Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hollywood Babble On & On #621: Paramount.... What Did You Just Do?

Welcome to the show folks....

Remember Insurge Pictures?

I wrote about this company in the past, you can crawl through my archives for the full story, but I'll give you a quick recap.

Hot off the success of the micro-budget flick
Paranormal Activity Paramount announced $1 million to make 10 micro-budget films for $100,000 each. Paranormal Activity 2 came out, had a hellacious opening weekend, so many, me included, expected a great future for Insurge.

Then we saw the trailer for the first Insurge release.


Instead of a tightly made micro-budget thriller, or comedy, from a bright new filmmaker we got an over-sized, overpriced cinematic celebration of a hair-style slapped on top of a non-threatening nasal voice that manages to sound more mechanized than Twiki from the old Buck Rogers TV Show.

Back when I first heard about it, I offered some advice to Paramount over this, so let's look and see if they followed my advice, skipping the silly bits.

THE ADVICE: I suggested that they do not call it "Paramount Atomic." My advice was to avoid officially labeling it as yet another subdivision of a massive multi-national conglomerate , and avoid sticking it with the names of Paramount and MTV.

DID THEY TAKE IT? They partially followed that advice, leaving out the name, but slapping the Paramount mountain on top of their logo, and had the names of Paramount and MTV alongside it at the opening of the trailer. This makes it seem more like "sub-Paramount" in the minds of fans than a serious label of its own.

THE ADVICE: I suggested not to look for another Paranormal Activity. This does not mean that they shouldn't have made the sequel. That's a separate kettle of fish. What I suggested was not making every Insurge production a Paranormal Blair Witch imitator with that whole "found footage" schtick. I advised that they should broaden their horizons, look at horror films, sure, but also be open to comedies, crime films, and anything else that could be done for $100,000 or less.

DID THEY TAKE IT? Not yet, judging from their first major release.

THE ADVICE: I suggested avoiding treating it like Paramount Vantage. Paramount Vantage went from being an attempt to cash in on the popularity of indie films to more of a "let's get our friends some Oscars" factory. They need to pursue fresh blood, I suggested going to film-making co-ops and groups and actively look for people who can do a lot with very little.

DID THEY TAKE IT? Not yet, and I doubt they ever will.

Right now I'm beginning to fear that when they came up with this idea at Paramount HQ they said: "Great idea! We'll make a fortune!" and stuff like that, only to find themselves without a single scintilla of a clue about how exactly they were going to do it.

So what do they do?

They slap the name on a flick for tween girls that's already being "co-produced" by two other divisions of the Viacom/Paramount empire, so they can boondoggle up the bookkeeping and keep more of those tween's cash for themselves.

And the sad part of this story is that this is probably the best that Paramount is capable of doing.

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