An Open Letter to the Movie Industry
April 11, 2011 Leave a comment
To the Owners of Major Movie Companies:
As an avid movie goer and a general movie buff, I have several grievances towards the state of the movies at hand. As well as several solutions to the problems. Yes, I would also like to acknowledge that I do not represent everyone in the world, nor my American patriots, I do not also represent the solutions as a quick easy way to save the movie industry, I’m just making some observations about the state of movies in this world. I do not expect you to take my words seriously, or take them as final solutions to the problems. These are only grievances in which I know will never be solved until the Movie Industry can get their act together. These are to be taken in stride and hopefully turn a few heads. I would also like to acknowledge that my movie going experience had dwindled in the past several years, due to most of these grievances, and I have only been coming back to see movies because the venue I like to attend (also because of the ages 18+ attendance after 7 p.m.) has screenings of Retro Movies that I do enjoy watching. So please, if you do care, heed my notes, or just laugh at me mercilessly, take your pick.
1. Please stop making films targeted at specific audiences!
I do acknowledge the fact that movies are made with the intended purpose of targeting a specific age group with in their films. To start, I do not oppose the creation of films geared towards children since most of those are great classics like Toy Story, How to Tame Your Dragon, and the recent Despicable Me. But my grievance lies in the fact that the “it” thing at the moment is gearing movies toward the Tween/Teen crowed and creating movies that have either no substance, or completely ignore the fact that we people, even as teenagers, do have a brain. While I do understand marketing ploys, and their relentless assault to our senses in our everyday lives, I just hate being lied to. If it’s a bad movie, say it’s a bad movie and that you just want our money to support a project that will be ten times better than thistripe. While I know this may not happen, I am a sucker for some of those bad movies, remember Clash of the Titans, the Harry Hamlin version anyone? After my disastrous viewing of Battle of L.A. I felt an underwhelming sensation that our money was more important than our entertainment, and if I’m living in a free market economy, I should pay for quality and not stupidity, and while I acknowledge that the only thing movie execs do care about is our money, why worry about quality. Who cares that a good majority of Stephen Spielberg and Michael Bay movies have some serious plot holes in them, or that
they just plain don’t make sense (Lets not complain about Indiana Jones though since that franchise goes with that last statement about guilty pleasures). As long as they’re getting our money, the movie execs will market to whomever they choose. I don’t fully oppose the gearing towards a teenage market, I just hate that I have to swim through the mess to get to the quality stuff (or just go Indie and be done with it) and then realize that it is in only select theaters. If you’re gonna do a teen movie, please at least make one quality adult movie to go along with it.
2. Stop undermining the audience’s intelligence!
Ok, this is a bit of a problem for me, I go to see a movie that I think is good, and then I realize, “Holy Crap, what the hell happened!” As an example, I’ll use Battle of L.A. I’m a huge paranormal, alien, cryptozoological and true crime buff. When I heard that they were going to make a movie about what happened in L.A. in 1942, I was freaked, and they were using the alien conspiracy theory! Awesome! I was a bit upset that they made it into an action flick, but I was ok with that, you can’t win all of them, and then I saw the movie. I have never, ever walked out of a movie that I wasn’t pleased with EVER! and this was the first. It was poorly planned, timed, edited, written, cast, and everything just plain sucked! I could have written better tripe than that, and I have tried though the script was not bought, but the problem being is that, with careful planning, executing and teaser trailers, around the internet, tv, radio and on billboards, there was no way you could have not wanted to see this movie. It showed promise, it showed prestige, and I ignored my number 1 movie rule: Never see a movie 1st week out! (I ignored that again with Insidious but with better results). I tend to wait, filter through viewer reviews (some specific names which I will not mention) and see if it is worth my time. I just hate movies that speak the obvious and never let the audience figure it out, I hate movies that try to get a very abstract concept out in film and fail horribly (I’m a teacher teaching history and I can still explain the anger Japan, Italy and Germany felt after WWI and why it pushed the world towards WWII with more success than movies).
Another example of fail was the more recent, I Am Number 4, while I love me some Glee and I wanted to watch this for Diana Aragon, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the movie, and ended up balancing my checking account on my phone for the rest of the movie (I was with my family and they seemed to like it). The idea on whole was good, but it brings me back to the first point about marketing towards teens (I should have realized when a Glee cast member was a main star), and the fact it followed the same storyline as Twilight:
Cute guy moves/lives in town and dates no girls. Sexy and mousey girl lives/moves into town and finds out that she’s artsy/intelligent to the point of being a social outcast. THe cute guy takes a shine to girl and they start dating where they find out that he is a vampire/werewolf/alien/serial killer. Romance ensues, girl does something stupid and guy comes to the rescue and blames himself for the problem she started, leaves
her, then realizes he can’t live without her and comes back, happiness ensues, horrible final act and ending love scene walking away happy.
If you’re going to follow that paradigm more, I think I’m just going to leave now and vomit later!
What I’d like to see?
