Hollywood Surprised Terrible Movies Aren't Making Money

1/20/2011 Posted by Admin

Hollywood Surprised Terrible Movies Aren't Making Money

Movie News/Commentary

By our guest blogger, Nick Hanover

This week, EW is offering a look at what they're calling "Hollywood's box office slump," which is in reference to the now 10-week stretch in which box office numbers have been down in comparison to the previous year. The bad news for this week in particular is that neither the "Green Hornet" nor "The Dilemma" have done particularly well at the box office, though the former did post a profit, just not a major one.

Of course, this shouldn't really be news to anyone who pays attention to us neglected critics, who have mostly savaged both the "Green Hornet" and "The Dilemma," both posting depressingly low aggregate scores. In fact, our own Matthew Schimkowitz (who we appear to be punishing this week for unknown reasons by forcing him to review both these films) seemingly summed up everyone's feelings about the "Green Hornet" by shrugging his shoulders and saying "the film isn't half bad..." and then later calling "The Dilemma" a "mixed bag."

EW continues their (blindingly obvious) reporting by pointing out what the holiday roster was this year, mentioning that such well-received films as "The Tourist" (Metacritic score: 37), "How Do You Know" (Metacritic score: 46) and "Gulliver's Travels" (Metacritic score: 33) all underperformed. EW then decides to pour further salt on the wound by reminding everyone that last holiday season offered, by contrast, "Avatar," which more than likely earned more than all of the aforementioned films combined.

To go into editorial mode for a moment, here's the thing--people like variety. You can only feed them slop for so long before they realize it's crap and it would seem that Hollywood's current plan of endless rebooting and adaptations of such hot properties as decades old board games is by even the most generous estimates a weak one. EW almost comes to the same realization, albeit through the implementation of an extremely poorly constructed comparison to the cinematic climate of the '70s (which they quickly backpedal on). As their article points out, smaller, independent fare like "Black Swan" and "True Grit," films that are, you know, good and thus have aggregate scores that aren't in the F range, are faring extremely well at the box office.

What EW misses is that it isn't necessarily quality or intelligence that's drawing crowds in, it's the variety aspect. Think: what do "Black Swan" and "Avatar" have in common?


Love it or hate it, "Avatar" offered something completely new, a completely mesmerizing world of beautiful visuals and creatures that audiences simply hadn't seen before. Similarly, Aronofsky's "Black Swan," like "The Wrestler" before it, explored an otherwise little-mined world in a breathtaking way. "Avatar" might have been a bloated, pandering mess but you can't say it didn't offer escape and fresh ideas and that would seem to be the sweet spot "Black Swan" has hit on as well. So to say "True Grit" performed nearly as well in the box office game as "Little Fockers" is to miss the point- one of these films is a revisionist Western by a directing team known for breaking new ground and the other is the third installment in an already tired franchise. And who in their right mind is going to continue to pay for something they've already seen three times?

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