Humor Magazine

Hollywood, the Trickiest Business in the World

By Davidduff

By and large I am an admirer of those people who run big businesses - and I do mean BIG!  For example, I look upon supermarkets as the cathedrals of our age - well, some of the fat waddlers to be seen in them remind me of gargoyles - because in both cases I ask myself the same question but with a differing context - how do they do that?  In the case of cathedrals it is the unbelievable skill of the designers and builders to erect such massive structures in a period rightly categorised as 'the dark ages' that raises the question.  In the case of supermarkets, it is how do they deliver, 365 days a year, clean, fresh, reasonably priced produce from all over the world ready for me to pick and choose from?  Of course, in both cases sometimes disaster strikes but that only re-enforces my admiration for those that succeed.

Nor should you take this as an endorsement of all leaders of Big Business.  Some of them are poltroons and fools promoted far beyond their abilities which, in a fair world, would leave them running a whelk stall.  But many of them, probably deeply unpleasant as human beings, are damned good at what they do and given the brain-curdling complexity of their businesses I admire them immensely.

All of that waffle brings me to arguably the most hideously complicated Big Business of them all - Hollywood.  The first and obvious difficulty is that if even half of what you read about is true then almost everyone involved in it is an eye-ball swivelling loony!  Well, a good proportion of them are 'luvvies' - need one say more?  I am prompted to these ruminations by an article in Variety - well, yes, darlings, I do keep an eye on it just in case those useless talent scouts go to 'SpecSavers' and finally spot my obvious talent! - which reports that box office receipts for Hollywood films dropped 5% in 2014.

I'm not surprised.  I think I have noted here before what a deeply unpleasant experience it is to go to the cinema these days.  Even if you choose your film very carefully - as I always do - you still have to endure half an hour of Enhanced Interrogation Techniques as you are pulverised by reverberating sound systems turned to FULL ON along with blinding cgi effects all produced to sell you things which, within five minutes you hate for ever.  Of course, some of the things being sold are forthcoming films so you would think that Hollywood would use more subtlety in designing their trailers.  Alas, 'subtlety' is as rare as a spare dollar inHollywood!

Well, that's just the opinion of one grumpy old man and I do realize that the making and selling of films must heed a much wider audience: 

Although there were some blockbusters such as “Guardians of the Galaxy,” “The LEGO Movie” and “Maleficent,” many of the big films and sequels didn’t give off as loud of a bang. Franchises such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Hunger Games” put up impressive global numbers, but showed some signs of age when they couldn’t match the domestic grosses of previous installments. 

“The old standards didn’t live up to what was expected,” said Dan Fellman, domestic distribution chief at Warner Bros. “Maybe it was franchise fatigue, but when you look at hits like ‘Gone Girl’ and ‘LEGO Movie,’ they offered something new.” 

Maybe it was too much of the same, but there are troubling signs that moviegoers, particularly younger ones, are more reticent about making the trek to multiplexes. Americans aged 12 to 24 saw 15% fewer films in theaters during the first three quarters of the year, according to Nielsen. And in 2013, according to a Motion Picture Association of America report, the number of frequent moviegoers between the ages of 18 to 24 fell by a record 17%.

 Sniff - no mention of 75-year-olds, I notice!  However, the reporter does draw attention to one factor which even I have noticed - the improvement of TV series.  The very best writers and directors of TV series like True Detective and the like are now attracting the Big Stars from Hollywood who hitherto would have considered TV work as beneath them.  And for us punters, how much easier it is to sit at home in the warm and watch it all on TV especially now that TV screens are nearly as big as those in cinemas!

So the Big Shots in Hollywood, yet again, are facing some major problems and it will be fascinating to see how they overcome.  I'm just very glad it's their problem and not mine!


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