Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #821: Acknowledging Things


First Universal Pictures announced that they were going to release their upcoming action/comedy The Tower Heist on video on demand (VOD) for $59.99 just three weeks after its theatrical debut.

As if the price wasn't idiotic enough, Universal's "experiment" really pissed of the theater owners. One, by one, by one, they threatened to boycott the film unless Universal changed course.

Then someone at Universal told the people running the studio that theatrical releases actually needed theaters playing the movie, and Universal promptly changed course. They've given up on their VOD plan.
Now back in April I wrote a piece about a similar proposal put out by a coven of major studios, including Universal, to do premium VOD with shortened release windows.  I said that this plan wasn't worth it, and a few months later the whole thing started to fizzle out, because someone higher up the corporate food chain agreed that it wasn't worth.

Though I guess someone at Universal mistook fizzle for sizzle, or they wouldn't have tried this hare-brained idea.

First there's the price, which is promises all the expense of going to theater, without the social aspect or large screen, but the thing that sticks out to me like a sore thumb is the lack of acknowledgment.
Universal refused to acknowledge that the theaters are an essential partner when it comes to feature films until it was almost too late.  The arrogance of corporate bulk convinced them that since they are so big, they didn't need anyone else, only to realize that they do when it was almost too late to save one of their tent-pole films for the season.

Oy, will some people ever learn.


Steven Zeitchik of the LA Times wrote an interesting piece about how Brad Pitt out-performs his friend George Clooney both critically and commercially.

While Mr. Zeitchik acknowledges that Clooney might be better served career-wise by imitating Pitt, he really doesn't plug into the real reason why Pitt outperforms Clooney.

It's not because of the constant tabloid coverage of his relationship with Angelina Jolie, or the constant media posturing of ex-wife Jennifer Aniston, because that sort of thing does more harm than good in these media saturated days.

Pitt does better than Clooney because of something that he might not consciously decide, but is really important when you're picking movie projects.
It's called acknowledging that there is an audience outside of Hollywood.

Clooney is Hollywood's star.  Most of Clooney's films are made by Hollywood for Hollywood, and centered around making Hollywood feel important for supporting him and keeping him on the A-List even when his box-office doesn't really deserve it. For the most part Pitt seems to choose roles that are not only interesting for himself to do, but what the audience might find interesting to watch him doing.

It's not a perfect plan, Pitt still has misses, but it's still better than Clooney's Hollywood only plan.


  1. Most of the movies I watch are either straight to video cheapos or foreign, so I don't have a dog in the fight of Universal vs. Theaters. Frankly, the sooner all Americans have massive home theaters the better in my opinion. Then I won't have to go out and sit in the same chair a 300-lb wino just wet his pants in during the previous showing. Or watch the row of teens in front of me text non-stop throughout the film.

    I agree on the Pitt vs. Clooney thing. I would say that Clooney has some friendly-to-audience films (e.g. From Dusk To Dawn), but those were generally the fault of the director, not Clooney, who apparently wouldn't know an audience-friendly movie if John Ford rubbed his nose in it.

  2. Wait ... Universal was going to charge $60?! That's even more than it costs me to go to the movies, except if I bring a passel of kids.

    Is their intended audience people who don't check the price before getting a video on demand?

  3. 60 bux! no wonder why kids would rather spend that on a new video game. At least when I pay that price for battlefield 3 or the next call of duty I will get at least 6 months of entertainment out of it opposed to 90-120 minutes worth.

  4. games do provide more total entertainment. Even a sucky game you usually play for 3-4 hours. Imagine the horror of realizing you just paid $60 to watch Baby Geniuses III.

  5. Don't forget that some games have replay value. If I'm paying $60 for a movie, not only should that net me a one-time date with one of the starlets of it, but I better be able to watch it indefinitely until the day I die.

    As for Clooney, was there EVER a time his stuff was [general] audience friendly?

  6. I stand by my former statement that From Dusk To Dawn was audience-friendly. But I reiterate that this was not Clooney's doing.

    Probably I could find other such things if I looked on IMDb but why bother?