Write heavy; write hard.
11th April 2005
(I start this thread with trepidation. I truly do not want to begin yet another round of Iraqomania. I would however like to examine the phenomenon of Hollywood's spectacular, and as far as I know, unprecedented string of anti-Iraq-war feature films which have been box-office disasters. I'd like to examine what it is that has led the industry money-guys to make such horrific misjudgments. We'll see how it goes. )
I'm sure most of you know or can guess my attitude toward the media culture of Hollywood and New York. My loathing has no bounds. I don't think I can plumb the depths of my contempt for the incestuous little entertainment community. It represents everything bad not only about the US but about human nature in general: dishonesty, deceit, hubris, vanity, jealousy, superficiality, greed, cynicism, unbridled lusts of every kind. But I never thought its movers and shakers were financial idiots. Until now.
The last several months has seen the release of several movies which are either express or implicit protests against the war in Iraq. AFAIK, each has been a huge financial failure. The most recent, Stop-Loss, was released just four days ago. It's gross receipts will certainly increase, but it's just as certain the total domestic take will result in a huge loss for its makers and distributors. The figures below reflect US box-office receipts only. In most cases the total world-wide receipts will be greater (the production budget figures also will be higher - these are only what the distributor will admit publicly). It appears that even including international receipts the financial losses for these movies will still be significant. Here is the breakdown. The Kingdom* (Universal) - $48 million ($80 million production budget) A Mighty Heart (Paramount Vantage) - $9.2 million ($25 million production budget) In The Valley Of Elah (Warner) - $6.8 million ($23 million production budget)Rendition (New Line) - $9.7 million ($28 million production budget)Lions For Lambs (United Artists)- $15 million ($35 million production budget) Redacted(Magnolia) - $65,000 ($5 million production budget)Grace Is Gone (Weinstein Company) - $50,899 (Indie production, bought for $4 million at Sundance Festival) Stop-Loss (Paramount) - $4.6 million ( $25 millionproduction budget) ________________________________________ Total Domestic Gross Receipts- $93.4 million Total Production Budgets (actual certainly much more) - $185 million [COLOR=Red] Total Loss -minimum $91.6 million [/COLOR]
Are they idiots? Ordinarily not when it comes to money. That doesn't mean they can't be ignorant though. And I think that's the heart of the problem: the mass-entertainment-makers live in hermetic glory and complete ignorance of the nation it tries to sell entertainment and information to. Even after, by my count, seven films which are financial disasters, one following the other in lemming-like lockstep. Listen to this delusional studio source trying to explain away Stop-Loss: "It’s a function of the marketplace not being ready to address this conflict in a dramatic way because the war itself is something that’s unresolved yet.”
Oh.My.God. Do they really believe this stuff? To these people the US is two coasts, and a lot of brown in the middle which they have to fly over to reach them. They can't understand or won't accept that is America. Can they really be so blind they can't see America doesn't think like Hollywood? They've recently had huge clues hitting them in the face, and around the same time.
The first was the June, 2004, death of Ronald Reagan. Now the "new" Hollywood and media world always despised Reagan, and tried to tell themselves he succeeded only because he had been an actor. At best they would allow that he was "an amiable dunce". His death and America's reaction to it stunned and startled them.
The respect and admiration shown by the vast millions of Americans caught the media flatfooted. If you recall, the United States shut down for three days - just shut down. There had been nothing like it since November, 1963. The streets of the funeral route in Washington D.C. were jammed with several hundred thousand mourners who wanted to witness the casekt on the caisson as it rolled past to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Mourners stood in line for hours upon hours, around the clock, to view the casket, forcing the bureaucrats to allow the deceased president to lie in state two days longer than originally planned. People lined highways for miles and miles just to catch a 30-second glimpse of his hearse as it moved along the road to the final resting place. The networks, originally not intending to do anything but show snippets of the funeral itself, scrambled to preempt all programming to give the US populace what it demanded - full round-the-clock coverage of a nation mourning the loss of one of its greatest leaders.
