Frankly, this is a long a post, longer than I had expected, so I thought I’d do this Columbo style and reveal the murderer first. Basically, I compare the state of the movie industry somewhat ineffectually, crack a few asinine jokes and land at the conclusion that my local Hoyts is robbing me of choice, however, this may not be a diabolical plot on their part but rather a general trend in the country at the moment as we see the death of variety in the form of art house cinemas and the pushing of the homogenous in the form of the standard Hollywood fare. That’s about it, no need to waste your time, but if you have 10 minutes to kill and would like to see me brutally murder the English language then read on, you sadist.
So, with all of this in mind, I sat down, prepared to write a story of woe and regret about Hollywood movies, of how a few weeks ago my friends and I when given the choice to watch a free movie of our picking opted instead to spend money we couldn’t afford on alcohol and karaoke (a fancy word for screaming jubilantly at one’s TV). Reading Hamish Ford’s article in The Age the other day only fuelled me up more and gave me hope that there were others out there although his complaints were on the lack of international films on offer at local cinemas and mine is mostly about the quality of movies currently churned out of Hollywood. Still, it was nice to read the thoughts of a kindred spirit.
So, as I said before, I sat down, prepared to write my mind (a difficult task considering what little of it I have left) but instead of going Republican (oh Michele Bachman, what would Jon Stewart do without you? Oh, right) I decided to do a little “research” first cause undoubtedly someone out there in the infinite regions of this social experiment/virtual reality would point out the error in my ways (oh how the fourth estate has changed). However, I do suspect this blog is the only corner of the inter-verse my thoughts are truly secure from prying eyes.
As I looked into the matter (on the internet no less, did you know there’s more to it than porn? Learn something new every day), hoping to gather some cold hard facts that I could throw at friends over cocktails in a pleasant informative manner (read: like a dick), I discovered things weren’t as I expected. I was going to start small, the weekend box office, cause frankly I’m lazy and was hoping my “research” could end there. The fact of the matter is people seemed to be loving the movies and were attending showings at cinemas in record numbers. The UK just had its best summer (65 million tickets sold) reversing a two year decline in ticket sales and in 2010 going to the movies was the number one cultural(?) activity (posting a record high of $1.13 billion) in Australia (mind you, the other things on offer for Australian were museums and zoos). The Americans, not to be outdone, went bigger (not always the better choice, ladies) in 2010 with $10.57 billion in box office earnings and 1.34 billion tickets sold. Clearly my hypothesis that Hollywood was churning out crap was, quite possibly, wrong. Oh and if I forgot to state it before that is in fact my hypothesis.
Well, not being one to admit I’m wrong, even when I am unequivocally, I pressed on further. It seemed my approach to the matter at hand was the problem, if the Twilight movies are any indication that any self-gratifying/masturbatory work can be made into a blockbuster (the opinions expressed here do not reflect those of the author, only his senses) then big bucks doesn’t necessarily equate to quality.
The problem is how does one judge ‘good’? Surely, a more subjective term has never existed. Being a blogger I immediately invoked the right to deem my opinion as fact but that just brought me back to the problem that someone would shout out ‘impartiality’. So I decided to rely on a higher power than mine…and when the bartender at the Cabinet appeared to be unhelpful I turned to Rotten Tomatoes. This is where things got a little interesting (snooze alert).
Once again I was proven wrong – sort of. The weekend box office showed that in the top ten 6 movies had a rating between 74% and 94% in the US, 7 in the UK in the range of 71% and 97% and in Australia there were only 4, a good 4 ranging from 69% to 89%, but it was still only 4. What stood out as well was that in the US and UK the top 3 spots were held by great movies (as certified by Rotten Tomatoes) but in Australia the highest rating within the top 3 was 38% and that wasn’t even number one. Of course the argument could be made that in the UK and US the movies holding the top spots had just been released thus leading to their high earnings and of course this is true for 5 movies in the UK and 7 in the US but none of the movies in the Australian top 10 are new in fact the number one movie, Smurfs, is seeing its 5th weekend.
This tells me several things: movies take forever to get to Australia, lack of choice leads to poor decision and/or cinemas in Australia cater to the lowest common denominator. Maybe Hamish is right, distributors do in fact underestimate us. What does it say of our society when even the diversity in our cinemas is restricted?