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Science Fiction & Fantasy Farscape, Babylon 5, Star Wars, Firefly, vampires, genre books and film.

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Old July 27 2012, 05:22 PM   #1
jefferiestubes8
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Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

A great reddit conversation from this Spring:
Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood?

interesting viewpoint:
in Hollywood, "sci fi" comes in two flavors: super-cheap and super-expensive. The movies in the middle - Screamers, Gattaca, Existenz - are noteworthy for losing money hand over fist. If you're going to make sci fi, it's going to be less than $10m or more than $150m. No middle ground.
related thread:
Why is there no pure Sci-Fi on TV today? Part Deux

TV vs Hollywood feature films are apples to oranges but pretty much a feature film is always going to be sci-fi action or else sci-fi horror genre.
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Old July 27 2012, 07:01 PM   #2
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

I doesnt exist much in movies or on TV either. Thats because its not cost effective. Most people don't care about the plausibility of the science that makes the story go from A to B. It could be Gandalf waving a magic wand for all they care. What people want: characters they like, a story that entertains and surprises them without implausible twists, plus sex & violence.

Hard sci fi is a niche taste and the niche is large enough to support novels and maybe web series but not the more expensive forms of media that need bigger audiences to survive.

And the disappearance of middle ground movies is not limited to sci fi, that's happened across all genres.
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Old July 27 2012, 07:32 PM   #3
stj
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

Hard SF has been done in Hollywood. For a famous example try The Andromeda Strain. If you want a plausible SF setting/menace, trying to do some good science speculation is the best way to do it. Grossly stupid science is only a turn off if you don't know any science. If you want a genuinely novel setting or premise, scientific speculation offers a treasure trove. Cliches from exploded speculations are also not boring if you don't know anything about science.

Hollywood doesn't do much "hard" SF because deep down Hollywood doesn't believe anything ever really changes and it's just childish intellectual slumming to think so. Hollywood doesn't think you need to take seriously the physics and chemistry and biology of the world because such things are irrelevant. Hollywood doesn't take seriously the prospect of social change because everything is just a matter of personalities. And people can be sold. It's all in the marketing. And Hollywood doesn't want to do exposition because they think you're too stupid to understand the big words or abstract concepts. (First, they do mean you. Second, they mostly can't do exposition anyhow, because exposition is hard writing.)

Hollywood by and large is ignorant and bigoted. The funny thing is that SF is infested with lots of conservatives and there could be many a match made in heaven. But they're too ignorant to know that, so the bigoted idea that there's no such thing as change means they relegate it to children's stories. Rarely, they'll think of SF as a fable, but then, their bigotry tells them that since people will never change but always be their nasty selves, fables are just sort of timewasting wishful thinking.

Most people, let's face it, are too poor to look very far elsewhere for entertainment and culture, so they're stuck with Hollywood. You really shouldn't think you're being offered the best our culture has.
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Old July 27 2012, 07:38 PM   #4
RoJoHen
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

The trick is to try and combine "hard sci fi" with something grand and epic and full of sexy explosions.
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Old July 27 2012, 07:41 PM   #5
jefferiestubes8
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

stj wrote: View Post
Hollywood doesn't want to do exposition because they think you're too stupid to understand the big words or abstract concepts. (First, they do mean you. Second, they mostly can't do exposition anyhow, because exposition is hard writing.)
I had read a number of years ago that leading actors do not do exposition. That is handled by the supporting roles.
I feel that with sci-fi films this is not the case.
Take "Sphere" (1997) or "Event Horizon" (1997) where the A-list lead actors do exposition as dialogue.
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Old July 27 2012, 09:01 PM   #6
Christopher
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

There have been a few hard-SF movies over the years, including 2001, 2010, Contact, and Gattaca. Moon was pretty hard-SF, except for the cloning stuff. I have the impression/hope that Alfonso Cuaron's upcoming Gravity may be at least somewhat hard-SF, but we'll have to wait and see.

