Friday, July 5, 2013

Reader Friday: Why the Flops?

Looks like Disney's $259 million reboot of The Lone Ranger is headed for Flop City. It follows another major disappointment, Sony's $150 million White House Down. What do you suppose is going wrong? 

On the positive side, what recent movies do you recommend? 

36 comments:

  1. Well, according to reviews those are bad movies. Simple as that.

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  2. I thought 'Man of Steel' was rather good (although I'd agree it was not perfect), but looking at the range of reviews published, opinion was widely divided.

    Turning back to the Lone Ranger, the problem may be that the press 'story' becomes that the film is awful - and it discourages anyone from giving it a try - with so much money and the stakes so high, it's hard for these films to get a fair trial. This was certainly the case with John Carter last year - which became a 'poster boy' for megaflops - yet (in my view) really wasn't that bad.

    Still everyone is 'time poor' these days - and who wants to waste two hours of their life which they could spend more profitably reading a book...

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    1. I happened to like John Carter. Yes, it was a bit cheesy but a lot of fun. Pure escapism.

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    2. My kids and I loved John Carter.

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    3. Another vote for John Carter. My kids loved it, and my husband especially liked it because he had read the books.

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  3. I think originality (or lack of) has a lot to do with it. Did we really need another Lone Ranger, even with the uniqueness of Johnny Depp who took top billing over Arnie Hammer? Did we really need another Independence Day/Air Force One/White House Down? Did we really need someone to remake The Three Stooges and Total Recall? How many Superman movies do we need? Did the guys who made Pacific Rim ever watch the previous 100's of Godzilla movies? Where are the original ideas?

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    1. Joe I would normally agree with you wholeheartedly, however, Superman Man of Steele really renewed my belief in rejuvenating an old over-told story. First off I'm not a Superman fan to begin with. However, I was made to go and I wasn't disappointed. They told the tired old story but completely freshened it up. They appealed to Sci-fi junkies like myself and created a much richer backstory of his home and alien family. They made it more about Superman the alien and less about a superhuman man running around saving humanity in tights and a cape. The story was considerably richer and the sappiness was removed from the love story, refreshingly so. I really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. And bringing in another zombie story, is not exactly fresh either and again I thoroughly enjoyed World War Z. Did I mention I'm a Sci-fi freak?? Lol.

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  4. I don't follow the movie industry super closely, but my first question would be: is anything going wrong? I mean, it seems to me that there are often flops out of Hollywood. It's not clear that this is anything unusual, especially since Hollywood has had a lot of hits so far this summer.

    I can't recommend much since the only movies I see these days are movies for kids. Of those, the best recently has been The Croods, which was really quite good.

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    1. It does seem there is something more going on, though. With Spielberg and Lucas warning of an "implosion," Hollywood may have a systemic problem on its hands.

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    2. A movie has to be worthwhile to attend considering the high cost of tickets and snacks, and the alternative of watching a film on our big screen TVs at home.

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  5. The problem with the "Lone Ranger" is that Bruckheimer & Co. thought they could use the same formula that had worked so well for "Pirates of the Caribbean."

    I just read a review of "Ray
    Donovan" which dismissed the new Jon Voight show with this observation: "TV is often formulaic - but good TV doesn't let the formula show."

    I'd say the same rule applies to any writer.

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  6. Did we really need another Fast & Furious movie? If you're a Vin Diesel fan, your answer would be "Hell, yeah." F&F 6 is one of the higgest grossing movies, making record money worldwide.

    Hollywood loves its formula movies and is desperate to put money behind what they perceive as a surer thing than taking a risk on a long shot. It's a shame that it's not about creativity, good acting and writing, and amazing storytelling for these big blockbuster movies. It's all about the formula or a gimmick.

    Hollywood was banking on the draw of Channing Tatum on White House Down. Even my mom wanted to see it after she saw the trailer. With the bad reviews, we can wait til it comes to cable.

    The Lone Ranger looked bad on paper to me and Johnny Depp was only going to make it a Western Pirates movie. Bad idea from the start.

    I haven't been to a movie in a long while, except for The Great Gatsby in 3D. My niece strong armed me to go. It was better than I expected, but I wouldn't have gone if my sweet niece hadn't asked...and I got cool 3D glasses. (Yeah, I know. I was supposed to give them back.)

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  7. Haven't seen Lone Ranger so I am relying only on reviews (not a good thing always!) but there is a common thread in them: the writing is not fresh.

