Tuesday, April 07, 2009

What Makes A Good Movie?

Yesterday The Screenwriter’s League got into a bit of an interesting discussion about what it meant to make a good movie. Here’s our convo…

Question. Would you rather people cramming to get inside, eager to see your movie and having a great time. The movie is panned by critics, but makes a ton of money. Or would you rather win an oscar, but hardly anybody goes to the movie and it doesn't stick with viewers. Trying to think of a comparable movie. I guess something like The Reader, even though I've never seen it.

I'd rather entertain the audience

Same, I think the general crowd liking the movie is more important...not that Oscar winning films AREN'T good, it's just not what people want to pay money to see on a Friday night...the thing is, do you think film companies are more likely to rehire you if your movie did well in the box office, or if the movie got great reviews?

Blades on the Brain:
But would you rather your script mutilated by producers but enjoyed by millions, or a work of art that not everyone 'gets'

Cake Man:
Writers who can either: win a company awards, or make a company a ton of money will get hired.

Yeah, no kidding. The writer and director (of Fast and Furious), talented or not, definitely solidified their careers. Every studio in Hollywood is gonna want a piece of their magic.

F&F5 got greenlit BEFORE the opening. It's going to take place in Europe. Lovely.

"Hangover Sequel" the sequel to "Hangover" (opening June 5) has already been picked up. Guess someone's expecting that to do well, too.

I'm still hung up on how we can define a "bad" movie. There's really no argument with something like Battlefield Earth. It was a bad movie and it made no money, one of the companies that backed it went under. It was just bad. But if a movie does it's job and entertains the masses and makes 300 million dollars for the company, can it really be called a bad movie?

Blades on the Brain:
We are a culture that defines a good movie by monetary gain since what is 'good and bad' is subjective. But money is objective! That's super interesting/depressing.

Cake Man:
But I think the question of a "good" movie or not is more simple. A good movie is one that entertains (perhaps) and works, technically. A successful movie entertains (probbaly) and makes a lot of money (or gets awards).

OK, that wasn't so simple. But I think there's a distinction between good and successful.

I'm not sure if the question is good vs. successful. I think the question is, does successful mean it's good.

This is where our conversation ended! Alas, it is incomplete. What does everyone else think???


petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

I go with what William Goldman says; "Nobody knows anything!" It's all one big crap shoot! The Godfather was nearly panned, so was Gone with the Wind; two of the greatest films of all time. Bottom line is, of course, money. But when Al Pacino wanted to give up the role as Michael Corleone, and most who were involved in the project were ready to abandon it,
it just goes to show how unpredictable and fickle this industry is!

Interesting debate, btw!

Diogo Novaes said...

I think good and successful are good adjectives.

I don't think that the single fact that a movie makes a lot of money for the producers means it's a good movie. Maybe is a successful one.

Take "Citizen Kane", for instance. It wasn't a good box office, but always appears on the TOP 10 or TOP 5 lists of best movies of all times.

On the other end, we've all seen a lot of movies that made tons of money and can't be considered to be meaningful on any other standard than their profit. In a way, they were successful, I guess.

As a writer, I feel that a good movie is one that can tell you a good, compelling story in an interesting and original way.

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Oh, I wholeheartedly agree, Diogo.
I will not put my name on a script which doesn't live up to my standards and values.

Unfortunately producers want a blockbuster which will make them money. Thus, independents were born. And look how hard it is to be an independent. The ante keeps rising! Did you see the movie Pi, an independent where the credits were probably longer than the film. Who does that anymore? Who is willing to do everything it takes to write and direct their own film? Everyone is looking for an agent or someone with a lot of money to make their film.

I've been asked to write slasher films! "That's what they want. Get your start, then you can write your own ticket!" Should I have done that to break into this business? And sell my soul to the devil?

Unless there are Harvey Corman's out there willing to give newcomers a chance, one needs to be a heavyweight to get the money to make and distribute the film. So, how do you get that?Connections? Contests? Boot camps? The list goes on and on.

In my humble opinion, perserverence and tenacity are the key. When one stops writing, that's it. So keep it up, guys, it's going to happen! :))

Between the three or four of you?, I bet you can write, direct, and produce your own film. Then again, you've probably already thought of that.

Anonymous said...

I would just like to say that I saw Battlefield Earth about 3 times. For some reason, even though I knew it was horrible, I kept getting drawn in like a fly to the "light". I would like to think that because it was bad it drew me harder to watch. But who knows...