Monday, 5 October 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #386: Random Movie Musings..

Welcome to the show folks....


Miramax Films the one time indie powerhouse of the 1990s, and current art house division of the Disney Studios has just had its distribution and marketing staff cut.

Disney is claiming that they are just restructuring to save money by having the big Disney distribution/marketing machine handle the handful of films that Miramax manages to squeeze out every year. But I fear that's just a claim.

Disney's marketing machine is geared toward big productions aimed at wide audiences, which essentially relies on saturation bombing marketing campaigns.

The sort of smaller, occasionally more mature, product that Miramax dealt in is a whole different kettle of fish. Saturation ad bombing, and souvenir toys at McDonald's doesn't necessarily work for these sorts of films. Say what you want about the Weinsteins, at their peak, they did have the hustle to sell a lot of independent films.

Also, according to Nikki Finke, the head of production and the head of acquisitions have just left the company.

You know what that tells me.

It tells me that Miramax has passed on! It is no more! It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet 'is maker! It's a stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If it didn't have some films left on its slate it'd be pushing up the daisies! Its metabolic processes are now history! It's off the twig! It's kicked the bucket, it's shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-COMPANY!!

Do you get my point?

Miramax, which was at the forefront of the indie film boom of the 1990s has joined Paramount Vantage, Warner Independent, and a bunch of other indie and pseudo indie companies that have been rendered moribund and ultimately shuttered in recent years. Ironically, this leaves Rupert Murdoch as the independent filmmaker's best friend, because not only is Fox-Searchlight the biggest studio-indie division left, they don't treat it as a loss-leader for Oscar bait and scoring chicks at Sundance. They really seem interested in making it a commercially viable company.


Universal Pictures has had a major shake-up at the top of the company after a real crappy year all around for the company.

I would like to take a moment to wish the new regime at Universal good luck with putting the company back in the black again. They're going to need it.


Michael Mann, a tad singed around the edges by the under-performance of his $100+ million gangster film
Public Enemies, has announced that he's working with Columbia Pictures on a biopic of legendary war correspondent Robert Capa.

He promises that this time the film will gritty and
low budget.

I should hope so.

I've been reading Peter Biskind's book
Easy Riders & Raging Bulls, about the rise of the 60s and 70s generation that took over Hollywood. The thing that struck more than the tales of drugs and studio politics were the numbers.

A movie was considered a smash hit with a box-office take of $36 million, let me write that out for the numerically illiterate
THIRTY SIX MILLION DOLLARS and it was considered immensely profitable. Nowadays if your big studio film doesn't make that on its opening weekend, you're not even going to cover the cost of your top cast-members. This can't be written off on inflation, at least not the inflation that affects the real world. It's a special sort of Hollywood inflation, where despite the means of production becoming cheaper, the costs keep rising at levels unseen outside of Weimar Germany.

I wonder how gritty and low budget Mann's film will be, because it seems that Hollywood can't film a fart for less than $60 million these days.

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