Hollywood

Michael J. Lerner Barton Fink

As we all know, Hollywood is imploding. Steven Spielberg is on the case, millions of angry comment section responses to remake announcements are on the case, and now producer Lynda Obst is on the case. In an excerpt from her new book, “Sleepless in Hollywood,” Obst laboriously details her drive to former Fox CEO Peter Chernin‘s house while repeating the phrases New Abnormal and Old Abnormal until they seem clever. Okay, so I didn’t like the chapter, but it did feature at least two clear insights into the current production mindset of the major studios. The New Abby Someone, if you will. First: DVD sales numbers are the real killer. According to Chernin via Obst, “The historical studio business, if you put all the studios together, runs at about a ten percent profit margin. For every billion dollars in revenue, they make a hundred million dollars in profits. That’s the business, right? . . . The DVD business represented fifty percent of their profits. Fifty percent. The decline of that business means their entire profit could come down between forty and fifty percent for new movies.”

read more...

Hollywood Sign Broken

At a University of Southern California event celebrating their new Interactive Media Building, Steven Spielberg predicted that the studio system will eventually implode or face a “big meltdown” created when the right amount of giant-budget films flop all at once. Also at the event, George Lucas echoed the sentiment, and the two discussed the difficulties of bringing projects like Lincoln and Red Tails to fruition despite being two thoroughly established filmmakers. The Hollywood Reporter recorded some of Spielberg’s other insights, including the possibility of ticket price disparities in the future, but the core claim is still the most powerful. On the one hand, there’s a profundity to it. Spielberg worked hard to get to the view at the top, but it clearly hasn’t blinded him from what’s going on, and what he’s noting is no less than the fundamental alteration of a multi-billion-dollar industry. On the other, there’s also a dime store obviousness to what he’s saying. Of course Hollywood’s current model will eventually bottom out, just as all earlier models have. Sound destroyed silent films; the VCR changed the classic theater distribution model; and now studios are placing increasingly bigger bets on movies that will see global returns while home entertainment improves every minute. When there’s a single point of failure, you’re bound to hear a bubble burst eventually. When a half-dozen blockbusters bust, you’re bound to hear some film execs screaming.

read more...

Soderbergh

Yesterday, indie filmmaker Joe Swanberg (who’s truly pulled himself up from his bootstraps) tweeted out, “Soderbergh’s own output over the last few years proves, to me at least, how open the system is and how possible it is to make great stuff.” That felt a little odd. Steven Soderbergh‘s latest bout of prolificness is genuinely impressive, but after struggling with the studio process and ultimately, for one example, taking his Liberace biopic to HBO, would Soderbergh himself agree with Swanberg’s optimistic sentiment? That’s difficult to say, especially given how Soderbergh rose to prominence, but he’s at least given us an idea about how he feels about the studio system as it currently stands in 2013. It isn’t pretty. It’s eloquent. His full State of Cinema Address from the San Francisco International Film Festival is a must-listen (see below), but here are the 10 things wrong with Hollywood extracted from his amazing, fist-pumpingly laudable speech.

read more...

Movies based on true stories are rarely — if even ever — 100% accurate. To make it an engaging story for an audience, obviously some dramatic license must be used. And for the time constraints of a feature, there has to be a good deal of condensing and abridging and in many cases exclusion. For the full accounts of real life, we may have nonfiction books or magazine articles or the Internet, and these more extensive and comprehensive tools are easily accessed after seeing the film in order to get at the greater truth. Movies based on true stories are more like teasers of true stories. And like most advertisements they have to stretch reality to pique our interest. Argo is certainly that kind of teaser. But are people giving Ben Affleck‘s latest too much credit in the accuracy department? I keep reading stuff about how the actor/director aimed for realism (see the post from yesterday about the film’s sound design), which may be the case in terms of tone and technical accomplishments such as period costumes and production design. There is quality to the recreation of time and place, if not all facts. Meanwhile, many critics are calling this film “stranger than fiction,” which is very misleading given just how much fictionalizing went into the script in order for it to have themes and a whole lot of suspense (too much, in my opinion, near the point of feeling like self-parody).

read more...

