If you grew up in the 1990s, your childhood memories of going to the movies would probably consist of seeing Tommy Lee Jones save the world by VolcanoPierce Brosnan saves the world in Dante’s PeakHelen Hunt saves the world in TornadoBruce Willis saves the world in Armageddon… Essentially, lots of stars were saving the world from natural disasters, or rather – if you had to ask a scientist – very unnatural disasters.
In the 1980s, your movie memories would most likely be of the Haribo genre, which is to say that young and old like it alike. Made in this nostalgia-soaked sugar-coated mold, movies like The Goonies, Ghostbusters, The Breakfast Club, Maze, The Neverending Story and a host of other teenage adventure tales with enough self-aware charm and sideways glances to still captivate adult audiences to this day.
Even ten years ago you had a bunch of apocalyptic films, including 2012, Two days later, Poseidon, War of the Worlds, and about a million others. It’s all part of the Hollywood genre cycle. The reason for these modes may seem obvious; if a film is a Hollywood box office success, it is in the studios’ interest to try to emulate the success. Since the rapid commercialization of Hollywood, when fish became a box office savory dish with Jaws in 1975, profits and their sustainable generation came to the fore.
This coincided with movies like The Gate of Paradise where runaway writers nearly bankrupted the studios. In fact, six days after filming began on The Gate of Paradise, director Michael Cimino was already five days late. By week two, United Artists had calculated that at the current rate the film would cost them a million per minute of usable footage.
As the film’s co-lead, Kris Kristofferson – the country star so good they named him two and a half times – says in the making-of documentary regarding Cimino’s single-minded devotion, “I bet Michel- Ange cared. I bet Picasso cared. I probably didn’t care that much, but I was glad to work with someone who cared! The only problem was that the aforementioned “carers” were artists in the original sense of the term, individuals without an industry. Picasso and company weren’t really playing with the banker’s money, and when it comes to making movies, Cimino has conclusively proven that it’s possible to worry too much about it.
Later, Kristofferson began to see the first signs of the scale of the disaster in Cannes when a chance meeting in an elevator with AU chairman Norbert Auerbach led the tycoon to quietly say: “The money should be taken from the creatives”. To which Kristofferson retorted, “Who are you going to give it to? Uncreative people? »
His question was valid and will remain so forever. In fact, it’s so valuable that it’s underpinned the entire film industry ever since. If outlaw writers interviewing 300 horses for a role were to be stopped in their wasteful ways, then movies had to be crafted by committee. The problem is that brainstorming almost never works. They may have been lucky in the 80s, but yields have since declined with every step towards commoditization.
Charts and trends can be revealing, but non-creatives can also be wrong. Ever since brainstorming was first scored by an advertising agency head named Alex Osborn in 1939, every study conducted on it proves that it ultimately doesn’t work. It encourages conformity to a single idea and few fresh innovations in the literal sense that could appeal to an audience with originality.
So it often happens that modern Hollywood movies are concocted in a boardroom, as opposed to the scratched notebook of a hopeful that has pondered a dream for years. They ignore new ideas that might fail and defend a plan that has already succeeded. ‘How do we do Tornado, but in space! People love space! And people love Bruce Willis…’ all of a sudden Tornado bECOMES Armageddon and so on and so on… From a business point of view, it makes sense: giving people what they love. This might work if you run a grocery store, but in the arts it’s a little different.
Proof that it hasn’t always worked out for Hollywood comes from the two biggest movie flops of all time. They both arrived less than a year apart, and both are settled on Mars. You can also be forgiven if you’ve never heard of one. The sci-fi movie John Carter arrived in 2012 and lost $127 million. While the epic animated the catastrophe, Mars needs momsarrived the previous year and posted a record loss of $143 million.
From a studio perspective, the projects made sense. Mars was all over the news after the discovery of water there in 2008. NASA had announced that Curiosity would land there in 2012 and talk of sending humans on a one-way mission was one of the biggest news from the moment. So if you were looking at this from a studio perspective, you’d imagine people’s interest was piqued by the red planet. Additionally, Avatar had recently become the highest-grossing film of all time and proved that audiences had a penchant for the afterlife and the 3D boom.
Therefore, when it comes to Mars needs moms, Disney invested a lot of money in new motion capture animation technology and sent the story into space. On paper, it was exactly the same as Avatar. The thing is, Avatar had been and gone and people might have paid, but a lot of them really didn’t think it was that great. Thereby, Mars needs moms wasn’t swept up in the same bubble, so people saw it for what it was: an absurd-looking thing with a cheap story too similar to something they’d seen before. So these movies were shot for Mars and left floating in space with a heavy ground bill.
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