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Monday Box Office – If You Brand it, They Will Come

Our teenagers today should be happy that they have become so heavily branded they no longer have much of a choice over how they spend their money. If it is built, they will come. They want to have a good time and they don’t particularly care how that good time is had.  If you go by the critics, this is fairly devastating news — look at how bad the number one movie supposedly was.  The movie the critics liked is doing fine with $10 million and will gain in numbers moving into Oscar season. Oscar Island is alive and well, preserving and protecting movies that can still be defined as movies.

 

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But seriously, what is there left to say? The only good news is that Lucy, an entirely original, non-branded sci-fi action movie is hanging in there, headed towards $100 million.  The rest is a shitsmear. But hey, bought and paid for by powerful corporations with clever ad teams to make sure that when kids head to the multiplex to find that which is familiar to them, they will find that which the corporations have made familiar to them.  Original ideas are SCARY. Quality takes a backseat to that which we know. McDonald’s makes roughly $30 billion annually. You think these people are fucking around? They are not fucking around. For some reason, this seems more bleak than usual – perhaps because the beautiful juxtaposition of Boyhood – a quality film about boys – and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles what most of our boys actually ARE – is a tad depressing.  But I guess there is no point in being a snob about it. It is what it is. Can I just say that I can’t wait for the Oscar movies to start rolling out.

48 Comments on this Post

  1. Natasha

    Hey, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a big hit, headed toward 200 million–and well received by critics too…..and both A Most Wanted Man and Get On Up (potential Best Actor nominees) are hanging in there. This is not a total shit storm–although, granted, Planet of the Apes is a previously known brand, Get On Up a biopic about an R&B legend, and A Most Wanted Man based on a work by a well-known novelist–if you want to argue that most everything on the list is previously known. And albeit a Marvel pic, Guardians is a hit–a box office surprise to some extent, based on superheroes that aren’t household names and include a talking raccoon and TREE AND is liked by both critics and general audiences….and was initially thought to be a tough sell!

  2. rufussondheim

    It’s August. It’s almost always shit.

    Sure, we’ve had The Help and The Butler in recent years, but they were never “real” contenders, just quality films that appeal to older but non-demanding audiences.

    August and September are mostly dumping grounds. So, nothing to see here.

  3. I’m confused about the point being made here. Sometimes bad movies do well at the box office, and franchise films tend to do better than original films. Not exactly a profound revelation.

  4. RIP Robin Williams

  5. I’m so sad about robin williams:(

  6. Al Robinson

    It’s nice to see amongst all the toys, there’s Boyhood in the top 15.

  7. Im really, really hoping for a Boyhood surge. And I just saw Hundred-Foot Journey today and thought it was lovely. Hope theyboth find good word of mouth legs.

  8. I’m going to be little cynical here, er, VERY cynical. Would Boyhood have had the audience it had if it were not for the clever filming hook that’s front and center in its marketing—effectively creating its own brand? $10M for a very limited release and a 164 minute run time is very good.

    Having a brand is not necessarily a bad thing. As mentioned before the acclaimed Dawn of the Planet of the Apes relied heavily on its brand and succeeded in putting forward a compelling film. Guardians of the Galaxy relied on the Marvel brand, and it too received high critical marks—most praising its creative take on the brand. Maleficent is a pure Disney brand, but the film did transcend that. Other films such as Transformers 4, Spiderman 5, Ninja Turtles 5, etc. offer their brand as their only substance.

    It all depends on what is done with the brand. Boyhood took it’s marketing/filming stunt and did something amazing for it, and I hope it does well.

  9. Bob Burns

    will all the thousands that graduate from film school every year, how come no one can write?

  10. Al Robinson

    Bob, good grammar is like a second language. Many only can speak one.
    :-)

  11. Can we PLEASE STOP blaming “teenage boys” for every fucking thing we don’t like to see playing at the multiplex?

    FACT: 55% of the audience for Turtles is over the age of 25.
    So it’s not unreasonable to extrapolate and estimate that close to 70 or 75% of the audience for Turtles is over the age of 15.

    FACT: yes, 61% of this weekend’s audience for Turtles was male. But that means 4 out of 10 people in the audience were female — and MANY of them were mothers who are taking their young kids to see a movie MADE FOR KIDS.

    FACT: Nobody under the age of 17 can buy a ticket to Boyhood because it’s rated R.

    FACT: Even if teenagers are lucky enough to find an adult to buy them a ticket to Boyhood, they ALSO have to be lucky enough to live nearby one of the relatively few theaters where Boyhood is playing.

    How is any of that the fault of teenage boys?

    ” — and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles what most of our boys actually ARE — “

    I hope that’s a typo because I have no clear idea what it means.

