There are three trends that stick out to me when I try to pinpoint what’s glaringly wrong with Hollywood. But, before I discuss them, I’d like to address the following question: But, who cares? Oh, dimwitted plebeian, there are many reasons to care—primarily the fact that Hollywood outputs the highest-budgeted films in the world (and, consequently, films with the greatest potential for quality.) Further, Hollywood is home to some of the most talented cast and crew around.
When you go out to see that film whose trailers caught your attention a couple weeks back, then you wind up severely disappointed by it, you’ve not only lost your money and time, but you’ve also lost a little faith in Hollywood. And, with a decreasing faith comes a decreasing likelihood for movie expenditures in the future. Consequently, films will then be produced with increasingly smaller budgets. Granted, people go away, forget things, then die after a while, but there’s still a significant distaste left in moviegoers’ mouths after they’ve been repeatedly disappointed, and I intend to pinpoint three of the most pertinent trends that lead to such disappointment.
1. Bored, Naive and Tasteless Audiences
Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer movies. Tyler Perry movies. Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Beverly Hills Chihuahua. Are you foaming at the mouth yet? Well, you should be. These films performed spectacularly at the box office thanks to audiences who were either too naive or too ignorant to take the slightest peek at critics’ opinion beforehand, or even compare said films to similar films in the past to get a feel for what to expect in terms of quality. American moviegoing audiences seem to jump at most theatrical releases as if what’s being put out will be new, hilarious, and entertaining every single time–as if any one of those qualities were considered more important than the film’s actual financial returns.
But, moreso than simply being unaware, I believe that being bored is the key proponent to audiences flocking towards horrible films–Epic Movie and Meet the Spartans are fantastic examples. After Date Movie, audiences–for the most part–knew what to expect from another Movie movie, but they went in droves regardless. This trend is likely the result of moviegoers’ desires to simply shut their brains off for a solid 80 minutes in hopes of being passively entertained. I, along with almost anyone else, can certainly sympathize with such a trend–who hasn’t sat down and watched a terrible action movie strictly to kill a couple of hours after a long day’s work? But, the essential problem here is that audiences entertain their boredom at movie theaters.
When audiences flock to horrible films at the theaters, those films are consequently seen as financially viable to producers, and are therefore replicated down the road. Hence, the trick is to wait for these bad films to wind up on cable or Hulu; audiences should watch horrible films without paying for them–this way, producers aren’t artificially enticed into the production of such films down the line. I’m certainly not advocating piracy here, I’m simply advocating skipping the DVD rental phase and instead waiting a few months until these movies can be legitimately watched for free.
2. Misinterpreting What Works
Before we continue with discussing producers, we should first level with what exactly it is that producers are: businessmen who are not ultimately concerned with a project’s integrity, but instead with the project’s bottom line. And, you definitely cannot blame them for it–after all, Hollywood is a business. The problem, however, is the producers’ near-sightedness and their inability to interpret trends correctly over the long run: producers will often notice that a Jack Black or a Will Ferrell starred in a hit movie, then they will incorrectly hinge a significant part of that film’s financial success upon such a casting correlation. This then not only leads to the casting of incredibly annoying ‘actors’ in films that they have no business being in, but–in the minds of influential Hollywood executives–it leads to a vast misconception of what audiences are truly looking for. Ultimately, producers will spot these trends, then naively “capitalize” on them with subsequent films that exploit whatever seemed to have worked the first time around–raunchy teen films, parody films, and adaptations of television shows are all good examples.
3. The Ruining of Franchises
This third trend actually ties up the first two. The aforementioned problem of wasting time and money on a bad movie (and thus trust in Hollywood) is actually superseded (in the minds of many movie lovers) by an altogether different problem: the ruining of quality franchises. Dragonball, Twilight, Mortal Kombat, X-Men: The Last Stand, Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four, and innumerous adaptations of best-selling books, are all such examples. And, when a franchise is ruined, it’s generally ruined–as in, you’re waiting 10-20 years before you see a sequel or a “re-imagining.” The Hulk and The Punisher, for one reason or another, are two notable exceptions (although their remakes still managed to fail financially.) And, in truth, sometimes there may never even be a reboot.
When a studio dumps millions upon millions of dollars into a highly-valued production, then said production flops, franchise-uninitiated moviegoers will take note and fail to express demand for subsequent films of that franchise. Further, other studios and producers will also take note, and they’ll assume that any subsequent films in that franchise will be high-risks financially. But, there’s also another factor–sometimes it is the marketing departments that are at fault for a film’s financial failure–in such a situation, you may have a franchise that has been adapted into a fantastic first film, but its box-office numbers were so poor due to a weak or a misguided marketing effort, that the franchise is dead regardless.
Will things get better? Will these trends go away any time soon? I’m almost completely positive that they won’t–at least not until enough moviegoers become couch-sitters that producers begin scrambling for fresh answers and start taking a serious look at the garbage that they continually spew out–but, I highly doubt that this will happen any time soon. But, who knows, perhaps a few people will read this article, then spread some afterthought around, and a few producers will ultimately take note. One can always hope.