Saturday, 17 September 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #806: Wait, Did Someone Listen To Me?

Paramount has dropped Warren Beatty's proposed movie about eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, which has since been picked up by New Regency Pictures, which is partnered with 20th Century Fox.

Now no one is saying why Paramount, which has a long relationship with Beatty, dropped out, but I will bet dollars to Daleks that it was all about money, specifically the film's budget.

You see, the chief thing a movie's budget buys a filmmaker is time. Warren Beatty takes an unholy amount of time to make movies, and unlike fellow directorial tortoise Stanley Kubrick, doesn't really include the time in his budget estimates. Beatty's last film
Town & Country was a pretty generic romantic comedy and Beatty was just supposed to be the star, but Beatty's demands for rewrites, retakes, and re-shoots, meant that it took over 3 years to make, had a production budget of $90 million, another $15-$20 million in marketing and distribution costs, and lost $100 million at the box office.

Now usually when a star of Beatty's tenure and stature goes to a studio to get a movie made the studio traditionally just hands over a blank check, because nobody says no to a big star. It was a practice that led to the
Town & Country boondoggle, and while I didn't suggest dropping the film altogether, I did suggest that the studio have a very serious chat with their star.

If you're too lazy the click the link, I'll summarize. Basically I said that if I was the boss of the studio, I'd sit Beatty down, and tell him, bluntly if I had to, that if he wants the film to be made he'd have to do it differently from anything he's done before. Beatty's method is to take horrendously long periods of time, and horrendously large amounts of money to make movies. If his demands can turn a romantic comedy into a $100 million+ loss, then what will he do with a period piece that is, by it's nature, a more expensive film. I'd tell him that if he wants to make his movie, he'd have to do it for reasonable money, and within a reasonable frame of time. If not, as the Catalan oath goes, then not.

Well, it looks like Beatty's chosen the "not" because the film is gone from Paramount, and now at New Regency, which is run by Arnon Milchan, a long time friend. I wish him luck, and I hope that he makes a good film at a reasonable cost, so that films that don't involve superheroes can be seen as commercially viable entertainment again.

Now I must come to the scary part of this blog.

Either someone at Paramount actually read my post and took my advice, or, someone in Hollywood has actually tried to act with a little common sense.

Which I think is a sign of the rapture.


  1. Common Sense probably brought on my this stale economy. When money is tight studios cannot afford to blow money on some A lister's "personal" project or another whiny "important" protest film aimed at just impressing critics and other celebs.

    This has also caused other things like remake madness and a glut of comic book adaptations and anything that might come with a pre-packaged audience.

  2. If studios can't afford to blow money on a personal projects, or whiny protest films, explain Bucky Larson or Clooney's "The Ides of March".

    The latter features a presidential candidate who opposes the death penalty (which puts him left of, for instance, Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter). He also nobly defends freedom of religion, though not religious himself. As if there were ANY presidential candidate in the last century who opposed freedom of religion. And of course he shelved the movie for a while back in 2008, because it is cynical and Lord knows we can't get cynical about THAT election.