    Let’s please stop shitting on boys as a way to shame them into seeing the movies we wish they would see. Speaking as a boy, I can tell you that shitting on us and sneering at our taste* is the wrong way to woo us.

    *(as if all boys have the same taste. At LEAST acknowledge that nearly HALF the people who bought a ticket to see Turtles is a woman who’s over the age of 25).

    ===

    MOVIES LIKE NINJA TURTLES ARE NOTHING NEW

    50 years ago, in August of 1963, GIDGET GOES TO ROME was #1 at the box office.

    yes, 1963 was a different than today.

    One major way things were different in summer of 1963 is this: THERE WAS NO MOVIE AT ALL remotely comparable to BOYHOOD.

    #1 at the summer box office 51 years ago:
    Dr No
    Gidget Goes to Rome
    The Nutty Professor
    Beach Party
    Flipper

    The general pervasive shittiness of the summer of 1963 had nothing to do with branding.

    It has to do with the fact that there ARE NEVER MORE THAN 20 Million Americans ALIVE at any given point in history who EVER want to spend their money on serious movies.

    AND UNLESS THAT SERIOUS GROWNUP MOVIE HAS KILLER SHARKS, GANGSTERS or GIRLS POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL, then the number of Americans who want to spend money on serious movies is ALWAYS closer to 10 million or even fewer.

    It’s always been that way in the past. It will always be that way in the future.

  12. Al Robinson

    I realized I missed Bob’s point. He wasn’t talking about bad grammar, he was talking about how these young new film school graduates can’t seem to write good scripts, original scripts, but instead just seem to take on the roles of directing these tent-pole movies.

  13. yes, it was so much fucking better 50 years ago when brilliant Hollywood screenwriters were churning out literary gems for summer audiences like GIDGET GOES TO FUCKING ROME, THE NUTTY FUCKING PROFESSOR, and FUCKING FLIPPER.

    Anyone who doesn’t think the screenplay for Captain America: The Winter Soldier is far better than LUCY or GIDGET hasn’t seen The Winter Soldier because they think they know it’s no good — and it’s so much fun to cheer rah! rah! rah! for Lucy and Gidget and sneer at movies they haven’t seen.

    “Lucy is so original.” — says everyone who never read Flowers for Algernon in 1958 or never saw Limitless in 2011.

    (And I Like LUCY. A lot. It was a blast. I enjoyed the hell out of LUCY. But an “original” or “witty” or “intelligent” screenplay is not something LUCY has going for it.)

  14. Yes, in the Summer of 1963 there WAS ONE INTELLIGENT MOVIE FOR GROWNUPS.

    For ONE SINGLE WEEK, July 7, 1963, The Great Escape was #1 at the box office.

    Opening weekend, THE GREAT ESCAPE earned $2.7 million. Awesome.

    At 85 cents per movie ticket, that means The Great Escape sold 2.2 million tickets on opening weekend. .

    50 years later? The Monuments Men sold 2.7 tickets on opening weekend.

    wow, adult ticket sales have sure tanked in the past 50 years, haven’t they? Just look how much worse things are these days? More grownups paid to see The Monuments on opening weekend than paid to see The Great Escape on opening weekend.

    Hollywood is going straight to hell :(

  15. Al Robinson

    This might not make any difference to counter your argument, but in 1963, the United States’ population was roughly 189 million. 2.2 million from 189 million is 0.011

    Lets estimate the United States’ current population to 300 million people. If 2.7 million tickets were roughly purchased, than from the 300 million people, the percentage is only 0.009

    That means more people went to see The Great Escape. One positive in this muckity-muck.

  16. The Great Escape: 2.2 million out of 189 million is 1.1%

    Monuments Men: 2.7 million out of 300 million people, is 0.9%

    Captain Phillips sold 3 million tickets opening weekend

    Captain Phillips: 3 million out of 300 million people is 1.0%

    The Longest Day sold 1.5 million tickets opening weekend.

    The Longest Day: 1.5 million out of 189 million is 0.8%

    (see what I did there? A GREATER PERCENT of the American population TODAY saw Captain Phillips on opening weekend than saw The Longest Day on opening weekend 50 years ago).

    Nothing wrong with your math, Al. The problem is in thinking that the only two (roughly equivalent) movies we can find to compare then and now are The Great Escape and The Monuments Men.

    ants to do on opening weekend?

  17. Al Robinson

    Ryan, on the contrary, I was only using examples from what you gave. BUT, I think that the numbers, like what I came up with, can skew to any way of seeing things we want. If we did that with all the movies, I’m sure what you’re saying is correct. Also, I agree that today’s choices are getting worse. But that’s why I’m more and more selective in what I chose to see. Especially in theaters.

