Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #840: Cashing In, Selling Out, Screwing Up?

Bill Condon, the director of such award winning and critically acclaimed films as Gods & Monsters, Chicago, and Dreamgirls, just had probably the biggest opening weekend of his career with part 1 of Breaking Dawn, the extended conclusion to the often critically maligned Twilight saga.

Now some have criticized Mr. Condon for taking a dip into the world of vampires that sparkle and angst-riddled moony girls who always seem to look like they've just took a rip off the bong. Some people have even used the phrase "selling out," in their criticisms.

I won't do that.

I don't think he's selling out by doing the film, I think he's cashing in.

True there are better ways to cash in, but this strategy does have a "beggars can't be choosers" quality when it comes to getting hooked up with a franchise that a guaranteed money maker.

But I think I should explain the difference between cashing in and selling out.

It's all about motives.

I get the sense from Bill Condon is that his motives behind doing the film, despite my teasing in the picture to the left is using the project to create security.  And I'm not just talking about the financial security that comes from a nice fat paycheck. 

Condon's commercial track record is pretty good, his films don't cost too much, and for the most part have made money. However, having a blockbuster franchise pic, or two under his belt, makes his record great.

This gives him a form of insurance for his future projects. Studios will give him more leeway, and trust for his next project, because he's made such a monster hit.

He's basically using his talent and reputation to create a secure base for the rest of his career, and hopefully be able to enjoy greater creative freedom. That's what I call "Cashing In."

So what constitutes "Selling Out?"

Well, that's fairly simple, and again it boils down to motives.

A filmmaker who is "selling out" does not care to use commercial success to create the security their career needs to pursue creative opportunities in the future. Commercial success is not a means to an end, but an end in itself, creativity be damned.

Ironically, selling out usually decays a filmmaker's commercial appeal, as they waste all their energy chasing trends, and things that have succeeded for others in the past, instead of creating the new and novel ideas that audiences need to see, even if they don't know they need it.

Now could Condon have done better than the Twilight saga?

Possibly, but the next Bond movie was already taken, and Christopher Nolan has Batman all sewn up, so like I said earlier, beggars can't necessarily be choosers.


  1. True. Clint Eastwood didn't sell out by making The Rookie so he could make Bird as well.

  2. I define selling out as making money by putting out cheap crap.

    Condon is basically using twilight to strategically build up his reputation.