This morning I was graciously directed to a couple of articles about the entertainment industry as a whole as well as an article that genuinely shocked me. That's kind of hard to do.
And what shocked me pray tell?
Apparently Transformers 2, Revenge of the Fallen has managed to use a little of its own red matter and imploded Star Trek's standing in the BO takes. It has, in its first 5 days, grossed just under $400 million globally and well over $200 million domestically. This is a feat Star Trek was unable to attain in it first 8 WEEKS.
I have read multitudes of articles surrounding the idea that Michael Bay, along with writers Kruger/Orci/Kurtzman, have created two racially insulting characters by the names of Mudflaps and Skids. The opinions about these two characters are intensely passionate – from both sides of the argument. I have not seen the movie and because of the opinions I've seen about these two characters, I likely will avoid seeing it for my own psychological health; but from what I've read about them and from what I've seen as far as their CGI appearances I have a very bad taste in my mouth and I have no trouble seeing why anyone might be offended by them. But they're now a part of the summer's biggest movie so far.
Up – Disney/Pixar's new film also kicked Star Trek's overall butt last week – so that means – if my calculations are correct…Star Trek has been relegated to 3rd place in overall box and will likely take a much lower spot in the ranking after Harry Potter flies in on his broom and will undoubtedly proceed to sweep away all remaining competition.
Once again – films made for and directed to the "family" unit as opposed to the focused male 14-24 market are showing their absolute power in the marketplace. I have maintained and will continue to maintain that Abrams and Paramount blew it by making Star Trek "edgier" and "sexier" as opposed to making it simply more palatable to parents. If they had broadened the appeal to say oh…Star Trek's core market, the families, and still given us the tighter special effects, they may have had the $400 million opening week. Sigh.
Now, thanks to a new acquaintance (Broadus) on Twitter, I was led to an interesting article about the "A-list" actor's appeal on the BO performance.
It's oddly true.
"A-listers," as we so quaintly call them, are no longer what seems to draw people to movies – this year at least.
The successful films so far have been filled with actors who aren't necessarily well known. And the films that were filled with actors that were "bankable" are tanking. (See Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost for example.)
I'm not so sure it doesn't speak directly to what I was talking about in my last post with regard to AMPAS' attempts to draw the audience back to the Oscars, it's possible the public is just tiring of perceived "self-important" celebrity.
Transformers 2 is successful because it's had a toy franchise, an animated series and a movie that came before it that did well. It had fairly likeable actors – Shia LeBeouf and a gorgeous Megan Fox in the lead roles. Ms. Fox herself stated in her EW interview that Transformers is NOT about the acting – it's about carrying what thin plot there is through the CGI shots and making sure she's a commodity. (Yes - I've reserved a special place in my future blogs about Ms. Fox. She is a very, very special case for me to tackle and she deserves her very own focused blog.)
Land of the Lost tanked because it was…well…Land of the Lost. It's the same reason why Thunderbirds is still walking funny after so many years – it was based on a television show that most of us remember with a cringe, not a heart flutter (although I have to admit – if they had used Stone and Parker's puppets to remake Thunderbirds – it would have rocked.)
When I saw the preview for Land of the Lost at the theater and realized they made Holly the love interest as opposed to the daughter I got severe case of the willies and decided I wasn't going to waste my money on it. (Oh yeah, the Cha-Ka boob-grab didn't do much to sell the movie to me either.)
I have the same fear about Gilligan's Island and Tron (OMG I still can't believe they're remaking Tron) or any other number of rehashed television shows or even old movies. I mean – not even Denzel Washington and John Travolta could pump life into what was a perfectly good movie to begin with - Taking of Pelham 123. What was wrong with the original?
Hence our problem.
I still haven't finished my research on the possibilities that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act hasn't been at the root of the rehash/reboot/sequel infections plaguing major American studios, but I might focus once again on that research. With rumors of studio mergers on the horizon it will be interesting to note how a law designed to protect what is really is IMHO nothing more than legalized gambling (stock investments which are now the basis of most Americans retirement potential as pensions are dying quick deaths) forces boards to make decisions based on profit ratio potential as opposed to truly being quality film-makers.
I'm kind of disturbed by Transformers' success but I'm not surprised. I hope what I'm hearing about the racist undertones in the film are dealt with for the same reasons I still take issue with what I saw as sexist undertones in Trek.
What I fear more however – is that due to both Transformers 2's and Star Trek's box office success there will only be more excuses made for scripts that make weak attempts to hide those stereotypes under animation and mini-skirts as opposed to a real sense of dignity coming from the writers who are seemingly the "golden boys" of Hollywood right now.