Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #112: Stages...

Okay class, everyone take a seat, it's time you learn something very important.

And that important lesson is that a lot of things in
pop culture come in stages.

I've already discussed the 7 Stages of Corporate Grief, so now I'd like to talk about other stages found in pop culture.


STAGE 1: SUCCESS-- The first movie, made by an affordable cast and principals, is a huge blockbuster success and the studio makes mucho bux.

STAGE 2: DISTRESS-- A sequel's commissioned with the original cast and principals, but with a bigger paycheck. But with the this bigger paycheck comes studio interference. Budgets start getting nickel and dimed, and the director is flooded with notes and suggestions from the studio as if he hadn't directed any movies before, let alone a box-office blockbuster. This is because the studio executives want to take more credit for themselves.

The director, cast, and even the crew waste so much time dealing with grating studio politics, that the film suffers and everyone involved is ready to collapse from stress. Audiences are disappointed and the movie loses that all-important repeat viewer to do as well as the first movie.

STAGE 3: EXCESS-- Desperate to have the third movie succeed as well as the first the studio offers the equivalent of the GDP of select Scandinavian countries to the principals in up-front money as well as chunky back end deals. They also promise not to interfere in any way.

The principals then go hog-wild, indulging their every cinematic fantasy and pettiest whim without having any real emotional investment in the project. Once again, the audiences sense this, there is wisdom in crowds, and stay away in droves, making the film an over-budget turkey.


STAGE 1: ENTRANCE-- An executive gets a job thanks to his uncle being the CEO's proctologist.

STAGE 2: PERFORMANCE-- The young executive shows promise by cultivating relationships with fresh talent, has some success thanks to those relationships, and is duly promoted.

STAGE 3: DISTANCE-- Once reaching the top, the executive starts to separate himself from ordinary life, deeming themselves too important for common trivialities like life.

STAGE 4: ARROGANCE-- The executive starts to think that they are the sole reason anything succeeds at the studio. So they start meddling in everything, because they think that no one is capable of anything without their wisdom. It reaches a peak with the executive making decisions better made by producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, and the lady at the craft services table. The executive also proceeds to alienate everyone, driving away the people that made them a success in the first place.

STAGE 5: NO CHANCE-- After a couple of flops, the executive suddenly finds themselves with a new contract as an "independent producer" who doesn't actually produce anything.

This isn't just in the movie business. It's also in the music business. Take a look at the:


STAGE 1: STREET CRED-- The rapper finds success rapping about how "street" and "gangsta" they are, selling millions of units to white suburban tweens.

STAGE 2: WELL FED-- The rapper gets rich, famous, and starts making records bragging about how rich and famous they are.

Sales start to slip when the suburban tweens grow up and get sick of the merchandising and product placement songs about champagne and sports cars, so they start releasing albums full of songs about how they're still "bad-ass" and then they start getting arrested, repeatedly, to prove it.

The rapper finds themselves on reality shows where their former fans watch them flail around madly and wonder why they ever thought that person was cool in the first place.

Unless the rapper gets shot and killed while still young and hip, that's the best thing they could do for their career.

You see, you get more from this blog than rants and cranks, you get a real education.

Class dismissed. ;)


  1. I left the same response on DHD, but in case you don't see that. Re: Movie trilogy stages.

    I'm curious to know of one example of your formula, particularly with number 3. Name a third movie in any of these series that's "tanked". Taking Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3, Shrek 3 and X-Men 3 as recent examples, yes they were all the worst movies in the series, but they were also all incredibly successful.

    I can't think of one recent example that fits your formula. Other than that, it's a sound formula.

  2. I guess it has to do with how you define success.

    A lot of those #3s you mention did sell a lot of tickets. But many also cost way more than the others, and in order to see a profit on a film, taking into account marketing, distribution and theatres, you must at least earn over double the film's production budget. A $150 domestic gross looks good on paper, but when the film's budget was $100 million, it's a flop.

    Rush Hour 3 was probably the one that stuck in my mind the most. It had a budget beyond the first two, and lost a fortune in the end despite having over $150 million domestic.

    And it doesn't really happen to all trilogies. Just poorly managed ones.

    Remember, this just a blog. I'm not writing a new Bible or anything.

  3. I demand a picture of Kevin Spacey in Swimming with Sharks for your studio exec stages. Robbins is, of course, a great choice, but I think Spacey's character would fit in more with the Fantastic Adventures...

  4. Yeah, it's a blog, but you're dead wrong. Your theory is wrong. I was just asking for one example. Even the movies I mentioned, most of which cost well over $200 to make, made a big profit.

    Rush Hour 3 probably didn't make a profit in theaters, but between all the ancillary revenue, I'm sure it did, even if it was small. You say Rush Hour 3 stuck in your mind the most, what were the others in your mind?

    Nothing personal, but the theory is ridiculous. That's all. Good day.

  5. The theory seems pretty accurate to me. Third movies usually end the franchises.