Friday, 18 January 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On... #28: The Negative Zone

That film The Golden Compass, is the turkey that keeps on dishing up leftovers. Apparently the film's director is upset that New Line has scotched his plans for the sequels. (h/t- Libertas)

Now the film did relatively okay in Europe, but since it was pre-sold in those markets, New Line is highly unlikely to see a dime of that money, but even if they did, that income couldn't cover the film's massive production-marketing budget.

And the massive expenditure, on effects, 'stars' and marketing couldn't overcome what was the film's biggest problem.


I have a theory that the audience is a lot smarter and more sensitive than people realize. They can smell negativity coming from a film the way dogs can smell fear.

And the Golden Compass was literally swimming in negativity.

1. The source material. The original novels were written not from a desire to create, but a desire to destroy. The author Bill Pullman composed his Dark Materials trilogy as a way to some how destroy C.S. Lewis and his evergreen Narnia series in a literary way. Desiring to top a previous author is one thing, it is based on achieving a higher level of quality. However Pullman's desire was to crush not only Lewis, but his beliefs by making Christians in general, and Catholics in particular, the villains. Source material derived from prejudice infects not only film, but also the entire process with an air of negativity.

2. The studio. I'm no mind-reader, but I have my own theory of the motives behind New Line picking to do The Golden Compass. It had very little to do with the quality and the appeal of the trilogy, but on a desire to screw over Peter Jackson, whose success with New Line's Lord of the Rings trilogy resulted in litigation and a very costly settlement that was not only costly to New Line but embarrassing to Shaye. Shaye wanted to show that he could make a blockbuster trilogy without an auteur like Jackson at the helm, and hence hog the credit and the money for himself. So he first directed The Last Mimzy, which turned out to be the first failure, and followed that up with The Golden Compass disaster.

3. Casting. The casting of Nicole Kidman as the lead villain, and her multi-million dollar pay cheque, showed a certain amount of contempt for the audience. Her box-office record was, and is, plain-awful, yet she continues to score big roles for huge money, not because of audience appeal, but of media appeal. The interest of the media in Nicole Kidman greatly exceeds the desire of the general public to pay money to see her and others like her on screen. But in Hollywood these days, the audience is supposed to be sheep-like and buy into whatever the media dumps on them, whether they want it or not, and that is so not true.

4. Word of mouth. During the making of the film, the only word leaking out wasn't about how entertaining it could be, what I call the 'cool factor' but was instead all about script and production problems, and the arrival of the 3rd and most blatantly anti-Christian book in the trilogy. The ballooning budget led the studio to 'pre-sell' the film to foreign markets, thus making it almost 100% dependent on the American market. A market that is 95% Christian, and all they're hearing about the film are about expensive production problems, and how the author of the original novel hates them. That is not good. Couple that with lacklustre reviews and it's a recipe for disaster.

That's why New Line's board must appoint me Furious D to be the new CEO of the studio. Because I'm positive that the problem is being negative! ;)


  1. D, truly you are wise and I forwarded this around to some friends of mine, all agreed you were spot on.

    Now I'm curious, when you become CEO, what's going to be your first aimed project?

  2. Something with lots of boobs and explosions.

  3. Forlourned18/1/08 6:54 pm

    D, I'm not too sure about how being pre-sold in europe is a bad thing. It's earned over $240+ million (est) there.

    The concept of "pre-sold" eludes me. Could you explain it briefly?


  4. I will answer your question in my next posting.

    It's a little long for a comment.