Did you see the headlines? The Mummy remake was a bomb. Hollywood decided to take an icon of horror cinema, put a blockbuster action star in it, and turn it into an action film. This made horror fans stay away, and action fans stay away. Did they really think it would be a hit?
Hollywood has a problem. That problem is that as much as they like to say they are the liberal artsy type, they are in fact the greedy, bigoted elites. They use formulas to decide what to make, and think the “average people” will eat it up because they tell us to. They have shown nothing but disdain for regular Americans for years, and now it is hurting their pocket books.
That isn’t to say that Hollywood hasn’t had it’s share of successes recently, but take a look at those successes and you will see that Hollywood never thought they would have been hits.
A prime example of this is the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). When Marvel first set out to make a cinematic universe, most in Hollywood thought it would fail. After all, all of Marvels A-list properties were already taken. Fox had the X-Men and Fantastic 4, Sony had Spiderman… Ghost Rider, The Punisher, Blade… All the good comic properties were taken. Hollywood didn’t think Marvel could do much with their 2nd tier heroes like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America… Fortunately, Marvel was in control of those movies, not Hollywood. And see what happened. Even with Marvels loft successes, little hope was given to the rag-tag group known as The Guardians of the Galaxy, but handing control over to Film MakerJames Gunn assured a breakout film no one in Hollywood saw coming. Deadpool? Ryan Reynolds tried for years to get that film made, and everyone thought it would do poorly. Again Hollywood was clueless.
How Did This Begin?
In the mid 1970’s and through the 1980’s Hollywood had a string of financial hits from poor quality films. People without talent began to realize that with the right marketing campaign, and the right “names” attached, you could make money off of utter garbage.Movies began to be made by formula. This writers last film made x dollars, so put him with this director (whose last film made x dollars) and these actors (whose last film made x dollars) and who cares what they put out… it should make x+ dollars. Sometimes the formula was altered a bit: people loved the t-rex, velociraptors, and when the kids were stuck in the jeep in Jurassic Park, let’s put 2 t-rex’s, and more velociraptors in Jurassic Park 2… and trap the kids in a bus!
Then there is the copy cat formula: They made a lot of money with a movie about tornado’s, what other natural disasters can we make movies about? Or, X-Men made a lot of money, let’s make another super hero group movie… Fantastic 4! (You can still see this today with the success of the Avengers Films, DC is now trying to copy it with Justice League.)
Then there is the “Take a successful foreign film and remake it with Americans” formula. As an example I give you The Ring, The Grudge, The Eye, and Dark Water.
Then there is the strangest formula (and the one that started this article), Let’s take an old property, put Tom Cruise in it and make it an action film: Mission Impossible, War of the Worlds, The Mummy
You see, Hollywood uses formulas because the people in charge have no talent of their own. So how did people with no talent come to be in charge of an artistic industry where talent should be the only qualifying factor? Their dads, moms, aunts or uncles hired them. Modern Hollywood is built on Nepotism. The fastest way to get ahead in Hollywood is to be related to someone who is already there.
The Hollywood elites have nothing but disdain for the average people. They are bigoted, and money hungry. They are what they claim to hate. The people who run Hollywood are racist, sexist one percenters who are scarred shitless that someone with real talent will come in and take their cash cow from them.
There is still hope for the independent film maker. Although it is near impossible to rise up through the ranks in Hollywood if you do not have the right connections, you can still rise up. You just need to circumvent the barriers. You need to show them that you can make films that will make money without them. Then they will want you to come and make films that will make them money.
You see this biggest problem with Hollywood is that it is no longer necessary. When Hollywood began, the made movies, the distributed movies and they exhibited movies. In the 1950’s, the federal government saw that as a monopoly, and made the major studios give up one of those. They gave up exhibition. This gave rise to the independent theaters. However, Hollywood still made the movies and distributed them. If you wanted to get a movie exhibited, you needed a distributor. The studios would strong arm the exhibitors to make sure their product was showcased.
Things have changed. High speed internet, Youtube, Vimeo, and the likes have made both global distribution and exhibition available to any film maker. Now the only thing Hollywood has that you don’t is money. Money to hire top tier stars. Money to blow up buildings, and close down city blocks. Money for teams of special effects artists… (now you have access to all the same computer effects tools they do, you just can’t afford to hire 200 people to work on your effects). And most of all, the have money to market.In many cases, marketing budgets are almost as much as production budgets. But marketing is notoriously hit or miss. That Tom Cruise Mummy remake spent about 30 million on TV ads alone. It is said that the film cost $195 million to make, and an additional $150 million was spent on marketing. Yet it failed. One would think that a good, modest marketing campaign for an independent film released on Youtube or Vimeo might have a better chance at making a mark. Using targeted ads on Social Media, buying reviews on popular genre sites, and building buzz in forums may be all you need. After all, The Mummy needed to recoup $245 million to make money. How much does your film need to recoup? How much of a difference would a couple grand in ad spend make? Give it a try.