Monday, October 08, 2007

Hey, WB! I've got your decree RIGHT HERE!

Apparently, Jeff Robinov and the folks at Warner Bros. have come up with a new strategy to reverse their flagging box-office fortunes.

It's called Operation: Piss Off Half Our Audience.

This is a dumb move on an infinite number of levels. Not only is this horrible PR for the studio, but it's completely illogical and counterproductive.

There is a vast number of people involved in the making of a movie other than the lead actor or actress. You have directors, screenwriters, producers, etc. There are several points other than the acting where the creative process on a movie can break down. While there are some lead performers awful enough to sink a movie with their acting alone, most of the time the breakdown occurs in the writing and conceptualizing.

Let's take, as an example, one of the movies Robinov doubtlessly used as criteria for his latest "decree":


While I don't consider Halle Berry to be the greatest actress in the world, the fundamental reasons for "Catwoman's" failure go far beyond her casting in the film.

You can tell where the problems start just by reading this excerpt from Roger Ebert's review:

Berry plays Patience Phillips, a designer for an ad agency, who dies and is reborn after Midnight, a cat with ties to ancient Egypt, breathes new life into her. She becomes Catwoman, but what is a catwoman? She can leap like a cat, strut around on top of her furniture, survive great falls and hiss.

Yes, you read that right.

Patience Phillips.

Not Selina Kyle.

Patience Phillips!!

And they're wondering why it tanked? If they can't be trusted to even get a detail as fundamental as the character's real name right, would you honestly trust them to do the character justice? More importantly, would you pay to see their movie?

Think about it. Would you want a movie about Superman and his alter-ego, insurance salesman Mike Williams? What about Spider-Man alias postal worker Jeff Rogers? Or Batman aka accountant Dave Smith?

When movie creators get it wrong at that basic level, it's not someone like Halle Berry's fault.

Or take another example of a WB movie that underperformed both creatively and financially, Superman Returns.

I thought Brandon Routh did a capable job as the Man of Steel, Kevin Spacey was excellent as Lex, and Kate Bosworth was miscast as Lois.

But was it Routh who decided that, instead of starting the story from scratch as the wildly successful "Batman Begins" did, the story should continue directly from "Superman II", a film that was made before most of the target audience was even born?

Was it Bosworth's decision to scuttle the Superman/Lois romance and add an illegitimate child to the mix, thereby making Lois an unwed mother and Supes an absentee dad?

Was it Spacey's idea to overload the film with an excessive amount of Christ symbolism and imagery, rather than have Superman actually hit something?

No, of course not.

So, Mr. Robinov and the rest of you at the WB, if you wish your movies to be more successful, I'd like to suggest a different decree:

How about a "Respect The Goddamned Source Material!!" decree?

It just might work.


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