    I don't think it's that a remake couldn't work here...look at what they did with the latest "Star Trek" by doing a prequel back to Spock and Kirk's youth. It was a good movie and I am a big trekkie. But if the writers can't bring anything original to put in the actor's mouths, no amount of high tech of high concept will save it.

    I read yesterday that salaries for Hollywood writers are continuing to decline but pay for TV writers is rising fast. Gee, I wonder why...

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  8. I have not seen nor do I intend to see The Lone Ranger, but speaking to westerns released in recent years, they've forgotten what makes a western a western. A western is about a code of ethics. And if the characters are scuzzy, there can be no code of ethics, therefore it does not entice me to watch. "Code of ethics" is perhaps a slippery slope and means different things to different people, but when I watched westerns of old, I felt hope for mankind. When I watch them now, I just walk away depressed and wondering why I wasted my money.

    BK Jackson

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    1. Which is exactly why I loved Palladin.

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    2. I would LOVE to see a classic Western with a good story.

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  9. P.S. All the billing for the Lone Ranger is about "Tonto". Last I checked, The Lone Ranger was the lead man in that famous duo.

    BK Jackson

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  10. I really enjoyed "Now You See Me." It was different, not the same old thing, with a nice twist at the end. It wasn't the same old story you've seen a hundred times. Too many of the big-budget blockbusters are cynical manipulations of the same old formula with extended "action" scenes – stuff blowing up – to hide the fact that they haven't developed characters or come up with anything new. Did we really need the same old Superman/Lone Ranger? They take themselves so seriously and don't have any respect for the viewer.

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  11. I saw the Lone Ranger yesterday with my kids and we all loved it. I didn't hear about any negative reviews, so I went in ready to be entertained--I thought it was funny. My kids were quoting lines from it on the car ride home.

    sonjahutchinson.com

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    1. LOL....that just goes to show ya! I'm glad you and the kids enjoyed it, esp. at the current theatrical ticket prices!

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    2. High Five to you! I can't wait to see it. But I will wait for it to come out on Netflix. Anyone know where I can get a Bird Hat like Depp wears? Basil, you got any extra ones?

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  12. I saw The Heat last weekend. Funniest movie I've seen in a long time. It follows the buddy-cop formula, but Bullock and McCarthy put a hysterical spin on it.

    Overall, I think the problem with movies these days--especially the tent poles--is that modern film school grads confuse a good-looking movie with a good movie. A truly good movie has a story told well through characters you care about. It's not exactly a secret formula.

    John Gilstrap

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    1. John, I think you're on to something there. Back when writers really lived (i.e., came out of the Depression or WWII) there was depth. What do kids who have done nothing but watch movies all their lives bring to the table?

      I have to say, the trailers for The Heat looked as unfunny as any I've ever seen. Maybe I'll reconsider.

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  13. I loved the recent Star Trek movie. That's my favorite so far this summer. As for The Lone Ranger, I think it does the original movie a disservice by making Johnnie Depp a weird version of Tonto. The film is trying to draw on his star power but his casting for this role didn't appeal to me. Plus Westerns have not made a comeback.

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  14. I've learned to disregard most mainstream reviews as they often tend to be severely biased. John Carter rocked from my perspective.On the other hand a disproportionate number of Award winning, highly raved about films were simply horrible from my perspective. I remember twice watching movies with my mother-in-law that received big awards and great reviews only to find myself sitting very uncomfortably next to her as the actor did unmentionable things to himself involving full frontal nudity on the screen. Needless to say, Academy Award carries a negative connotation for me ever since.

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  15. I agree with others are saying about originality. Hollywood has been lacking it severely going on the kick of renewing people's favorite classics for far too long. I feel that by going with The Lone Ranger they are really reaching. My first impression when I heard they were doing that along with ANOTHER Superman I thought, "Really?!?" Does dead horse mean anything to anyone. But having said that and to be completely contradictory I really enjoyed Man of Steele. But they really took a chance and nailed it in my opinion. They successfully took an old story and flipped it on its head, just by adding a richer backstory. World War Z was another one I would highly recommend this summer. I really really enjoyed it.

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  16. Who said "formula" was bad? Today formula means as much as the words love, f--k, and sh-t. All of these words have so many different meanings that one doesn't know for sure what someone is really meaning.

    In Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, and Baking--a specific formula IS the difference between success and failure--a cake that flops, an equation that doesn't work, and an architecture design of a building that won't hold up.

