Monday, 14 May 2012

You Asked For It!

I asked for your questions, and boy did you give me some real noodle-scratchers to fake answer. So let's get started:
@MediaWarrior asked via Twitter... Got a question was the studio trying to sabotage the Miley Cyrus film LOL?
For those who aren't familiar with the story LOL is a remake of the 2008 French coming of age comedy movie, and starred former Disney starlet Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore. It was released in only 105 screens against Marvel's The Avengers and had a total box office somewhere around $67,000.  

I don't think Lionsgate was actively trying to "sabotage" the release of LOL, while they're the biggest independent studio out there, they're not big enough to just piss away $11+ million for sake of sabotaging a movie for motives beyond comprehension.

A quick look at the film's production history does tell me a story. The film itself was shot in 2010, and post-production was completed early in 2011. It then sat on a shelf for over a year only to get a contractually obligated theatrical release up against the biggest box office event of the year.

The story it tells me is that at some point during post-production the people running Lionsgate looked at the film and said: "Oh hell, this movie is either completely abysmal, or totally unsellable." Now you're not going to get a company to admit that they made a bad movie, or that they're unable to sell a movie, that's a sign of weakness.

Now the usual tactic is to just dump it out on DVD, but Lionsgate was contractually obligated to theatrically release the movie. Rather than burning calories and money trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, they did the bare minimum they were legally required to do, and they did it at the one time of the year that there's a good chance that the majority of movie-goers wouldn't even notice its release.

So it's not sabotage, just ass covering.

Soonertroll asked... What are the unrealistic chances of Disney & Fox doing an Avengers Vs X-Men movie? Could something like that be made for less then $500 million?
The chances of that happening are extremely unrealistic. Fox has the rights to the X-Men franchise as long as they keep pumping out X-Men movies thanks to the fine print in their contract with Marvel. Now after the creative abortion that was X-Men: The Last Stand some thought the series was done and dusted, but the retro-styled First Class revitalized the franchise, and I don't see Fox giving any part of that up as long as it remains profitable.

Disney already has to share a piece of The Avengers with Paramount as part of the buyout of their deal with Marvel, and I don't see them as willing to share even more of the golden goose with another rival.

I don't even want to think about the budget, which would outstrip NASA for sheer scale.

Helen asked... Why are critics obsessed with Michael Bay? I get that they don't like his movies but it's gone way beyond that. For example, just a few days ago I came across a derogatory reference to Bay in a review of a 1940s French drama, of all things.
The answer is simple and it's rebellion.

But not just any kind of rebellion, and it's not who think it is that is doing the rebelling.

Yeah, the answer's simple, but the explanation of the answer is really complicated.

Anyway, there are two kinds of rebellion in Hollywood, there's the rebellion that Hollywood accepts, and the kind that Hollywood abhors.

Rebellion That Hollywood Accepts: Tattoos, bad fashion choices, drug/alcohol addictions, and possessing a condescending-to-insulting view of the American audience, their intelligence, and their religious and political beliefs. All while paying proper obeisance to the prevalent attitudes that Hollywood holds dear to its own flinty heart. That means that you can piss on the beliefs and feelings of audience all you want, but you must kiss the ass of your peers, and those who share the same beliefs of your peers without question.

Rebellion That Hollywood Abhors: Illustrating the hypocrisy inherent in Hollywood while refusing to play along with the industry's personal shibboleths and sometimes actively mocking them.

That's Michael Bay.

Hollywood likes to claim that it's an art created by a blessed and talented elite that cares more for art and society over crass commerce. Bay loudly declares by his very existence that Hollywood is a big business that's not much different than running carnival rides, and his films show it. They may insult your intelligence with their silly plots and overwrought dialogue but they won't declare that you are evil just because you pray and vote differently from his Hollywood peers. 

Normally, this sort of behavior would result in him being subtly blacklisted out of the industry. However his movies make shit-loads of money, and despite its claims of being above the rule of dirty lucre, they need cash-cows like Bay to help pay for the generally money losing film and TV projects of Hollywood's obedient pets like George Clooney.

