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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Those Damned Kids, Part One

Those Damned Kids, Part One

Why are Movies So Bad? or The Numbers:

6. There is an even grimmer side to all this: because the studios have discovered how to take the risk out of moviemaking, they don’t want to make any movies that they can’t protect themselves on. Production and advertising costs have gone so high that there is genuine nervous panic about risky projects. If an executive finances what looks like a perfectly safe, stale piece of material and packs it with stars, and the production costs skyrocket way beyond the guarantees, and the picture loses many millions, he won’t be blamed for it — he was playing the game by the same rules as everybody else.

If, however, he takes a gamble on a small project that can’t be sold in advance — something that a gifted director really wants to do, with a subtle, not easily summarized theme and no big names in the cast — and it loses just a little money, his neck is on the block. So to the executives a good script is a script that attracts a star, and they will make their deals and set the full machinery of a big production in motion and schedule the picture’s release dates, even though the script problems have never been worked out and everyone (even the director) secretly knows that the film will be a confused mess, an embarrassment.

Yes, well, I just finished watching Doomsday again. God I love that movie.

Hipster factor poses challenges for movie marketers:

Even as Hollywood studios increasingly aim at the broadest possible audience, a few companies are experimenting with the opposite approach in these summer months and beyond: They’re making smart, quirky movies for a sophisticated young audience.

The pics are trying to be the next “Garden State,” a 2004 film that, like other hipster pics, can be generally defined as trafficking in moody music, casual style and characters who are disaffected.

But to succeed, these films will need to compete in a more difficult market than “Garden State” did only five years ago — and do even bigger business than that picture’s $27 million.

I like Garden State, but uh, what? Hold on…

Gone are the days when a small movie aimed at twenty- and thirtysomethings could simply take its time to grow into a hit, something Searchlight did when it nurtured “Napoleon Dynamite” to $44 million. The film stayed in theaters for nine months and was in release for three months before it even hit 1,000 screens.

That’s in part because with media reacting faster than ever, movies don’t sneak up on consumers the way they once did. And in part it’s because budgets are swelling, raising the stakes.

Hipster movies are now big business. Warners’ fall release “Where the Wild Things Are” — based on a perennial children’s classic but directed by the idiosyncratic Spike Jonze and with music from the Arcade Fire — is a prototypical hipster pic. But the film’s budget is conservatively estimated at $75 million — not exactly a scrappy Sundance feature that can afford to play mostly to downtown artsy types.

Ah. Got it. Whatever. We can basically blame the decline of media quality on the damned kids, right?

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