Sunday, May 15, 2005

Entertainment Weekly, (sorry, the story is gone now. No link available) and others have all been jumping on the low box office receipts for this year.

Lots of had-wringing reports have come out recently stating that box office has dropped off to such a degree that movie going will most certainly end and we'll all end up watching movies on pay-per-view.

But check out the Top Ten.

Kingdom of Heaven20th Century Fox
House of WaxWarner Bros.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the GalaxyTouchstone
CrashLions Gate
The InterpreterUniversal
XXX: State of the UnionColumbia
The Amityville HorrorMGM
A Lot Like LoveTouchstone
Fever Pitch20th Century Fox

Of the top ten movies:

2 were remakes of Horror Classics with a B-level cast (the original House of Wax scared me to death when I was 13, and Amityville... Amityville was debunked years ago, and the story really isn't THAT compelling. Not to mention the glut of haunted house movies from the past six years or so) In a seeming effort to drive away a good chunk of the audience, one movie has even inserted Paris Hilton.

1 was a remake of XXX. Without the titular actor returning. Nor any sign of the rocket-propelled, nuclear-powered submarine.

1 was a period piece about a period which most Americans, I am guessing, know about mostly from having seen Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Hitchhiker's is an adaptation if nichey, culty book, which may have produced a nichey, culty movie audience.

2 romantic comedies (because the earth will quit spinning if we don't have two romantic comedies at the cineplex at all times) . One stars Jimmy Fallon. The other stars Ashton Kutcher, who everyone over the age of 19 (Ms. Moore excepted) kind of hates. *

Crash, which looks kind of preachy

And Sahara which looks like... well, sort of like "The Jewel of the Nile". Except with all the star power of Penelope Cruz. Because, we are all told, we all love Penelope Cruz.

and The Interpreter, which looks like those thrillers from the eighties which take themselves very seriously and usually involve people talking in hushed tones and looking at photos and whatnot. But you can be sure, everyone will be very, very grave.

It's not that anything in the top 10 even looks all that bad, it's that none of it really looks all that good. Even Kingdom of Heaven looks like a movie you're asking me to make an investment in before sitting down. I mean, I see a horse and a suit of armor, and I figure, with trailers, the fastest I'm getting out of the theater in 3 hours, 10 minues. That's a sizeable chunk of my weekend. It better be pretty darn good. And yet it stars Orlando Bloom.

Mostly, everything just sort of looks like something I've seen before. And I've got cable if I want to see things I've already seen before.

That, and Hollywood has decided it's already Summer Movie Season, and if they decide, it must be, right?

1. It was snowing last week in Michigan. I know this because my consultant from Ann Arbor told me this. It may be 72 and breezy in LALA Land, but the rest of the country is still trying to decide how many layers to wear.

2. Kids aren't out of school and college kids are in finals. This is your audience. If you really want to get kids to skip studying in order to go to the movies, you better have some serious explosions up your sleeve. I mean, you'd best be offering up the "choose between the red pill and the blue pill"-type explosions.

And I don't know if it's just me slowly going crazier (this is what Steanso blames), but if I have an option between paying $8.00 to half hear my movie and half hear somebody else's conversation, or, if I can just watch a movie on my 27" TV, stop and start it at will, and not worry about some kid kicking my seat... well, The League knows what the League is going to do.

Honestly, we now pick movies, movie times and venues pretty well. We've gotten it all down to a bit of a science. Aside from the kids under 10 running about during The Aviator, we've done pretty well lately.

But for the most part, there's just not much I want to see. Or at least, for $8.00 a ticket, plus $3.50 for a coke, and $2.50 for a box of Hot Tamales, I mean... do I really want to do all that in order to see Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore? Isn't there something on Discovery?

Not every movie is going to be gold. In fact, I usually think 1 in 5 being something of interest ain't bad. But I hate the whining. Why isn't anyone going to the movies? Because the movies look really uninteresting.

And it's tough to take anyone seriously who complains that Star Wars' $300+ million take won't meet expectations... but, who is setting these expectations? And how are they setting them? Last I checked, $300 million is the GDP of some smaller countries.

The League loves movies. Really. We do. We try not to be film snobs (and certainly do not feel that we've got the pedigree to be a film snob). And we try to enjoy movies for both escapism and for the commentary they can deliver in teh right hands.

But we don't like articles written chastising the general populace for not going to the movies while refusing to suggest that, maybe... just maybe... the product the studios are offering us just doesn't look like it should cost us $30 after candy and soda are accounted for.

*The League hereby declares Our services open to the Hollywood elite. But, especially, to casting directors.

The League would make ourselves available 24 hours a day to all casting directors. For a nominal fee, you could call me up, tell me :

  1. the story of the movie in some broadstrokes
  2. a bit about the character
  3. your intended audience
  4. how much money you really want to make, gross
  5. which well-known actor you're considering for the part
The League will then tell you:

  1. if the League perceives the well-known actor to be a complete jack-ass
  2. whether or not the coveted 18-34 year old male audience will see the movie
  3. if he'd pay matinee or full price
  4. and why he really, really hates the actor you just called to ask him about

We think we'd find this service to be not only a step toward the betterment of mankind, but, also, we'd find it personally gratifying.

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