4 Trends Hollywood Needs to Admit They Were Wrong About
If every industry worked like the movie industry, Atari would be on its 15th ET: The Game sequel, all Coca-Cola cans would say New New New Coke on them, and aeronautic companies would constantly be like "Hey, remember the Hindenburg? Let's do that again." No type of executive is better at spotting hilariously shitty non-trends and refusing to learn painfully obvious lessons than film executives. For example, they apparently still don't realize that ...
The LEGO Movie Didn't Succeed Just Because It Was Based on a Toy
The LEGO Movie had a lot going for it: Besides the fact that it already had a built-in toy line, a tradition of funny video games and home movies, and brand awareness for both children and sore-footed adults, it was also written and directed by people familiar with slam-dunking nostalgia, having previously done Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and 21 Jump Street. Combine all that with a talented comedic cast and a pre-President's Day release date designed to drum up word-of-mouth hype and you have yourself a bona-fide box office success.
The lesson Hollywood took from this carefully and lovingly made success? "Churning out movies based on toys = $$$$$." Here are the titles for some films getting fast-tracked right now:
"Hey, I saw some kids playing with a dead possum the other da-"
Yep, we're getting a movie based on the marshmallow rainbow abomination turds that are Peeps candy because of this invisible trend that The LEGO Movie just set. There's even a Minecraft movie in the works, because, you know, that's kind of like LEGO, right? Under that logic, we can't wait for The Mega Bloks Film starring Chros Pratt and Borgan Frohman.
So, What's Next?
Oh, you know what's next. Considering that, historically, movies based on inanimate playthings seem to range somewhere between cult bombs like Clue and laughingstock money gobblers like Battleship, we're guessing these fuckers will flood the theaters until Variety is running articles with titles like "Why Was Mouse Trap a Flop?" and "Universal CEO Steps Down Over Fridge Magnet Letters." Hopefully the trend dies out before Adam Sandler remembers that he was once attached to a Candy Land movie and takes another stab at it.
Johnny Depp Was Never a Blockbuster Star by Himself
Johnny Depp's technological thriller Transcendence dared to ask some heavy philosophical questions, like "What if a stoned Chris Nolan did a half-assed Lawnmower Man remake?" The end result managed to suck harder than any machine-ruling singularity it could possibly predict, and people have been scratching their noggins wondering how this hot blockbuster star could possibly become an inexplicable magnet for silver screen dick sandwiches.
"They Said He Couldn't Flop. What Happened Next Will Astound You." -Upworthy
The extremely obvious answer also seems to be the completely ignored one: our goateed prince has never actually made box office smashes by himself.
Sure, while films like From Hell, Blow, Sleepy Hollow, The Ninth Gate, and Sweeney Todd totally made money, it was because they didn't cost hundreds of millions to make, since Johnny Depp isn't a $100 million leading man. His most financially successful recent films were the Pirates of the Caribbean series and Alice in Wonderland -- two films where his quirkiness is made bearable by the fact that he isn't the central character. Want evidence of that? Take the same wacky Tim Burton formula of Wonderland and shift Depp to the lead and you get Charlie and the Chocolate Factory doing half as well. Shift the Deppness even further and behold the $150 million Burton black hole that is Dark Shadows.
Depp + Others = "Can't get enough!"
Depp + Himself = "ENOUGH, WE GET IT."
Depp mumbling around exotic locales with Angelina Jolie? Boom, money. Depp mumbling around exotic locales by himself? Flippity-flop. The exception would seem to be the animated Rango, which incidentally is the only film where Depp plays Hunter S. Thompson that made any money. And to think that Transcendence could have been avoided if only someone had done a simple IMDb search before throwing $100 million at a first time director for a movie that's been done 10 times before starring an actor who has never been particularly amazing at drawing box office crowds.
So, What's Next?
