10 Ways Hollywood Can Win Back Its Audience

GREAT article:


None of it will probably happen, but as someone who has always loved the movies and can’t believe how bad Hollywood movies have become, I think it’s well worth the read. :thumbsup:

Interesting article.
Thanks for the link.

I think the “not insulting your audience” point is a very important one. It used to be that I could watch a movie and enjoy the characters portrayed by the actors. That willing suspension of disbelief is harder to come by now since many of these actors are in the media constantly attacking many of my core values. I can’t watch a George Clooney or Sean Penn movie and enjoy their skills as actors since all I think about when I see them is the asinine remarks they made on some talk show.

I don’t agree with many of his suggestions:

Hollywood Needs Movie Stars, Not Brands ??

No, we don’t. Nobody goes to movies with “stars” anymore. Tom Hanks is box office poison - both of his movies tanked last year. Julia Roberts is box office poison. George Clooney’s still box office poison. Audiences want a good, entertaining movie - not a “star” holding up a terrible script the best they can.
Keep Politics Out of Children’s Movies ?? **

This whole anti-“Muppets” canard is really getting silly. The Muppets? Really? I remember an animated movie when I was a little kid called “Watership Down” - that was probably the most political kids’ movie I have EVER seen.

From what I understand, it seems to be in reference to the advice previous to it regarding partisan films. Frankly, I have to agree on that point. For once I’d like a film that isn’t ‘heavy-handed and preachy’ regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on. It just so happens that the trend nowadays is to the left. -.-

It’s an interesting article with a lot of thought-provoking comments.

I’m not sure I agree with this statement:

“Put those millions instead into a farm system based on the old studio system. Groom talent. Teach people with natural screen charisma to act. Most of all, teach them how to behave in public with class. And then when they’re ready, get that publicity machine humming.”

I think this demonstrates an idealized view of Hollywood’s past.

I remember growing up in the 1960s–my mother loved “movie magazines,” and she and my dad, and all their friends gossiped about the bad behavior of various movie stars. There was a lot of talk about which stars were controlled by “the mob,” (e.g., Frank Sinatra), and of course, the multiple divorces (Liz Taylor, etc.), and the public and private fighting that led to those divorces (e.g Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz). And the suicides (e.g., Marilyn Monroe). And the shacking up. And the “satan worship” and other odd-ball religions that some of the movie starts got tangled with. And the DRINKING–oh, my, so many of the movie stars had problems with drinking and drunkenness, as well as various addictions to drugs.

And our parents would talk in whispers about which stars were “queer.”

This was all public knowledge, even though we didn’t have an internet. We had “gossip columnists” like Rona Barrett and Walter Winchell, and these people would pass on all the juicy stuff.

Also, this statement seems to present the argument that stars are just actors picked out of a lineup based on their looks and thrown into a juicy “superhero” or “video game” role. This really isn’t true.

Almost all of the current crop of movie stars worked their way through the system. Quite of a few of them have college degrees in theater-related fields. Many of them worked as children and teenagers in community and school theater (some in church theater). They went to New York or Hollywood, did the rounds of auditions (and got turned away), got work in local theater, took whatever parts they got (many of them very lowly and embarrassing!), and eventually, mainly because of their hard work and perseverance and their “networking” skills, got “noticed” and were handed a huge break, and from then on, kept working their way into “star” status.

There are a few exceptions, of course. Right now, a lot of children of the old movie and TV stars are becoming stars themselves. I think that some of them have talent, and some don’t. Drew Barrymore is the 5th generation of actors–the story of the Barrymore family acting legacy is fascinating. (I personally don’t think she’s a very good actress, but I think she’s a wonderful producer.)

But for the most part, our current stars were nothing at one time, and now they’re “something” because they’ve WORKED their butts off to get there. This is the way it’s always been in the entertainment business–those who succeed work hard and network.

I think the reason Hollywood makes movies about video games and superheroes is because that’s what makes money, and money is what keeps the industry going (same is true of ANY industry in the United States).

Only about 90% of the movies made actually make a profit–it’s important for the sake of all those people who are employed in the movie business that the 10% continue to be profitable. If 100% of the movies failed to make a profit, there would be massive unemployment among all the stage hands, camera crew, production assistants, artists, costumers, carpenters, etc., not to mention the actors, who work in movies today.

