Bret Easton Ellis, author of the notorious American Psycho, shared an anecdote about having gone to dinner with some bigshot studio execs, who, when confronted with the rumored weakness in Ben Affleck’s upcoming The Batman, bragged about not having to worry about storyline etc holding up because the movie will kill in China and other overseas territories, making the movie a success. If the US audience won’t buy it, others will, all without the studio having spent loads of money on expensive and time-consuming rewrites, tweaks, script doctoring etc.
Indeed, the foreign market has all of a sudden become a factor in the big studio film industry, and not in a constructive way. As if film wasn’t already under executive pressure, its quality watered down, the solutions are now even thinner, cheaper, more cynical. The studios are doing away with developed characters, tight storylines and effective plots because they don’t seem to matter. Can’t hack it in the US? Export overseas, make big dollar there, live to make another crappy instalment of another expired franchise.
Then again the movie industry is only doing what the music industry has been doing with great success over the past two decades: covers. Old hits reimagined, rehashed, retold and rebooted, again and again.
The trend is not fresh, but it’s far from over. It has to run its course before the film industry embraces originality again.
Welcome to the Production and Regurgitation era. Writers and directors with original stories and fresh ideas will have to wait their turn. It’s all about safe bets, stuff with an already established audience. Let the small guys take the risk so the studios can sweep in after them and make a killing.
Cliche but true.
In the meantime, there’s always The Avengers, which, no matter their generic approach, are fun to watch.
From the bays of Pearl Coast,
Fish a ton of oysters, marvel at a pearl, and throw away the bad ones.
PS – Ben Affleck recently quit as director of The Batman.