Posted August 10, 2010 by Marcia Degia - Publisher in Features
 
 

Bad Movies


It’s the same old
question. Just how do bad movies get made? How does the likes of
Gigli, The Showgirls, All That Glitters ever make it past the
editing suite? Predictably panned, upon release, by both critics and consumers alike, how do
they make it all the way through the development process to the big
screen, with so many people involved in its production? Didn’t anyone get an
inkling that something’s not going to work, along the way? Have studios not
heard of quality control?

Actually, studios
have got the whole thing under wraps. Rarely do they make a loss on a film. If
an aggressive marketing campaign cannot persuade you to pay for the price
of a ticket, a box of popcorn and jumbo juice, then, thereafter, they still have ways of
making you part with hard cash. That is not to say that they will not use other
devices to get you in film theatres, in the first place.

Star Attraction

If an A-lister
decides to align his, or herself, to a film, the studio may care less about the
plot points of a screenplay. It’s an immediate green light. Chances are, the
layman would suppose that if a household name is in the lead then it cannot be
that bad. Take Sex In The City 2, a production based on its successful television
series and the healthy revenue brought in by the mediocre first film. An
army of well-loved celebrities guaranteed bums on seats despite the
unconvincing script.
Or so
they thought.

Now that the big
name/s are on board, diaries have to be synchronized but if that means that
there is no time for a thorough script-edit or a realistic narrative to fit
into the superstars’ busy schedules, then so be it. Worse still, even if there
is time to revise the screenplay, the star or stars might like it as it is,
even if everyone else hates it, and the producer is hardly going to put up that
much of a fight.

So why do
celebrities sign up to bad films? One would assume that the agent or manager,
with a strategic career path in mind, would steer them clear from any
disasters. Let’s face it, it is unlikely that anyone would dare say no to their
golden goose, but the bottom line is, hit or miss, everyone still gets paid. A
big pay cheque goes a long, long way.

Release Dates

There are
essentially two important unofficial movie seasons that guarantees the
release of good films
:
autumn and winter, when studios are putting in their bids for the Oscars. At any
other time of the year, to a certain extent, anything goes. It’s the roll of
the dice whether or not you find yourself sitting in front of a good movie and
have not been taken in by a clever marketing campaign.

The summer movie
season, that arose in the 70s with blockbuster hits such as Jaws and Star Wars and clearly with the aim of enticing kids on school holidays into the cinema, is a not a great time for adult film-lovers. Certainly, it is the time for studios to pump out ‘grown up’ films that would never
make the Academy Award-winning grade, and for good reason
.

Aside from all of
that, studios have no problem speeding a film through its film and production
process simply to hit those key seasons or dates such as a schmaltzy rom-com
for Valentine Day.

Target Audience

There are some
genres of film where structure, a decent narrative or even sensible dialogue is
just not required. Take a look at the popularity of UK gangster films that have
been mass-produced ever since Guy Ritchie had his surprise hit with Lock Stock And Two
Smoking Barrels
. He
succeeded where everyone else has since failed – or at least have the ability
to produce a movie that will appeal to a wide audience, let alone be an
international hit. But there’s no need for this particular genre. After 10
pints of lager, a hot curry, and a few more pints, on a Friday night,
boys out
on the town just want to be mind-numbingly entertained.

All that is
required here is plenty of violence, a few half-decent, scantily-clad dolly
birds and the prerequisite cockney-rhyming slang. Ok, so the film may not pull
in a huge audience at the cinema (let’s face it, this demographic are more
likely to opt for a nightclub, a bit of sharking or end up in a fight of their
own
) but rest assured, DVD
sales will more than make up for it. As far as studios are concerned, there is
no such thing as a bad movie anymore, just finding the audience.

DVD, Blu Ray
And The Rest…

These days, DVDs
go out on sale in a mere few days after its cinema release. This is usually an
indication that the studios already know that the film is going to take a dive,
otherwise known as a loss loader. So, what happens when a film has bombed at
the box office? What now? How are studios going to shift DVDs and Blu Rays off
the shelves? That’s easy. Throw in some extras, you know the deal – unseen
footage, the director’s cut, interviews with the director/ cast/ gaffer and so
on – and the consumer is bamboozled into thinking that they are getting value
for money even though the film did not appeal to them during its theatrical
run. And, if that doesn’t work, then, only a few short months later, maybe the
Collectors Edition will. This month sees the release of the excellent The Clint
Eastwood Years. You see how it’s done? Such marketing strategies, and other
relevant merchandise can run for years. An A-Team mouse-mat, anyone?


Marcia Degia - Publisher

 
Marcia Degia has worked in the media industry for more than 10 years. She was previously Acting Managing Editor of Homes and Gardens magazine, Publishing Editor at Macmillan Publishers and Editor of Pride Magazine. Marcia, who has a Masters degree in Screenwriting, has also been involved in many broadcast projects. Among other things, she was the devisor of the documentary series Secret Suburbia for Living TV.