Also, there are a lot of people who love those movies about superheroes. For my husband, the X-men movies are a childhood dream-come-true. He has read and collected X-men for decades, and has always loved the stories. He also collects comic books about many of the other super-heroes, and is thrilled that there are now movies about them. He is waiting for a good Dr. Strange movie–his favorite super-hero. I’m waiting for Aquaman!

I personally think that a lot of really good stories are difficult to adapt to a screenplay. Movies are a visual art form, and when stories are driven by clever dialogue, it’s difficult to write that into an appealing screenplay. I watched It’s A Wonderful Life over Christmas, and if that were made into a movie today–well, it wouldn’t be because there’s simply too much talking and not enough action!

Some people would say, “I wish they would go back to making movies with more talking and less action.” Well, think about the chick flicks–I’ve only watched a few, but they are soooo deadly dull–all talking, and nothing NOTHING happens. Just talk, talk, talk. And of course, in real life, people don’t talk like they do in those chick flicks.

I would like to see really good movies of the Little House books, especially The Long Winter. I’ve thought about working it into a screenplay. But to be honest, I don’t think I would ever find a producer willing to take it on. That cute TV series kind of broke the mold and fixed in people’s minds what “Little House” should be. So many people would actually be offended if The Long Winter was made into a movie portraying the story exactly the way Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote it in her book. It’s very dark and cold and anti-government, and no cute romances or sassy “Laura” lines–just a courageous family slogging along trying to survive, and two incredibly brave young men who risked their lives to save the town. Someday I’ll try writing it. But I don’t think anyone will buy it from me.

Probably the biggest and most important point made in the article is the lack of originality in modern day Hollywood. Films started out as (and still are in some cases) an art-form, but along the way they started making money and that’s now become the driving force behind each new film. We now have two types of directors: (1) those who wish to tell us a meaningful and enjoyable story, i.e. Christopher Nolan, and (2) those who are there to make money, i.e. Michael Bay.

But people have to make money. Do YOU have a job? Would you do that job for free?

People shouldn’t be condemned for wanting to run a profitable business, and that’s what movie-making is–business.

Don’t just think of the actors making multi-million dollar salaries from these movies. Remember that gigantic list of credits at the end of the movie–ALL of those people have made their income from making movies.

And that list doesn’t include all the restaurants near the set, where all the “little people” go for their meals during their down time, along with all the stores where those people shop during downtime.

Like I said in my previous post, only about 10% of movies made actually earn a profit. The rest are made at a loss. I’m guessing that you would find plenty of “artistic” movies in that 90%–see them at the many film festivals all over the U.S.–there’s probably one near you. (There’s a film festival in tiny Beloit, Wisconsin, which is near my city, so I’m betting that some town near you has a film festival.)

But SOMEONE has to make money to keep the movie business in the black, and that’s where those money-makers come in and save the day for all the other movies and keep the business of movie-making up and running. If NO movies made money, then there would be an awful lot of little people out of work.

That’s the key right there.
I often wonder if anyone in Hollywood has ever read a book. There are so many great stories to be told that never see the light of day because of modern entertainment’s insistence on flash over substance. When they do base a movie on a book they ‘reimagine’ the story to something that looks pretty much like the other movies playing at local theater.
Story takes a back seat to the visuals onscreen. The camera becomes the story, not the instument to convey the story. The stories are no longer told through the actors, but through the visuals. The actors simply REact, not act. Their is story that Peter O’Toole once angrily rebuked a cameraman because of this. “I am the actor” he said, “not you”.
Storytelling began early in human history around a campfire.
Nowadays, we just stare at the campfire.

And once again, I think that if you will take a look at the “90%”, all those movies that DON’T make any money (and therefore usually aren’t shown in the theaters), you will find that plenty of people in Hollywood have read books and are doing their best to tell a good story.

Go to the Film Festivals. There are hundreds of these all over the United States.

But these wouldn’t exist without the money-making blockbusters. My favorite actor wouldn’t be paid enough to make a living in “art films” that appear only at film festivals. He has to take roles in the big money-makers. These roles give him the freedom to appear in small films, often made by newcomers with no name.

Peter O’Tool said that? I’m skeptical of that and would need to see a source. There are so many movies whose pivotal scenes depended on how the cameraman filmed - e.g., the scene in Rosemary’s Baby where you’re tipping your head to see what’s in the bedroom because it was filmed to a side of the frame (the same shot was later used in Pulp Fiction), not to mention Lawrence of Arabia, which O’Toole was in. Story NEVER takes a back seat to the visuals - not even in silent films - especially not in silent films.

