Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #132: The Fanboys Fandango: Episode 3- The Return of the Fanboys

Sorry folks, no exclusive scoops about the next Batman, or the arrest of Christian Bale, just a tip of the old yarmulke to the fine and fragrant folks at Defamer for this post about the recent victory of the fans and filmmakers of FANBOYS to get The Weinstein Co. (TWC) to release the original film, and not some studio retro-mangled hatchet job.

Now I'm not exactly going to join in the victory dance just yet. Remember TWC has a distribution arm called Third Rail whose sole reason for existence is to become a cinematic graveyard. Hell, they dumped a $20 million picture starring Catherine Zeta Jones in two theatres, with no promotion of any kind, for a grand total gross smaller than an ant's pecker. It is well within the realm of possibility for them to do that to Fanboys even though they spent Xenu-knows how many dollars trying to make their own version of Fanboys, and then trying to put out the fires their bully tactics started.

The fact that they're backing down is a sign of the terrible shape TWC must be in, because if things were going good, old Harvey would have told them to go pound sand. He tried to do that, but harsh economic truth eventually got in the way.

But one has to wonder how TWC got into such bad shape that they had to acquiesce to the wishes of movie goers, well it has several answers, but they all boil down to what drove the decisions behind the crumbling of TWC.

You see there are two drives behind that are the basis of almost every decision in Hollywood, and those drives have two sides.

THE MONEY DRIVE: This is where all decisions are based on the desire to make movies that make money. On the bright side it can lead to wonderfully entertaining crown pleasers. On the dark side it can create films that are both crass, low-brow, and bordering on sleazy.

THE EGO DRIVE: This is where all decisions are based upon feeding the ego over the wallet. The desire to win praise, awards, pats on the back for being "courageous", and good tables at fashionable eateries is a powerful one in the movie business. Now on the bright side it can create passionate, daring, and intelligent works of art that are deserving of praise. On the dark side it can create works of pretentious snobbery geared toward the narrow confines of critics, celebrities, and other denizens of the Axis of Ego. And among executives it gives them the idea that they and only they know what's best, filmmakers and audiences be damned.

The problem with the Weinstein Co. is that they appeared to base all their decisions on the dark sides of those drives. It's the only reason why they could see a film with a tiny budget get a standing ovation at a festival screening.

A proper mogul, with a carefully balanced take on the bright side of those drives would have looked at it and said: "Damn, the audience loves that movie. It's funny, heartwarming, and costs pennies to make. We'll market it through fanboy conventions, and the internet, and let the good word of mouth make us a mint."

Except TWC didn't do that. They bought the film, then canned the people who earned that standing ovation, and started chopping out the things that made that audience stand up and clap.

Why would they add all that extra work and expense to what should have been a simple cash-grab.

The dark side of their Ego Drive mixed with the dark side of the Money Drive, and convinced them that they, not the people who pay money to see the movie in question, knew how to make the film a hit, and in the end created so much ill-will against TWC that it not only hurt that movie, before it was even released but sank their comic book parody Superhero Movie as well.

Now comes the double edged sword. If the film doesn't do well, which Weinstein could arrange, by dumping it, he will strut around claiming he was right all along. If the film does do well, he'll strut around claiming that his work made the film succeed, despite the facts or logic of the case, and use the income to keep his floundering company afloat without changing TWC's terrible business model.

Because that's the beauty of the movies. Characters in movies may learn lessons, but Hollywood folks almost never do.

UPDATE: A tip of my jaunty shako to Defamer's sister site Gawk
er for this little tid-bit that tells you a lot about Harvey Weinstein and how he thinks. The post dealt with the floundering social networking site A Small World. It's essentially a social networking site where millionaires and up can meet and greet among the elite without the peasantry interrupting their discussions of the which vintage of Chateau Pipi De Cheval goes best with what imported Polynesian goat cheese.

It shows a mindset so locked in the world of the rich and famous that it doesn't really realize that it's the great unwashed that actually pays the bills, be it in movies, or in the internet, no matter how rich you are.

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