. Hollywood, Wall Street, Washington...they all suffer from the same disease. The best movie/person/whatever is the richest.
A case-in-point is the face that Jeffrey Skilling's sentence was just randomly cut in half, while an 83 year-old nun is facing twenty years for protesting nuclear power. Completely disproportionate crimes, and she is the one who will probably spend the rest of her life in jail. She hurt no one; he hurt thousands.
- Frankly, when Jeff Skilling is released from prison, some right thinking person would shoot him in the face.