Monday, January 06, 2014
What's the Matter with Hollywood in 2013, Part 2: The Golden Geese are Dying of Exhaustion
When they did try it, they would always try to distance themselves from the pre-existing fans (who were, after all, smaller in number) and chase after the non-fans by fundamentally re-conceiving the project until it “felt like a movie,” instead of like the original. In fact, Hollywood preferred to adapt an unsuccessful short-lived comic book like “Men in Black” because it had no fans, leaving them free to change it as they saw fit. Tackling a higher profile comic like “Iron Man” was seen as more trouble than it was worth.
But in 2001, (okay, technically mid-2001 to mid-2002) the perfect storm arrived. Three sets of filmmakers all decided to break the rules at the same time, creating huge-budget adaptations that were made to please the fans, not the fickle. And all three hit huge: Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, and Spider-Man. It would go down in history as “The Year of the Wildly-Successful Ultra-Faithful Franchise Adaptation”
Now all the rules had changed. Hollywood had discovered a secret: fans were hard to please, yes, but if you hit the bullseye they would become ecstatic. So ecstatic, in fact, that they would drag their non-fan friends to the theater and force them to like it, too. Please the fans and the rest will come.
Soon the floodgates opened, and dozens of old franchises were dusted off and given big-budget deeply-respectful adaptations. In many cases, it didn’t work, but every one that did work was instantly turned into its own factory, churning out sequel after sequel. Soon there weren’t enough weekends in the summer to host them all.
But that process has now been going on for thirteen long years, and the well is almost dry, which has sent Hollywood into crazed desperation. The first step was split up the final movie in each franchise into two parts, first Harry Potter and Twilight (which did admittedly have oversized final books) then Hunger Games (which didn’t). This culminated in the ultra-bloat of The Hobbit, parts 1, 2, and 3, which is the first of these to leave even the fans feeling exhausted and exploited. (Much more about those movies later.)
Meanwhile, Hollywood invented something new: the insta-reboot. It was once considered sketchy to reboot Batman Begins a mere eight years after Batman and Robin, but now we get a new Spider-Man just three years after the last one Peter-ed out.
But that leaves one more option: tapping the franchises that, for one reason or another, they didn’t want to touch before. That brings us to 2013, which shall always be remembered as “The Year of the Adaptation Made by Filmmakers Who Openly Despised the Source Material”. We’ll get to that tomorrow...