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Old February 20 2013, 07:21 PM   #1
Flying Spaghetti Monster
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new mentality about the "tentpole" films

It used to be that, at the dawn of the era of "blockbuster" filmmaking, which started in the late 70's with Jaws, Rocky, Star Wars, CE4K, etc and continued into the 80's, that the studios had been going through a transition. They didn't know what people wanted to see, they only figured that demographics were important. It was up to visionary filmmakers to sell an idea to the studio that could be reasonably funded. But it was the filmmakers that fought hard for the integrity of their visions despite working under heavy budget constraints. Now, everything is reversed. The studios are instead selling their ideas to filmmakers, and, as a result, even the well-known names that sign onto such "blockbuster-sized" projects are merely hired guns, doing merely an assignment for the studios, one that fits into the long-term plans that a studio has for a franchise or genre. One need look no further than the string of interconnected Marvel films that have been coming out, or how the new Star Wars films are being managed...

Think about it. Marvel hired Kenneth Brannagh to helm Thor, because such a name would give the film a bit of added credibility that would go beyond its comic book credentials. That director knew Shakespeare, and he knew his away around that kind of large-themed material and over-wrought acting, so he was a fitting choice for Thor. And while he did his job to make sure something of his own unique stamp could be imprinted on the film (I'm guessing the over-tilted camera angles are all him) you can't escape the fact that Thor was part pa bigger plan that originated from the studio, not the film-maker.

I find this trend to be a bit perplexing to me. It has advantages, and reflects the changing times, but I'm think true originality is going to get lost in the shuffle over the next few years.
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Old February 20 2013, 07:54 PM   #2
Temis the Vorta
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Re: new mentality about the "tentpole" films

Originality in Hollywood, what's that?

The key thing to remember about the tentpole type of Hollywood movie is that they are made for the global market, which requires them to be cartoonish and simplified. You can't really have any point of view when you are trying to appeal to everyone, and if a lot of your audience doesn't even understand English and is reading subtitles, it's better to veer more towards action and away from dialogue. Of course it's hard to convey any degree of complexity without dialogue, so that makes movies even more cartoonish. How can any filmmaker get a vision across under these conditions?

Hollywood also continues to make Oscar-bait movies, and those don't need to have global appeal, since the goal is to gain prestige for the studio rather than just make as much money as possible, so they tend to deal with more complex ideas and have a point of view.

Looking at the top 5 movies in 2012 for international BO vs the Oscar contenders is enlightening. The % are domestic vs international BO.

1. Marvel's The Avengers - 41%/59%
2. The Dark Knight Rises - 42%/58%
3. The Hunger Games - 59%/41%
4. Skyfall - 27%/73%
5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - 31%/69%

Now look at the Hollywood-made Oscar contenders (in no particular order)

Lincoln - 75%/25%
Argo - 62%/38%
Zero Dark Thirty - 87%/13%
Life of Pi - 19%/81%
Django Unchained - 43%/57%
Beasts of the Southern Wild - 100%/0% (not even released internationally I guess?)
Les Misérables - 39%/61%
Silver Linings Playbook - 71%/29%

In general, this group has a stronger domestic skew and also reflect their filmmakers' vision more strongly. (Interestingly, the ones that like the tentpole movies are fantasy based have a stronger global skew.)

The moral of the story is, any filmmaker who wants to present an artistic vision should be doing the type of movie that debuts in the fall, not the summer. And this also explains why JJ Abrams is "ruining" Star Trek.
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Old February 20 2013, 11:41 PM   #3
BizarroStormy
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Re: new mentality about the "tentpole" films

You could legitimately say Branagh was overqualified to direct THOR. I just wish Brian DePalma actually got the credit for doing the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film......hired gun or not.
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Old February 23 2013, 09:57 PM   #4
The Borgified Corpse
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Re: new mentality about the "tentpole" films

But the only good thing I can say about the 1st Mission Impossible is that it was better than the 2nd Mission Impossible. M:I:III & Ghost Protocol were both way better.

But one thing that's struck me about blockbusters in recent years is the dearth of blockbusters that aren't adaptations of other things. In the last 10 years, the only really big non-adaptations I can think of are Avatar & Inception. Everything else is based on a novel, comic book, TV show, or is reviving/remaking an old movie property that started back in the '70s-'80s (Die Hard, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Rambo, Rocky, Star Wars, The Terminator, Tron). And, sometimes, it's not even about the story. It's just about finding a name and then putting an original story in it (Battleship, Pirates of the Caribbean).
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