The talking heads and usual suspects tried to damn Reagan with faint praise by explaining the outpouring of emotion as a result of his great "communication skills". They denigrated his victory in the Cold War, and instead praised Gorbachev as a greater man, giving Saint Mikhail the credit for bringing down his own evil empire. They even minimized his reliance on his Christian faith and the importance of it in his life, and gleefully pointed out his flaws and personal failures. The public saw through the media's insulting pettiness, and knew it was a final desperate attempt by the Hollywood crowd to belittle the man and explain away the phenomenon of an entire nation in mourning.
For those who think the display of respect for Reagan was par for the course, all I can say is you obviously haven't lived through too many presidential funerals. I've seen, in chronological order, Kennedy's, Eisenhower's, Truman's, Johnson's, Nixon's and Ford's. The display of genuine public grief and love was rivaled by none but Kennedy's, which had the intensifier of the assassination of a young President to add to the pain of loss. The next such funeral will probably be Jimmy Carter's. The media will try mightily to say the American people loved Carter as much as Reagan, and will do their best to give him the same treatment. But the nation won't really care all that much about a man it sees as a small, failed President who has become even smaller through the years as his personal and political bitterness undermined so many of his attempts to do good. The Democrats will scream to shut the government down, just like for Reagan. But it won't be because people want to sit at home and watch Carter's funeral cortege and weep over his loss. Remember my words when the day comes: Reagan was loved; Carter was tolerated. The country did not and does not love Carter, and it will be apparent at his funeral even though the Hollywooders will do yeoman's work to make it appear otherwise.
The second huge clue that hit the Hollywooders up side the head happened just a month after Reagan's death: the release of The Passion Of The Christ. The smart-money boys in Beverly Hills for years had said even thinking of making such a movie was insane. "Box office poison!"; "Only rubes and Christians will go to something like that!". But that 's who fills all that "brown country" they ignore flying between coasts. They obviously had no idea how many "rubes and Christians" there were in the country. US receipts alone were $370 million - the international take was $612 million. And that doesn't even include video/dvd sales. Again, Hollywood had no idea what its public wanted.
And now they're still ignorant of what the public will pay to see. They feed us movie after movie of defeat, depression, moral confusion and US-is-evil propaganda. It may make them to swoon in Beverly Hills, but puke in Dubuque. Because of their arrogant ignorance, they've overlooked a goldmine. The country would swarm to a movie about Iraq which accurately depicts US military men and women doing their jobs. A first-quality movie is a guaranteed hit.
Not Dolph Lundgren or Wings Hauser in a bargain-basement special, but a Blackhawk Down-type of production. People want to see the heroic final sacrifice of Medal Of Honor-winner SFC Paul R. Smith; the incredible one-man war of Navy Cross-winner Captain Brian R. Chontosh, USMC as he single-handedly wiped out more than a score of Iraqi soldiers who caught his column in an ambush; the audacious armored charge of elements of the 3rd Inf Div as they ran a gauntlet of enemy fire in their Thunder Run to capture the heart of Baghdad; and the horrendous room-by-room fight to clear Fallujah that was every bit as vicious as Stalingrad.
Is Hollywood that stupid? Would they knowingly run the risk of financial disaster just to spread their defeatist gospel? It's inexplicable to me. I only know they are missing out on hundreds of millions of dollars.
*I haven't seen it, but as I understand it, The Kingdom is technically more about how the US fumbles the "Global War On Terror" while itself committing atrocities, etc.; than it is about the military combat in Iraq. I've included it only because it's the biggest grosser by far. Without taking it into consideration, the gross receipts are $45.4 million, budgets are $105 million and gross losses are -$59.6 million. Still shocking.
Moose frots Obama
28th March 2005
Haven't read it yet (saving that for class), but from the title I knew that it was you, good sir knight.
Lo, I am Mudra, za emo soldat!
25th September 2004
Brilliant as usual, Jummy. Don't think I can add much more to this.
No I don't know who did.