    But, I’ll add, my mom had asked me if I would go see the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with her. I’d go with her of course, because I’d want to make her happy, but on my own, the Turtles movie would barely make a blip on my own must-see radar. :-)

  18. here’s the really stunning thing about these math examples:

    Online, on twitter, on facebook, on Awards Daily, it can seem as if EVERYBODY WE KNOW IS GOING to the MOVIES!! yay! (or the WRONG movie… BOO!)

    But the fact is: On opening weekend, those hateful despicable ignorant hoards of 8 million Americans and Canadians who show up to buy tickets to see the horrible repulsive Marvel movies on opening weekend? Those ticket-buyers that some people want to mock — they only represent LESS THAN TWO PERCENT OF THE POPULATION.

    So THAT’s who we’re going to be MAD ABOUT every weekend every summer?

    LESS THAN TWO PERCENT of the population of NORTH AMERICA just want to spend 8 bucks to have some fun and see the newest movie…

    and WE POINT TO THAT 2% AS EVIDENCE OF THE SHEEPLIKE STUPIDITY of LAZY AMERICANS?

    THAT 2% of the population is some kind of PROOF of the RUINATION OF WESTERN CINEMA?

    Do we have to go through this every time a movie opens that some of us are not interested in seeing?

    yeesh. YEESH. Can we Please PLEASE STOP being so depressed about which fucking movie 2% of North America wants to see on opening weekend?

  19. Al Robinson

    Forgive me Ryan, I didn’t understand which side of the argument you were on. Now I see completely what you mean. Those out there who want to run-down movie-goers for reasons like: “they are seeing the wrong movies, making the wrong choices”, “especially those youngsters who flock to movies like TMNT because they have been taught to do so by the branding of these fans”.

    Yeah, those out there who want to criticize need to get a life. The problem lies with the studio heads who want to make fewer, more expensive movies, than make more, less-expensive movies. These studio heads who only want to make “reliable hits” in their minds, so we end up with more and more crap, because they no longer have the guts to make more creative / original movies. It’s a fucking shitstorm of crap.

    We should all stop going to these 1% movies, and instead go to the 99% movies like Boyhood and Snowpiercer.

  20. Al Robinson

    I already feel mixed-emotions for what I just wrote. Ah!

    I fall too “in-the-middle”. I see most of the big (Apes) and small films (Snowpiercer) throughout each year. The ones I don’t see are the middle films (Brick Mansions).

    I think I’ll stop talking now, before I put my foot in my mouth. :-)

  21. you’re fine, Al.

    Thanks to your math examples, we can finally see the actual breakdown of American society is all the FAULT of less than 2% of North America who want to go have some fun on weekends.

    THE SAME AS THEY HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO DO FOR OVER 50 YEARS.

    So maybe NOW I can sleep at night, now that I know that this 2% of North America has been trying to DESTROY CINEMA for over 50 years.

    The SABOTAGE OF AMERICAN CINEMA is not moving very fast. All those 7 million hideous monsters who have taste that differs from my taste have been at it for 50 or 60 years. 70 years, even.

    And yet, movies are better today than they have ever been at any point in my life. SUMMER MOVIES INCLUDED. The vast availability of GREAT FILMS at my fingertips adds up to MORE MOVIES than I can ever possibly see in my lifetime.

    What if there were more than 50 excellent AMERICAN movies every year? How the hell would I ever be able to buy tickets to all of them?

    70 years of dumb people going to see dumb movies. All that time, and yet they’re doing a pretty shitty job of ruining smart movies for the rest of us.

  22. Al Robinson

    “Thanks to you, we can finally see the actual breakdown of American society is all the FAULT of less than 2% of North America who want to go have some fun on weekends.”

    I probably am a good example. But, I don’t see movies every weekend (in theaters), like a lot of others do. I don’t blame myself, but I know I have probably more hurt the movie industry than helped it. I’m just glad I’m growing up, and starting to seeing the forest for the trees. I can look at one thing and understand better how much it alone can affect the rest of the entity it’s apart of.

  23. What if there were more than 50 excellent AMERICAN movies every year?

    LOL, j/k.
    WE KNOW ON OSCAR ISLAND THERE ARE NEVER GOING TO BE MORE THAN 9 GREAT MOVIES EVERY YEAR.*

    Steve Pond already did the math on that.

    stupid easy-to-please me.
    me and my stupid lists of 40 or 50 American movies I can easily find to love every year.

    Every year for the past 90 years.

    Same. As. Always.

  24. Steve50

    I tried, but I cannot resist jumping in to this.

    “Yes, in the Summer of 1963 there WAS ONE INTELLIGENT MOVIE FOR GROWNUPS.”

    Ryan, Ryan, Ryan.

