Ed Driscoll

"I Only Make Movies That Are Interesting To Me"

There’s a certain amount of this L.A. Times article by John Horn titled, “Hollywood should rewrite own script” that should sound awfully familiar to anyone who regularly scans our “Hollywood, Interrupted” archives. For example:

You can’t even fool some of the people some of the time

In an age of instant text messaging, studios no longer can hide a movie’s stink with marketing. Within hours of “The Perfect Man’s” opening, Universal’s box-office business returns started declining; the Hilary Duff movie actually managed the rare feat of selling fewer tickets on Saturday than on Friday.

Heck, I wrote about texting’s apparent effect on box office two and a half years ago. Later, Horn writes:

The coasts are toast

For quality movies to perform well, they must appeal across the nation, not just to the coastal cognoscenti. The ultimate financial success of “Brokeback Mountain” will be determined not by its Arclight take but by its returns from places like Salt Lake City’s Broadway Centre Theatre.

Back in May, at the start of what was traditionally the summer blockbuster season, I wrote:

the New York Times recently ran an article wondering why Hollywood’s box office is down this year. Could it be because of efforts similar this in so many other films over the last 15 year or so, sure to alienate moviegoers in, what after the 2000 election was dubbed the Red States–flyover country where films need to make the bulk of their money in the US to be a hit–have started to take their toil?

Of course, that comment by Horn about Brokeback and Salt Lake City tacitly brushes upon, but fails to address head-on the 800 pound elephant in the room: how much Hollywood’s efforts last year to alienate the Red States ultimately paid off. As I tried to make plain in my TCS piece earlier this month, that’s far from the only reason why Hollywood took it in the shorts this year–but it’s a big part of it.

Another reason is pure narcissism. Check out the quote that ends the article:

Nobody knows anything

Screenwriter William Goldman’s famous admonition about Hollywood’s brainpower (or lack thereof) rarely proved so accurate. A documentary about penguins sold more tickets than Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn’s “The Interpreter.” Golden Globe voters failed to nominate Steven Spielberg’s “Munich” for best picture. Turned down by nearly every studio, “Sideways” collected five Oscar nominations and won one trophy for Fox Searchlight. Paramount’s “The Longest Yard” remake grossed more than “The Legend of Zorro,” “The Dukes of Hazzard” and “XXX: State of the Union” combined. Given all that, it’s fair to wonder if such 2006 movies as “Poseidon,” “Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction,” “The Omen 666” and “The Santa Clause 3” are part of the solution … or part of the problem. “Da Vinci Code” producer Brian Grazer says that even though he’s “optimistic” about the year ahead, he can’t predict audience tastes or Hollywood’s future. “I only make movies,” Grazer says, “that are interesting to me.”

But then, that’s been Hollywood’s problem all year, hasn’t it? To a great extent, they only made films that were interesting to them. Maybe it’s time to consult the audience, and see what it wants to see for a change.