So I was at hitsville and read about Nkki Finke’s assessment of the Speed Racer opening weekend. It’s the type of piece that most people outside of Hollywood probably aren’t uses to; its got that vendetta laced tone; a happy to see others fail/tossing of facts and figures to prove the point feel. No other industry outside of showbiz will openly display that kind of rancor without justification. Her mid-weekend prediction was that the film wasn’t going to make the 20 million dollar mark that the studio was aiming for. The film did NOT make the mark, they only generated about 18.5 on a film that probably cost 150 million to make. Keep in mind Jon Favreau from Iron Man said on Leno that if they had only made 50 million instead of a 100 in their opening weekend THEY would have been considered failures too. But that’s how Hollywood works, it’s a smile in your face then stab you in the back/hope everybody except my own projectfails kind of world. And as a wannabe actor I spent about 20 years of my life in it. And now with MY movie on it’s way to being made, I’ll be heading back into the field next year.
Personally I’m a big fan of Nikki, I started reading her when she was still at the LA Weekly, and it was quite clear she was an insider who had become an “outside.” Clearly she still had enough contacts, and the ability to piece together enough facts, to write informative as hell articles out. Then she got scooped up by what Harry Shearer calls the “LA Dogtrainer.” Yeech! I better clarify that reference; Harry is the voice of Smithers, Mr. Burns, the Family Doctor and a bunch of other characters on the Simpsons, but he also does a great weekly radio show called “Le Show on KCRW/NPR. And the “Dogtrainer” is slang for the LA Times.
But I’m afraid it’s not hard to see what went down with the Speed Racer thing. I loved the cartoon and I love what the Wachowski brothers did for film with the Matrix. They’re a couple of Chicago guys into comic books and movies-like me-so they’ve got a warm place in my heart. But let’s face it, MOST of their movies have not been great. I’m not going to list them all, go to IMDB if you want to look at their track record. But they just went at this Speed thing the wrong way; they’re taking a kinda obscure, OLD, Japanese cartoon and turning it into live action. First of all, who’s the movie for? I mean the movie starts with bad language and the middle finger, so is that for kids? But they have all these…crazy ass, bright, flashing colors-is that for adults who remember the show? I mean it’s just mixed messages. The commercial didn’t look good. In fact the ONLY thing that looked good was the idea of doing the movie; that probably looked good on paper, and it sounded good to me. But that commercial made me think…well….
But not to worry! I’ve talked before on this blog about all the superheroes movies currently in various stages of production. They are coming to the rescue of movie studios. See what most people don’t get is that Hollywood is OUT of ideas and they have been for a long time. Twenty years, at least, that I know about. And they don’t know what to do out there except follow the leader. If something hits they other studios pounce and to THEIR version of the same movie. It’s comical. Despite getting thousands of interesting scripts they rarely take chances. But I also understand their predicament. NOTHING is getting cheaper in our world. Nothing. And so every year they’re faced with putting out movies with constantly rising prices; they can’t afford to be “risky” and “innovative.” They’ve got to keep the ship on course to keep money coming in. And they have to scavenge everything available to keep making their movies. Remember when a movie came out and it would be a year before it came out on video? Juno is ALREADY on DVD!
Iron Man is doing well because it was done right. And except for Bat Man and Spider-Man movies, they keep misfiring with these superhero movies. Maybe they need to have the “Man” in their titles. Because the last Hulk movie was ridiculous and the new one looks bad too . Maybe a little better, but the impetus is wrong and you can see it. Favreau and Rami TRULY like those comic book characters and it shows. Ang Lee for the Hulk? This is so insulting I wont even address it. And you can tell this new Ed Norton Hulk is an “Ed Norton” production. You see his actor fingerprints all over it. You can just imagine him saying something like, “I really want to get into the character for Bruce Banner and why he feels the need to become the Hulk.” When it becomes an actor’s vehicle or a director’s excuse to convey some theme it’s dead. I wrote about the new Mark Miller comic Wanted becoming a movie , but it’s now an Angelina Jolie vehicle, so it’s going to be dead on arrival too. Just stick to the story.