    In 1963, movies made the rounds across the continent – very few got the “opening weekend”. It took months, in some cases, for a film to make it to your town. I know, I was there.

    So in 1963, Hud (a May release) was just hitting the hinterland. A March release, The Birds, was in every drive-in that summer, as was The Servant. 8 1/2 was released at the end of June and the cans of film were passed around the country to every art house, just like Kazan’s America America and The Leopard (July).

    The behemoth of the summer was Cleopatra – which DID make money – while the surprise hit was The Great Escape (which lumbered into smaller theatres in the fall); of course there was From Russia with Love and The Pink Panther.

    The summer or 1963 was indeed a good one for a majority of movie goers, intelligent and otherwise.

    But in 2014, there are no more art houses and few second runs, only cineplexes. Films don’t travel around in the Greyhound baggage carrier to have a shot, town by town; they must get their wad off within a 48 hr period or forever be damned.

    And in 2014 – where was our March:The Birds/The Servant, our April:Winter Light, our May:Hud, our June:8 1/2/America, America; our July: The Leopard?

    One more thing: 1963 was not a particularly stellar year when we look back, but if you compare what people were watching that summer (for as little as 75 cents a tkt) with what people are watching this summer, and stop looking at the mf box office tallies, you’ll see they are not comparable. Different product released in a different way (with NO ratings system, btw) to a different audience.

  25. I have been reluctant to join this topic for quite some time. I agree with everything Ryan said. Every generation feels confined by the last one and rebelled by the next one. That’s all I’m gonna say about this.

    Now, I suggest we try something more fun and interesting. My friends and I used to play a game a few years back, which is to imagine a world that “artsy” movies rule the box office and the other way around, by making up head lines, such as:

    “Boyhood breaks box office record, opens to 132 million dollar weekend!”
    “Meanwhile, Marvel continues to struggle with their new outing: Guardians of the Galaxy, which earned a mere 2 million in their 2nd weekend, earning a total of 8 million for 10 days. The audiences just don’t seem to care about their efforts of bringing comical super-heroes to the big screen.”

  26. Al Robinson

    Oh funny!! I was a bit confused by what Ryan said, but now I have to laugh. I think he’d written something, and wen’t back and fixed it. I saw: “Thanks to you…”, but now it says “Thanks to your math…” Those two can’t be further apart in their meanings and interpritations. I felt like such a jackass for even thinking it. Either way, I’m glad I took the mature path, and didn’t make anything of it publicly, or even on Twitter.

    Ryan, I should apologize for even thinking you had insulted me. :-)

  27. “Yes, in the Summer of 1963 there WAS ONE INTELLIGENT MOVIE FOR GROWNUPS.”

    Ryan, Ryan, Ryan.

    In 1963, movies made the rounds across the continent – very few got the “opening weekend”. It took months, in some cases, for a film to make it to your town. I know, I was there.

    So in 1963, Hud (a May release) was just hitting the hinterland. A March release, The Birds, was in every drive-in that summer, as was The Servant. 8 1/2 was released at the end of June and the cans of film were passed around the country to every art house, just like Kazan’s America America and The Leopard (July).

    ==

    steve50, sorry, let me clarify.

    The subject of This Post is: “LOOK AT THIS PIECE OF SHIT THAT WAS #1 AT THE BOX OFFICE.”
    YES? That’s the Scary Headline of Doom here, yes?

    so when I said “ONE INTELLIGENT MOVIE FOR GROWNUPS” I meant “ONE INTELLIGENT MOVIE FOR GROWNUPS that was #1 during the entire summer of 1963.”

    yes, by the END of 1963, The Birds had indeed amassed enough cash to land at #8 in the Box-Office year-end Top 10.

    Of course, SON OF FLUBBER beat The Birds, at #7.
    a forgettable Disney-factory effort, The Sword in the Stone was #6.

    There’s your sophisticated grownup audience of 1963.

    (btw, ‘branded”? I’m pretty sure EVERYBODY in America saw DISNEY as a brand in 1963.)

    you’re awfully cute to mention movies like Losey’s The Servant and Visconti’s The Leopard gradually seeping into the hinterlands.

    The hinterlands of Canada must have been a heckuva lot more sophisticated than the hinterlands of America in 1963.

    I guaran-damn-tee you that The Leopard and The Servant never screened for one single night in the American hinterlands of 1963.

    not even at the drive-in on the same triple bill as The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963)

    ===

    The Birds earned $11 million.
    That’s 13 million tickets at 1963 prices.

    13 million tickets is almost exactly the number of tickets that Grand Budapest Hotel has sold.

    Looks like we have these very same 10-15 million grownups paying to see Grand Budapest now as we had paying to see The Birds in 1963.

    How many times do I have to prove this? Before people stop saying the sky is falling.

