#6. Hollywood Divorcing Creativity, Getting Custody of the Movie Going Public
The tension between the business and the art of movie making has been around since the first movie ever (Star Wars, as far as we know). Hollywood's attitude has always seemed to be "this is business, not Shakespeare ... unless we're remaking Romeo and Juliet or Othello, in which case we're gonna need a lot of motherfucking guns."
But like an unhappily married couple staying together for the kids, Hollywood and Creativity had always at least pretended to get along. Hollywood threw Creativity a party every year, where vaguely arty films got little golden statues. In turn, she pretended she didn't mind when creative projects got passed over for Big Momma's House 2.
But in 2007, Hollywood stopped even pretending to listen to Creativity. Creativity talked to her lawyer and eventually filed papers. For the long and unhappy marriage between Hollywood and Creativity, 2007 was when, as marriage counselors say, shit got real.
Hollywood Releases 17 Big Budget Sequels
As they say in statistics, twice is a coincidence, thrice is a trend, and 17-ice isn't even a fucking word because things usually don't happen that many times. Certainly, there'd been big budget sequels in other years, but those years had big budget other stuff, too. In 2007, Hollywood refused to blast its money cannon at anything that didn't have a number at the end of the title (as opposed to CRACKED, who won't publish anything that doesn't have a number at the start of the title).
In Hollywood, producing a big budget sequel is like getting an anti-Oscar. Yeah, you just made a boat load of money, but you had to put your name at the end of a movie that's log line might as well be, "Hey, remember that last movie? Like that but with different extras!" But for whatever reason, restraint and shame went out the window in 2007, including a summer that saw the release of the third installments of Shrek, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spider- Man, Ocean's Eleven, Rush Hour and Bourne.
It was probably around this time that writers started making jokes like, "Man, with all these sequels, who needs writers?" Of course, instead of laughing, studio bosses steepled their fingers together and muttered, "Yes, yes, who needs writers. Who needs writers indeed."
The Writers Go on Strike
The creative folks decided they couldn't take this shit sitting down. So they did what any outraged but ultimately powerless people do and walked around in the streets with witty picket signs. Signs probably a little wittier than typical picket signs, in fact.
Of course, taking any shit not sitting down often ends with a mess on the floor, and this time was no different. In response to a strike that had most of the movie going public at least a little nervous, Hollywood shrugged. Fans were outraged, unable to believe the hubris of Hollywood's "Who needs writers?" stance. Apparently, we were unaware that ...
The Movie Goers Side With Hollywood
... six of the seven most successful movies this year were sequels. The seventh in that lot, the shining beacon of creativity, was based on a line of toys. Can you blame Hollywood for deciding that writers are overrated when the pure spectacle of Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End and Transformers were the top three films at the box office? When the next four top earners were all either the third or fourth installments of a series?
The gap between critical and public opinion had never been wider. The year started with the break-out success of Wild Hogs, Norbit and Ghost Rider, all certified Rotten by over 50 percent of America's top critics, Norbit being described with words like "vile" and "cancerous" by most. Meanwhile, critically lauded movies like In the Valley of Elah and Zodiac went over like a wet fart in a sauna.
Combine these two trends and you might start to understand why Hollywood smugly scoffed at the writer's strike. Sure, we fumed over the image of a fat cat studio head thinking he can go it alone with shiny special effects and focus group testing, probably lighting a cigar with a burning baby kitten. But, if the movie going public would take a long look in the mirror, we'd see Wild Hogs and Norbit staring back at us.
Can we not just erase them from the annals of cinema history? Along with all records of ...