Monday, 18 June 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #919: Bombs Away!

Two movies that the studios had pegged as guaranteed winners crashed and burned this past weekend. Both the musical Rock Of Ages, and the comedy That's My Boy, underwhelmed on their opening weekend, leaving holdovers like Madagascar 3 and Prometheus to continue their reign at the top.

So why did these movies, allegedly starring box office titans, tank?

The first reason is that that so-called "A-list" movie stars can't really sell movies commensurate with the hype they receive.  Despite what the people who run Hollywood think, it is extremely rare for anyone to go to a movie solely because a member of the so-called "A-List" is appearing in it.

People went to see Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol, not because they wanted to see Tom Cruise. They went to see a Mission Impossible movie that looked particularly thrilling in the previews. Apparently promising that Cruise is going to sing some old hair-metal wasn't as appealing.

Adam Sandler made his way to the A-list because he used to have an audience that liked his goofy anti-social man-children and could guarantee him a return on his films which used to be relatively cheap to make.

But things have changed.

Sandler's antics have become increasingly lazy, taking that once guaranteed audience for granted. This laziness is whittling away at that audience, who are growing up, if slowly, while the costs of making and marketing his films go up.

Then are the other reasons for them to lose their appeal...


The music in Rock Of Ages was not the sort of music that invokes nostalgia for a time gone by. It was a hit on stage because the audience treated such tunes with ironic condescension. Toss that music to anyone who actually grew up in that era, surrounded by people who listened to that music, like me, or actually listened to it, like my classmates, and you'll be more likely to get a cringe than a sigh of nostalgia.

Then there are the changes from the stage to the screen. In the original play, the villains out to shut down the rock and roll on the Sunset Strip were developers and crooked bureaucrats running a scam.  However greed and corruption wasn't deemed a fitting motive for movie villainy, so they rewrote them into a bunch of sinister Christian churchwomen led by the mayor's hypocritical Bible-thumping wife.

Goodbye American Christian moviegoers, even the ones who still listen to hair metal un-ironically. Audiences don't mind having their intelligence insulted as long as it's done in an entertaining way, they don't like getting their beliefs and existence insulted.


The whole pitch of the movie is "Adam Sandler's character asks like an out of control asshole." That's the pitch of most Adam Sandler's movies, and they've long stopped insulting people's intelligence in an entertaining way. They're just the product of Sandler and his friends sitting around thinking how they can amp up the assholery while burning the least amount of calories.

Sony's marketing team couldn't even go beyond that pitch for the movie, because that's literally all they got.

Now these reasons should have been seen way back in the development process, but thanks to Hollywood's dysfunctional system they weren't.

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