There’s a huge contention out there in the world who are under the belief that all films are the same. That they are manufactured stories that cannot deviate too far from a decided formula in fear of not reaching the financial goals that we hope all films will make, that sacred $100m domestic gross at the box office.
While I will not spend this post talking about how that’s wrong, that all films are the same. But rather I’m curious of one thing. Is money the reason why all films are similar?
This past summer we saw the film The Lone Ranger where Disney shelled out $250m for a film about a guy on a horse being all good and lovely. When recently asked Mark Wahlberg gave some very candid responses on what he thought was the problem and how that film ended up flopping so badly:
“They are spending so much money to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes with these effects-driven movies,” he said. “It’s not like ‘Jurassic Park,’ where you saw something groundbreaking and innovative and said ‘Holy … I gotta see that. Every end-of-the-Earth movie kind of feels the same.”
Now it’s easy to understand that not all films can be groundbreaking but under the Hollywood system that exists the tone of filmmaking has always been if you want it to be big in the end all you have to do is throw money at it.
In a recent interview Spike Lee was asked whether it’s harder to raise $25m or $1m for a film. Where he simply said, “It’s harder to raise a million than twenty-five million”. He further elaborates:
“There’s this mindset that a film costs a million dollars, there’s very little want to see, or very little return on investment on a film that small… There’s a prejudice against a film under a million”
So now we understand that the bigger budget a film is the more likely it is that it can get funded to be made. So if big budget = same movie, then all movies are the same?
I can’t find the actual quote but I remember reading once Woody Allen saying something to the effect that blockbuster filmmaking changed the business of Hollywood. That due to the fact that these big films were being made then the risk factor became larger and therefore Hollywood was less interested in the smaller budget films they had done before where they say it as such a small investment they allowed filmmakers the freedom so that the film was able to be a smaller financial risk to the studio.
So is what this is all saying is that money is the problem in Hollywood and filmmaking? For everyone out there who sits in defiance of big budget filmmaking and falls asleep in the theatre trying to give two shits about whether the good guy prevails in the end? Should we just stop heading to the multiplex at all? Where do I go for movies now?