movies matter | criticism by maryann johanson
Thu Aug 13 2015, 02:38pm | 11 comments
I skimmed through that article in the paper (yeah, I’m one of those Luddites who keeps printing presses operating) and all I could think was ‘when the blazes did the general public care so damn much about stuff that used to only be in Variety or The Hollywood Reporter?’
There’s idiots who get on this website — in the midst of a discussion about quality or characterisation or story — and witter on and on about box office this and tentpole that ad nauseum.
If it wasn’t part of this strange subcurrent of its-no-good-if-it-doesn’t-make-bux and your-review-is-making-people-stay-away, I’d probably be more interested. Instead, I’m just annoyed.
It started when box office reports turned it into a horse race.
This is what the horse thinks about that!
I take an interest in the business side of things (though I accept that
we outsiders get nothing like the full information) because the ratio of
opening weekend to total budget has a direct impact on what gets made
next. As filtered through the usual biases, of course. If a film with a strong female lead opens against Guns and Fast Cars VII then obviously the strong female lead was the problem.
Yes, I’ve noticed you do. But, I’ve suspected you take an interest at a level where you probably read the trades and wouldn’t be expecting a discussion about it in a general interest publication like the NYT.
What I’m bewildered by is the general public getting superficially interested so they can use the $ or details about release date or marketing strategy as some signifier as to how we are supposed to enjoy it, regardless of things like story or character development.
I don’t read the trades regularly, but I can more or less make sense of them when I do.
I agree it’s an odd things to have in a general-purpose paper. I have to assume that this in itself is something of a marketing strategy, perhaps because the conventional marketing (trailers and so on) is so obviously aimed at people who want stock films in easily-understood genres.
It’s interesting to look at box office as an indicator of public opinion, though. We can look at the failure of Fantastic Four and say: Sometimes people do care about quality. Or we can look at Fifty Shades of Grey and say: Feminism is in trouble. It’s not perfectly reliable, of course. Sometimes a mediocre movie becomes a big hit for no obvious reason. But it’s still fascinating to people like me who are obsessed with movies.
On a practical level, box office is also relevant to me in that, if a film I want to see isn’t doing well, I know I have to plan on seeing it ASAP before it gets booted out of theaters.
(Wish we still had second-run movie houses.)
Actually we still have second-run movie houses in Dallas. However, they usually aren’t as nice as the second-run movie houses of yesteryear. And most of them are multiplexes.
Please don’t get me started on how rare it is to see a very old movie on the big screen nowadays. I rant enough on this site as it is.
Then again, I still write checks, I still use stamps and up until last year, I still had a landline…
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