Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Hollywood Babble On & On #142: You Can't Have Show-Business Without Business...

Money does make the world go round, okay, maybe not the physical planet- that's the job of gravity and the giant hamster running on his massive wheel at the centre of the Earth, but it is the lifeblood of modern civilization.

That is especially true of the movie business, because the raw material of movies is not the film itself, the equipment, or actors, it's money. To make a movie you need money, and lots of it.

Which is why it sticks in my craw that Hollywood is so poorly run.

And I'm just talking about bureaucratic inefficiency, that can happen in any large organisation. I'm talking about a fundamental flaw in how the movie business is run, and the most obvious sign of this flaw is the number of unhappy, or just plain pissed off folks who are unhappy and pissed off because of how they've been treated by Hollywood.

You see the fundamental tenet of capitalism is that in any deal all sides must walk away happy. It's why you say thank you, and the shopkeeper says thank you whenever you buy something. The shopkeeper got your money, and you got the product, or service you wanted. Everybody's happy.

But not in Hollywood, which is odd, because the industry was built by happy endings.

That's because Hollywood studios are not run like proper businesses, they're run like elaborate Ponzi schemes, where the more famous or inside you are, the more likely you are to see a piece of the profits. Take for instance recent comments by David Bergstein the head of the crumbling ThinkFilm where he said:
"The vast majority is not true. And for the stuff that is true, my answer is, 'So what? So what if X, Y or Z might be owed money?' "

Because if you don't pay X, Y, or Z what they're owed, you're not going to get work, or investment capital from the rest of the alphabet. In a free and open society folks who don't pay their bills, stop getting what they want, because X, Y, and Z are saying nasty things about you, and then the majority of them turn out to be true. And then you're not saying "
Let's make a deal," anymore, you're saying "Do you want fries with that?"

And there are also reports that the Kimmel of Kimmel International is growing disenchanted with the movie business and it's not because of his recent split with comedian Sarah Silverman....


Oh, he's
Sidney Kimmel a billionaire businessman, not Jimmy Kimmel the comedian/tv host.

Sorry, my bad.

But I can understand Kimmel's position. I love movies too, and if I had the resources, I'd be making movies. But I know that like him, I'd have to do something pretty drastic if I was to stay in the movie business, because it's so damn frustrating to get anything done. And when you do get something done, and if Xenu smiles on you, it will make money, but even then you might still get screwed.

Tough, resourceful, and intelligent businessmen like Kimmel don't like be screwed. I'm basing that judgement on the fact that one doesn't get to be a billionaire businessman without being tough, resourceful, and all that, and no one likes getting screwed, at least not financially. They can accept that if a film fails at the box office, after every attempt at making it successful has been tried, it's a loss, what they can't accept is when a film is dumped like a damp turd by a distributor because it wasn't an in-house project that they fully own, or if it does make money, they still don't get paid.

That's no way to run a railroad, and Hollywood's glamour, which was always able to woo investors in the past, just doesn't have the punch it once did. Practical money people aren't going to be mollified by a ticket to a seat in the nosebleed section of the Kodak Theatre to watch the Oscars get handed out to films they never saw, they want results, they want to get paid.

Because when folks aren't getting paid, they aren't happy, and when they aren't happy, it's not capitalism, it's just a boondoggle, and boondoggles never last outside of government programs. It's just the way the world works.

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