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maryann johanson, free spinster

question of the day: Why is there such a disconnect between serious film lovers and casual moviegoers?

You probably had the same reaction I did when it was announced yesterday that a new version of Dirty Dancing was heading our way. As Steven Zeitchik at 24 Frames so eloquently put it:

The collective groan could be heard practically the moment Lionsgate announced a “Dirty Dancing” remake with Kenny Ortega.

Same thing with the Smurfs sequel we also heard about yesterday. The Internet breathed a huge WTF?

At least, the Internet I follow did. I did not do a scientific study, but the general tenor of what I read on Twitter in reaction to both bits of news was not positive. Of course, I follow people like me: other film critics, serious fans, industry people — not casual moviegoers. Maybe casual moviegoers welcome the news… or would, if they paid attention to such things. Casual moviegoers will probably learn about the Dirty Dancing remake and the Smurfs sequel went they start seeing TV ads for the films a week before they open. And they’ll likely be happy about it. Hollywood certainly thinks they will: it wouldn’t be making these movies if it didn’t think so. (The Smurfs has so far earned $131 million worldwide, and it only opens in the U.K. today; it had a terrifying small drop in its second week in North America, so it’s probably heading for a generous profit before it’s done.)

How can it be, though, that the people who love movies and think about movies and talk about movies and spend a helluva lotta money on movies — even if, because of our smaller numbers, we don’t account for much profit — be so at odds with the people who don’t like movies anywhere near as much? You’d expect some differences in taste, but there seems to be a radical divide.

This is a subject that we talk about a lot here, from different angles, but it’s a constant mystery to me. It’s not like people who don’t see three movies a week are stupid, yet they seem to be able to tolerate movies that we can’t stand. It can’t merely be a matter of how inured we’ve become to the tropes and clichés that appear over and over again in movies, can it? It seems to me that if I were going to go to only one or two movies a year, I’d want them to be something special: you don’t need to have seen every dumb movie this year to know that the potty jokes of The Smurfs are old, tired, and not funny.

What do you think? Why is there such a disconnect between serious film lovers and casual moviegoers?

(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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