There’s a certain point in time, which takes longer than you might expect, when one gets tired of the bad films and TV shows that are flooding the entertainment vista. You scream in exasperation and ask why these abominations are being produced even though you know the answer. In a place where it’s hard to make it, it seems incredibly easy to make it with terrible content. Money, not quality, is becoming evermore the driving force behind what flies and what doesn’t.
Money is the overarching theme here but there are multiple reasons embedded within that large idea that explain why a lot of movies suck. Hollywood is meant to be one of the most competitive industry’s in the world. You’ll only make it if you have serious talent. If that’s the case why is their so much trash clogging up the figurative pipes? Sure, they pander to what a mass audience wants and that’s natural but it’s not just the content that is bad, it’s the execution too. The skill in writing dialogue, dramatic pacing, characterisation is also terrible a lot of the time. Sometimes even the best actors are made to look horrible. For instance, the most recent ‘Fantastic Four’ had some undeniably skilled performers starring in it. Jamie Bell and Kate Mara in particular. It turned out to be one of the worst films, if you could call it that, in recent memory. ‘Two Broke Girls’ is also as unbearable as a steaming pile of alcohol induced vomit.
So, despite the constant spiel about needing outstanding ability to succeed, it would appear that this isn’t true. What you need is a stupid idea that can be marketed to attract a large audience which is happy to eat it up. We all know how adept reality television is at this with shows like ‘The Bachelor’ killing brain cells and objectifying women all over the place.
So who do we blame? The writer’s and filmmakers for refusing to make the effort to re-educate consumers and re-define what should be popular, or the audience for seemingly demanding junk entertainment?
As it turns out, the writer’s may be just as helpless as the frustrated parties always hoping for something better. So many films today are remakes, reboots, sequels, or adaptations. Where are all the original ideas? Where are all the good writer’s hiding? The writers are there but the problem is that it’s not them who gets a movie made. Producers, the people on the money side of things, are most often the ones who come up with plot ideas they think will spin a profit. If it’s been done before, who cares. They’ll make another end-of-the-world blockbuster. They want the cash and nothing else. They certainly don’t care if they let down lovers of cinema. Producers will do a lot of the groundwork and call in a screenwriter to fill in dialogue gaps and that’s basically it. All the interesting, original material is not deemed to be worth the effort. Crushing news for aspiring and passionate scriptwriters.
This is usually because it won’t make a boom at the international box office. For a film to appeal equally in countries all over the world it has to be a simplified mash-up of CGI and explosions. For example there is the belief that a story of hardship on the streets of Brooklyn won’t resonate with anyone not residing in America, but the need to runaway from monsters or save the world is accessible by everyone. It’s much easier to market a big scary dinosaur. That is insulting to audiences. Even if someone in South America or Scandinavia knows nothing about Brooklyn, the themes and emotions about life’s struggles are something anyone can relate to.
Quality films are still being made of course, but it’s startling how little attention they get. Take ‘The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete’ for example.
A touching and emotional story that happens to feature Anthony Mackie, star of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, ‘The Avengers’, ‘Ant-Man’ and other upcoming Marvel films such as ‘Captain America: Civil War.’ Take him out of his Falcon suit and what changes? Nothing. He’s still a quality actor. However, Ant-Man, a better than mediocre but not great film made $165 million at the box office while ‘Mister and Pete’ made $0.5 million. Turn our attention to rotten tomatoes and we see ‘Mister and Pete’ is rated 12 points higher at an amazing 91%. Well this says something about the sophistication of the audiences but we must remember the audience is shaped by film industry just as child is shaped by their parents. Hollywood is force feeding the same thing over and over and consumers have now come to expect it and enjoy it. The big film companies have the power to change this but they won’t. Why would they, when the money continues to roll in at status quo?
This focus on money isn’t just about people buying a movie ticket or Blu-ray though. Merchandising is massive. It can’t be emphasised enough how important merchandising is to the profits for a film franchise is. Merchandising is often the sole reason sequels and spin-offs are made. Take ‘Transformers’, ‘Minions’, or ‘Toy Story’ as examples. One can only guess at the revenue made from the toys, books, and clothes dedicated to these films, but the word billions comes to mind.
Another reason bad movies get made is not because of the millions of dollars they’ll score at the box office but because of the smidgen of cash it takes to create them. Found footage horror films are a classic example. They can be made by almost anyone with little outlay and production value. So any money they do make is basically profit. ‘The Blair Witch Project’ started it all and it’s grown out of control since. The recent ‘The Gallows’ just another poor example of the genre. These types of films can be quite popular with teens and because of their economic budget there’s no chance of failure. Thus there’s no reason to stop making these and start making quality films instead.
It’s not easy to make good films. It’s incredibly hard. It can take a long time and requires a lot of dedication and hard work. At the end of the process it might not even pay off. You could actually lose money. So it’s understandable, but still disappointing, that film companies are playing the percentages. It’s difficult to see the situation changing any time soon either.
In the meantime, it’s just a matter of sifting through the dirt to find the gold which still exists, and always will. The saving grace is that the award nights still give the good films the credit they deserve although even they are becoming suspect.
How do you feel about this? Are you happy with what is dominating the cinemas or would you like to see more thoughtful productions?