New Asia Total Recall

Our shift toward a truly global community is wondrous. We can instantly connect with cultures on the other side of the planet, directly engaging in conversations that lead to greater understanding and better appreciation. We’re traveling more. We’re savoring experiences (and socially shareable photos) more than physical objects. We’re also importing art, including movies, from a vast array of different countries. These are all good things, but there are at least three ways in which navigating the new global community has made studio movies dumber. These are the Hollywood movies that an international audience craves, and in catering more and more to worldwide box office, there have been some negative implications. Movies aimed at maximizing global gains can be broader, can sacrifice logic for political safety and can even, counter-intuitively, keep non-white actors away from leading roles.

read more...

Culture Warrior

One of the great misconceptions about Hollywood is that it is a liberal institution. Several false assumptions inform this misconception: thinking of “Hollywood” as a monolithic entity in any way besides its shared corporate infrastructure, confusing public endorsements of celebrity politicians by celebrity movie stars as political activism, thinking that left-leaning consumers of movies see Hollywood as representing their political beliefs in any way, selectively reading a limited number of texts (e.g., Green Zone “proves” Hollywood’s liberalism, but every superhero movie ever isn’t proof of its conservatism), and, most importantly, thinking that the most public figures associated with Hollywood (i.e., stars and filmmakers) are Hollywood. This last point I think is one that has continued to be the least considered when such straw man critiques are drawn, because Hollywood here is equated only with its most visible figures who overshadow its intricate but also not-so-shrouded political economy. It’s no mistake that despite the fluctuating numbers of major and minor Hollywood studios in the past 100 years, the most powerful studios, like the biggest banks in the nation, have been referred to as “The Big Five.” And indeed, to the surprise of no one, both Big Fives have had and are continuing a lucrative relationship with one another. Hollywood’s agenda, of course, has always been profit, and the representatives of this ideology are not George Clooney and Matt Damon, but Michael Lynton and Amy Pascal (Chairman/CEO & Co-Chairman, Sony/Columbia), Stephen Blairson (CEO, 20th Century Fox), Brad Grey (Chairman/CEO, Paramount), Ronald Meyer […]

read more...

Boiling Point

When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was blown away with the Arclight theater in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard. Amazing screens, great picture and sound, no commercials, limited trailers, and something novel to me: assigned seating. You could either show up and select your seats or, the way we roll in a post Year-Two-Thousaaaaand world, on the internet. And it was good. I could decide to see a movie on say, Thursday, buy tickets for Friday night, show up 5 minutes before the film started and have a good time. It became the only way to see movies for me. No getting to the theater early to stand in line to make sure I got good seats. I could just buy them early. All it took was a little forethought. In fact it was such a good idea and became so popular in LA that a lot of our theaters are reserved seating. And that’s kind of a bad thing.

read more...

This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, we do what Hollywood finds impossible by creating a successful reboot. The show is getting an upgrade (which is why you can hear both drilling and confetti being tossed constantly in the background), and the new format promises to make everyone who listens to the show three inches taller and wildly, wildly wealthy. As in, so wealthy you’ll have to figure out how to buy off politicians. You can check out the show guide below, but the quick and dirt version involves two beloved Rejects battling it out in a game of wits, a teenage director seeing her first SXSW premiere, a visual effects artist arguing on behalf of post-conversion 3D, and 5 myths about production that ensure movies will be crappy. Loosen up your tie and stay a while. Listen Here: Download This Episode

read more...

