Let me break from the photography stuff to do something radical for a site originally founded to talk about movies and talk about movies.
This weekend, Inception, the new film by writer/director Christopher Nolan, raked in a very healthy $60 million. Now I don't generally like talking about the box office receipts of movies. The movies themselves are always far more interesting to talk about. But it's hard not to notice that lately Hollywood has not been much interested in original ideas. Remakes, sequels and adaptations of TV shows and comics have heavily dominated the landscape for film goers of late. And don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily opposed to any of those things. But with so many movies being one of those things, it's hard not to feel some despair for the loss of originality.
I wrote actively as a critic for years on this site and the one thing that became the most important for me from a movie was originality. Show me something new, give me a new idea, twist my preconceived ideas, anything really as long as it's not the same old thing. I tended to bash romantic comedies a lot because that genre is very attached to a certain story structure to the point of flagrant stupidity. Dumb fun is one thing. I can dig on that. But being dumb because you're unwilling to break away from tired cliche is another.
A couple weeks ago, my kids were off visiting their grandparents and I wanted to take advantage of all that free time by seeing some movies. When I checked out the movie listings I was struck by how little I wanted to see most of what was out there. I had to drive a long way to an art house theater to check out something original like the French film Micmacs. All the other theaters were over flowing with remakes, sequels and adaptations.
Listening to movie fans I've heard a distinct and growing irritation with the lack of originality. This year it seems to be bordering on despair. Hollywood marketing is so effective that they can make just about any dreadful movie appealing enough to attract an audience. Transformers 2 raked in huge piles of cash despite being incoherent, brain dead and bordering on racist. Fans of the cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender flocked to M. Night Shyamalan's disastrous live action adaptation. When movies like these make tons of money, what's to inspire Hollywood to try for something better?
That brings us to this weekend. Inception made a lot of money. And it is an original movie. It is not a remake, adaptation or sequel. Most importantly, it is intelligent and thoughtful and, oh yes, really good. Hollywood follows the money. If there is evidence that intelligent, well made, original movies will make lots of money, then there is every reason to believe that they will try to make more of them. Particularly when Inception's main competition bombed. Disney's live action adaptation of a segment of Fantasia, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, was badly reviewed by critics and largely ignored by audiences. It will have a hard time covering its costs.
That's a strong message being sent by audiences. It won't be enough to out weigh the evidence that the crappy movies can make tons of money. It's a start though. And if audiences continue to respond in this way, they won't be ignored.
There is hope. Movies can be better.