This means Bay is untouchable. They can't stop him from making money movies, he knows it, and flaunts it in their faces. So the only way they can fight back against him is to slag him as the embodiment of everything wrong with Hollywood, when in fact he's merely a reflection of a truly dysfunctional system.

This attitude as seeped into the minds of critics, who see themselves as the gatekeepers of culture, and use him as a convenient bogeyman.

Dirty Dingus McGee Asked... Will the massive success of the Avengers after its 4 movie build up change the way film companies try to advertise their product? Given the overall success of Marvels movie brand as a whole what are the chances of more groups of movies set in a shared universe without being sequels/prequels to each other?
That's a tricky question.  You see the success of The Avengers, and the Marvel movie universe as a whole, falls upon two very important factors.

1. A preexisting fictional universe that's already embedded in the zeitgeist. Something to show the executives that there is something that exists, has a track record, and an audience to make the risk worth taking.

2. More important is having a strong figure at the top with the vision and testicular fortitude to conceive the overall plan and the administrative skill to coordinate it all into a coherent whole.  Especially making sure to sign all the actors to a potential Avengers movie right from the start, to avoid being held over a barrel financially.

Marvel has that in the form of their top movie guy Kevin Feige. He did a bang up job putting together the movies leading up to The Avengers and it's obvious that the Disney/Marvel leadership trusts him, and hopefully will keep trusting him at the helm.

Now there is another organization that could put together such a sweeping mega-project, but it lacks that key ingredient I call the Feige-Factor.

That company is DC Comics.

It has a large coherent universe stocked with characters capable of carrying feature films and TV projects, but it lacks a strong head to put it all together.

Remember, Marvel and DC are structured very differently. Marvel was a more-or-less independent company right up until its recent takeover by Disney. DC has been a subsidiary of Time-Warner since the 1970s.

When Disney bought Marvel its movie business was already well established and Feige had a track record of success. It was simply cheaper and easier for Disney to leave him more or less alone to avoid rocking a boat loaded with cash.

If you're in charge of DC Comics movies then you come in as just another cog in an already massive machine. It doesn't matter how visionary and skilled you are, you will never have the power needed to see your vision come to fruition without having the weight of the entire Time-Warner bureaucracy crushing you and your plans.

It doesn't matter how the way Marvel runs their movie properties succeeds, I doubt the Time-Warner corporate group-think will ever let anyone have the scale of clout that Feige has over at Marvel. Nolan has some measure of clout over Batman, and possibly over Superman, but the corporation won't relax their grip on the rest to allow for a Justice League movie, even if it breeds nothing but disaster. Do I have to mention Green Lantern?

ILDC asked... Why does Universal want to make a sequel to the 2010 semi-indie-hit Kick-Ass? Is it because The Hunger Games just proved that there's a mainstream audience for kids murdering? And maybe also dropping C-bombs?
I doubt they see Kick-Ass 2 as a potential $500+ million blockbuster rip-off of The Hunger Games, but they do see a film that was an R-Rated movie made for less than $30 million make a little shy than $100 million worldwide at the box office, and have a healthy afterlife on home video and comics.

Universal will probably try to make it into the more marketable PG-13, which would offend the core fans, and doom the sequel to failure, but it's not like logic's ever guided their decision making.

I hope I answered your questions, and feel free to ask me more.


  1. Is there usually a deadline or region-specificness for movies contractually obligated to get a theatrical release? The Weinstein Company's Shanghai, filmed in 2008, has been released in seemingly every country except the US since 2010.

  2. The answer to that question is that it depends on the contract between producer & distributor. Often independent films with marketable elements are "pre-sold" to distributors in different regions. The odds are that Shanghai's producers sold the film to different distributors in each country or region, and that the Weinstein Company is just their US and/or North American distributor.

    If there is an obligation to theatrically release a movie in a timely manner in a contract the Weinstein Co. signs, they either have a way around it, or are willing to have their lawyers do the delaying for them in court.

  3. I wonder sometimes how much Bay's hatred comes from the critics et al just not being used to being insulted like the mainstream audience is.
    (of course, either explanation isn't mutually exclusive)