Thursday, 9 June 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #742: Thursday Thoughts

The evidence of my theory that the major studios not living up to their responsibilities as producers of quality entertainment content are all around us.

1. New distributor Open Road has announced their first release, the Jason Statham, Robert DeNiro action thriller
The Killer Elite.

If you haven read my previous posts about this company, Open Road is a movie acquisition and distribution company founded by rival movie theater mega-chains AMC and Regal Theaters. The reason they created the company is because there are too few releases from the major studios, too many stinkers among those releases that they can't afford clogging up their screens, and huge gaps forming in audiences targeted by those releases.

It's a risky move. It's expensive, and like I always say, and will say again, any idiot can make a film, but it takes a special kind of idiot to distribute one properly. But it's a necessary risk, because the theaters have been put into a corner and need a way out.

(Note this film is not a remake of the 1970s Sam Peckinpah action film The Killer Elite, starring James Caan and Robert Duvall, but an adaptation of Ranulph Fiennes novel The Feather Men, I'm just using the poster to mess with your head.)

2. Meanwhile, Legendary Pictures, co-financier of such blockbusters as The Dark Knight, is opening up a new joint venture with Chinese partners to be based in Hong Kong. The plan is to make English language movies that can be sold internationally. It goes along with their recent opening of a comic book company as
part of their plan to wean themselves off their co-dependence on the studios, and eventually create and distribute their own content worldwide.

Why do they crave their independence when they have such a cushy position as Warner Bros's big partner in blockbusters?

Because when you're a content creator that isn't just another subdivision of a multinational, multi-national media conglomerate, like Legendary Pictures, you need to create said content in both quality, and quantity. In the ever expanding 500+ channel/internet download/streaming/direct beam into your brain universe having your own library to license out is the key to the prosperity of your company, and the bigger the library, the bigger the power you wield with such outlets.

They will not achieve that as the mere partner of a major movie studio. That's because major movie studios treat their partners the way a 350 lb bodybuilding lifer treats their 120 lb prison cellmate whose in for shoplifting. The partners usually carry the bulk of the risks, and get the least of the rewards. If they are going to survive, thrive, and have a viable future, they are forced to find their own path.

3. Even the major studios are feeling the pinch caused by the decline of quantity/quality decline in content. 20th Century Fox have recently laid off 22 from their home video division.


Because home video sales and rental figures are somewhere between piss poor and atrocious.

Why are the sales and rental figures so bad?

Because the recent output of the recent studios, while they may enjoy some luck at the box office, really don't garner the repeat home viewings the way their older "classic" films do. Folks might go for the giddy thrills of a big screen spectacle in a theater, but if said spectacle lacks the sort of story that makes people want to watch it again and again, it's going to gather dust on the warehouse shelf.

Now Fox has made a move to try to break out of the death spiral by starting a program looking for new writers with new ideas. However, the odds of them handling such a program successfully are somewhere between slim to none. To find the new writers and new ideas they desperately need they would have to take a big step out of their heavily insulated Axis of Ego comfort zone, and I just don't think they have the stones to take that step.


  1. Blast Hardcheese9/6/11 5:38 pm

    Ah, good, you had me worried there. "The Killer Elite" is one of my all-time favorites, and I'd hate to see it remade. (Kung fu and James Caan as the world's most bad-*ss cripple? What's not to like?)

    Just did a quick Google search on the Fiennes book - if they do a straight adaptation (insert bitter laugh here), it could be good.

  2. Furious,

    Quit messing with my head. That was cruel. The killer Elite had it all and James Caan, Burt Young, Bo Hopkins, and Mako? You cannot get a better action movie.

    Did you know you cannot stream the movie through Netflix? Now I have this 'Killer Elite' jones going on and no way to satisfy it. Thanks so very much!

    Forks, WA

  3. All I have is a 20 year old pan & scan VHS tape of The Killer Elite, which was always an underrated Peckinpah film.

    Hey, MGM Home Video, make with a nice DVD, pronto.

    They should listen to me. (He's finally lost his mind.)