Monday, 8 June 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #300: Miscellaneous Money-Movie Musings...


Stephen Spielberg and Peter Jackson have announced that they will be releasing their live action movie version of
Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn internationally before they open it in the USA.

Now some folks are shocked and appalled by this news, taking it as some sort of slap in the face to either America, American moviegoers, or both.

Well, it isn't, it's just sensible business sense.

And here's the reason...

Tintin is about a young reporter who treks around the world having adventures, solving mysteries and encountering a variety of ethnic stereotypes. He was created by the Belgian cartoonist Herge and is really big in Europe, but is really not very well known in America. I mean mention the name Tintin to anyone who isn't already a big international comics fan and the reaction will be: "Wasn't he the one in the Wizard of Oz that got rusty?"

To make the movie play in Peoria, they need to build some sizzle around the character, and to get that sizzle, they need Tintin's popularity in Europe and parts of Asia to work for the film. What they do not want to do is to have the film open in America, fizzle from lack of knowledge, and take that fizzle internationally.

So remember, sizzle's better than fizzle, or your sales will be shizzle.


If Harvey Weinstein had a different reputation, I'd be feeling sorry for him right now. His company is up to Harvey's original chin in debt,
Inglorious Basterds, TWC's comeback film is reportedly way too long, and now Universal is considering re-negotiating their deal to distribute Basterds, possibly swooping in to take over the domestic release as well.

Also the rest of the company's slate is being delayed, as TWC amasses as much money as they can scrape to get
Basterds into theaters. Which may be a good thing, because I don't see much promise in their other productions.

Nine did well on broadway, but it's a musical inspired by Italian cinema with a cast more known for winning awards than audiences. Plus it has Nicole Kidman in the cast, and while I have nothing against her personally, she is the black hole of cinema, sucking in tens of millions of dollars that are never seen again.

Reports also have people saying that
Shanghai, a $50+ million thriller set in 1940s China, is "unreleasable." I looked it up on IMDB, and perused the plot summary. It's about an American (John Cusack) who goes to Shanghai on the eve of the Pearl Harbour attack and finds that a friend has been killed. But here's the kicker: "While he unravels the mysteries of the death, he falls in love and discovers a much larger secret that his own government is hiding."

People are going to look at that and assume it's going to start out as a thriller, and turn into a Pearl Harbour Truther screed. "Roosevelt lied! Hiroshima died!"

What other secret could the US government of 1941 be hiding to make it worth a $50+ million movie? That the Japanese didn't like the US oil embargo that was imposed to protest their invasion of China?

That's got "bomb" written all over it in English, Cantonese, and Mandarin.

TWC will most likely be picked apart by creditors and vulture capitalists, and the saddest irony will be that the office furniture will probably go for more money than the film library.


  1. You are spot on about the Tintin film.

    In Europe, there will be huge crowds on the opening night, probably people in costume and almost certainly record breaking box office (for Belgium anyway).

    This sort of coverage will (thanks to Spielberg's name and contacts) get on US TV news. Giving the film a great start in reaching the US audience.

    However, the best way to sizzle not fizzle is to make a good film. A bunch of positive reviews will do more for the film in the US than a buzz from Europe.


  2. One assumes that Spielberg & Jackson are at least going to try to make a good film.

  3. Roosevelt lied! Hiroshima died!

    They just can't seem to help themselves, can they? Which brings up a point. If your taste in plots and politics are far from mainstream, what business do you have taking other people's money do make movies that are guaranteed to bomb?