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I recently had the always fun and entertaining experience of doing some video interviews with the cast of Star Trek after seeing the film Friday night.  In case you’re wondering, the interview experience is composed of approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes of waiting intermixed with about 16 minutes of actually talking to the cast.  It was during this period that I had the less fun and less entertaining experience of hearing critics and handlers talk about the movie.  Strangely, despite listening for a very long time (nigh on 2 hours and 45 minutes) I wasn’t able to glean what any of them thought of the film.  I was there, shoulder to shoulder with reporters from Fox, CNN, and pretty much every on-line movie site you’ve heard of.  Yet, no one said whether it was good or not.  What did they talk about?  Money.

How much money will Star Trek make?  How much does it need to make opening weekend to be a success?  Did you hear what it’s tracking at?  Well I heard that the site you’re referring to, their estimates on The Hannah Montana movie were off by $20 million opening weekend.  Give me a fucking break.  When did box office receipts become the only qualifier for a movie?  At what point did people start caring about how much money a film made?  The only people who really should care are investors and producers and business people.  You know, those who are financially invested.  What does it matter to a critic?

Sure, box office is a good way to get a read on the film’s popularity and it’s an interesting statistic, but ultimately one you can’t throw around as the ultimate nullifier.  If you go purely by money made, Titanic is the greatest film of all time and Paul Blart: Mall Cop is a better film than Watchmen.  But then again, those are only raw numbers.  Sure, Titanic and The Dark Knight each made a shit ton of money, but they all cost a shit ton to make.  The most profitable films are the ones that have a higher turnover.  Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects cost $7million to make but made over $17million.  Double your money. Watchmen and Monsters vs Aliens didn’t even make their money back. Friday the 13th made more than triple its budget.

So what does all that mean?  In the end, box office shouldn’t mean shit to most of us.  Yeah, its a cool number, but money shouldn’t be dictating our tastes.  Honestly, why should we care about the money side of it?  As long as good movies keep getting made, can’t we just appreciate them and that be enough?  Have we become so money obsessed we value our computers by their price tags and our movies by their opening weekend grosses?  Can a movie be considered a success on its artistic merit alone or does it need to be flush with cash?  William Shakespeare lived a modest life as a somewhat known author – his fame didn’t come til far after.  But at the time because he made no money does that mean he was no success?  Maybe all I’m trying to say is to try to view movies outside of the box office.  Just because something is popular doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good and vice versa.  Or maybe all I’m trying to say is “shut up.”  Not sure.  What I do know is that when I hear people talking about a movie only in terms of a number rather than an experience, I go warp factor 4 past my boiling point.

Is a film’s gross important to your opinion of it?  Do you care about box office numbers?


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