When the quality of a movie is viewed in terms of dollar signs I silently weep!
I enjoy browsing the internet for articles related to movies. I love reading the thoughts of various writers, professional and amateur, on a bevy of topics within the spectrum of the film industry. The one aspect of my browsing that always irks me is the abundance of articles that deal with the issue of budget costs, the gross a film makes, and whether said film is a flop or a success based on its box office receipts. Articles such as this have become impossible to avoid when searching for movie news and opinion pieces.
I understand that movies are a business. I know that Hollywood exists to make a profit, that every movie I watch is distributed with the intention of making some amount of money. I also understand that money is needed for all of the movies I watch to see the dimness of a theater screening. Those are all realities of the business aspect of the film industry, but all the same they are aspects of the film industry that don’t matter a lick to me. I watch movies because I enjoy watching movies, and my thoughts on any given movie are not because of how much a movie made in relation to its cost of production. I appear to be in the vast minority as far as this topic goes. There are entire websites, like Box Office Mojo, dedicated to the amount of money movies draw in versus the amount of money spent to make them. Film critics whose work I always seek out, like Mark Kermode, have developed the habit of basing chunks of their reviews around how much money a film cost to make or how much money a film brought in at the box office.
I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer care. I don’t want to read a review of John Carter where the main bulk of the review is about how the film cost five hundred million to make, is only going to bring in three hundred million, and thus is a flop. That tells me nothing about the actual quality of the film, all it tells me is that the person writing the review can check a few websites and manage to subtract one number from another. I want to know what people think of John Carter, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, or 21 Jump Street in a critical sense. I don’t care what the budgets were for those movies, nor do I care how much money they made at the box office. Unless you are someone who actually works in the movie industry in a marketing or financial occupation I don’t see why the money a movie makes or how much it cost to make should matter to you?
This is a personal plea, let’s get back to talking about movies. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. I don’t want to read about how The Hunger Games is a great movie because it made back its budget, and then some, at the box office. I don’t want to read a review where the ideas, acting, and filmmaking of The Deep Blue Sea are relegated to the side bar while the monetary expenditures and gains of the film are put on center stage. The quality of the film is in the product on the screen, not in the money spent to make the film or the money the film brings in at the box office. I’m not against discussions of the monetary side of the film industry, but that topic does not need to dominate as much of the film community as it does. Watch movies, think about the movies you watch, and who cares if it makes money or loses money as long as you enjoy the movie. Enough with all the articles about how one movie was a flop and another was a success based on their box office performances. I don’t know how much money it cost to make Paris, Texas, and I don’t care. What I do know is that it was an excellent film that left me with plenty to think about, and that’s all that should matter. I’m choosing to experience the good and the bad of the movies I watch, I’m choosing to ignore the money issue, because there’s no reason at all for me to care about how much a movie costs or how much a movie made. If the rest of the cinephile community did the same it would be for the absolute best.
I’m with you on this. It seems so many people have become enamored with the business side that the art side is relegated off on its own. In proper film criticism, financial considerations should always be kept to a minimum. You’re not there to talk about marketing and cost unless you can somehow directly and immediately tie it to the artistic quality of a film. Perhaps mentioning a troubled budget that reflects on some poor sets or a conflated budget that gives the director no technical constraints would be acceptable, but especially in the case of films like John Carter where the entire conversation seemed to revolve around money, it’s losing sight of the film itself, which is what us moviebuffs are all about.
We’re in complete agreement James. I don’t know when moviebuff became synonymous with caring about the financial side of the film industry. It’s so gosh darn tiresome too, I just want to talk movies you know, not talk finances.
I second your thoughts, Bill and James. The concentration put on the budgets when discussing film has gotten way out of line. Depending on the film, it is sometimes easier to find reviews which make mention of the budget versus gains than articles which do not. ‘John Carter’, a movie you mentioned in your article, is one such example.
A critical look at ’21 Jump Street’? I saw it last weekend:
Deputy Chief Hardy: You forgot to read him his Miranda rights.
Jenko: It obviously goes something like… you have the right to remain… an attorney.
Deputy Chief Hardy: Did you just say you have the right to be an attorney?
Schmidt: You DO have the right to be an attorney, if you want to.
Conclusion: it was amazing.
Ha, good stuff Edgar, I do want to see 21 Jump Street at some point. 🙂