A bit more depth in the movies, try to say what is going on without losing a lot of the story, mystery can be a good thing. Don’t go too overboard with the mystery because we end up having a whole Darkness good-movie-until-the-end-when-they-can’t-explain-anything movie! Try not to assume members of the audience will not get the idea, try to make us think for once, don’t overwhelm us with visual effects, or 3D, we want substance! Example: The Breakfast Club, Did they do it? Did they not?
3. Stop making movies from books/video games/tv/old movies/sequels.
While I’m one for good movies that are great from books (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Polar Express, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (Gene Wilder Movie), Dr. Strangelove, Stand By Me, Silence of the Lambs, No Country for Old Men, Stephen King Films with the exception of The Shinning remake, again any personal favorites?), video games (Advent Children, Tomb Raider, Resident Evil Franchise, though people would argue with me on that one), tv (Naked Gun, Wrath of Kahn, South Park The Movie, Get Smart, Addams Family Values, Serenity, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but again people will argue with me on that), old movies (3:10 to Yuma, Dawn of the Dead, Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, Cape Fear, True Grit Need I say more?) and sequels (Addams Family Values do not argue with me on this one, it had more substance than the first and other sequels out there…ok Aliens, Terminator 2, Dawn of the Dead, Wrath of Kahn (Only star trek film I liked!!), Empire Strikes Back, The God Father Part II, Dark Knight (rip Heath Ledger), Silence of the Lambs (betcha didn’t know that was a sequel!)). There are good remakes out there, but how many have been made since 2000? 8 out of that entire list.
So what does that mean? maybe we’ve lost the drive to create quality and ended up going with how much can we milk out of this story. Example: the Twilight Sagas. Granted I did like the books, but I’ve been reading bad vampire romance novels for years, but when the movies came out, and saw how much content they left out, or interpreted horribly (In my vision the vampires sparkled like diamonds, as if they were made of molten diamond under their skin, not sister’s body glitter). But that didn’t stop there, lets see how much we can market off of Twilight crap, shirts, hats, jewelry, makeup, body glitter, shoes, bags, lunch kits, water bottles, need I go on???? The whole movies from books/games/tv/old movies/sequels all started with one question: “How can we market this item to maximize the amount of money we get?”
Every movie remade from a different medium all started with that question and the bottom line: Money. But there are some people who look at the movie and start thinking of ways to make it better. Hey look, Silence of the Lambs and Dark Knight got Oscar Nods and Wins so sequels can’t be all that bad! The thing is, we a put into a mentality to become obsessive over a video game, book, tv show, and we allow it to grow bigger and by the time the movie comes out, we’re foaming at the mouth for the chance to see it, we’d rather skip on quality so we at least have the chance to see the movie. Hey! We’re not all like the fans of Mega Man who actually donated money to get this movie going. But there has to be a credence to what we see.
What I’d like to see?
You can keep making these movies, ONLY if you take the time to write out a script that is actually reasonable and want to see yourself. Don’t sit here and shell out script after script in order to capitalize on the name itself. Remakes are a touchy subject, because of the old adage, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Now, if it was a horribly done movie and the funds nor technology were not available for this movie to be made at the time, then by all means, go a head and remake it, JUST USE GOOD SPECIAL EFFECTS AND WRITE A BETTER SCRIPT! You can fix old movies, but I think Clash of the Titans was meant to be bad no matter what. Also, please do not follow a fad, I am just sick of seeing Twilight (remember I work in a highschool) everywhere I go, and with the new movie coming out, I think I’m going to sleep that night and hope that they get through the next two movies with little to no fanfare at all, and I hope that this last installment of Harry Potter will be the best one yet…I can still hope right????? Example: Silence of the Lambs
4. I came to see a movie not a video game!!!
Ok, so I have to give an example to this and a statement that may shock you readers. The first ever movie I saw where I could not stand the CGI was The Matrix 2. Props to the Cohen brothers for creating a great concept the problem is…I hated The Matrix series, and by hate, I mean all three! The first one, revolutionizing as it was, was just a rehash of old archetypes and no substance. I could not stand it, and what made it worse was that I was forced to go see all three movies because my boyfriend at the time LOVED THEM. Ha! Jokes on him looser! Anyway, when I saw the second installment of The Matrix, it was the first movie I watched where I wanted my money back. Granted I knew I would be seeing a movie with great special effects and such, what I wasn’t expecting was a computer game looming at me of Neo and Agent Smith to be totally comprised of computer animation. Yes, that scene may have been taxing, but its called green screening and using that damn program Lord of the Rings used for mass fighting. Aside from that, I was angry I spent my good earned cash on a video game and not a movie. The second time I was watching a movie that I felt that way was the Eric Bana version of The Hulk. Dear sweet god I nearly died.