    Hey, but thanks for bringing up The Birds.

    I wonder if ALFRED HITCHCOCK was “a Brand” in 1963? …ya think?

    :)

    ===

    But in 2014, there are no more art houses and few second runs…

    How many “art houses” do you imagine there were in 1963 outside of America’s 9 or 10 largest cities?

    Anyone in the American Hinterlands of 1963 who even heard about The Leopard and wanted to see it only had to wait 41 years for the BFI to release it on VHS tape in 2004. Only a 41-year wait. Cool !!

    Are you seriously going to argue that 1963 was better than 2014 in terns of accessibility to classic movies or foreign films?

    I can have a perfectly pristine restored deluxe edition of The Leopard playing on an enormous screen in front of me TONIGHT by pushing a couple of buttons.

  28. Al Robinson

    “Are you seriously going to argue that 1963 was better than 2014 in terns of accessibility to classic movies or foreign films?”

    Technically, no one can argue that fact…yet. No time has passed yet to make comparisons based on merit. Only based on dollars.

    I think in order to know how truly great something is, especially by the general public, and the experts who chose which are the “best of all-time”, 10 years needs to pass (at least).

    It’s like you guys said in the 2009 Oscar Podcast, about the cupcakes, AND about how Avatar lost it’s edge after the fifth viewing (or so). Time tested them all, and Avatar lost. No telling yet which movies will win the time tested test. We don’t even know for sure about Apes or Boyhood.

  29. Al Robinson

    Joke: At 32 years old, I’m STILL trying to figure out if I’m a suitable human being or not. :-)

  30. Ryan, I should apologize for even thinking you had insulted me.

    I’d never insult you, Al. Just because I’ve said “fuck” 20 times on this page is no sign that I’m angry. A little frustrated maybe. Not angry.

    It’s just been a really bad day for me. Wrecked emotions, frayed nerves. I think about how hard it would be for me to set aside the money to see 50 good movies this year and I get irritable.

  31. Al Robinson

    “I think about how hard it would be for me to set aside the money to see 50 good movies this year and I get irritable.”

    I forget how lucky I am to be in the position I’m in. If I had to live off my own income, I’d be homeless, but I have been extremely lucky to get assistance from my extremely patient and loving mom. She’s been my lifesaver for so long now if I paid her back we’d probably be talking 7 figures. (and NO, my mom is not rich, she’s upper middle-class.)

    I find it more admiral to be poor but fending for yourself, than live like I do, and shirk along in life. I don’t want to be like that , I want to make my own way.

  32. Al Robinson

    But, for the record, for anyone who’s reading this, I have been trying to get re-started in a career. I just took a wrong path along the way, and fell of the tracks. I’m sure there are those of you who know what that’s like.

    I still dream of owning my own business some day. I should hire my friends, and they can work for me. Ha! :-)

  33. Back to the topic of Branding.
    FACT: A year ago Marvel sold 88,000 copies of The Guardians of the Galaxy comics.

    Al, you can check my math, but I believe 88,000 pre-sold “branded” and corporate-hypnotized fans of GotG works out to approx. $704,000 in movie ticket sales.

    If every single one of those 88,000 “branded” fans of Guardians of the Galaxy went to see GotG 220 times apiece in the past 10 days then it still wouldn’t add up to the $313 million GofG has earned since July 31.

    I’m no box-office scientist but it seems to me that there are 21 million people buying tickets to see Guardians of the Galaxy who never even SAW a single issue of the Guardians of the Galaxy comic in their entire life (in addition to the 100k people who have).

    As an alternative to the “brainwashing kids with branding” theory, I’d like to offer 2 other hypotheses:

    1) Advertise a movie to the right 21 million people.
    2) Make a move that those 21 million people will enjoy.*

    *(for the record I am not one of the 21 million people who enjoyed GotG — and somebody else bought me a ticket.)

    I had no clue that Guardians of the Galaxy even existed as a previously existing thing until about 5 months ago. I also had no clue that it was a Marvel property until about a month ago.

    and yet, there I was sitting through that movie and wishing it would please be over soon. In all my unbranded innocence, I still ended up with a ticket stub in my shirt pocket.

  34. Al Robinson

    “Al, you can check my math, but I believe 88,000 pre-sold “branded” and corporate-hypnotized fans of GotG works out to approx. $704,000 in ticket sales.”

    Ryan, I’ll check the numbers in the morning. ;-)

    I hadn’t even thought about the marketing. Good movies get ignored because of bad marketing. The branding I think seems to overcome all that, and the people will go even if the movie received a 2 on Metacritic. Just look at how much money Michael Bay films make. Peter Travers gave the latest Transformers movie 0 out of 4. But yes, if the marketing is done right, HOPEFULLY the people will go to the worthy movies. It must be hard these days to be in the movie business if your not a 1 percent movie.

