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David Poland

By David Poland

The Hype, The Hype, The Hype Is On Fire

This year

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29 Responses to “The Hype, The Hype, The Hype Is On Fire”

  1. LexG says:

    JUMPER should’ve advertised KRISTEN STEWART’S role and it would’ve made $100 million more.
    Also, Jumper is awesome as fuck.
    Interesting numbers, interesting posting and perspective; Even though you’re part of the game too, DP, when you break it down like this, it would seem to corroborate my ongoing theory that almost ALL superficial industry-trend writing puff pieces are pure easy busy-work to fill newspaper/web space.
    The Slump, It’s the Economy, Women Want to See Movies Too… all these things, dating back to the classic Film Theory tenet “When Nixon was in power people wanted edgy movies but when Reagan was all patriotic people wanted Top Gun” are almost ALL shortcuts to thinking, usually if not always written by people trying to justify their job.
    Because even trying not to use the overplayed William Goldman quote, there really is little rhyme or reason to all this shit.

  2. LexG says:

    Of course the above does not include my BRILLIANT theory that Because there’s a wimpy, ineffectual Socialist regime in office, America has SPOKEN and they want to see pure testosterone and ass-kicking on the big screen.

  3. sloanish says:

    Sony really blew The International. I saw it last night and though it needed another pass it had some great moments. Much better than the trailer made it out to be. And if you can’t capitalize on “the banks are the enemy” when the banks really are the enemy, there’s something wrong.

  4. LexG is dead on… most trend pieces are just that… taking two or three slightly related products and claiming a pattern, than fabricating some deap seated socio-political reason for the trend you just made up. My favorite was an article in early 2006 claiming a boon in the ‘film noir in high school’ genre. The examples? Veronica Mars (a great show that no one watched) and Brick (a good film that no one saw).
    This is to say nothing of the pieces that get written every time a ‘guy movie’ does well with women. No, it can’t just be that some women like the violence and macho cliches a little bit too, no it had to be that five-minute romantic subplot or that slightly ’empowering’ female character that drew them in.

  5. I’m confused. Dave, you’re agreeing that there’s been a bump, but not that it has anything to do with the economy? If that’s the case, why so defensive? Gawd. It’s not like reporting that the economy could be responsible for the obvious upturn in box office receipts is something that should offend your being. And if that’s not the case… then what’s your beef. You clearly show that there has been a rise in box office takings (if not in the number of films you could define as a “hit”). It’s hardly “bullshit”.
    The term polite disagreement isn’t really a common one around the hot blog, I must say.
    Sloanish, The International is yet another example of Hollywood snatching up international talent and, apparently, trying to destroy their careers. Gavin Hood is lucky he’s gonna get a default hit out of Wolverine after Rendition. I suggest Tykwer goes back to Germany.

  6. LexG says:

    I’ll disagree about G. Hood; I’d say after the insufferable, exploitive, coincidence-laden, ham-handed, Haggis-goes-to-Africa guilt flick TSOTSI, he’s lucky to have been allowed to direct anything more taxing that a Chef Boy R Dee commercial.
    As for Tykwer, since the movie’s supposedly somewhat good (at least as much so as Vantage Point, which D-P rightly compares it to), I don’t think any prospective American viewer is catching the newspaper ad or trailer and saying, “No way, not that hack Tykwer!”
    I just think Clive Owen is — very unfortunately — box office poison, who U.S. audiences seem not to warm to, no matter how many good movies he’s done. And at this point, he’s just doing third-tier hand-me-down movies, and I’m not even sure most people know or remember who he even is.
    Which doesn’t bode well for DUPLICITY, because I think Julia has officially worn out her welcome with the public too the last few years.

  7. movieman says:

    Am I the only one who secretly wishes that it was George Clooney and not Clive Owens starring opposite her in Tony Gilroy’s “Duplicity”?
    Their chemistry was off the charts in the first two “Ocean’s” movies, and Owens–sorry, Clive–has just become a major drain/drag/herpes blister on every damn film he’s in these days.
    I say that regretfully because I used to really like Owens (especially in his “C” trilogy: “Croupier,” “Closer,” “Children of Men”), but lately he’s become a major pill. No wonder audiences are avoiding him like, well, a herpes blister.
    Bonus point: at least Owens is using his native accent in “Duplicity,” and not fumbling around with his (dreadful) stab at an “American” accent.

  8. IHeartThatCurtis! says:

    “Of course the above does not include my BRILLIANT theory that Because there’s a wimpy, ineffectual Socialist regime in office, America has SPOKEN and they want to see pure testosterone and ass-kicking on the big screen.”
    GO wash out your mangina, asshole.

  9. movieman says:

    *The “her” I’m referring to is, duh, Julia Roberts.

