Hollywood is a business, so who is paying their bills?

I mean, I know that Mark Cuban paid for DePalma’s remake of “Casualties of war” was funded by a guy who made money from computers and the stock market, and now owns a team in Texas. Well, it’s his money to throw away.

But when I read that the List of the hottest scripts being shown around Hollywood, it is full of “political films”. .most of which seem to be reruns of the Nightly news. (i.e. boooring…)I mean, who exactly is willing to invest in propaganda that has little chance of making money? And do the people whose pension funds are being used to invest in these potential bombs know how their money is being used?

Danny Strong’s HBO Films election drama “Recount” came in at No. 1, and Beau Willimon’s political thriller about a politician’s communication director, “Farragut North,” which has been plucked by Warner Bros., finished at No 2.

Right. Just what I want to watch after a hard night’s work: about an election recount (well, maybe if they have a semi naked Angelina Jolie counting chads, my husband might want to see it), but neither one sounds like it will make money in the “overseas”market, nor among those moviegoers who really make hits: teen aged boys.

If I have to sit through another story about politicians, I’ll probably throw up. Didn’t those guys learn anything from Bullworth? (a 30 million dollar film that made 27 million dollars at the boxoffice).
Which brings us to the problem:

This year’s list suggests that political themes continue to offer extensive dramatic fodder, even as the potential for box office remains limited, as exhibited by such films as “Lions for Lambs” and “In the Valley of Elah.”

I am reminded of a famous movie line in “Out of Africa”, where Karen Blixen confronts her husband who decided to make a major change in their farm, financed with her mother’s money:

“The next time you make that type of decision, make it with YOUR money.”

The Hollywood types seem to be making decisions based on their politics. Yet, as Roger Simon pointed out, it’s hard to go along with political correctness that tries to equate Iraq with the war in Vietnam, making the US as the boogeyman, when you suspect the ones the American soldiers are fighting against are homophobic, veil women, and just might nuke you or your relatives in TelAviv.

This problem is particularly true for Hollywood because the evils of Islamofascism – notably extreme misogyny and homophobia – are justifiably big no-nos to people in the Industry…. It then becomes a complex balancing act indeed to make a movie that ignores or downplays this in order to criticize the US as the larger villain. No one has been able to come close to pulling off this balancing act in a film. In fact, it may well be impossible because it is fundamentally dishonest.

Yet it doesn’t stop them from trying.

Yet although anti Americanism might work at film festivals in Europe, they don’t even play well in Asian markets, where US TV shows like “24” (save the world from terrorism of the day) or Heroes (save the cheerleader and stop them from nuking NYCity) are hits.
What brings people into a political film is true drama, not propaganda. Action works too: a good “shoot’em out” might work, but do you really want to make a film rooting for guys who blow up women and children and UN Heritage sites?

Of course, you could do a rewrite (yes, CAIR frowns on Muslims as badguys, but given that there are plenty of untold stories out there about Iraqi– and Pinoy, and Indo, and Indian, and Afghan–heroism in the war on terrorists, that is not really an excuse. ) There are a lot of Steven Segal films at the Palenke, and I suspect the Chinese pirates who supply much of rural Asia have a better idea on what sells than the ones running the studio. Ditto for Bollywood.
So who is paying for all these movies to be made? Aren’t the studios run by corporations? One expects respect for artistic integrity, but shouldn’t one be aware of the audience?

There seems to be a growing disconnect between the elites and ordinary folks who just want to see a good movie without having propaganda of one sort or another shoved down one’s throat.
Which brings me back to the Golden Compass.

That was the film that was supposed to make a bundle, to offset the loses from their “artistic films”.

Just the thing to make money at Christmas: A film based on a book written by the posterchild for British AntiCatholicism, with it’s undertones of class snobbery and anti Irish bigotry (because most Catholics in the UK are lower class and of Irish descent).

So is it any wonder the opposition to the film in the US is an Irish American like Bill Donohue ? It’s not really a case of religious bigots opposing a harmless film as much as an angry Irishman who is tired of being ridiculed by upper class bullies and fighting back.
Oh well, back to the Golden Compass…since the obvious anti Catholicism is watered down in the film, it will probably be a hit in Asia.  Heck, Pinoys who revere Rizal and his anti Catholic book are well able to see how criticism of a church/state structure can be good but doesn’t necessarily mean one rejects God, the church, or the rules of society.

Indeed, like the US Catholic bishops film office, most will see it as a fight against the forces that try to over restrict their own freedom: whether it be a communist tyranny, a fascist dictatorship, or the Mullahs in Iran..

Wait till the Mullahs discover that.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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