4th November 2003
Jum, I wish I could rep you 3 times in a row, much less the 1 which I can't even do right now, just for this. Brilliant post and dead on. Too bad none of those brain dead trilobites will ever read this much less comprehend it.
The Few. The Proud.
14th November 2004
Once, when I was like 12, I saw two dudes kissing in the park. That was the gayest thing I had ever seen untill I saw the trailer for Stop Loss. Any word on what's going on with Bruce Willis's movie about Fallujah? That might just do it right. And some extra goodies on Lt. Ch(r?)ontosh The Badass of the Week: Lt. Brian Chrontosh
Mas stylie por favor...
13th April 2005
Wondering how the movie 'jarhead' did. Was that about the first Iraq war?
12th April 2006
You got it so right, jumjum. In a way, this is why so many of my peers are endeared by Team America; the mocking of an out-of-touch Hollywood done flawlessly.
The weekend before I was to start my second summer as a camp counselor, and right around the time of finals, Ronald Wilson Reagan succumbed to Alzheimer's. Still weeks after, the newsstands were lined with magazines about his legacy, and I remember hearing adoring remarks about him from all sorts of Americans. I was born in the Reagan years, and am so grateful he came along when he did. I became an adult during the Bush years, and likewise feel the same way. Neither man was/is perfect, but their intentions were in the right place. There are quite a few in this community who will mock our respect and endearment for both Presidents, but we have more pressing issues to deal with (such as leading productive lives), than take their rhetoric with any real consideration.
Black Hawk Down was indeed the last really good movie released, concerning American combat involvement. I too am interested in what has come of Willis' idea, but in the current climate of Hollywood, I would give it about the chance of a snowball in hell of reaching production. They have also failed to step up to the plate on Afghanistan; I do remember Sly considering making his next Rambo on that, before choosing the plot he ended up with.
7th December 2003
I agree that it doesn't seem like a great idea to sell anti-war movies about Iraq to Americans. at least not at this time. Just the other day I saw a DVD about the "global warming hoax" and wondered how someone could expect such a movie to make money around here.
I don't think though that the logical consequence is making a Blackhack-Down type movie. There is a law/theory (which probably has some fancy name which I forgot) that says that a superior army has to achieve unproportionally decisive victory in order to be respected. In other words, high-tech soldiers killing poor Iraqi peasants by the score isn't very aweinspiring (that's now how I see it, but I think this is how many people regard war in Iraq and Afghanistan). And even if you focus on those events that do display the values that many Americans like so much there would still be the problem that such a movie would probably be taken apart in reviews because it attempts to justify an unjust war, so I understand why people aren't overly eager to make this type of movie.
Anyway, if you want to watch a good movie about war watch Fail Safe. Even if you know Dr.Strangelove already this movie should be interesting enough. It is also an anti-war movie, but at least it divides its criticism equally among all involved.
[130.Pz] Obgr. Lainer Grn.
1st July 2005
Damn how much more rep am I supposed to spread before giving to Jumjum again? Was just gonna give that post a quick scan and move on until I saw the bit about Reagan. Nice work....
A superior 5-digit number
27th June 2004
Right on the money, Jumjum. The sad truth is, I don't think most regular civilians, much less Hollywood goons, have any clue about what is going on in Iraq. And I have to disagree with you Member 57213 -- I don't think the war in Iraq or Afganistan is all about murdering innocent civilians. Yes, civilians die, but by no means are they or were they ever targeted. Last I checked, a civilian with a gun firing at you in anger is no longer a civilian.
Right now would be a fantastic time for an "honest" war movie -- one that isn't jingoistic or gung-ho by any means, but really depicts the situation on the ground as it is, from the perspective of those who see it every day, day after day. The truth is, the unreliable and largely biased media is the main source that people in the US and elsewhere around the world get their information from. I think the second largest medium of information is definitely cinema. An honest war movie that really shows things how they are in all of the good and bad light would be a great way to help wake up the largely ignorant American and Non-American public and remind them that they are in the middle of a full-scale war -- no matter how far from home it may seem.
Well written as always Jum. As already said, it's too bad it will fall on deaf ears!