  10. I don’t mean like that, I just mean that they give these international directors shit movies. It just feels like these directors are making something back home to get recognised “wow, it’s foreign so it must be good” so they can move to Hollywood and whore out on action movies.

  11. er, that was a reply to Lex.

  12. Dellamorte says:

    If you’re going to say it’s not the economy, I think the better argument is that release patterns have changed significantly. It used to be that Oscar pictures would roll out during this time of year while studios dumped out their misfires, but that’s not as strongly the case. What makes Paul Blart and Taken so surprising is that you’ve got two 100 million dollar pictures in January. Though there are exceptions, January-February used to be dumping grounds and has evolved to a place to play a solid B movie (in the sense of something like How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days or Daredevil). Nowadays first week of March is also a release date, or at least that’s what WB/Zack Snyder are trying to do.
    What’s the comprable Paul Blart parallel? Big Momma’s House 2? The Wedding Singer? Or are you saying that Kevin James commands that sort of audience? Since you’ve recently said you don’t see these sorts of January-February movies, how do you know what people are responding to? I haven’t seen it, but Paul Blart has played long and strong – this weekend it’s only off 18%. At this point, and at this point with Taken (which is off 12%), it’s not marketing that fuels this success. And in the film business for years now, pictures don’t hold strong because of the release window. What are the comprable films to have drops like this?

  13. Chucky in Jersey says:

    The “Mall Cop” was a lowbrow comedy that took off. Columbia had to promote it as lowbrow because “Hotel for Dogs” was moved up to go head-to-head.

  14. Joe Leydon says:

    David: I respectfully disagree. I realize, of course, that my counter-argument rests entirely on anecdotal evidence — speaking to students, talking to civilians (i.e., folks not in the industry), hearing what my wife says her co-workers have expressed to her, etc. — but I firmly believe that this is the latest of many periods we’ve seen throughout movie history where bad times = box-office bump. That is, people may be scrimping on certain things — but they need to have some escape. Put it like this: I just got back from a Sunday evening showing of Echelon Conspiracy at a nearby megaplex. This movie opened cold in Houston, with no newspaper ads before opening day, no TV or radio spots (at least, none that I’ve encountered), no reviews, no stars, nothing. And, mind you, this was not a bargain matinee — just a regular 5 pm Sunday screening, at regular admission prices. I fully expected my wife and I to be the only ones there. Guess what? There were at least 50-75 other people at the theater. You know what this tells me? People are going out to the movies. Not necessarily out to see a specific movie, but going out to see something, anything. Could I be wrong? Entirely possible. But let’s wait to see how it shapes up by year’s end.

  15. mysteryperfecta says:

    I’m skeptical about the “economy” argument as well. Fact is, despite all the doom-and-gloom in the media, the income of the overwhelming majority of Americans has not changed. Inflation hasn’t really kicked in yet, so buying power hasn’t really changed, either.
    I understand the “bad economy” argument, and it makes sense. Moreover, people are obviously reeling in their big ticket spending. But I’m not convinced that it has trickled down to spending on relatively cheap diversions.

  16. David Poland says:

    Experiential argument.
    Of course, people are going to the movies. They have always been going to the movies.
    Echelon Theory was selling itself to someone somewhere. 50,000 people didn’t just wander into the theater this weekend and 400 screens were not booked without support. (How’d you get there?) If you saw it with 75 people, it was likely as crowded as any theater in any multiplex in town. I doubt I could find a theater with many more people in it at The Grove here in LA tonight for any film.
    There is no more expensive way to see a movie in 2009 than in the movie theater.
    Adults, historically, are not driven by opening weekend must-see, except in rare situations.
    I would argue, again, that while movies are not so expensive that the recession has had a major impact on people going to the theater

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    David: As I said, there were no newspaper ads before opening day. There were print ads Friday-Sunday. But again, why did folks decide to go? Because, trust me, over the years, I have seen movies released the same way, caught them at early Sunday evening screenings — and on more than one occasion, I was one of maybe five people in the theater. Yes, experiental evidence. Can’t deny it. Just as I can’t deny that I’m basing what I think on testimonies of civilians — and, yes, historical trends. I don’t want to argue this anymore with you because, frankly, past experience has taught me that once you’ve made up your mind about something — particularly about something the NYT, Variety and/or any other source has a different take on — there’s no budging you. As I say: Time will tell which one of us is correct. Meanwhile, the theater owners will be happy campers for as long as it lasts.

  18. Joe Leydon says:

    On a not-entirely unrelated subject: What is the disappointment/fulfills expectations threshold for Watchmen? That is: What is the absolute minimum it has to make on opening weekend for it not to prompt on-line and MSM reports about what a “disappointment” it is? $60 million? Higher? Lower?

