Use Western Union

Earlier today, I read an article in the Financial Times about cutbacks at movie studios. Apparently, few movies do well at the box office.  At the end of the article, it says that the “big stars” will continue to command the large salaries because they can deliver an audience.

No.  They Can’t.

Of course, some of this has to do with the recession.  People don’t have to spend money on movies, when they can stay home and watch TV for free.  But some movies do well despite the recession.  Taken did remarkably well.  I even went to the theatre to see it.  When I use one of my rare “nights out alone” to go see a movie, there must be something about it.  There is.

A daughter is placed in danger by a large group of criminals.  The father makes sure they all die.  Not exactly subtle.  I can’t imagine very many women liked the film.  Too much needless violence.  But every father in America can relate to this movie, because they would all do anything in their power to protect their children.

So what is Hollywood to do?  Instead of planning meetings made up of studio execs and overpriced actors, fly to that area between the Rocky’s and the Appalacian mountains.  Ask them if there is ANYTHING that could induce them to see another one of your anti-war propaganda films.  You might be surprised.

I will even save them the cost of the plane ticket (and the humiliation of having to land in “flyover country”).   A basic formula for whether a movie will lose money :

1. Has Michael Moore tackled the topic from the same viewpoint as your movie? (Gun control : yes; health care : yes; war on terror : yes; anti-business : yes; etc.)

2. Don’t make it.

Seriously, all those anti-war films lost money.  Every. One. Of. Them.

Matt Damon, George Clooney, Reese Witherspoon, it didn’t matter.  They all lost money.  Why? Not because “America wasn’t ready for the truth”, but because Americans don’t hate America.

Louis B Mayer (Of MGM) used to say about movies : If you want to send a message, use Western Union.  I would add (because today’s moguls like to use pretentious words) : If you want to challenge the perceptions of Americans, don’t make the film.  If you want to shock and offend, don’t make the film.  If you want to continue to destroy America, don’t make the film.

When should you make the film?  When it speaks of honor, sacrifice, love of country, etc.  Iron Man is a good example.  A five out of ten that made gazillions.  Why?  Because it spoke of sacrifice, of higher ideals, and of the need to defeat Islamo-facism.  These are popular themes in America.  (Though apparently not in Hollywood)


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