Greed and the movies

As I contemplated the year 2013, several thoughts came to mind. I have spoken about it in several blogs, however, in most cases it was mostly about the banks when I looked at greed. Is that however a limitation?

From my point of view greed has drenched itself into so many parts of our lives that we must wonder if there is any way to avoid getting tainted by it in some form. The thought that hit me was how we are now seeing greed into the cycles of cinematography. This is the one field where greed was least likely to take hold, or so I thought!

Let me illuminate it with two examples.

The first one is the Hunger Games trilogy. Now, in all honesty I had not read the books, so when the Hunger games trailer hit me, I was seeing it with the air of ‘Yea, whatever!‘ I admit a stance I would regret. When the movie was on TV, I ended up being blown away. This as a movie buff should be regarded as somewhat of a loss. Most movie buffs will agree with me that a good movie has to be seen on the big screen. So, seeing it on TV, without ever seeing it on the big screen felt a little diminished. So, when Catching Fire came out, I had to see it on the big screen. I regarded that act as an error of sizeable proportions. The movie was a disappointment to me!

Do not get me wrong, there was nothing wrong with it, but the stars (like Donald Sutherland) seemed to be playing below their expected stardom quality. None of it was their fault. The script was lacking in my view. The movie was not bad, but it was all about ‘the set-up’.

What set-up? You might ask.

Well, as I see it, Catching fire is the introduction towards Mockingjay. After Hunger Games, Catching fire is cleaning the palette and in that final movie it will truly come to blows. This is what I expect. Is that true? I do not know, but what does worry me is that Mockingjay is presently going to be a two part title, which means that the Hunger Game franchise is getting stretched for the better part of a year so that the money people (producers and such) can cash in as much as they can. Again, I state that I never read the books, which might be cause for a valid disagreement by you the reader.

That view does not apply to the Hobbit. You see I have been a Tolkien fan since before I was able to parachute out of a plane (driving cars is so trivial and I was too young for that too). I even have an original 7 book hardcover edition of the Lord of the Rings. So, when that was presented to me in three movies it made perfect sense to me. Unlike some of the die-hard fans, I am pretty happy with the result. The only thing I did miss there was the taking of the Shire in the last movie. For me that made perfect sense. It was the moment that Merry and Pippin realised what those around them had gone through, when they saw the devastation to their own home. But apart from that, I have truly enjoyed that movie. The issue I have is with the Hobbit! Like the Hunger Games, I avoided the first movie in the cinema (which I slightly regret) and I still have not seen the second one. You see, when you stretch a 300-page book (I also have a 261 page edition with a smaller font), into 3 movies, each stretching well over 2 hours, it is time to ask a few questions. If it was in two parts, like Mockingjay seems to be it would have made a little more sense to me, but no, there will be a third movie! Is this greed gone wild?

Now, if the story warrants it and the movies are released within 18-12 weeks, then it might not be a big thing, but having to wait a year between parts is stretching my tolerance for the ‘branding’ too thin for comfort. If the movie is really good, would it matter? Well, there is the kicker of course. Yet, the question becomes whether we should have to wait for a year to get to see a complete story. I am not talking about a story that is part of a whole in several movies like the Millennium story (the girl with the Dragon Tattoo). No, this is specific towards the Hobbit and Mockingjay. Consider that the movie ‘Dances with wolves’ would have been presented in two parts (the 4 hour edition), would it still have been such a success? This is directly linked to the 2 movies I mentioned. Why are we accepting this annual approach to a movie that should be open into almost one timeslot? An example of that is the movie Novecento (1900), which was released in the mid 70’s. The interesting part is that this movie was also in 2 parts as the movie was 5 1/2 hours, but what you might not know is that they opened BOTH parts in the same week. So either you saw two movies in one go (which is not realistic in many minds) or you watched them in two parts either a day or a week apart. That would be fine with me, so why this greed driven stretch?

Well, there is a valid partial defence. The movie we see released nowadays have so many special effects that it take a while to get it all ready for the audience, but in the end, delaying part 1 by a month or two, so that we can enjoy a complete result within a month or two feels preferable to me than being forced to wait a year.

I will actually make a prediction. I reckon that this approach will be the main reason why illegal downloads of movies is likely to increase dramatically over the next year. It seems to me that this current milking approach will cost the movie makers and not just because times had been hard on some.

The revenue numbers are currently not in support of my view. At present 2013 is another lucrative year for the movies, but I am talking about 2014. Will it remain this way? Movie will always be downloaded by some and the illegal movie selling will continue. The question becomes how people will react to the multi-part movies? The only partial evidence I would offer is in the numbers as seen with Breaking Dawn (Twilight Saga). In this set we see New Moon, Eclipse and Breaking Dawn part 2 all around $300 million, whilst Breaking Dawn part 1 is slightly more than 6% lower. Is this enough to be regarded as evidence? The multi-part movies are still too new to be allowed any level of certainty (or reliability). I reckon that 2014 will give us a little more certainty in that regard.

In all honesty, if you had to wait a year to see the complete story, would you go to the cinema to see part one?



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