    It’s like too many Goliaths, and not enough Davids. (Even though David defeated Goliath.)

  35. The branding I think seems to overcome all that, and the people will go even if the movie received a 2 on Metacritic.

    The vast majority of people who go to the movies never look at metacritic.

    Let’s say 1/4 of the 20 million people who have seen Guardians of the Galaxy check in to see what metacritic says.

    That would be 5 million people, yes? (I’m so good at arithmetic, it’s sick!)

    Quik Quiz: What website do you think says this about itself:

    “And last month we hit a record, surpassing 5 million on 25 days”

    a) Metacritic ?
    b) The LA Times ?

    Answer: The LA Times.

    Anyone who thinks metacritic gets as much traffic as the LA Times is mistaken.

    The La Times ranks #137 in popularity in the USA
    Metacritic ranks #967 in popularity in the USA

    so let’s be super-generous and guesstimate that metacritic even gets half the traffic of The LA Times.

    that would be 2.5 million people.

    That means fewer than 1 out of 10 people who bought tickets to Guardian of the Galaxy have any clue what GotG’s metacritic score is.

    Sasha’s own illustration to this post on this page shows that there is NO correlation between metacritic scores and ticket sales. NO Correlation At All.

    We have to stop thinking that all Americans care as much about movie reviews as we do. Fewer than 1 out of 10 Americans go to see movies at all.

    and of those 1 of 10 Americans going to the movies, only 1 out 10 of moviegoers are aware of or care about metacritic.

    So I’d guess that around 1/3 of 1% of Americans have any idea what metacritic says is the top rated movie in America.

    300,000,000 Americans — and I bet less than a million of them visit Metacritic every week.

    Any more traffic than that and metacritic would be as popular as the LA Times. And it’s not.

  36. Bryce Forestieri

    I missed the discussion, but on hindsight that’s probably a good thing since I’d have probably jumped in only to profess my love for the motion picture THE LEOPARD, directed by Visconti. I personally know only a handful of Americans outside my family who have even heard of the film, and I am half guinea, so not even other Italian Americans — Ever since the 1960’s, though, very popular, back in my father’s country, Argentina, because they love watching dozens of pictures down there because people hate their stupid lives, or something to that effect, as explained by my Papá. I believe the director wanted Marlon Brando for the lead role of Don Fabrizio, but ultimately (and thankfully) had to settle for Burt Lancaster. Decades later, Lancaster told the late Roger Ebert he believed that his performance in THE LEOPARD was the best work of his career and that he remained sad that his countrymen never go to see the intended cut of the picture.

    I recommend the film if you haven’t seen it!

  37. Ryan, yes to everything you’ve said. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Some of my most favorite movies of all time are little-seen by the public. I’ve always considered Narc my 3rd favorite movie, though my list needs to be heavily revised. Am I upset not many people have seen it? Well given how many theaters it played in, no I am not. Would I be upset if people judged it before they saw it? No. Perturbed, sure but I try not to take these things so seriously. I also don’t blame teenage boys, or men in general, for not having seen one of my favorite movies, which is about 2 male detectives solving a murder in Detroit. That’s a male driven movie with manly performances. How can I blame it’s low box office numbers on men? I’m almost HAPPY movies like Narc don’t make hundreds of millions of dollars. Why? Because then Hollywood would bastardize some sequels or would tell Carnahan “make Narc more accessible for the millions who are going to see it.” The little movies that could would lose their voice and be pop culture magnets.

    And Lucy IS NOT original. Sure it’s not part of a franchise or adapted from a comic but it is not original.

  38. Ryan, You really made a great argument.

    Just a note: You may not intend an angry tone in your responses, but it certainly comes across that way. Just sayin’.

  39. Gil Lima

    Hum, I don’t know how I feel about this article. Yes it is true that mainstream, studio headed and funded movies are shallow, easy to digest, easy to market, appeals to teenagers, and women and men alike. Whatever. I still think that it’s a little bit elitist to think that only “Critic Darling” movies should be what people should be watching. Many critics nowadays are not critics. Film review writing is really evolving today and to just rely on that as a pragmatic form for what movies people should go see is almost a disrespect to people that go see movies. Why would you assume that I go to see movies like Boyhood because there is a Metacritic rating of 100%? Maybe I like the director. Maybe I like the actors. Or whatever. Ratings, buzz, hype, are all part of the system that you are trying to defend and criticize at the same time.

