Tuesday, 24 April 2012


That's right folks, I'm answering reader questions. I am still collecting questions to answer in the future, so keep asking in the comments.

First question:
Blast Hardcheese asked... OK, I'll start. D, following up on your post for The Rockford Files remake - let's assume you make it a TV show instead of a movie. Who would you cast for Rockford?
The answer to that one is simple. 
James Garner circa 1974. Without James Garner's very specific charisma and persona Jim Rockford kinda comes across as a wimpy loser instead of a likeable everyman.
With Garner you got a sense that Rockford deplored violence because years of hard-earned experience taught him that getting into fights really hurts, and should be avoided if possible. 
Too many of today's "leading men" don't carry the weight of that sort of experience.  They're either too pretty or too goofy.
I think the best course of action is to come up with a new PI character tailored to the gifts of a new actor.
It's not hard, it just takes a scintilla of imagination and balls bigger than a raisin.
Dirty Dingus McGee 1 asked... It seems like many movies get made and released that never should have made it that far in the process. Some have terrible scripts, and some are just horribly, stupid ideas. How do these projects make is so far down the road when is seems obvious to anyone on the outside that the movie is going to suck?
This is a big question that tackles some of the fundamental issues of how Hollywood is run.

It all starts with intent.

Outside of The Asylum and those SyFy original movies no one actually intends to make a bad movie.  Everyone who hacks out a script and/or puts film in the camera and yells "Action" intends for their film to be the very best there is.
There are three reasons for bad movies:


Now I'm not talking about which party is in government.  I'm talking about politics as all the nonsense that has nothing to do with accomplishing the task you set out to accomplish, but still gets in the way.

And boy is there a lot of nonsense in Hollywood.

A frequent occurrence is that a script that has a lot of promise is bought. Rewrites are ordered because rewrites are pretty much mandatory in order for the people who green-lit the film to protect themselves from taking responsibility for their decisions.  
Who gets to do those rewrites is often a political decision based more on connections and social position than merit.  Depending on how that draft comes out, another writer is often hired to give it another pass. 

Then comes the director and the cast.  The director usually does their own pass, or has one of their friends take a shot at it.  If the lead actors have any clout then their own pet writers have to do drafts of their own. This can happen so many times that everything about the original script that made it such a good buy can be easily lost forever.
A stinker of an idea needs someone in a position of power to think it's brilliant. None of the underlings will dare admit that the particular brain-fart of casting Rosie O'Donnell as the lead in a multimillion dollar sex comedy gives of eight kinds of stink for fear of being fired, so they let it go.

Even if the executive, producer, or star who let loose the brain-fart is ousted it's often the case that such a stinker will live on if enough money's been spent on its development.  Then they'll try to finish it in the vain hope that they'll recoup at least something from it.

Now this is just plain bad luck.  A final shooting script can look great on the page, the actors and director can all be very talented, and yet when the final product is on the screen.... it just doesn't come together.

All creative endeavors are crap-shoots and rely on an impossible to define alchemical reaction to work.  Miss that precious reaction, and your movie is going to stink.

Next question:
ILDC asked... With The Hunger Games, has Lionsgate and the other mini-majors "proven" they can produce and release big-budget blockbusters like The Big 6?
Independent producers/distributors have been capable of making and releasing big budget blockbusters since the dawn of film-making.  All it takes really is money and testicular fortitude.

A classic example of this is independent producer Samuel Bronston.  He made a series of mega-budget epics like El Cid and 55 Days At Peking that were released through the independent distributor Allied Artists.

Now the trap that lies in wait for independent producers and mini-majors making epic blockbusters is cushioning.

A big studio has a lot of cushioning to protect it when it falls.  There's the income earned by other releases, the film library, and television productions, and then there's the sheer bulk of a being major movie studio that's part of an even huger media conglomerate.

When you're an independent or a mini-major you don't have cushioning like that.  You need to bat a thousand when you play in the big leagues or risk being completely wiped out.  It happened to Bronston when his 1964 mega-epic The Fall Of The Roman Empire tanked at the box office.  His company went bankrupt and he even did time in jail from all the fracas it caused.

Lionsgate can survive in the big leagues if it develops the right strategy. Namely avoiding putting all their eggs in the basket of promised blockbuster mega-hits by still cultivating smaller, lower risk, higher margin productions, and growing their interests in television production.

Dirty Dingus McGee 2 asked...  How do we get back to the 70s and 80s when hot female stars were unafraid to bare their uh, assets?
Time travel?

Actually there's been a massive social shift that probably ensures that big screen nudity would be a thing of the past.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when nipples became involved with mainstream cinema there were two reasons to have big screen nudity: 
1. Street Cred. 
2. Prurient Titillation (pun intended)

Having some nudity in your movie meant that your film was not your grand-dad's movie.  It marked you as a rebel, a renegade, someone not afraid to take risks who was mad, bad, and dangerous to know.  Now for those of you who don't know what "prurient titillation" means I can translate it best into "Hurray for boobies!"

However times have changed.  Why shell out money in a movie theater to see an actress take her top off with a hundred other people when you can beat off to see it and so much more on the internet for free and in the privacy of your own home.

Nudity also means getting an R-Rating for your movie. The excitement of seeing an R-Rated movie for the sake of it being R-Rated died out some time after the birth of home video.  So you can expect to make less money than if the film was rated PG or PG-13.
Then there's whole sleazy aspect producers using a celebrity nude scene to sell their movie. It tells the audience that the only thing worth seeing in the movie is some brief boobage, so they just stay home and get the pics off the internet.

So don't expect a comeback of the casual nude scene anytime soon.
Last question of the night:
Gary T. Burnaska asked... The Lobo movie news makes me wonder if
1. This film is an attempt for a director known for more family fare to branch out into more hard edged R rated material.

2. Since Lobo is a obscure, 3rd stringer character, does this mean that DC/WB is scraping the bottom of the comic licensing barrel for new characters?
 1.  Unlikely, since WB would probably spend $100+ million on a Lobo movie, they would want the director to sanitize it to make the more marketable PG-13 rating. That would offend the character's core fans and pretty much ensure that it would become a bomb.
2.  DC/WB's biggest problem is that they expect every comic book character to star in a big budget blockbuster feature film that will break records every time.  So they look for characters that were "big" at one time or another.  Lobo was "big" in the 1990s.  He became a symbol of everything wrong with 1990s comics, and is now considered more of an obnoxious remnant of a best forgotten age, but he was still big at some time, so someone at Warner Bros. is hoping that will translate into boffo box office.

It won't, but that won't stop them from spending millions of dollars of other people's money before they find that out.

I hope I answered all your questions.  If you have any more, keep them coming, and leave them in the comments....

1 comment:

  1. WHy should some actress get nekkid for a movie and have people pay for it when that same actress already has nude pix that were leaked on the net for free.

    Now if some actress wants to be edgy she has to do some girl kissin'.

    I pledge for a law to be passed for Selena Gomez do do a film where she gives into womanly temptations with her BFF Demi Lovato. We can base it on Demi's struggles. Call it "Treatment Center: The Seduction" Tagline "Love is the greatest therapy of all"