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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

the problem with Hollywood? women, says Warner Bros. exec

Nikki Finke posted this atrocious news at her Deadline Hollywood Daily on Friday:

This comes to me from three different producers, so I know it’s real: Warner Bros president of production Jeff Robinov has made a new decree that “We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead”. This Neanderthal thinking comes after both Jodie Foster’s The Brave One (even though she’s had big recent hits with Flightplan and Panic Room) and Nicole Kidman’s The Invasion (as if three different directors didn’t have something to do with the awfulness of the gross receipts) under-performed at the box office recently.

Of course, we must be fair. After last summer, a season that Robinov was responsible for, when Warner Bros. had major flops in Lady in the Water, Poseidon, and Superman Returns, Robinov did indeed decree “no more movies written and directed by men,” “no more comic book movies,” and “no movies with male leads.”

I expect that any day now, he will come to the realization that, in fact, the problem is himself, and will hence decree “no more movies the production of which is headed up by an idiot who clearly doesn’t know what audiences want and who indulges other idiots like M. Night Shyamalan and who then finds powerless scapegoats to blame for his own incompetence instead of admitting that the movie biz is a crapshoot at the best of times.”

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  • MBI

    Holy fucking shit.

    I wasn’t even aware that The Brave One was any kind of flop. It’s made 34 mil and topped the box office, that’s a flop?

  • Seems like someone oughta point out to this guy that 50% of all movies are below average and that unless you are really, really picky and have really, really good quality control (a la Pixar), you are going to have a lot of flops for each blockbuster. It does sound a lot like he’s blaming everyone else for films that he greenlighted.

    As far as those other movies go:

    Lady in the Water = M. Night Shyamalan is a one-trick pony = enough already from him already

    Superman Returns = expectations were set too high, maybe? (I thought it was really good)

    Poseidon = did this really need to be remade? how about some new, original material

  • MaryAnn

    I wasn’t even aware that The Brave One was any kind of flop. It’s made 34 mil and topped the box office, that’s a flop?

    Floppiness depends as much on budget as it does on box office. An indie that cost $2 million to produced would be a blockbuster if it made $34 million. Warner Bros. hasn’t released the budget of *The Brave One,* but I think it’s a safe bet that it cost quite a bit more than $34 million — I’d guess it’s probably closer to $60 or $75 million.

    So yes, it’s a flop.

  • I think that the real problem in film-making is that it’s in the hands of the accountants. You don’t get finance for anything other than what worked last time. That’s why I have mostly abandoned Hollywood, and try to find out about small-budget productions instead – I think the film I’ve liked best of the last few years was My Name Is Modesty, though El Mariachi comes close…

  • MaryAnn

    You don’t get finance for anything other than what worked last time.

    But when that approach fails, they don’t learn from it, either.

    They’re all just fuckin’ idiots, is what.

  • Word on that M-A. It seems to me that there’s a simple matter of honest evaluation here. People in charge of Big Important Corporations like Warners need to coldly and clinically examine the facts about why a business venture failed, and base their subsequent decisions around the way thigns are rather than the way things can be conveniently justified. In Hollywood, that means assessing elements like script quality, directorial decisions, and performance… and yet such elements are almost never mentioned when discussing a film’s failure. Instead it was “pitched wrong” or “couldn’t find its audience,” or failed because of some ludicrous surface detail like star gender or generalized content. The Yugos don’t break down because they’re poorly designed cars. They break down because they’re painted red. No more red paint on our Yugos! It enables them to hide from nasty facts, live in denial, and keep making the same dumb-ass decisions.

    I should stress that, in this context at least, “dumb-ass decisions” refers to film as business, not as art. I’m not naive enough to believe that Hollywood will suddenly go all high minded and start funding bold cinematic experiments. But if you’re a *businessman* and you’re looking for a return on your investment, then you need to assess financial failures with a clearer and more objective eye than many of these nitwits seem capable of.

    And maybe, just maybe, if your product is an act of creative expression, it might behoove you to pay attention to the creativity on display, and not asinine surface details that have nothing to do with overall quality. It reminds me of a quote by Richard Brooks about the old moguls of the 30s and 40s. “They were monsters and pirates and bastards right down to the bottom of their feet, but they loved the movies.” People in Robinov’s position would probably be a lot better at their job if they loved their products just a little bit more.

  • Moe
  • MaryAnn

    For those who don’t want to click through, the link points to a story about Robinov’s denial that he ever said anything Finke reported.

    As if he weren’t going to deny this.

  • Moe

    I’m gonna give Robinov the benefit of the doubt ’cause there’s no way someone that stupid becomes a CEO of a major studio like WB with a rich past of great female leading women.

    Plus, we shouldn’t give rumours like this from annonymous people much credence.

  • MaryAnn

    there’s no way someone that stupid becomes a CEO of a major studio

    You mean, like how no one who’s a proud ignoramus could become president of a major country like the United States?

    Part of what makes this credible is that it has the ring of truth to it. I’m not suggesting that this would constitute legal proof of guilt or anything, but it’s easy to believe Robinov could have said this because it jibes with what we know about how Hollywood works. It’s shocking, and yet, not.

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