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An e-mailer responds to “Hollywood to Continue Slow-Motion Suicide?“:
What also struck me about the Hollywood Reporter article was the myopic self-centeredness of the filmmakers cited, their inability to look outside their tiny enclave of culture elitism.
The Crash co-writer says, “People want films that have something to say; they’re tired of fluff.”
Crash director Paul Haggis: “It’s great for the films and great for the nation. It says people are embracing these issues, that they don’t want to go to the theater to forget. They want to be involved, to participate.”
Which “people” are they referring to? Who are “they”? Certainly not the American public.
Look at these box office figures. The average box office for the Best Picture nominees this year is less than $38 million. The highest-grossing nominee was Crash, with $53 million. It was the 48th highest-grossing movie of 2005.
Think about that. The highest-grossing Best Picture nominee earned less than 47 other movies released last year.
If Crash wins, it would be the lowest-grossing Best Picture since 1987. (In non-adjusted dollars: If you adjust for inflation, I suspect it would be the lowest-grossing Best Picture of all time.) And Crash is, thus far, the most successful of the nominated movies. (Granted, Brokeback is still in the theatres and is likely soon to surpass Crash, but not by enough to affect my underlying point.)
Then there’s Spielberg, who says: “Some of it is due to our own insecurity about the voices representing us in government right now.”
Uh, Steven, who do you think more accurately represents the American public — you in your Malibu bunker, or politicians who’ve won actual elections?
So when Haggis, Spielberg, et al. say “people,” they really mean “our kind” of people. Just look at the movies they make these days. They are increasingly turning the cameras on each other, on themselves, on issues that matter only to the Hollywood elite. And the more they do this, the fewer Americans will turn out to see their stuff.
Yep. Increasingly, Hollywood is making films that Hollywood wants to consume, not necessarily what the rest of America does. Hollywood needs to decide whether it wants to be a political party or whether it wants to entertain. They can continue to entertain themselves, but then they will continue to lose audience. There are simply too many other options vying for the attention of the people that Hollywood shuns.
Ultimately, I’m optimistic. There have to be a few people left in Hollywood who recognize that they’re in business, and that there’s money to be made by satisfying markets that are currently being ignored. The folks behind the Liberty Film Festival and the American Film Renaissance recognize this. There is a huge audience of people who are not being served by Hollywood, and eventually, enough breakthrough films will somehow slip through filter of the Hollywood left that this market will be proven. Either that, or technology will route around the current gatekeepers who are preventing alternative content from being distributed, and those gatekeepers will lose relevance.
Nature and capitalism abhor a vacuum. It won’t last forever...