30 November 2009

Differences between elitists and consumers

2009 top grossing films
USA gross rank/Global rank. Film. Imdb overall/Imdb top 1000 ratings, presumably a cast of characters who have some film buff status.
1/3)Transformers 2 (6.1/5.3)
2/1)Harry Potter and the whatever it is now (7.4/7.0)
3/4)Up (8.5/7.7)
4/8)The Hangover (8.0/6.8)
5/10)Star Trek (8.2/7.6)
6, climbing/7)Twilight 2 (4.5/4.3)
7/12)Monsters vs Aliens (6.8/6.8)
8/2)Ice Age 3 (7.1/6.6)
9/11) Wolverine (6.7/6.3)
10/9) Night at the Museum 2 (6.0/5.6)

19/16) Inglourious Basterds (8.5/7.6)
21/22) District 9 (8.4/7.7)
22/U) Watchmen (7.8/7.5)

I have a couple notes.
1) Twilight- wow. Ouch. When the goofy wizard stands up better for ratings, you know you've done some crappy writing.. And a low 7 score is like a C+ average on imdb, so Harry has nothing to gawk at either. It looks like 3 and 5 of that saga were respectable, but none were far outside the C-C+ range. Congratulations on somehow creating a reliable money siphon for tweenage girls and their parents/significant others' wallets without having had to come up with a reliable product. In other news, I'm somewhat surprised the Transformers "movie" scored a 6 by comparison. Again, I must remind myself, people are dumber than I give them credit for on the average.

2) R-rated films like the last 3 are going to suffer on the money. They all had much higher percentages of people voting on them than the various films above them. Meaning: people who wanted to see these movies did and had strong and mostly positive opinions. Pretty much everything from 6-18 was notable only for their replaceable value with one another in ratings and money. They were utterly forgettable films that nobody cared to vote in support of after seeing, or against (with the possible exception of yet another animated kids movie). One safe conclusion: the Terminator film probably should have stayed an R-rated movie instead of clipping down to get under the PG-13 mantle (it has an R-rated DVD, which seems tremendously smart from a 'marketing of DVD' perspective given that it doesn't appear to have been a remarkable film otherwise). It wouldn't have hurt its gross (didn't cross the 200 million threshold). That's not why people go to Terminator movies: to be entertained by explosions they can see with wimpy GIJoe, 2012, or Transformers movies. Same deal with the Die Hard movie a couple years ago. Leave the good shit in and fuck the teenage market (leave that to Twilight/Harry Potter).

3) Don't think Watchmen has the same international appeal as the usual superhero films. Considering the focus on the doomsday clock that the rest of the world (outside of maybe Russia) was only too quick to get rid of and put behind them.

4) Hurt Locker (8.0/7.6) ? Not in the top 25? Oh right, independent film.

Conclusion I can draw from this is there are still good quality films and other forms of media (books, music, etc) being produced. They're being swamped by meaningless drivel. There are maybe 2 decent films in the top 10 grossing ones this year (I haven't seen Up or Star Trek, so I cannot offer my own opinion on whether these are in fact decent films). And 7 other worthless pieces of cheap consumer swill with some sort of number attached to them (and Star Trek was only a reboot of a series of franchised movies prior). There's also one adult comedy piece which may or may not have been worthwhile. Comedies are routinely hard to rate. Either you found them funny or not with a notable few exceptions where if you didn't find them funny we should simply liquefy your brain and feed you to the zombies first: Monty Python, Dr Strangelove, Blazing Saddles, Airplane as examples. I'm not sure that "The Hangover" qualifies as a work of glorious fiction and humor, but then, I don't drink or intend to celebrate via a bachelor party either (either as a honoree or guest). Perhaps its humor would be lost upon me. Or perhaps it was merely dumb funny. Also: Not looking forward to the Sherlock Holmes movie. No thanks, wake me when you go back to the goofy looking half-autistic bachelor-by-choice investigating crimes by sniffing discarded cigars and examining the shoes of his clients or suspects with a distinguished aura of superiority. I fail to see how that formula needs to be sexed up to sell tickets. Invictus looks interesting. The Brothers looks interesting. Neither will be in the top 25. Holmes will. Disgraceful.

In any case, the consumer continues to get what they ask for or paid for: a lot of nothing. Last year wasn't much different (excepting the Dark Knight as the top gross and best rated movie last year). Gran Turino and even Slumdog and Benjamin Button were well out of the top 10 for gross income. All received large attendance bumps from their Oscar nominations, we can only hope that will improve the middle 20 for the present year which thus far includes such luminary works as 2012. Which I believe Emmerich first made back in 1996 so there isn't any need to see the new/same explosive version of the new/same formula. Iron Man was clever and amusing, and Wall-E was the "Up" of last year and that's about it among the popular films as quality regarded work (other than Batman v Joker with the blown-away rendition of the Joker stealing the show). I suppose it is too much to ask for consumers to become reasonable and to demand more from their escapist ventures. But you'd think that from year after year of this, they'd also get a bit smarter from the sheer rote mechanisms consisting of shilling out cash for the same sparse variety of Hollywood productions year after year. Profits are not a means to signal disapproval or disdain.
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