  40. I missed the discussion, but on hindsight that’s probably a good thing since I’d have probably jumped in only to profess my love for the motion picture THE LEOPARD, directed by Visconti. I personally know only a handful of Americans outside my family who have even heard of the film,

    Bryce, I think it was only a few weeks ago that you and I were encouraging someone (maybe it was Al Robinson in particular) to add The Leopard and The Conformist to his list of must-see movies. Although movies like The Leopard were unavailable to the general public for decades, some of us were lucky enough to see them in college film societies — or, as Steve50 says, during an occasional restrospective at an art house/ revival house theater in the days when such theaters were easier to find.

    But it’s the “easy to find” issue that plagued most filmlovers for 50 years before the advent of VHS tape (and those awful pan-and-scan home-video butchery) — and then another 20 years before home video finally wised up and realized how distinguished labels like Criterion could actually play an essential role in film preservation and restoration.

    ===

    So no, I do not pine for the good ol’ days when a few beat-up prints of a rare movie would be passed around in the hinterlands, gradually becoming more and more damaged, scratched, torn, dust-speckled as it was shown on progressively crappier little “big-screens” around the country.

    But in fairness to the point steve50 was probably trying to make, I think part of our difference of opinion stems from my original vague wording. Steve50, you were probably bringing up Hud and The Birds and The Leopard in response to me saying that “nothing like BOYHOOD existed at all in the summer of 1963.” yes?

    But here’s what I mean. Unlike Hud and The Birds, Boyhood is a micro-budget movie with no major stars and a plot that lacks any hook that’s easy to summarize. While I agree that Boyhood is a movie that could be enjoyed and appreciated by anyone who’s willing to give it a chance for 3 hours, Boyhood was never designed to be mainstream crowd-pleasing mass entertainment. Even most all the foreign language films of the 1960s have far more commercial appeal, salacious racy elements, and familiar hooks for mainstream “art film aficionados” to sink their teeth into.

    (It’s LONG been a theory of mine that the surge of interest in foreign language films in the 1960s was largely fueled at the box-office by America’s desire to see movies that reflected their own new sense of openness about SEXUALITY — something they were not seeing in the virginal little cocktease movies of Doris Day. Americans made movies like La Dolce Vita and Last Tango in Paris HUGE HITS because, in the immortal words of Seth MacFarlane, European actresses were perfectly cool with it if American audiences yelled out: “Show Us Your Tits!”)

    ===

    steve50, of course you’re right that there were many many fine films in circulation in 1963 that rise to the first-class top-quality standards of Boyhood — and Hud is certainly one of those films.

    But my point was this: This post is about BOX-OFFICE and the way the Top 10 is dominated by junky movies that are “branded” — All I’m saying is THIS IS NOTHING NEW. And Hud proves it. Hud proves my point.

    Hitchcock = branded.
    Disney = Branded.
    James Bond = Branded.
    Doris Day = Branded.
    Movies like The Nutty Professor and The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber may be totally unrelated to one another, but how can they NOT be seen for what they are: Studios finding a popular stupid thing and then MILKING IT.

    MILKING THE BRAND = DISNEY for the past 80 years.

    In fact, is not the ENTIRE studio “Star System” predicated on the concept of BRANDING? What is “star making” all about if it’s not Branding? That’s gone on since the 1920s.

    Likewise, middle-brow franchise films have been around FOREVER, studios have been churning them out for 80 years, and they’ve almost ALWAYS been shitty.

    Another thing we always overlook in these examinations of What Went Wrong With Hollywood!! is the fact that until the mid-1970s very few American teenagers had the personal disposable income and the CARS to give them freedom of mobility so that they could exercise their freedom of choice.

    Teenage independence — financial and automotive — has increased substantially since the 1970s so naturally EVERY industry in America has wanted to find ways to satisfy this BRAND NEW market with lots of time and money on their hands.

    yes, Hud, is a magnificent film for adults. But it didn’t come anywhere near the Top 10 at the box-office in 1963. Neither was it even very much appreciated by critics. Variety in 1963 said this about HUD:

    Hud is a near miss. Where it falls short of the mark is in its failure to filter its meaning and theme lucidly through its characters and story.

    So that’s how Boyhood differs from HUD. It doesn’t star somebody like Paul Newman and it wsasn’t even appreciated by many critics in its day. That’s a far cry from a personal intimate homemade movie like Boyhood that has received UNIVERSAL acclaim.

    Does that make my position about Boyhood vs the films of 1963 any more clear?

    ===

    Side note:

    One of my perpetual frustrations with Rotten Tomatoes is how their staff is so tone deaf to the meaning of the reviews they rate.

