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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Is Hollywood imploding?

“Is The Summer Movie Blockbuster Dead?” asks scott-johnson at ComicBook.com. The evidence:

Since 2007, there have been at least three or more movies every year crack the $300 million mark at the U.S. box office. However, 2011 is shaping up to look like a year where it’s possible that no movie will cross the $300 million mark, much less three or more. The reality of 2011 is that almost all the top summer movies have been met with critical disdain, and none have captured enough of a buzz to inspire the repeat viewing that often leads to a $300 million plus box office.

It’s not impossible that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will cross the $300 million mark in North America — Part 1 didn’t quite make it, but now there’s a premium on ticket prices with 3D. But it’s a pretty good bet that we won’t get three $300 million movies in 2011.

And then there’s Barry Norman at the Daily Mail noting that “films featuring Hollywood’s biggest names bomb at the box office.” He calls it the “death of the movie star”:

Today, the mass of cinema audiences is aged between 15 and 18 — and that’s what poses such a threat to the existence of big movie stars.

Kids of that age are not interested in veterans like Hanks (55), Cruise (49) or even Depp (48), except when he plays Jack Sparrow in the frankly juvenile Pirates Of The Caribbean series. Watching old men like them on screen would be like watching their fathers cavorting about.

Even Roberts (44), Diaz (39) and Jolie (36), desirable as they might be to the audiences’ dads, come across as little more than auntie figures.

This modern, young audience has no interest in the established stars. What it wants to see is either people closer to its own age (for instance Robert Pattinson, 25, as a toothsome vampire in the Twilight saga) or crash-bang special effects in films such as the sci-fi Transformers series, or in the X-Men superheroes films, or the forthcoming Captain America.

They’re also partial to movies with men behaving badly, such as Hangover 2, or girls behaving badly, as in America’s surprise hit of the summer, Bridesmaids — neither of which features anybody you’ve ever really heard of.

All true, but nothing we haven’t been hearing about for several years, at least. But somehow the failure of the Tom Hanks/Julia Robert vehicle Larry Crowne seems like a milestone in the slo-mo death of the movie star. It’s not that audiences didn’t respond to it but the reason why they didn’t respond: It’s not a very good movie. It’s like the movie stars aren’t even trying anymore.

Is this just more of the same doom-and-gloom we’ve been hearing for a few years now? Or is something bigger happening?

Is Hollywood imploding? Are we seeing a seimic shift in how Hollywood operates, perhaps akin to the shift to blockbusters in the late 1970s? Can Hollywood endure making only movies for kids? What will Hollywood look like in 10 years?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)



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