I’m a pro technologists, I like technology, but dear sweet god, please do not bombard me with CGI it’s absolutely unnerving! I like the computer generated movies of Pixar and Dreamworks, but please live action films do not bombard me with crazy technology. I know films like Avatar the necessity to have CGIed people was a necessity, that’s fine, since the Na’vi were doing some serious crazy stunts, but please don’t put CGI into a live action movie that doesn’t need CGI. Example, as horrible as a remake the Nightmare on Elm Street was, it was absolutely unnecessary to have Rorschach be completely CGIed into the movie when Robert England had played Freddie for years and didn’t need a single computer generated pixel placed into his Freddie. Not only that, what happened with the Jim Henson Company?? Those guys were awesome at creating believable creatures turned human, remember the original Ninja Turtles anyone???
Whatever happened to the usage of puppetry, and sideshow mechanics to create a film. Yes, CGI is the new norm, but years from now, when we’ve created serious realistic looking people, the CGI of now will looked dated and old. remember ever watching Little Giants where the sick kid had that giant snot bubble growing from his nose. Back then it looked real, now it looks dated and aged and unrealistic.
What I’d like to see?
Less CGI and more substance, with the money spent on CGI, you could have better spent in hiring good writers. Back to point #2, don’t assume all movie going aficionados will be glamorized by the glittery special effects created that you want them to see so you hope they’d ignore the terribly plot whole strewn script you’re putting off as good. Please, if it is cheaper using cheesecloth, and puppets, by all means use them, we at the box office trying to buy tickets will be extremely grateful. Example: Terminator 2
5. Please use 3D as an enhancement, not a cover for a bad movie.
Some may not remember the usage of 3D back in the 50’s for their B-Horror Movies (Think the beginning of Thriller), but now more than ever, we’re bombarded with “In 3D” for almost every movie out there now. While I do enjoy the new 3D movies that are out there but I like them within reason. Example, Despicable Me, How to Tame Your Dragon, Coraline, Monsters vs. Aliens, etc. were all great films that were made specifically for 3D but they used that just enough to where if you did not watch the movie in 3D you were not missing anything. But now, it seems that all these movies are contained in this mentality that if we add 3D to the end of the film, knowing the film has no use for the movie, knowing it is a bad film, they just add in 3D as an afterthought, knowing that we’ll pay the extra $3-4 to see the movie in 3D. Case in point: Jackass 3D. Not only that, but the cost for those glasses are ridiculous, and we recycle them at the end? Why can’t we get a refund on the glasses if we recycle them? It seems wasteful of my $3-4 that I spend only to recycle the darn glasses. And I know I’m not the only one. At my dentist office in a very old issue of Entertainment, there’s an
article in there showing that I”m not the only one who feels the same way about 3D.
What I’d like to see?
Responsible use for 3D, make a film that uses, or enhances the experience in 3D (Avatar is a good example), but please don’t make it to where every movie is now in 3D or put 3D in as an afterthought. Placing it as an afterthought only cheapens the experience of 3D and the extra costs only prompt me to see the movie without the 3D experience and wait for my next trip to Disney to see Lilo and Stich the ride in 3D. Also please make 3D glasses for those people who wear glasses, the worst part is going to see a movie and not able to see it very well because of the glasses on top of your glasses. Example: Avatar
6. Please stop making expensive movies to where we at the ticket booth have to pay for it?
I think this is where the movie industry is hurting. With the advent of internet, people with video cameras in the theater, and the fact that ticket prices are too high, more and more companies are creating more and more expensive movies for us to see. Just the price alone of ticket sales are going up to set off the amount of money that the industry is demanding for the movie. I too have been searching for tickets that are $8 and less here in Houston, and I’m starting to attend venues that offer alcoholic drinks, and food as opposed to the concession stand of junk. That’s another thing, if you insist on ripping us off Theater Owners, please for the love of God make ticket prices cheaper, and then proceed to charge me $3.50 for a pickle I can get from a corner store for a third of that price. Not only that, if you did lower the price of the movie, and worked the same system you have been working for years, your profit margin would be exponential and we’d be happier down here for the less amount of money,
but please do not lose quality. Example, Paranormal Activity, here is a movie that was made on a small budget of about $15,000 and with tip-top marketing in the form of Facebook and other social medias, the movie ended up grossing approximately $107,917,283. So it is possible to make a blockbuster on a very small budget, instead of spending millions and expecting the ticket payers to pay the slack on overpriced tickets.
What I’d like to see?
I really can’t give an explanation but greed, and that’s that. We can’t get lower ticket prices unless we all stop watching movies, but with the aforementioned problems above, there will not be any change unless we make it happen. But alas that may never happen with the “It” movies coming out at once. Example: Paranormal Activity
I’m not expecting anyone to do anything, these are just grievances that I felt needed to be addressed after watching a horrible film based on the lives of L.A. citizens fighting against aliens, I was just horribly disappointed in society, and the industry as a whole. In the past four months I have only spent ticket money on one new movie and that was Insidious, the other money I have spent has been on movies that I’ve already seen but not in theaters. Retro Movie Night where I know I’ll be disappointed but not without laughing.
Got any other grievances about the state of movies? Got other examples to add? Pissed at what I said? Comment below.