Discussion in 'Star Trek Movies XI+' started by HaplessCrewman, Apr 22, 2014.
Spidey set a record in its China opening, BTW. The folks at Sony are happy.
Money is the only definition of success that matters to studios.
But I think that for 'us', the combination of ticket sales, home video sales, audience reaction and critical reviews should suffice to tell us whether a film was overall "successful".
And by every one of those measures, the Abrams films have been a success.
For the producers (without whom there is no movie), a satisfying ROI. When the producers include a major publicly traded company (like Paramount), profitability is the primary goal. Thus, money.
If a production team consists of entities that are not publicly traded (thus not required to seek profit for shareholders), then some other definition of "success" may well apply. But this has NEVER been the case with Trek. As such, a healthy ROI is the only measure of success that will determine whether Paramount desires further instalments of Trek movies. It's not rocket science.
Nor, to avoid strawman objections, does "success" in this sense guarantee a personally satisfying experience to an individual viewer. But individual personal satisfaction is irrelevant to the producers in deciding whether to make another film--and that is why "success" is not unavoidably linked to "quality".
Why are you interested in ticket sales and video sales? What does this measure tell us?
Do you mark a distinction between "successful" films and "good quality" films?
You're just running in fucking circles here. You asked to define "success", not whether I think they are good movies on a personal level (I do).
I don't particularly care for Star Trek: First Contact, but for me to argue that it wasn't successful or well-liked would make me look foolish. Take that for what its worth.
It's a serious question. I want to know if for you success means "making money." We might define success as "making a good movie" or "entertaining audiences" or achieving an intention.
Your answer seems to indicate that you think that "good quality" necessarily implies "thinking that a film is good on a personal level." Would you agree that an artwork might be of good quality, even though one (personally) does not like it?
Well, if you're position were that First Contact did not succeed according to artistic criteria which you could articulate and defend, could you not argue that it did not succeed in satisfying those criteria?
Making money is a statistical barometer of success much like rushing yards in football will tell you how good your running back and offensive line are in football. It won't always be accurate, but it is a good sign. Transformers movies consistently gross $300+ million dollars in the U.S. and over $700 million worldwide, so obviously general audiences have a different standard of what is "good" than the hardcore fanbase that scream about Michael Bay raping their childhood.
The only thing that matters to me when I go to the theater is whether or not I enjoyed myself. But that isn't a barometer on what people consider "good". While I think its okay, I'll never get the love for Blade Runner. But who am I to tell people what they should enjoy?
I can argue that point for me. Where the non-sense starts is when people try to make sweeping generalizations about what is "good".
I was hoping that this was what you were saying. Thank you for the clarification. If I am reading you right, you are saying that money is a, more or less, reliable sign of quality. If we were placing bets on good quality, one marker to look for would be the box office returns, yes?
I agree that we have no place in telling people to (personally) like a film or not. I don't think you're wrong at all. I would, however, suggest that there is something more to discuss than just our personal likes and the amount of profit a film makes.
You're right, and this is, I think, because people so often charge in with personal opinions and display them as if they were facts.
I do not think, however, that we must make "sweeping generalizations" about the "good" in order to have a productive discussion about artistic quality which exceeds dollars and cents, but which does not merely cash out for subjectivism. I think, in fact, the method of doing so can be relatively simple.
I like Abrams's movies, and they're hugely successful for the studio. Therefore, by every standard that matters they're good movies.
Money is a sign of what audiences are enjoying. It is especially telling on franchise movies. We can look at box office to tell what audiences are enjoying. Transformers movies keep getting made because audiences are obviously enjoying them. The fact that people keep coming back to these films says more about them than anything else. People usually won't keep going to restaurants they hate.
Trying to apply any other standard is unreliable at best.
Bottom line is, movies are made by For Profit Corporations. The only measure of success for them is Return on Investment/Profit.
Wether you or I like the movie, does not have anything whatsoever to do with wether a movie is successful, only how much Profit it brings in determines if it is successful.
The Profit of the movie, you are correct, does not say anything about the Quality of the movie in your (or my) opinion. If a Movie is highly Financially successful, that most likely means it was well enjoyed, and therefore, most, will probably think it's a good movie, but, Quality can mean alot of things to alot of people, so, it may not represent Quality to some people. A writer may think a movie is very low quality, if he doesn't like the script, while someone in it for the Visuals mostly may not care about the script, and think it was a High Quality movie, because they liked the 'splosions.
Quality is Subjective, there is no Objective measure of it.
Success is Objective, and is based upon if it made enough money for the folks who put out the money to make it.
It may have failed to make you feel it was a Quality Movie, but, that is subjective, and has absolutely nothing to do with wether the Movie was Successful or a Failure
This is an interesting dilemma, but there are different senses of "subjective" we might do well to parse. Also, I would suggest to you that "intersubjectivity" may offer us a way to pass through the horns of this dilemma.
I don't see any dilemma. The Abrams films made money, so they count as a success for Paramount/Bad Robot. More critics seemed to favor them than not. So they would seem to be a critical success on some level. The films poll favorably at places like Rotten Tomatoes and imdb, so it seems that the people who saw them liked them, to at least some degree.
BillJ, I am not commenting on any dilemma with regard to the last Star Trek film. Sorry for any confusion on this point.
