By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Macy and Hess are biding their time handling the last of the productions on the Propaganda slate. Meanwhile, a feeding frenzy has erupted over current directors that the company helped create, including Dante Ariola, Kuntz Maguire, Brian Beletic, Training Day‘s Antoine Fuqua, and Jonze. Unfortunately, said frenzy will not be enjoyed by Propaganda, which goes down as one of the last great independents. In this age of newly realized corporate management of studio marketing and filmmaking, it’s sad to see another authentic indie, not unlike the much-heralded October Films, bite the dust.
With Harry Potter and the Sorcerer‘s Stone garnering a record $93.5 million in its first weekend (from millions of half-price kid tix, no less), it’s already igniting the debate over children‘s fare. Small internal studio factions, which seem to grow with each dominant kids’-film weekend, argue that children‘s films are the key commercial ventures studios should engage. No issues over ratings. No outrageous star participations. Plenty of return business. And millions upon millions in video rentals. It’s hard to argue with a return on investment like that. Clearly, Disney has given up on most non--children‘s fare in favor of the Monsters, Inc.s of the world. And other studios like Fox and DreamWorks are capitalizing on the little tykes in their own inimitable fashion. (Did anyone mention Shrek?) Does that mean other studios will also drop their overabundance of intelligent, mature and interesting films in favor of material made for swaddling-clothes wearers? Perhaps not wholly, but the power of the onslaught of kids’ films is vaguely reminiscent of life in that Twilight Zone episode with the snarky kid who dominates adults with mind control. It‘s bound to have a shivering effect.
Producer Lynda Obst’s defense of Hollywood‘s unlikely patriotism published in Slate last week pointed out a salient fact: Studios aren’t jumping into any anti-terrorist or pro-terrorist films largely because it takes time in Hollywood to make things happen. No studio chief wants to make political decisions about the country‘s temperature for terrorism 12 or 24 months from now. They’d rather avoid it until they can figure out how to capitalize on it. Rather than risk irritating President Bush, much less the American public, they just burrow their heads and pledge to join the fight. Hence the overflow of studio executives clamoring to meet with Bush emissaries last week regarding “war effort” contributions. Had such an essay come from an action mongrel like Jerry Bruckheimer, it might have carried some weight. Instead, Obst, whose next film up is called How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, decided to weigh in on matters political. True Hollywood bravado.
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