    Rotten Tomatoes says HUD got a “rotten” review from Time Out. And yet the very quote RT uses to illustrate this “rotten” review says “One of Ritt’s best films.” Wow, that sure sounds rotten, so let’s look the entire review for more rotten remarks like that:

    Along with Hombre, one of Ritt’s best films, less abrasive than it thinks but still a remarkably clear-eyed account of growing up in Texas to mourn the old free-ranging ways of the frontier days. Its focus is the antagonism between a sternly moralising, patriarchal ranch-owner (Douglas) and his free-drinking, free-whoring ‘no account’ son (Newman); the conflict between them, ambivalently observed by the two other members of the household, both emotionally involved with Newman – the ranch housekeeper (Neal) and a hero-worshipping nephew (de Wilde) – boils to a head over a government order to slaughter the ranch’s entire herd as a precaution against foot-and-mouth, with Newman urging outlaw defiance and Douglas siding with the law. The film sometimes seems to be busting its britches to attain the status of Greek tragedy in delineating the disintegration of a heritage, with dialogue haunted by images of death and decay. But pretensions are kept nicely damped down by the performances (all four principals are great) and by Wong Howe’s magnificent camerawork.

    That’s the full review. See how “rotten” that sounds? yeesh, wtf RT. How the hell is that a “rotten” review?

    I’ve said it before: I don’t think some of the ratings staff at RT are able to parse the English language. I think many of them have shockingly poor reading comprehension skills. I honestly wonder if some of them can’t grasp the nuance of written English.

    There are dozens and dozens of examples of completely WRONG interpretations of reviews made by the RT staff — so their silly tomato ratings are worse than useless to me.

  41. Cinesnatch, thanks. You more than most people know that a disagreement with me can sometimes feel like getting tied up in a burlap sack with a bratty cat.

    But one way to know that I’m not angry is this: I’m having a difference of opinion with Sasha, who’s my best friend in world. I’m having a disagreement with steve50, a close buddy who I feel lucky to know.

    I should probably cuss less and probably cease with the ALL CAPS and bold face intensity (two tricks of emphasis that I learned from our good friend Stephen Holt). But my comments do ramble on, don’t they? So I think it sometimes helps if I draw attention to certain points with some typographical variety (?)

    I shouldn’t forget that ALL CAPS does look like I’m yelling. But I’m not. Anyone who knows me knows that I love a good rant — but I rant with a smile and a hug.

  42. Ryan, I don’t wanna overstep myself but I feel like I’ve known you (or rather your style of writing) long enough to know when you’re actually pissed because of the topic or a comment or just when you were having a bad day like you said earlier and which seems to be the case. So you know even when you rant you bring up some amazing points and facts/statistics that go above and beyond what some people would look for in an answer. So please, rant away my friend.

    BTW I’ve noticed the same thing in RT, the quote looks great but the score is rotten. I only use the site to find a review for a movie that may have premiered in a festival so I can read it. I could give a shit as to how RT rated the film.

  43. steve50

    Just so there’s no misunderstanding, Ryan and I are used to going at it once in awhile and play devil’s advocate to each other because there are always two sides. Thankfully (?) he’s in Kentucky and I’m in British Columbia. If we were geographically closer, the exchange would go something like this:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xr4qoo_turning-point_shortfilms

    Yeah, I agree with Ryan’s “branding” argument 100%. It’s nearly always been that way. I’m bemoaning the fact that the amalgamation of movie houses and the loss of medium/small independent venues, as well as the way films are distributed now, means that fewer non-brand films get seen in a theatre. Home viewing has hurt, too, by spoiling us, but I’m so thankful for it. We can watch The Leopard anytime we want; what we’ve lost is the rush when you walk by the neighbourhood repertory and say, “Holy fuck, The Leopard is playing on Friday night!” A real life changer.

  44. Bryce Forestieri

    About a year ago, I was reading this book Call Me by Your Name, and I was loving it until the “third part”, where the whole thing turns into an insubstantial DOLCE VITA, I almost packed it in, but then in the epilogue-sque finale, it ended pretty decently. Check it out, anyone.

    Even your hypothetical cat fights are so tasteful and glamorous, you guys, steve50 & Ryan.

    Me, on the other hand — here’s the physical manifestation of my dropping by AD threads, circa GRAVITY.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGJAUnNzbhE

  45. steve50

    I read the same book about a year ago, too, Bryce! Loved it!

  46. Al Robinson

    Bryce, OMG!!! That was hilarious!!! So, are you saying that Ryan is the girl in the wheelchair?

    I don’t have any examples of me vs. Ryan since we hardly get into it. I look at it like were still learning to spar. Or at least, I’m still learning to spar.

  47. Al Robinson

    I think I just found a funny example of what Ryan and I discussing / fighting might look like:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XifpMHz0Dno

  48. Bryce Forestieri

    “So, are you saying that Ryan is the girl in the wheelchair?”

    Ha, not at all — just saying *I* was the disruptive lady.

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