A few years ago, the National Academy of Sciences created The Science & Entertainment Exchange, a program that encourages more scientific accuracy in the entertainment industry.
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Old July 27 2012, 10:05 PM   #7
stj
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

jefferiestubes8 wrote: View Post
I had read a number of years ago that leading actors do not do exposition. That is handled by the supporting roles.
I feel that with sci-fi films this is not the case.
Take "Sphere" (1997) or "Event Horizon" (1997) where the A-list lead actors do exposition as dialogue.
What an interesting idea. At first impression it seems to be correct. I've been repeatedly astonished at how rarely characters will try to persuade other characters, or even speculate. If you were in the Second Mass from Falling Skies, I'm pretty sure the speculation would be endless. And the characters would also be interested in the explanations when they weren't being shot at, too. Once the idea occurs to you, the absence becomes a painful gap in characterization. This thesis might explain why the screenwriters even sacrifice valid characterization!
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Old July 27 2012, 10:07 PM   #8
Caliburn24
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

Hard science fiction is generally about big ideas which are often intellectually interesting, but which have trouble connecting with we the audience emotionally because the further you set your characters and setting from the contemporary the harder it becomes for us to relate to. Movies and TV are all about making us "feel" something anything, and hard science fiction is not an easy fit for that medium.

It is possible of course, Contact for example, but hard to do right, with limited rewards even when it is done right.
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Old July 31 2012, 09:09 AM   #9
Drago-Kazov
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

They also did a Solaris movie with Clooney.
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Old August 18 2014, 06:42 AM   #10
TerraNovan
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

Id argue alien is hard sci fi.

If you modify the mining mission to be set in the keiper belt and not some far away whatever.

Sunshine is a similar type film.

I think hard sci gets a bad rap for being overly focused on explaining technologies. Its not about simply explaining the technologies, but about having a focus for details that makes the plot seem real and relate-able.

I consider hard sci fi the real sci fi, with soft being mostly fantasy.
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Old August 18 2014, 06:54 AM   #11
Australis
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

Caliburn24 wrote: View Post
Hard science fiction is generally about big ideas which are often intellectually interesting, but which have trouble connecting with we the audience emotionally because the further you set your characters and setting from the contemporary the harder it becomes for us to relate to. Movies and TV are all about making us "feel" something anything, and hard science fiction is not an easy fit for that medium.

It is possible of course, Contact for example, but hard to do right, with limited rewards even when it is done right.
TerraNovan wrote: View Post
Id argue alien is hard sci fi.

If you modify the mining mission to be set in the keiper belt and not some far away whatever.

Sunshine is a similar type film.

I think hard sci gets a bad rap for being overly focused on explaining technologies. Its not about simply explaining the technologies, but about having a focus for details that makes the plot seem real and relate-able.

I consider hard sci fi the real sci fi, with soft being mostly fantasy.
I've thought about rock mining or a fiction version of the proposed Mars reality series (don't know the status of that, btw), but the real issue is that HardSF is about the Big Ideas, and movies are about the characters. Actors hate being placeholders whlie the Big Dumb Object is unfolding on screen (see TMP).

It can be done, sure, but the mainstream audience guys want 'splosions and the mainstream audience girls want kissing and stuff. So goes the Hollywood mindset, and to a certain extent, it's true.

A lot of Michael Crichton's stuff was very filmable - he'd marry the high-concept Big Science ideas to interesting characters, and action, and boom! Movie.
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Last edited by Australis; August 18 2014 at 06:57 AM. Reason: spolling
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Old August 18 2014, 07:19 AM   #12
Guy Gardener
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

Rock Jocks looked like a B-movie going in, but I was really impressed.
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Old August 18 2014, 04:23 PM   #13
Christopher
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

TerraNovan wrote: View Post
Id argue alien is hard sci fi.

If you modify the mining mission to be set in the keiper belt and not some far away whatever.
Not necessarily. It seems to me that the first film or two were set in a universe without faster-than-light travel, since they needed cryosleep and took years to get from system to system. So that's pretty plausible. And encountering alien life forms in interstellar space makes more sense than finding them conveniently located in our own system.
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Old August 18 2014, 04:52 PM   #14
CorporalCaptain
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

More thread necro.
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Old August 18 2014, 05:28 PM   #15
Christopher
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Re: Does hard sci-fi even exist in hollywood? discusssion

What's so wrong with resurrecting old threads? If something new is being contributed to the discussion, why not continue it? And it's only a 2-year-old thread, and a fairly short one, so it's not that hard to read through the previous posts. I don't see any reason why it shouldn't be revived.
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