Fantastic Article from GQ - The Day the Movies Died

MovieRantby Joey Paur

For those of us that love movies, it's not surprising that the quality of movies made in Hollywood these days has gone down, and it's getting worse. Sure, the special effects are awesome, but where the hell did the story go? The script and story used to be the key element to making movies, and it still should be! But, it's those two important things that have taken a back seat in todays movie world. These days studios are are throwing movies into production without a script, and they write it as the movie is being filmed. That's not right. Star power and special effects are used to cover up all of the faults, bad dialogue and story holes. Sometimes it works! Tron: Legacy is a perfect example of how I was duped into liking the movie. The script and story were awful, but the music and special effects were awesome. Every now and then we get a great film though, for example my top three favorite films this year were Black Swan, Inception, and The Social Network. You can't argue with the brilliance of these films. Unfortunately these days Hollywood is more interested in telling silly simple-minded action-adventure stories about Harry Houdini, instead of making a top notch quality film about the life of the legendary magician. 

It's obvious that the quality of the movies we see in the future aren't going to get any better. In fact they are going to get worse. Seriously, look at all those board games and stupid toys being bought up by studios to turn into movie franchises. 

There is a fantastic article in GQ written by Mark Harris that is a must read called The Day Movies Died. In it he tells a story starting from the days of  Top Gun to Christopher Nolan's Inception to the upcoming Stretch Armstrong movies, and explains to us where Hollywood went wrong and why it may never be fixed. 

Here are a few excerpts from the article for you to read, but Make sure to head on over to GQ to read the whole thing. It's definitely worth your time. 

Consider: Years ago, an ace filmmaker, the man who happened to direct the third-highest-grossing movie in U.S. history, The Dark Knight, came up with an idea for a big summer movie. It's a story he loved—in fact, he wrote it himself—and it belonged to a genre, the sci-fi action thriller, that zipped right down the center lane of American popular taste. He cast as his leading man a handsome actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, who happened to star in the second-highest-grossing movie in history. Finally, to cover his bet even more, he hired half a dozen Oscar nominees and winners for supporting roles.

Sounds like a sure thing, right? Exactly the kind of movie that a studio would die to have and an audience would kill to see? Well, it was. That film, Christopher Nolan's Inception, received admiring reviews, became last summer's most discussed movie, and has grossed, as of this writing, more than three-quarters of a billion dollars worldwide.

And now the twist: The studios are trying very hard not to notice its success, or to care. Before anybody saw the movie, the buzz within the industry was: It's just a favor Warner Bros. is doing for Nolan because the studio needs him to make Batman 3. After it started to screen, the party line changed: It's too smart for the room, too smart for the summer, too smart for the audience. Just before it opened, it shifted again: Nolan is only a brand-name director to Web geeks, and his drawing power is being wildly overestimated. After it grossed $62 million on its first weekend, the word was: Yeah, that's pretty good, but it just means all the Nolan groupies came out early—now watch it drop like a stone.

And here was the buzz three months later, after Inception became the only release of 2010 to log eleven consecutive weeks in the top ten: Huh. Well, you never know...

The rise of marketers has also brought on an obsession with demographics. As anyone in Hollywood will tell you, the American filmgoing populace is divided two ways: by gender and by age. Gender is self-explanatory (usually); the over-under dividing line for age is 25. Naturally, every studio chief dreams of finding a movie like Avatar that reaches all four “quadrants” of the audience: male and female, young and not. But if it can be made for the right price, a two- or even one-quadrant film can be a viable business proposition.

In Hollywood, though, not all quadrants are created equal. If you, for instance, have a vagina, you’re pretty much out of luck, because women, in studio thinking, are considered a niche audience that, except when Sandra Bullock reads a script or Nicholas Sparks writes a novel, generally isn’t worth taking the time to figure out. And if you were born before 1985… well, it is my sad duty to inform you that in the eyes of Hollywood, you are one of what the kids on the Internet call “the olds.” I know—you thought you were one of the kids on the Internet. Not to the studios, which have realized that the closer you get to (or the farther you get from) your thirtieth birthday, the more likely you are to develop things like taste and discernment, which render you such an exhausting proposition in terms of selling a movie that, well, you might as well have a vagina.

That leaves one quadrant—men under 25—at whom the majority of studio movies are aimed, the thinking being that they’ll eat just about anything that’s put in front of them as long as it’s spiked with the proper set of stimulants. That’s why, when you look at the genres that currently dominate Hollywood—action, raunchy comedy, game/toy/ride/comic-book adaptations, horror, and, to add an extra jolt of Red Bull to all of the preceding categories, 3-D—they’re all aimed at the same ADD-addled, short-term-memory-lacking, easily excitable testosterone junkie. In a world dominated by marketing, it was inevitable that the single quadrant that would come to matter most is the quadrant that’s most willing to buy product even if it’s mediocre.

“It’s a chicken-versus-egg thing,” says writer-producer Vince Gilligan, the creator of the why-aren’t-there-movies-this-good cable hit Breaking Bad. “The studios say, ‘Well, no one else is coming to movies reliably these days except for young males, so we’ll make our movies for them.’ And yet if you make movies simply for young males, nobody else is going to want to go. So Hollywood has become like Logan’s Run: You turn 30, and they kill you.”

It's really quite sad, but who knows... maybe someday Hollywood will wake up and smell the good original movie ideas that are floating around in the world.

What do you think about all this?

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