Some of my favorite films happen to have the fewest characters - “A Man For All Seasons” or “The Breakfast Club” or “Hannah And His Sisters” or “My Dinner With Andre” - and the visual HAS to be good or you won’t care about the dialogue and characters.

I definitely agree with Cat’s comment about about seeing movies at film festivals. Even in small towns, there are public libraries and community colleges who occasionally have a Kurosawa festival where they show “Ran” and “Rashomon” or Jewish community groups that show films from Israel (e.g., the original “The Debt,” not the dreadful remake, first made its rounds at some film festival.)

I find old movies to be boring as heck. They move so slow, everyone is smoking, and folks speak in a strange and unnattural way.

Don’t get me wrong though, many or most new movies are pretty bad as well. :slight_smile:

for me also, apologize to Mel Gibson.

I’m guessing you never saw “The Maltese Falcon” with Humphrey Bogart. Definitely not boring. Definitely not slow. And it’s a wonder the movie got released “as is” considering what an immoral sleazeball Bogart played. That, and in particular “Sunset Boulevard” (the Billy Wilder movie), will shatter any stereotypes you have about “old movies.”

I do feel pretty ignorant having never seen a black and white movie from beginning to end. Well exept Schindlers list and Citizen Cain.

I just CAN"T stand movies like Gone With the Wind, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments. . . with LONG DRAMATIC conversations and pauses. . . . . . ugh. . . . .

I believe I have pretty good taste in movies, at least modern ones. I just have a hard time liking anything pre-1975 or so. I do REALLY like the Exorcist- maybe not a fine film but I still like it.

Fargo is probably one of my favorites. I love that movie. I am 35 if that means anything.

I think that the internet may have killed the entertainment industry. It is possible to basically download anything you want if you are determined to. This really hurts the box office. When you have teens downloading every other film, you have a situation where not enough money is made. Hollywood needs every teen to run to the films, and this is just not a reality with mass piracy.

The political films have also got to go. Audiences don’t want to be told who to vote for by Scientologists.

… What they heck are they talking about, in regards to The Muppets? Am I missing something? What the heck?

I’ve also never been in a movie theater as bad as what they described.

Hollyweird going under? They deserve it. :thumbsup:

I think the biggest issue for me is the decline of WRITING (it’s bad in general, but it’s aweful in movies). I can’t remember a movie I’ve seen in the last 5 years where you had to pay attention to the plot, or the plot itself made you think. I wouldn’t even mind if the political angle was in there occasionally – provided that the writers weren’t so completely ham-fisted to pretty much beat you over the head with the message.

For example, the end of happy feet (the first one) was completely stupid. It wasn’t so much that they put an environmental theme in the story, but that they did so in a way that insulted the intelligence of the audience. They decided that the way to end the “alien” theme was to have it be completely obvious that they were humans destroying the antarctic for money.

Compare that to some of the better thought provoking pieces made in the 1940’s or 1950’s or even the 1960’s – they generally could make a sci-fi type story about modern issues without beating people over the head with a message. For example, Godzilla was an anti-nuclear movie, though it was mostly in the backstory – Godzilla was created by nuclear radiation.

I think the decline of stars goes hand-in-hand with the decline of characters. Most action heros are basicly the same – big tough brutes with a tough past. They don’t do anything reluctantly (well maybe spiderman did at first), they have no family, they have no scruples, no belief in anything other than their gun. Lovers always do what they have to to get together – no matter who they have to hurt. I just don’t find such characters interesting.

For the most part, this is also the reason for the gratutitus sex and violence. When you have no plot and no characters, you have to fill most of the screen time with CGI explosions, blood, or sex scenes.

I’m not sure that Hollywood CAN be saved. If you have no writers, and no one sees the lack of good writing as a problem, I don’t think you can fix that angle of the problem. And until the writing gets fixed, the movies will get worse.

The problem is that the movies that you are requesting don’t sell tickets. Action movies with explosions and chase scenes are where the money is, which is also where the studios want to be.

Many of the things that you want back, mature writing being the top pick, do come in the form of indie films, and not all those are nihilistic (although I admit some are). I admit that movie quality has gone down; at the same time, movie revenue has gone up.

We are fascinated by Piranha 3D and Transformers (doesn’t touch the quality of the cartoon) and every Will Smith movie (which, I admit, I do enjoy), and we pay for sequel upon sequel. Familiarity breeds fondness.

As long as these movies make money, Hollywood won’t change the way they manufacture hits. It’s how those hits are defined that is the problem.

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