After the Lone Ranger bombed, Depp proclaimed his eventual retirement, which seems even more likely now. That is of course, after he makes another go at Pirates 5 and another Alice in Wonderland film -- no doubt reinvigorating everyone's delusion and starting the cycle all over again like an episode of The Twilight Zone.
The Expendables Was a One-Time Genre Novelty
Like a Michael Bay-directed AARP commercial, The Expendables proved that even the most decrepit of action stars are still capable of reading lines like badasses before handing it over to stuntmen in gray wigs and then getting a sandwich.
And so, upon reinvigorating their love of humiliation and killing nameless dupes, both Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger got back on the action horse with another very successful Expendables film ... sandwiched between a series of horrendous box office embarrassments.
Somehow Bad Grandpa wasn't the worst Johnny Knoxville octogenarian-themed movie of 2013.
Aging self-aware action romps have been around since The Shootist -- the successful key being that the star is actually self-aware. If they try to do the exact same action plots they were doing 20 years ago but with a few "I'm too old for this shit!" cracks thrown in, it never works. And while The Expendables 3 will surely explode our wallets, we might be reaching a tipping point: It appears that its promise of being "one last ride" has already been betrayed by talks of a fourth film that will either plug Robert De Niro into the mix or resurrect Jean-Claude Van Damme's villainous character in the form of the always dignified "previously unmentioned twin brother" plot.
At least they can't be Van Triplets, because Van Damme has dibs on that idea.
There's even been talk of making an action lady spinoff called The ExpendaBelles ... which, OK, does sound rather boss, so long as the names Weaver and Hamilton show up in the credits.
So, What's Next?
"Yes, that's Triplets as in Twins 2. $10 million of the budget is for concept rights from Jean-Claude."
They're not just making action movies; they're essentially remaking their entire careers, which is apparently possible now. The blind denial is so severe that Schwarzenegger is actually changing the Terminator canon so that the T-800's outer flesh actually ages to accommodate fleshy sag -- no doubt resulting in a dystopian futurescape filled with geezers inconspicuously lifting cars.
NOBODY Wants to See '80s Action Movies Remade
The 2000s were a fabled time when '80s horror movies like The Fog, Friday the 13th, and Halloween were inexplicably remade into lukewarm/dead audience disappointments and Hollywood could still say "Wonder what went wrong there?" And while that practice is still very much alive today (they're even rebooting the reboot of Friday the 13th, which we're pretty sure is the plot of Scream 6), for some inexplicable reason Hollywood has moved on to redoing culturally moot '80s sci-fi and action films as well, breathing "new life" into such timeless morals like the dangers of communism.
Or the danger (zone) of not listening to Kenny Loggins.
And, of course, they're bombing even harder. As any statistical anomaly that saw it would tell you, the Red Dawn remake went down worse than a mouthful of deer blood. As did Total Recall, making the most successful of the bunch RoboCop, which pretty much broke even after you take marketing costs into account (unfortunately, they couldn't replicate the marketing campaign for the original RoboCop, which was "THERE'S A MOVIE CALLED ROBOCOP"). It's as if every producer saw the success of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and 21 Jump Street and completely failed to realize that all of those came from '80s television shows that never had live-action film adaptations, and not movies we already knew and loved ...
... movies like Highlander, Romancing the Stone, Scarface, Road House, Escape From New York, Short Circuit, Videodrome, and WarGames, all of which are getting remakes. But hey, at least when 90 percent of those atrocities bomb, the execs (or their replacements) will be forced to acknowledge that this isn't working and finally leave '80s movies back in Blockbuster shelves, where they belong.
So, What's Next?
Kidding! They'll just move on to disturbing the graves of other '80s genres. In fact, it's already started:
The entire movie is just two teens sitting with awkward half-chubs by a 3D printer.
Along with Weird Science, the stack of rehashes includes Overboard, Fletch, Police Academy, Family Vacation, and even The Naked Gun -- all films whose success was completely dependent on extremely particular comedic talent, as opposed to adaptable storylines. Take that element away, and it would be like taking the violence from a Troma film. Could you imagine?