"The Monster That Ate Hollywood"

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Bill Catherall, Mar 1, 2002.

  1. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    I'm not really sure if this should go in the TV programming forum, or the Movie forum...so I'm putting it here because it relates to movies.

    PBS showed a documentary last night called "The Monster That Ate Hollywood." It was about the decline in quality movies the last few years and explored studios, marketing, and money making. Unfortunately I found it when it only had 30 minutes left, so I missed most of it. But from what I saw it was very interesting. They talked about how movies aren't really much of a money maker themselves and that merchandising has had to come in to the picture to make up for that. Part of the problem with the higher cost (thus lower profits) is that studios feel the need to have a huge marketing push to really get the high first weekend box office numbers.

    They also talked about how small studios will feel more comortable taking the "big risks," but when they make it big they'll often become more conservative with their releases because the movies cost more. They cited Mirimax and New Line as examples of studios that put out some really good movies when they were small, but have since not taken as many risks.

    All in all it was a fun and informative documentary. Did anybody else see this? What were your thoughts?
     
  2. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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    I'm sorry I missed this. Does anyone know if it will be repeated?

    From what you wrote, I would agree with what they were saying, but the decline in Hollywood films started in the late 70's and not just the last few years. In fact, movies today, overall, are probably better than they were 15 - 20 years ago as back then, the independent film industry was still in it's infancy and indie films were few and far between.
     
  3. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    They did mention indie films and how much more difficult it is to get them to play at your local theater. They just can't seem to get their foot in the door with these corporate chains. Part of the problem, as mentioned in the documentary, is not so much the studios, but the distributors. According to one director (I forget her name -Edited to add, it was Allison Anders), they just don't seem to be interested in making just a little bit more then the break even mark. They want a lot more.
    The show ended talking about how the internet is going to become the real tool for marketing and distribution. But there will always be movie theaters. Even if films aren't distributed on film, there's something about the exhibition of a movie in a big theater that will always be needed.
     
  4. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer
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    I would be interested in seeing this, but has there ever been a year where someone was not criticizing the movie business because of the decline in quality over "recent years"? I mean, in 1975, when Jaws, One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, The Man Who Would be King, Dog Day Afternoon, Nashville, and Barry Lyndon were released, people were probably lamenting the dearth in quality movies and pointing to Mandingo and Death Race 2000 as examples of the imminent death of cinema. I'm sure they were complaining about how Funny Lady and Rooster Cogburn were not as good as their predecessors and pointing out that The Adventures of the Wilderness Family was an inferior Swiss Family Robinson re-tread representing the dearth of original ideas in Hollywood. [​IMG]
    Last year we were treated to AI, Memento, Fellowship of the Ring, Monsters Inc., Amelie, Mulholland Drive, The Man Who Wasn't There, Ghost World, The Royal Tenenbaums, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Harry Potter & the Sorceror's Stone, and numerous other films I enjoyed. The fact that most films stink is not a new development.
    Regards,
     
  5. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

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    Actually Jay, the program traced the decline back to the release of Jaws in 1975, which started the whole blockbuster phenomenon. Once studios saw that they could make a massive amount of money by hyping a hugely expensive FX-heavy picture like that, there was no going back (of course they failed to realize that unlike most of what followed, Jaws was a good movie).
    Facisnating program. I think Frontline gets rerun on Sundays around here so I may tape it then. You can find many of the interviews from the show transcribed here:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...ows/hollywood/
    - Guy
     
  6. Bill Catherall

    Bill Catherall Screenwriter

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    Thanks for that link Guy! [​IMG]
     
  7. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    FYI, last night's broadcast was itself a repeat. Excellent documentary about the depressing trend of the big-opening-weekend box-office take.

    And, actually, the overall quality of Hollywood's output has declined. Yes, every era has had its share of stinkers, but stinkers are largely the norm now--as one of the talking heads noted in the Frontline presentation, this is due to the fact that the studios have been taken over by corporate conglomerates. As he stated, Hollywood never was a corporate town until just recently, in the post-Jaws era.

    I especially enjoyed Elvis Mitchell's comments, as well as what Roger Ebert had to say (when pondering whether a college-educated person of average means and in his or her thirties would choose to see The Mummy Returns, Mr. Ebert said "Of course not. Hollywood's movies are aimed at thirteen-year-old boys; they are not made for you.").

    This would normally go in "TV," but I'll let it simmer over here and see what happens. Thanks for posting about this.
     
  8. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  9. Jay E

    Jay E Cinematographer

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  10. Randall Dorr

    Randall Dorr Second Unit

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    This doc really opened my eyes.

    I used to be of the opinion that it's basically the filmmakers and artists that are fighting the corporate suits who only want to please the stockholders.

    It's infinitely more complicated than that. There are plenty of filmmakers like Michel Bay, (who undoubtedly had final cut on the three hour Pearl Harbor) who feel they are artists, but they still willingly make brain dead, cash-cow blcokbusters.

    And there are plenty of executives who want to make money and aren't that concerned about art, but (like Jack Warner) they still want to make a good picture. I didn't previously think much of Peter Guber, considering some of the films he's done, but he genuinly cares about movies.

    The system is complicated even more by the fact that the conglomerates (and their stockholders), who own the studios, don't care about making the audience think like Kubrick did, or entertaining them the way Frank Kapra did. Kapra's films may have pulled at your heart strings instead of leaving you dazed from the ideas they contained, but they were memorable, which is the true mark of a good film. Rush Hour 2 and The Mummy Returns were hugh hits, but does anyone remember them?

    Also, for anyone who's worried about the state of cinema, I have a theory: There's a thirty year cycle that movies go through with (roughly) a decade of bad movies, a decade of OK movies and decade of great movies. Every thirty years, there are social and technological revolutions that permit these changes.

    The best decade for film? We all know that: the 70s. The worst decade for film: the 80s. Using that as the basis for the pattern, the 20s, 50s, and 80s were the bad decades, the 30s, 60s, and 90s were the OK decades and the 10s, 40s, 70s, and 00s are the great decades.

    (This is just a theory that I really haven't spent much time researching, but I do think it holds a little water.)
     
  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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  12. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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  13. Guy Martin

    Guy Martin Second Unit

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  14. Randall Dorr

    Randall Dorr Second Unit

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    I'll have to check out Hit and Run. Guber's enthusiasm seemed real, but I guess lying through their teeth is a skill had by all executives.

    On the thirty year cycle theory: Like I said, I haven't done much research to support it. But it is generally thought that the 70s was the best decade for film.
     
  15. Luc D

    Luc D Second Unit

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    Best decade for American film, definately. Best decade overall, that's debatable. People (including myself) tend to point to the sixties as the worst period in American film.
     
  16. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Forgive my youth and ignorance, but what if this is a case of selective memory? "The good ol' days."

    There are a lot of people who claim that foreign films are the way to go. Usually, many of these people forget that they are only seeing the cream of the crop, and are forgetting about the scores of mediocre and sub-par movies. Are people doing the same with older movies? Most (including myself- I've been catching up on older film a lot lately) people, when they think of "older" movies, remember, well, the memorable films.

    There are plenty of awful movies from the days of yore.

    Did I just say "days of yore?"
     
  17. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    This discussion can only mean one thing: WE'RE GETTING FREAKIN' OLD!!! I'm pretty sure down the road when we get to the point where using the bathroom is a Herculean task, we'll still be talking about "the good ole days". Then our children will do the same and say, "Remember when they used to put out good movies like The Mummy Returns?"
    [​IMG]
     

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