    Writers have some kind of negative spin on "formula" with a blind spot to the physics that exist in psychology that are relevant to a story's success and failure.

    A "good story" has proper usage of such story physics. Ones that don't are unable to develop reader empathy and just aren't compelling.

    Art does not REPLACE story physics or "formula" as many writers believe it would.

    One should look at building architecture and consider when the physics (formula) starts and when the Art portion starts.

    The truth is that Art RIDES the physics wave. The reverse equals poor building design and poor story design.

    As for the Lone Ranger--my immediate reaction was "why should I care?" There's no concept. No story. It's a couple of characters...

    Now if you mentioned Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden...you would have caught my interest! Why?

    Because both of those guys are exposing crimes being committed by those "Above the Law".

    Now THAT'S interesting!

    NOTE: Steven Segal's Above The Law movie did very well and was exposing something important.

    People like to see a story that MEANS something relevant to their own struggles and dreams in life.

    Ask yourself if YOUR story is relevant to real life dreams and struggles?

    Or not? If not--I don't want to read it.

    If yest--tell me more!

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  17. I think some of the advise contributors to his site have given to writers of books applies to movies.

    You said: First write a good book.
    Hollywood: First make a good movie.

    I just saw Man of Steel. Best CG ever, good acting, solid story line (if you know the Superman story). But in the end, it was cotton candy that was great at the time, but dissipated quickly. It wasn't even in the same league with the Christopher Nolan "Batman" movies.

    I heard an interview with Jerry Bruckheymer (sp). He decided to make the Lone Ranger because it "is a proven product with a built in following" Thats his formula. I didn't hear him say anything about making a good movie (although he has made many).

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  18. Here’s a follow-up to Kathryn Lilley’s Tuesday post about sociopaths:

    Three Minutes Inside the Mind of a Sociopath --
    http://news.discovery.com/videos/inside-the-mind-of-a-sociopath.htm

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  19. I recently saw and adored Joss Whedon's "Much Ado About Nothing." Brilliant! And shot in just a few weeks in Whedon's back yard! Anyway, it was awesome, and though a rehash, it has new takes on old lines and known characters. It was surprising. And given that the material that spawned it is a few hundred years old, that is impressive. Now will that translate into box office dollars? That's another conversation.

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  20. I know what went wrong. THE LONE RANGER was made by people who had no knowledge of, or emotional investment in, the original character. They wanted to make PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN OUT WEST.

    As with THE GREEN HORNET, Hollywood took a crime-fighting hero and made him a bumbling idiot so kids could laugh at him, allowing the ethnic sidekick to save the day. They discarded everything that made the Lone Ranger great in favor of bloated visuals, explosions, and CGI sequences, and allowed Johnny Depp to steal the movie.

    We'll have to wait another 30 years for someone to try another remake and we can only hope they will save the legend of the Lone Ranger.

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  21. Having seen the trailers, I couldn't imagine why anyone would remake Wild Wild West. Not even the mighty Will Smiff was able to save that mess, and I expect Mr. Depp will have a rough time salvaging this one.
    Whitehouse Down follows a very similar, but poorly done movie about the same sort of scenario, so it has hurdles to jump by association, deservedly or not.

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  22. I can't understand how so many smart people are completely missing the reason behind The Lone Ranger sinking fast. A Masked Man who doesn't shave, as though he's the model in a macho truck commercial? A Tonto with some kind of really off-putting skin condition? Come on!

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  23. Hmm...for the Lone Ranger, I'd say that too many movie goers no longer can relate to him. We didn't have TV for a while in my family, so I still remember the radio shows and later the TV shows. It's been awhile, though. For White House Down, some good acting from the secondaries, but I believe there was a similar movie this summer. Moreover, Jamie Fox was a caricature of Barack Obama. In fact, all the movie characters were caricatures. One just couldn't take the movie seriously. With all that action, it's still a ho-hummer.
    r/Steve

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  24. I'm planning on seeing White House Down--my kind of movie!

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  25. Sometimes a movie is just a movie and we forget that its not supposed to be taken so seriously or dissected for its plot or plausibility. Sometimes the science is severely lacking in actual science. Other times the love affair is ridiculous. Many times the writing behind the pictures is really just horrible and the only thing that saves it is the on screen explosion that serves as a period. Mostly we should remember that theater is escapism. Take each icture sequence individually at its own weight and often times it will seem much lighter because not everything is worth remembering but much of it is quite enjoyable.

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