No kidding! No doubt because you're talking at several different people who aren't trying to provide you with a Unified Theory.
You'd have to ask YARN. In doing so you might want to engage with what he specifically said about that. You of course didn't do that. That's why I was ribbing you.
Sindatur helpfully brings us back to the main question:
I'll go on a bit of a tangent here, Sindatur. Sorry if this is a bit long, it's just me thinking out loud and I'm wordy like that, and these are really just thoughts for the thread, not an attempt to lecture you in particular:
Spoiler: Objective Commercial Success - Short Term
The conundrum, of course, being that in order to achieve all of that "Objective [Commercial] Success," one has to convince audience that they will experience Subjective Quality in shelling out for your film. Box office being a short-term measure of how many people took you up on that initial bet, and then partly of what they had to say as they left the theater that allowed that buzz to sustain itself.
A lot of that, as has already been correctly pointed out, is a measure of marketing and hype and of managing the critics. But making the real money involves delivering something that hits some kind of real cultural nerve at that moment. Something that will also sustain DVD sales and merch and pay-per-view and all that other fun stuff. In this sense, let's give it proper due: short-term profit can be said to be a measure of relevance at a certain cultural moment.
Spoiler: Objective Commercial Success - Long Term
Achieving relevance in the short term is of course quite different from success in the long term. This is whence originates all the rumblings about "the test of time" that the thrice-estimable Dennis (PBUH) keeps trying to shrug off. Short-term "relevance" can be a product of any number and combination of factors -- fashion, apparent consensus among one's social group, of course just genuine enjoyment et cetera -- that can and often do fade over time, and sometimes it fades very quickly (if you're, say, Vanilla Ice or Guy Ritche or whoever that poor guy was who directed Crash).
Long-term relevance and success likewise can and do come to films that were short-term box office failures, usually because they have some subjectively-popular quality that catches a resonance with audiences (or at least with some variant of niche audience) after the film (or show's) initial run. The ideal of course is to achieve both, but it's far from unheard of to achieve one or the other (for properties that ever make money at all, that is).
One of the most canonical examples of long-term success after short-term failure, of course, is the Star Trek franchise, which imparts a very weird flavor of irony to the efforts we regularly see here to talk up short-term commercial success as the be-all and end-all metric. But of course the reason we see the pattern we do here is that the long-term is unpredictable and often inscrutable, almost as much so as the short-term is... and especially for Star Trek fans, thought of the long-term is unavoidable, that being the real point of producing content for a multi-decade franchise.
Spoiler: Subjective Quality - How Audiences Work
It's all perfectly fun to engage in amateur speculation about box office and profits, of course -- and where genuinely false claims about what has and hasn't made money crop up, it is genuinely valid to quash them with an objective analysis of commercial success. But in the final analysis, subjective quality is what everything else comes down to, the long-term in particular.
Insofar as I have a "job" as an audience member -- using that term tongue-in-cheek of course -- insofar as I have a responsibility to anything, it's to myself, and to assessing subjective quality. And I'll be blunt:
I don't hold at all with this notion that it is somehow uncouth to make "sweeping statements" about quality or to "talk about opinions as if they were facts" (whatever that's supposed to mean, often it really means nothing more enlightening than that Y'All Are Sounding A Bit Big For Y'All's Britches). I think it's fundamentally misguided and dooms the people who subscribe to it to constant frustration.
So long as I'm clear about the criteria I'm using and I'm not making claims on behalf of other people that I can't substantiate, I don't feel the need to be constantly qualifying that "this is just my opinion" -- because any halfway intelligent reader should already be able to figure that out -- and I don't think anyone else should feel that need either. Within the bounds of fundamental civility and clarity, it isn't my "job" to tiptoe around the critical consensus, or to calibrate my opinion to take the box office returns or Bob Orci's feelings into account. The form of "success" of a film that most proximately concerns me is its success in entertaining me. I put my opinion out there because I happen to like discussing opinions, which is why I'm on a forum, and it will resonate or it won't. The long term will take care of itself.
The concern that someone's unwelcome subjective notions about the quality of the films could cut off or undo short-term success is a valid one for film studios. It's why they expend a ton of energy trying to manage public opinion and expectation. That's part of the game. That's their job. I can respect that.
That concern is also unmistakable in certain fans, and leads them to deploy the notion of "commercial success" more like people who are silencing fire, like studio publicists would (I'm surmising a little) do in the face of bad reviews. But the simple fact is that fans are far less well-positioned to manage the opinions of other fans. And attempting to do so by constantly talking about "objective" measures as if they render the subjective irrelevant to any possible discussion -- which on its face is fairly silly -- just isn't going to work. Why those using this strategy are finding it so frustrating to "get through" isn't because the rest of us are going out of our way to be difficult. It's that the strategy is flawed. It's based on a fallacy.
Which is why telling me I have my answer is not helpful.
This question has been answered.
I can't say much more than that.
Yes. One can be measured, the other is subjective.
There really isn't any other way of measuring it.
That would be an odd way of putting it. A better way would be that you didn't like it artistically. Saying it the way you wrote it would imply that the opinion is more objective than it really is.
No, you're conflating two things, here.
BillJ said (what you quoted is my response to his post) in #268:
Perhaps you mean to say that BillJ is conflating matters here?
Separate names with a comma.