Friday, 6 May 2011

You Asked For It.

The other day I asked for questions for to me fake answer, and now it's time to answer them.

Let's get the ball rolling...

From the Twitter:
@anangbhai Is it true that studio heads repeatedly nixed neutral pro-soldier film projects, like Horse Soldiers?
Hmmm... to answer that question would be to take a dip into the snake-pit of an individual executive's mind, something I'm not ready to do. Both physically and emotionally.

However, I can explain that there are a myriad of pitfalls that lie between a best-selling book and it seeing the light on the silver screen, and hidden political agendas, while possible, are only one such trap.

When a book becomes a best-seller, or even just attracts some interest, the major Hollywood studios are quick to snap them up like Oprah on a plate of nachos.

Then come the problems.

The most common problem comes from not having a frikking clue as to what to do with the book. This especially true when it comes to topics that involve the people serving in the modern military. The majority of people in positions of power don't understand anything about the modern soldier. They usually go from buying grades with their parent's money at the Ivy League to buying lunch with their parent company's money at The Ivy. Their concept of sacrifice is having to park their own car, and their notion of duty comes in the form of tossing together a PSA about you cutting down on your consumption, followed by a round of shopping for imported SUVs.

All Hollywood knows are cliches, and if a certain book about a certain event doesn't fit within these cliches, then they can easily fall into a state of creative paralysis.

The other main reason is that Hollywood's development system is slow, inefficient, and full of holes big enough to drive an Abrams tank through. You see the system works like this: A studio likes an author's work they will buy what they call an "option." That "option" gives them a specified span of time to make their movie version, usually two years barring any sort of legalistic trap laid in the contract. Except that the time spent on "developing" that book into a movie can take a lot longer than the time on the option contract, and that time doesn't pass for free. Writers, directors, producers, and actors are often contracted to get involved with developing the project, and even if it doesn't pan out, these folks still have to get paid. After all this the studio finds themselves often hundreds of thousands, if not millions, in the hole with nothing to show for it. They have to do something to make it look like their trying to get a return on their money, and the usual tactic is to buy another option on the book and try, try again.

Under Jon Peters the
Superman franchise spent $50 million on scripts, actors and directors that went nowhere before a single frame of film was shot on Superman Returns.

Then there's the element of internal political agendas. For instance a company may buy an option on a book simply to keep another company from doing anything with it. It's not as common as you think, because it's an expensive way of being petty, but to deny that it ever happens would be naive.

I hope that answers your question.

This next one was more of a general question asked on Twitter, but I felt I had to butt in and answer it, because that's what smug know-it-alls like me do.
@byseanferrell Whenever two people are someplace really high up in a movie how come someone always says, "Don't look down" instead of "Don't fucking fall?"
This one's simple, it's to avoid an unnecessary R-Rating. Where presentations of sex and violence can come with some ambiguity, the counting of f-bombs is pure simplicity to the folks the MPAA dredge up to handle their rating system. An R-Rating can directly effect the bottom line of a movie, and with it the financial future of the people who made it, and thus is avoided unless absolutely necessary.
@anangbhai: Is the stereotype of Hollywood execs pandering to the heartland (according to simpsons writers) really true?
Yes and No.

The yes comes from the fact that Hollywood will pander to anyone they think will buy a ticket to see one of their movies. However there are problems when it comes to the "American Heartland" or as it is known in Hollywood "Flyover Country." Chief among these problems is that they know very little about the people of Flyover Country and what they do know comes from the stereotypes that they themselves put on the silver screen, and many of them aren't positive stereotypes.

This creates a growing disconnect between Hollywood and the domestic audience. The folks who run Hollywood say that this disconnect is okay because they're counting more and more on the foreign markets, they even use that as an excuse for the decay of story-quality in many Hollywood movies, but that's just a lot of corporate snake oil.

You see the tastes of the international markets and the average American aren't all that different. Where their tastes do differ from the average American, they simply turn to Bollywood for entertainment. And even a lot of Americans can enjoy the colorful, sometimes bat-shit crazy charms of a well done Bollywood movie.

So the short answer is that they will pander to whoever they think will make them a buck, but the problem is that most of Hollywood doesn't know who they should pander to, or how they can do it right.
Fuloydo asked... I have only one question. When Can I Buy "The Book"? That's all I need to know.
And by "The Book" you mean "Hollywood Babble On & On," my magnum opus explain Hollywood as a business, an art, and a state of mind. A compilation of not only my blog posts, but expanded articles and other features.

Well, I'm 113,000+ words into it, and I've recently realized that I'm only about halfway done. It's a way bigger project than I originally anticipated, but I am still working on it and all is not lost. If you really want to buy something that I created, then CLICK HERE to order STUDIO NOTES FOR LITERARY CLASSICS, in either print or e-book format. It's a collection of satirical faux studio notes for all your favorites books, plays, and even poems. There's also a fancy edition, with fancy fonts and such, but since the mark-up on them is the same, it doesn't matter which one you buy. Just gimme the money!
Fuloydo then asked... Well, that and why it was that every other Star Trek movie sucked. :D
Gypsy curse.
kevin J waldroup asked... What do you think of Declaration Entertainment ?
I wish them luck, because they have a hard road ahead of them. By openly declaring that their purpose is to directly challenge the biases of the existing media establishment they are pretty much guaranteeing that they every movie they make will get bad reviews, regardless of quality, that is if they get reviewed at all. One of the best weapons the media establishment has is the simple fact that they are literally everywhere, and despite the rise of alternatives, still dominate the cultural conversation. They have the deepest pockets and the longest reaches, and can simply ignore an upstart rival into oblivion.

Unless they have a sizable distribution and marketing system in place, they are screwed. Anyone can
make a movie, all you need is money and time, but distributing and marketing a film in a market swamped by much bigger and hostile rivals requires know-how and resources that go beyond what many upstart producers think they need.

I hope that answers all your questions.

No comments:

Post a Comment