Culture Warrior

Somewhere hidden away in the mid-1990s, there’s a young man reading a “Star Log” in his bedroom foaming at the mouth at the words on the glossy magazine page. There they are. The words “Watchmen” and “Terry Gilliam” right next to each other like a pair of star cross’d lovers finally exchanging vows. The iconic comic books that he grew up reading are finally going to be seen on the living, breathing, bloody brilliant big screen. Then it doesn’t happen. There are a lot of reasons why it doesn’t happen (too many to dive into right now), but that young man is eternally disappointed when those words he once reveled in start to fade away. With the announcement that Universal has passed on Guillermo Del Toro’s At The Mountains of Madness, a lot of fans might be finding themselves in a similar position, and it’s not just Lovecraft devotees. It’s movie fans of all stripes who see this as another defeat of the auteur in service of the bottom line. Is it Universal’s fault? Sure. Much in the same way that everyone shares a little blame. It does, however, shine its silver lining as a spotlight on the disease of the studio system that’s been picked at and mulled over and puzzled for the past few years. Luckily, it also exposes the solution: Failure.

read more...

This week, on a very special episode of Reject Radio, Going the Distance screenwriter Geoff LaTulippe (pronounced “La Tulip”) stops by to share his xenophobia, puff on his pipe a little harder, and tell his personal story of getting his first screenplay sold and produced all from the comfort of his living room couch. We also find time to review Easy A, Devil, and The Town.

read more...

If you’re among the massive group of FSR readers that aspires to create films yourself, draw a giant X on your calendar for Thursday, July 15th. That’s tomorrow for those of you keeping score. At 4:30 PST, Oscar-nominated director Mark Rydell (who helmed On Golden Pond, For The Boys, The River and The Rose) will answer your questions about acting and directing, and he’ll do it on the internet. For more information about how to get in on this live chat, read on!

read more...

Last night, my fiancee and I were walking into a screening of Grown Ups when we were bombarded by what might be the largest advertising lobby cutout we’ve ever seen. It was for The Expendables, and it’s awe-inspiring with slightly-larger-than-life cardboard version of Stallone, Li, Statham, Rourke, Willis, Lundgren, and Austin. Seven big men all towering over and silently inviting us to come see them kick ass.

read more...

With its vast and ever-evolving film library the cable channel Turner Classic Movies is a cinephile’s dream and serves as a benchmark to other movie channels. Since its debut in 1994, TCM has offered a wide array of movies covering the medium’s history, from silent pictures to foreign films, all uncut and commercial free. This spring the brand will be venturing out with the inaugural TCM Classic Film Festival, scheduled for April 22-25 in Hollywood, CA.

read more...

AnthonyMackieHurtLockerInterview

After being blown away by The Hurt Locker, I was lucky enough to talk to Mackie about his role, the experience of the Middle East during Ramadan, his work with Matt Damon, his friendship with Wynton Marsalis, and his confidence in Kathryn Bigelow’s Oscar chances.

read more...

I’m all for saving the planet, but why do we have to be preached at by Hollywood in television commercials, studio logos on the bottom of the screen and in the special features of our DVDs.

read more...

October Horror: Quarantine

With October coming up, you’d expect a lot of horror moves to storm the box office. Well, you’d be wrong, and Robert Fure is not happy about it!

read more...

blogger01.jpg

What’s the difference between a blogger and a newspaper critic? The newspaper critic has less readers and sees more movies. No joke…

read more...

“Now I have access to tons of bandwidth on my campus network. Now I can illegally download movies that I can’t afford to go see in theaters thanks to Astrive student loans!”

read more...

Now that the Directors Guild has a deal, the WGA may be pressed to compromise in order to end the strike.

read more...

Our resident angry-man Robert Fure examines why nothing ever seems to be new in Hollywood — maybe because its not.

read more...
NEXT PAGE  
Some movie websites serve the consumer. Some serve the industry. At Film School Rejects, we serve at the pleasure of the connoisseur. We provide the best reviews, interviews and features to millions of dedicated movie fans who know what they love and love what they know. Because we, like you, simply love the art of the moving picture.
Fantastic Fest 2014
6 Filmmaking Tips: James Gunn
Got a Tip? Send it here:
editors@filmschoolrejects.com
Publisher:
Neil Miller
Managing Editor:
Scott Beggs
Associate Editors:
Rob Hunter
Kate Erbland
Christopher Campbell
All Rights Reserved © 2006-2014 Reject Media, LLC | Privacy Policy | Design & Development by Face3