  19. Dave, you didn’t mention any specific person or paper who had made the claim so it just felt like a “me against the world” type situation.
    And, granted, I don’t read the NYT so I have no idea what they’re saying, but don’t you think it’s at least a rational theory? I am much more inclined to believe that people go to the cinema more in economic hardships than believing all that “slump” nonsense from 2005. Isn’t there historical proof that this is the case or am I just imagining that I’ve read that (maybe I read it at the NYT, hehe).

  20. Of course, to jump into your side of the debate, all 2008 needed was a Passion of the Christ and it would be neck-and-neck with ’09.

  21. I dunno Joe… I think it’s a little dangerous for any R-rated movie to be EXPECTED to equal or surpass the third biggest R-rated opening of all time. 300 was a stunner, completely unexpected, but also (theoretically) a more accessible picture. You can explain its plot in one sentence, and its appeal was completely obvious on its face (it’s buffed Spartans, hacking and slashing at their enemies in stylized, violent, slow-motion battles – would you like to know more?). Watchmen needs a few sentences to explain, and you really do have to explain what the hell it is to anyone not familiar with the source material. It’s also a full hour longer than 300.
    Point being, it could very well do $80 million on the strength of the saturation ad campaign, the ‘it looks interesting’ vibe, and the ‘you must see this movie to be cool’ buzz, but don’t rush to call it a flop if it ‘only’ opens to $50 million.

  22. Rob says:

    “But watch the Trend Obsession to continue. Last year

  23. Rob says:

    Oh, and having finally read the Cieply/Brooks NYT piece that David is responding to here, I was stunned by the idiocy of this claim:
    “Over the last year or two, studios have released movies that are happier, scarier or just less depressing than what came before. After poor results for a spate of serious dramas built around the Middle East (

  24. Joe Leydon says:

    Scott: I don’t have a dog in this hunt. But I’m curious: What is the threshold number? How much does it HAVE to make to avoid negative spin?

  25. jasonbruen says:

    Joe, Friday the 13th did $53.1 M. If it doesn’t do better than that, then I would guess the poop will hit the fan.
    Even if it does better than that (even better than $60 M) the second weekend is also a make or break. If it drops > 70%, then that won’t be good.
    But I wonder if on Saturday we hear the movie did Joe, Friday the 13th did $53.1 M. If it doesn’t do better than that, then I would guess the poop will hit the fan.
    Even if it does better than that (even better than $60 M) the second weekend is also a make or break. If it drops > 70%, then that won’t be good.
    But I wonder if on Saturday we hear the movie did < $20 M on Fri, would that be enough to see some negative spin (given most will think it should be frontloaded on the weekend)??

  26. jasonbruen says:

    Good grief, typepad cut me off.
    The last point was if it does Good grief, typepad cut me off.
    The last point was if it does < $20M on Fri, will there start to be some negative spin early on Saturday (given that most will think the movie is front loaded for the weekend)?

  27. jasonbruen says:

    I figured out I cannot use a greater than sign on typepad bad. If it does less than $20M on Fri, will that get the boo birds out (given the movie’s propensity to be front loaded)?
    Course, it’ll probably be all moot when it opens to $80+ M over the weekend.

  28. movielocke says:

    the movies are not really recession proof, that’s at best a short term belief, the movie is a recession lagger, and recent recessions have been mild enough that the impact of any post-recession movie downturn has been relatively negliable. The Depression didn’t hit the film industry for about four years, but it did get smacked with it pretty hard in 32 (the economic downturn in the movie industry that year was part of the reason the new production code became enforceable, the economic threats became more real for not abiding by the code). The movie industry can expect to have a much more off 2010, particularly from the heights of this years bounce as this recession looks deep enough to actually affect the industry.
    And there really is a bounce. yes, the bounce is partially due to the movies, but not all of it. just because there is 3x kids product in the marketplace doesn’t mean there’s 2.5x more dollars out there for that product–good movies fail all the time, even when there’s a glut of them, last year, Coraline might have made 2/3 of what it made this spring. More people are going to the movies, that’s why there’s more dollars out there at the moment, not just because there are more or better movies, though that helps.
    but I suppose just because Dave didn’t write the story first it can’t be true? just as there was no slump three or four years ago since Dave didn’t report it first, despite the fact that year remains a ten year low water mark by pretty much every way you can measure it against the other years of the decade. ironically, had Dave reported on the overperformance of 2009 back in the first or second week of February the headline now would be the slightly smug, slightly whiney, “Variety finally catches on to the 2009 bounce, three weeks after we’ve been reporting on the biggest story of the year.” but since dave didn’t write the story first, instead we get, “you’re all crazy there’s no REAL increase, because the true measure of whether or not there’s a increase is if I have observed an increase. this is just another example of bad journalism in the film industry, and it’s bad journalism because it is not something MCN has covered.”

  29. Joe Leydon says:

    Movielocke, you’re so… critical.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon