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William Goldman, RIP
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William Goldman, perhaps the most famous screenwriter of the later 1970s, author of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and The Princess Bride, has died at 87. Mark Steyn has an obituary.

Generally speaking, books about screenwriting are written by people who aren’t very successful at it. For example, Story by Robert McKee (who is played by Brian Cox in Adaptation) is an impressive combination of how-to and motivational books. But McKee had time to become the leading screenwriting coach because he wasn’t in all that much demand as a screenwriter.

Goldman, in contrast, was an extremely highly paid screenwriter. But during a brief recession in the movie business in the early 1980s he wrote a memoir/how to book, Adventures in the Screen Trade. The most famous quote in that book:

“Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

For example, in Goldman’s heyday, sequels, such as the Jaws sequels, were typically low budget affairs that weren’t expected to come close to the original in box office. Now, in contrast, it’s assumed that sequels ought to average at least as much as originals.

Why? Are audiences less easily bored? Have screenwriters gotten more skilled since Goldman’s day? Less apathetic? Has the increasing globalization of movie audiences reduced the risk?

 
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  1. Anon[223] • Disclaimer says:

    Have screenwriters gotten more skilled since Goldman’s day?

    I think that films are more formulaic than previously … is that is a measure of “skill.” They are more craftsmanlike, less artistic and creative.

    OT

    Perfect example of the Sailer Type 1 Type 2 theory:

    Washington frozen yogurt shop calls police on black man who was literally doing his job

    https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/11/17/1813633/-Washington-frozen-yogurt-shop-calls-police-on-black-man-who-was-literally-doing-his-job

    Hispanic shop owner sees black guy in shop who has ordered no food for half an hour and is constantly eyeing a white family.

    It turns out that the guy was a family visit monitor, a job that neither I nor the shop owner knew existed: Job description: Hang around and look suspicious.

    So the shop owner could have spoken to the guy, and maybe he should have, and maybe the family visit monitor should have spoken to the shop owner to explain what he was there for in the beginning, and maybe that should be explained in his training.

    But if you are afraid that you might set someone off, calling the cops is a rational alternative. The shop is in a homeless and druggie area.

    Why might you think you might set someone off? Well, perhaps because he looks like he’s the kind of guy who might go postal and react all out of proportion … like he actually did by complaining to the press over this minor inconvenience to him.

  2. robot says: • Website

    When “Ain’t It Cool News” started in 1996, it was still unhip to admit you liked sex and violence. Movie reviewers in offline media tried to pretend they were above all that, so they weren’t reliable about what the general public would like. If they reviewed a sequel at all, they assumed their review would have to just repeat what they’d said about the earlier film. (This pretension still dominates the Oscars.) The Net revealed a consensus about what made a movie ‘fun’ so all that matters now is ‘do the moviemakers know how to make it fun?’

  3. Probably because before the DVD and VHS era you would only really be able to see a movie in a theatre. The target audience of sequels were those who had made the effort to go watch the first one in the US. Now movies have box office releases plus home video, streaming, aaairplane much bigger international market, pirated and airplane showings and about two to three years to build an audience and word of mouth. Batman Begins in 2005 had an OK theatrical run, did very well with DVD sales and saw the sequel do about three times the business when it was released in theaters.

  4. Cortes says:

    People go for formulas. Reluctance to concede that a winning formula has a definite lifespan explains such horrors as “Nero Wolfe” or “Sherlock Holmes” novels not by Stout or Doyle, or Bond without the Broccoli. I suspect that sub rosa hacks are churning out inferior stuff under the names of previously excellent authors who’ve moved onto other interests and projects. The last few of John D. MacDonald’s superb McGee series should be known as Travesty McGee – and the author of the real, great stuff went on to produce a magnificent novel about televangelists – “One More Sunday” (1984).

    If it can happen with novels, then it can only be easier for percentage-driven Hollywood producers to opt for what has worked until the burro collapses and dies.

    RIP Mr Goldman…”Who ARE those guys?”

    • Replies: @Anonymouse
  5. Anonymous[238] • Disclaimer says:

    All Hollywood seems to produce today is iteration after iteration after reiteration of trashy comic book so called ‘super hero’ movies.

    Films made by kids for kids.

    • Agree: carol
  6. It is now common for genre films to be designed as the start of a franchise not as standalone, so it makes sense if sequels do at least as well. The shift seems to have occurred during the 1990s. Verhoeven films of the 90s were all done as standalone even though many spawned sequels. The Star Wars prequel trilogy and obviously the Lord Of the Rings trilogy were designed as series. I get the impression Singer’s X-Men were also intended as a series from the beginning.

    • Replies: @Anonym
    , @LondonBob
  7. Films are so fraught with political considerations these days, one wrong step and some SJW backs up in your drain one morning to celebrate: “GOTCHA!”

  8. tsotha says:

    Now, in contrast, it’s assumed that sequels ought to average at least as much as originals.

    Why? Are audiences less easily bored? Have screenwriters gotten more skilled since Goldman’s day? Less apathetic? Has the increasing globalization of movie audiences reduced the risk?

    I think there’s just more cash sloshing around looking for a good return. Sequels probably do as well as the original more often than they did in the ’70s just because so much more money gets poured into them, but those ’70s sequels probably made money more reliably. You take no-name actors, rent out a fleabag motel for $200 a day on old Route 66, do the whole thing in one take, and if the cast can guilt their families into paying for tickets you’ll make money.

    Now investors are willing to give you $300m to make a sequel. Why not give it a shot? Just make sure you get a piece of the gross, since none of this stuff makes money on paper.

  9. “Now, in contrast, it’s assumed that sequels ought to average at least as much as originals.”

    They’ve used public education to dumb down and lower the expectations of the mass of consumers while making real life so incredibly bizarre that escaping into super-hero fantasy worlds at $12 a pop seems like a reasonable past time. Besides, there’s that Obamacare tanning tax … Maybe if people got out in the sunshine more often ….

  10. El Dato says:
    @Anon

    literally doing his job

    Woke headlining is woke.

    This veteran’s alleged crime? Basically, doing his job.

    The “alleged crime” (of which there is none, as nobody has alleged a crime”) is not “doing the job”, it’s looking like someone who is ready to do something really diverse really soon.

    Who has ever heard of black people not doing their job 24/7? Has that ever happened ever?

    DailyKos is compressed fecal matter.

  11. Movie audiences were older in the 70s whereas today’s audiences are much younger, have shorter attention spans and a lot more choices in entertainment. There were creative people working in Hollywood then while now it’s mostly run by money men, accountants and managers. Also, in Goldman’s era there was far less technology and in the area of special effects stunts had to actually be done by human stunt people and so the actual writing was much more important. There will never be a substitute for a good human story well told, IMHO.

    Even the trailers were better then and they also understood that trailers had to pique interest to make people want to see the film whilst today lots of noise and flash with hyper quick edits of the most expensive scenes are often the best they can manage. Goldman was fortunate in that his skills were right for his times and some great films resulted.

    Some of my favourites of that era include 3 Days of the Condor, Deliverance, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and so many more.

  12. Anonym says:
    @Simon in London

    Why? Are audiences less easily bored? Have screenwriters gotten more skilled since Goldman’s day? Less apathetic? Has the increasing globalization of movie audiences reduced the risk?

    A great story is a great story. It makes sense from a business perspective to extract every last dollar from a franchise. That’s one reason why Lucas and Spielberg are worth about 5 billion each.

    • Replies: @Anonym
  13. It’s been pointed out that other than horror, it’s hard to do a cheap movie that can gross well. So tried and true will win out over new and unknown.

  14. Enochian says:

    Do producers get no credit here for (allegedly) rising standards? Don’t they ultimately decide what happens with the movie? And is there a how-to book somewhere explaining how to be an ace movie producer? Maybe Harvey Weinstein can write one while he’s sitting in jail.

  15. Tyrion 2 says:

    When I was younger I used to observe that film sequels are almost always worse than the originals whereas video game sequels are often better.

    I tended to opt for a prosaic explanation as to why this was. Sequels only tended to be made for very good films, so naturally they tended to be worse than the originals. This likely turned the public off sequels which in turn diminished the resources put into them which spiralled into Superman 3.

    Meanwhile, video games, where a huge amount of the consumer’s enjoyment is dictated by the technical aspects, could easily build on the original and thus be improved. This led to a spiral reaching up instead, as resources were poured into sequels and the consumers noticed the better quality.

    The change in movies therefore seems to be a move towards consumers enjoying the technical aspects of blockbusters more – special effects, design – and also the subsequent inversion of the older spiral.

    Some of this is due to the globalisation of the market and some of it is due to special effects getting so much better that storyline factors less in our enjoyment of a blockbuster e.g Guardians of the Galaxy.

    • Replies: @Mr. Rational
    , @IHTG
    , @Pat Boyle
  16. @Anon

    Fiction (the movies) competes with life for the most interesting stories. Thanks.

    • Replies: @South Texas Guy
  17. Globalization is a factor. The bigger the market, the more useful are brands. (Sequels are a kind of brand, I’d hold).

    • Agree: Autochthon, Abe
  18. I guess people who watch film sequels as part of a genre, like Superhero movies, have a different mentality to people who used to go to the cinema to watch stand-alone films like Jaws.

    People would have gone to watch a sequel like Jaws 2 because they wanted to see a good film on its own terms, and so would probably be disappointed by this and most other sequels.

    But people who go to see Spider Man 18, 19, and 20 are just huge Spider Man fans, for whom every film is an event. They will go and watch it and won’t judge it as good or bad in the same way as someone watching films as we used to know them. It’s more like collecting a set, or being part of a lifestyle.

    I love going to the cinema, although I can’t stand most modern Hollywood films. But most large cities in England have at least one independent cinema that shows films from around the world, indie American films, documentaries and old re-releases. I have to travel about 40 miles to get to the nearest big city to watch them, but making an effort makes it more enjoyable. There are still plenty of good films out there if you are prepared to watch subtitles!

  19. Not once have I tried to write a screenplay, but I have failed many times at novels and short stories. There is a theory that good literature is resonant literature, that the themes used have been used before, repeatedly. I do not know if this is true, exactly, but the idea itself has resonance.

    Bilbo, Gandalf and the thirteen dwarves emerged from under the Misty Mountains. Shortly thereafter, Gandalf left them to their own devices. Frodo and the rest of the company of nine entered the Mines of Moria, but only eight emerged unscathed. In both cases, the travelers went through the darkness as spiritual children and emerged as grown men. The phrase “cult of the dying child” comes to mind, but I think that that is not quite accurate. More generally, the theme of death and resurrection, as in passing through the (literal) underworld, is at play here.

    It is curious that LOTR has less resonance with the current generation than Harry Potter et al. I draw a parallel connecting LOTR with the generation that knew actual sports, and the current crop of neophytes who relate to magic at the wave of a wand, and video games.

    If I were to attempt fiction, again, and hope for success, I might seek a source that somehow captures the angst of our times. That master of insight would be Jerry Seinfeld, and his able familiar Larry David. Did I just say Larry David was not human? Why yes, I did.

    Modern producers pay too much attention to the technological marvels of CGI and too little to the human drama at play in our everyday, miserable, doomed existence. C’est la vie!

  20. Anon7 says:

    There was once a time when an original film was the goal of movie makers. (Of course, the goal of movie backers has always been return on investment.) But the best directors didn’t want to reuse characters and plot because it was not highly regarded.

    I don’t know when this changed. When The Godfather and TGF 2 both received Academy Awards? I think 2 was the first sequel to earn a best picture Oscar. And that’s recognition for you.

    I am dismayed by the globalization of movies. Every movie must now have NOT ONLY all of the usual intersectional suspects, but must ALSO have characters from major global markets, i.e., China. It seriously started with The Martian; thank God the ChiComs are equal to us in technology and superior to us in using it for humanistic ends. Which I believe like I believe that black scientists are behind all technological advances.

  21. Dumbo says:

    My (educated?) guess is that since there is now competition with streaming and other forms of entertainment, producers don’t want to risk trying new ideas, preferring stories the audience already knows, thus the infinite number of remakes, reboots and based-on-known-comics-characters movies that are almost all that is made this days.

    The audience is also lazy and doesn’t want to risk, considering also that in the 70s and 80s cinema was very cheap, and now it is can cost quite a lot if you go with a family and have to consider parking, popcorn, etc. Why not stay home and watch a series, or cat videos on social media?

    Globalization and immigration have created a dumber audience also, films are made to attain the lowest threshold that can be appreciated by any prole anywhere. Smart people who used to go to art movies in the cinema in the 70s and 80s don’t go to film theaters anymore. I don’t know where they go, maybe to the theater or the opera, maybe they go see Hamilton!.

    Another thing that changed, perhaps due to the Internet, is the obsessive nerd-fan-gamer culture, these people who go over every little detail of a film, especially if it was based on a super-hero or a video-game they love, these people also prefer to watch the same characters over and over again than to discover something different away from their bubble.

  22. I thought cliff-hangers a la Buck Rogers were successful in selling “sequels”. Today’s films not much different.

  23. prosa123 says:
    @Anon

    What doesn’t make sense is why the police asked not just the man to leave once they found out what was happening, but also made the mother and son he was supervising leave as well.

    • Replies: @Anon
  24. anon. says:

    Because in the days before the VCR, if you didn’t see the original movie in the theatres, you didn’t see it at all, and who’s going to see a sequel of a movie they never saw?

  25. Anonymous[285] • Disclaimer says:

    Nobody knows anything…

    Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work.

    But those are two very different propositions. Contradictory in their gist.

  26. Wilkey says:

    “Star Wars” was released 41 years ago. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” was 37 years ago. They weren’t based on comic books, but they easily could have been. Everyone up to at least 55 years old – many of whome are now grandparents – is used to special effects-filled comic book serials.

    The movie industry treated their audiences like children and eventually those children grew up to be adults who expected to be treated like children when they went to the movies. So that’s what now drives the film industry, and it just so happens that those are the kinds of movies which do well globally. The silly, meaningless dialogue is easioy translated into any language. You don’t need to translate a special effect into Chinese or Hindi. In fact it seems China and India, if you watch the endless credits at the end of these movies, are where many of the special effects in theae movies are done.

    Perhaps another driver of the juvenilization of the film industry is the decline of the newspaper industry and the rise of social media. Every newspaper used to have a film critic, and film critics mostly loved (or pretended to love) more serious fare. Word of mouth mattered then, too, but for a lot of people the starting point for determining what to see was the newspaper. Nowadays social media is a much more important influence on viewing choices. Unless your Facebook friends are the kind who can eloquently praise the merits of, oh, “The Phantom Thread” (such people do exist, believe it or not) your news feed is much more likely to be filled with posts such as “Dude, ‘Avengers: Inanity Wars’ was like super awesome!”

    So here we are.

    • Replies: @Anonym
    , @E e
  27. @Tyrion 2

    Sequels only tended to be made for very good films, so naturally they tended to be worse than the originals.

    Which leads into something I read about one recently-collapsed franchise.

    Star Wars was not expected to be big.  Alan Dean Foster (a competent hack, but a hack) was commissioned to write a script for a low-budget sequel, which became the novel “Splinter Of the Mind’s Eye”.  It was written to be filmed on a jungle set, of which there are probably several in Hollyweird.  Everyone was ready to milk more cash out of a loyal but limited fan following.

    And then the whole thing blew up more unexpectedly than Castle Bravo.

    Needless to say the low-budget script was scrapped, Foster was given the rights to it, and enough effort went into the follow-on that TESB became the only real dramatic success of the entire arc.

    • Replies: @Charlesz Martel
  28. Muse says:

    I find 95% of the movies coming out extremely boring and predictable. Most plots are unbelievable, and they often are preaching about some politically correct topic. But perhaps most movies have always been crap in one way or another, and it is only the excellent ones we remember.

    The most recent film that I actually enjoyed was Wildfire, about a family dissolution from the perspective of a teenage boy. It was good because the plot was believable, and the movie simply showed what happens when people make bad decisions. Then as you might expect, bad things happen. It is the critical component of what makes a good story and a good movie.

    The postmodern reality is somewhat disconnected from reality, and as this drives most movies these days, the stories are not true to life.

    I don’t know much about screenwriting itself, but it seems as if it is a supreme act of distillation when translating a richly writtent three hundred page novel into ninety minutes of dialog. Everything else has to be narrated or translated into something visual, or captured in the sound track.

  29. mikeja says:

    Nowadays everybody knows that super-hero comic-book franchises will make money

  30. What a great Novelist, Playwright, Screenwriter and Human Being.
    Jewish people are easily among the most talented folks in the world.
    I am Jewish and have never ever felt any ill towards any specific Ethnic Group or Religion. Diversity has been America’s greatest strength. Jews, Poled, English, Germans, Italians, Irish, Swedes, Norwegians, African Americans and Mexicans have been our strength.

    • Replies: @Redneck farmer
  31. Perhaps the perception of sequels was reset by Godfather II.

  32. Anon7 says:

    Weekend OT: Even John Kerry is worried about mass migration from Africa, even though he blames it on Climate Change:

    Europe is already crushed under this transformation that is taking place due to migration. In Germany Angela Merkel is weakened. Italian politics is significantly impacted.

    “Well, imagine what happens if water dries up and you cannot produce food in northern Africa. Imagine what happens if Nigeria hits its alleged 500 million people by the middle of the century … you are going to have hordes of people in the northern part of the Mediterranean knocking on the door. I am telling you. If you don’t believe me, just go read the literature.”

    The Guardian

    By “the literature”, I assume he means iSteve?

    If pretending to believe in anthropogenic climate catastrophe gets me a Wall and zero immigration, I’ll become a believer.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  33. IHTG says:
    @Tyrion 2

    I don’t think is the primary factor in movies, and it’s also no longer true for video games.

    I think there’s been a genuine improvement in the median quality of scriptwriting for action blockbusters.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  34. AndrewR says:
    @Anon

    The comments are absolute cancer. I won’t say what I really think lest I get Whimmed.

    • Replies: @Anon
  35. slumber_j says:

    Mr. Goldman was married to–or maybe only lived with?–Susan Burden, longstanding stepmother to a good friend of my wife’s. Anyway, we got invited to their really nice pad on Fifth Ave. once or twice, and he was a very engaging conversationalist and a very nice man.

    He was delighted when I told him that I’d been assigned (and actually read, and enjoyed) Adventures In the Screen Trade in a course in college: Popular Culture In the Modern Context. Taught by the brilliant historian Oscar Handlin, the course wasn’t at all as dumb as it sounds.

    Handlin, by the way, was an absolutely crucially iSteve-y figure. From his Wikipedia entry:

    As a professor of history at Harvard University for over 50 years, he directed 80 PhD dissertations and helped promote social and ethnic history, virtually inventing the field of immigration history in the 1950s. [...]

    Handlin’s 1965 testimony before Congress was said to “have played an important role” in passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 that abolished the discriminatory immigration quota system in the U.S. [...]

    “He reoriented the whole picture of the American story from the view that America was built on the spirit of the Wild West, to the idea that we are a nation of immigrants.” (James Grossman) [...]

    In 1979, Handlin published Truth in History, which criticized New Left historians and the corruption of American universities with faddishness, hiring quotas, overspecialization and fragmentation in history studies, and deficiencies in graduate training.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @AnotherDad
  36. D. K. says:

    OT:

    Today is the 40th anniversary of the death of Indiana’s (Other) Favorite Son, The Reverend Jim Jones:

    https://www.britannica.com/event/Jonestown-massacre

  37. Anon[274] • Disclaimer says:

    Exorcist II is an example of a Schroedinger’s sequel, one that is simultaneously worse and better than the original. It’s worse as a well-crafted horror movie, but a minor masterpiece as an acid trip, Lynchesque, mondo mishmash.

  38. “Now, in contrast, it’s assumed that sequels ought to average at least as much as originals.

    Why? Are audiences less easily bored?”

    Actually, with the internet available, audiences are more apt to get bored quicker and sooner. At present, the action hero sequels appear to be not strict sequels per se, but more along the lines of the James Bond franchise, which aren’t sequels but come in serialized form.

    Of course perhaps the movie makers and shakers have (for now) appeared to hit upon the right formula, but, as you quote from Goldman that could easily change in a wink of an eye.

    “Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

  39. @Anon

    http://supervised-visitation.com/visitation-monitor.html

    So, a family-visit monitor is a kind of cop enforcing some edict by Family Court in a divorce settlement or child custody arrangement? A rent-of-cop, maybe, still a kind of cop?

    So this dust-up is a kind of cop-on-cop thing where one kind of cop regards themselves mightier or more virtuous than another kind of cop?

    Isn’t mall cop vs city cop vs county sheriff vs State Trooper vs FBI vs ATF vs BLM (Bureau of Land Management, people) vs Secret Service vs CIA vs NCIS-or-whatever-you-call-a-Navy-cop a plot line in every cop movie and cop TV series (the Law and Order franchise, To Live and Die in LA)?

  40. Jack D says:
    @slumber_j

    He was not married to Burden but they lived together for the last 20 years of his life. A lot of guys who have been raped by our divorce (and custody) system are reluctant to officially marry again – once burned, twice shy.

  41. Tiny Duck says:
    @Anon

    And you people deny white supremacy and white privileged

    On topic the movies are getting a bit better because more diverse voices are being head

    We still have a long way to go as he industry is still offensively white male but in maybe 10 years we will be seeing things that are really good

  42. ZeroDay says:

    “Nobody knows anything…… Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work. Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

    But hasn’t this been Netflix’s entire business model? To make educated guesses about what viewers like in terms of theme, look of the cast, cultural references, etc. If you get these right, it seems like you can get away with a movie that is good enough and people will be happy. Plus, by breaking this down into a repeatable system, you can churn out a volume of reasonably good, low cost content that is hard to compete with.

    Kind of hard to fault Goldman since he was writing this decades ago. But from a technology perspective, there is nothing sophisticated about it. Most of the analysis could fit in a spreadsheet or two. Makes me wonder why the entertainment industry had not done this earlier.

    Another aspect of what Netflix offers is consistency. Basically, some quality assurance with their movies. Most people find it preferable to have convenient access to B+ content than to have an occasional great movie, followed by lots of crap.

  43. Matt Damon did a podcast with Bill Simmons recently where he said that the glut of sequels and big budget blockbusters is due to the DVD market collapsing and Hollywood making that revenue up overseas. Sequels and comic book characters are easier for foreign audiences to understand.

  44. @Jack D

    The powers that be have recognised that trend, and in many places deem a couple who have been living together for a certain amount of time – six months, or a year, or two years, to be de facto married. Meaning that the man is subject to exactly the same divorce and custody system that he sought to avoid.

    That is: the state, in its wisdom, and for its own purposes, deems you to be married, completely against your will.

    In Australia, a few years ago, we had the absurd situation in which cohabiting homosexual lovers were deemed to be de facto married, even though the state forbade homosexual marriage.

    Entering into a relationship with a woman, but without cohabiting, is currently a solution, but how long until the state deems that too to be marriage? Again, in Australia, a few years ago a judge declared that a man who broke up with his mistress owed a considerable financial obligation to that mistress, even to the detriment of his blameless wife.

    The only solutions are either to avoid relationships entirely (which I suspect also won’t work – the way things are going, the state will eventually just declare that men owe financial obligations to women via the tax-transfer system, which is the blatant transfer of resources that the feminists have wanted all along), or leave the country for a country more sane.

  45. Pat Boyle says:

    So I have been corrected. For years I wrote it as “Nobody knows nothing”. I guess a professional writer was unlikely to be so ungrammatical, but I like my version better.

  46. Clyde says:
    @Jack D

    Must have been this Susan Burden. Ya think/ He had money she had money so no need to go crazy over anything. https://observer.com/2002/08/burden-sells-party-pad/

    Carter Budren her former husband obit https://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/24/nyregion/carter-burden-progressive-patrician-54-dies.html

    • Replies: @slumber_j
  47. Abe says: • Website

    Rented INCREDIBLES 2 to watch with my younger kids last weekend. That led to the watching of the original INCREDIBLES this weekend, which I had seen, but not really paid much attention to, closer to when it came out many moons ago with my older kids (gosh, 15 years between sequels- that’s an eon in a Hollywood terms!)

    So seriously, is INCREDIBLES not like the CASABLANCA of animated films? (I hesitate to use ‘the CITIZEN KANE of’, as I want to evoke a film that is as beloved by regular filmgoers as it is by critics). Not only is the direction superb (expert camera pans, tracking shots, focus shifting- I think this is called racking- there was even a lovely little touch of the villain leaning over a rail, admiring his masterwork, where someone thought to have him cross one ankle over the other and thereby lend a touch of boyishness to an otherwise unsympathetic character). But, wow!, isn’t the screenwriting by Brad Bird (who gets sole credit so I guess he really did it all himself) dynamite too? Thematically the story is probably the most grownup of any PIXAR movie, being more about the middle aged adults getting their grooves back than it is about the kids or their talking animal friends. The film is also pretty ahead of its time in being a superhero movie that is pretty ironic and self-conscious about superhero comic fandom, and to top it all off I’d wager its retro 60’s super swinging chic could have been the inspiration for a lot of other works too (it preceded MAD MEN by 3 years).

    Compare to the original TOY STORY, often cited as PIXAR’s best film. The screenwriting on that one was a bit of a disaster, with I think like 6 total credits given. Basically PIXAR knew they’d have to hit one out of the park with their first one, so when they brought in Jos Whedon to pinch hit and he whiffed, they then called in some real ringers, the Coen Brothers (yes, those Coen Brothers) to give it some real zingers before sending it out the gate.

    • Agree: Tyrion 2
    • Replies: @cthulhu
    , @Anonym
    , @Mr. Anon
  48. Pat Boyle says:
    @Tyrion 2

    Or you could explain the decline in quality with sequels with simply Regression to the Mean.

    This illustrates another consequence of Goldman’s Dictum. Since no one know nothing the producer can’t replicate their previous success. They didn’t make a successful first film because they controlled all the relevant factors. They controlled some but there is always a large error term – the luck factor.

    For example think of how many great movies had originally had a different cast. Hugh Jackman made a lot of people rich with his portrayal as a clawed wolf man. He was an unknown and the third choice. That’s not good casting – that’s dumb luck.

    • Replies: @Tyrion 2
  49. LondonBob says:
    @Simon in London

    Didn’t realise at the time but Back to the Future was written as a trilogy.

    With the Bond films the formula is do a really good film and then rush out another not so good one, the second always does better box office. Living Daylights followed by License to Kill, Goldeneye then Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale then Quantum of Solace.

  50. Clyde says:
    @Jack D

    This Amanda Burden who maintains

  51. inertial says:

    I like Princess Bride book even more than the movie. The book has this wonderful outer story that was entirely dropped from the movie. But it’s a deep, bittersweet story about how what authors think the book is about is not what readers get from it, and about how we try to pass our childhood experiences to our own children (and usually fail,) and much more. Just great.

  52. @slumber_j

    “He reoriented the whole picture of the American story from the view that America was built on the spirit of the Wild West, to the idea that we are a nation of immigrants.” (James Grossman) [...]

    It’s not the people who actually *built*the nation–discovered it, explored it, conquered it, settled it, made it the great nation other people wanted to flock to–
    …. nope it’s the people who glommed on to what these people had built.

    Same old crap from the same old crap spewers.

    • Agree: Trevor H.
    • Replies: @slumber_j
  53. cthulhu says:
    @Abe

    So seriously, is INCREDIBLES not like the CASABLANCA of animated films?

    Pretty much. About the only others in the running IMHO are Disney’s second animated feature “Pinocchio”, and a couple of Miyazaki’s – the exact ones change every now and then, but right now “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro” are my top picks. Pixar has done several really excellent movies, and I thought “Incredibles 2” was fantastic and is easily in my list of top four Pixar movies, but I rank it slightly behind the original. And count me as a near-fan of Brad Bird’s live-action feature “Tomorrowland”, which had a lot going for it up until the tacked-on SJW ending.

    Regarding Goldman: I enjoyed his book, especially the part about “The Great Waldo Pepper”, a lost masterpiece with to this day some of the best flying sequences ever committed to film.

    To get back to Steve’s question about sequels: I think the international audience, especially China, has a great deal to do with it nowadays. Big budget action movies are seen as franchises, with the explicit goal to build an audience, almost like TV networks have done with TV shows for 50+ years. This is a lot different than the old notion of a sequel, such as “Jaws 2” or “American Graffiti 2”. Yes, there was the first two “Godfather” movies, and of course the two 1980’s sequels to “Star Wars” and “Raiders”, but what is done nowadays with the comic book movies, the Transformers movies, etc., is a more naked cash grab than it used to be. Or maybe I’m just more jaded now :-)

  54. Now, in contrast, it’s assumed that sequels ought to average at least as much as originals.

    Are audiences less easily bored?

    Have screenwriters gotten more skilled since Goldman’s day?

    Less apathetic?

    Has the increasing globalization of movie audiences reduced the risk?

    To get these answers, first you need to let a hundred flowers bloom:

    - A new Deloitte report predicts that China will be the world’s largest cinema market by 2020.

    - Revenue generated by China’s film industry will reach RMB 200 billion (US$30 billion) in the next four years.

    http://chinafilminsider.com/seven-trends-shaping-chinese-film-industry/

    That’s why bored identity gallantly and ‘fast-forwardly’ squinted his eyes through 139 minutes of some highly inflammable celluloid PLApaganda named Operation Red Sea;

    “The film is loosely based on the evacuation of the 225 foreign nationals and almost 600 Chinese citizens from Yemen’s southern port of Aden during late March in 2015 Yemeni Civil War.”

    “It serves as the highlight film presented to audiences as a gift for the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, as well as the party’s 19th National Congress.”

    “In the United States and Canada, Operation Red Sea took the highest gross, taking in US$510,000 in 45 theaters on its opening weekend averaging US$11,333, the best per-theater average among the specialty debuts.”

    In the movie’s end credits , 5 Chinese naval vessels intercept 3 US Navy ships warning them they have entered Chinese waters and must leave immediately” :

    bored identity also finds the name of movie’s distributor for the US market to be idiocratically hilarious:

    Well Go USA Entertainment

    http://www.wellgousa.com/about-us

    It seems that Goldmans are rapidly carpetbagging their scripting skills to the higher bidder, and bored identity just can’t wait for that blockbusting sequel :

    https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-11-18/apec-summit-ends-unprecedented-chaos-after-dramatic-collapse-us-china-relations

    • Replies: @Mr. Anon
  55. Nathan says:

    My theory is that sequels being more popular today is the result of Hollywood strip mining intelectual property to the point that they’ve reached serialized pulp entertainment as a source. Once they hit Marvel Comics, with its decades of story archs and characters, sequels really took off.

    Hollywood screenwriters, to their credit, actually seem to do a good job of creating fun, watchable movies out of the sometimes unwieldy comic book source material. People complain, but there’s a reason “bad 90s movie” is starting to become a cliche.

  56. Anonym says:
    @Wilkey

    Serious films still get made. One reason that films, indeed most entertainment seems better in yesteryear is that we only look at the best that has emerged and call them “The Classics”, while ignoring all the garbage.

  57. Anonym says:
    @Abe

    The Incredibles is great in part because it draws heavily on what might be the greatest graphic novel ever – Watchmen. Do a search on “greatest graphic novel”, that will be #1 on many lists.

    #2 is more impressive to me because it’s exceptional and original (or at least, so I think, maybe there is something like Watchmen behind it as an “inspiration”).

  58. Tyrion 2 says:
    @Pat Boyle

    I didn’t use regression to the mean because I do believe that there is more to success than dumb luck and therefore that there is no useful concept of a mean. There are “force multipliers”, like Christopher Nolan or James Cameron. Indeed, as films have become more sold on their technical aspects – special effects – there is even less dumb luck. The 20 films of the Marvel franchise prove it.

  59. EH says:

    Adventures in the Screen Trade is a great read, not just for all the anecdotes about celebrities with whom Goldman worked, but as an education from the the best in the screenwriting business doing his best to get across all that he knows and most of what he suspects about how great movies are made, not just writing but also acting, directing, editing and even musical scoring. If you don’t buy it, get it from a library or one of the pdf copies on the internet.

  60. Anonym says:
    @Anonym

    And why I say extracting every last dollar from a set of ideas is important and leads to better sequels, is that to extract every last dollar you need to invest significantly into each movie. (Which may include up-front considerations of how you serialize it.)

    It is a poor investment to kill your brand off with a cheap sequel, as then it will be tainted. See the recent Star Wars movies for an example of why this is bad. Even if the most recent movie is ok, the previous SJWism over entertainment kills the viewership.

  61. Mr. Anon says:
    @Jack D

    What man would willingly marry a “burden”.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  62. Mr. Anon says:

    Why? Are audiences less easily bored? Have screenwriters gotten more skilled since Goldman’s day?

    On the contrary. It seems to me that screenplays have gotten increasingly hacky and cliched.

    Goldman was a real talent: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Papillon, The Stepford Wives, Marathon Man, A Bridge Too Far. All good, well-written movies. RIP.

    His older brother, James, was a talented playwrite and screen-writer too.

  63. @Anon7

    Anon7, by literature I think he means …”Buy one of my books.”

  64. Mr. Anon says:
    @Abe

    I hate super-hero / comic-book movies. But I liked The Incredibles.

  65. Tyrion 2 says:
    @IHTG

    We have different tastes, I suppose. I basically enjoy the Marvel movies as lightshows with sound effects and a few lines of funny dialogue. It helps if I’ve been drinking.

    To me, they’re more music video than film. Guardians of the Galaxy and Thor 3 are the sort of Platonic ideal of this new entertainment form.

    This means, again, for me, that a sequel will often be better as the storyline can be basically the same, I don’t care – I don’t find the storyline interesting for any of them, but they’ve refined the technical side and the characterisation a bit, so it’s a better long-form music video than the original.

  66. @Tiny Duck

    TD, the shop keeper in the article is Hispanic, so technically, not white. And learn to spell check unless you don’t mind “being head.”

  67. Mr. Anon says:
    @bored identity

    Sounds like Chinese movies have the same, lousy, over-the-top soaring “epic” soundtracks that American movies now have.

  68. “The Godfather”, now a classic, was fantastic when it was released, but the movie followed a well developed story from a best selling novel. They didn’t need to make GF II and III. I loved “Raiders of the Lost Ark” but neither of the sequel Indiana Jones movies. Somewhat like a great one night stand.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    , @ScarletNumber
  69. @Mr. Rational

    It’s true that Star Wars initially was not expected to be a big deal. That’s why the studio gave the toy rights to Lucas.
    But when execs started seeing the previews and early audience feedback, they realized something big was happening. IIRC, the studio stock price went from 12 to 22 before the film’s release.
    Heard this from a VP at Paramount, many years ago.

  70. This trend proves how dumb White America is. As real Americans become browner, you will see films become more creative and artistic. Jewish filmmakers in particular have been surpressed for years by dumb white men. Now they have a chance to flourish in a browner, more diverse USA.

    • Replies: @Charlesz Martel
  71. @Mike Krauthammer

    As long as WASPs control the management and finance, yes.

  72. @Stebbing Heuer

    In most American states, common-law marriage is no longer recognised.

  73. J.Ross says: • Website

    To clarify, you cannot call the cops on a black person who is breaking the law or skirting the edges of acceptable behavior. That’s racist. That’s not what cops are for.
    You call the cops when black people presume to learn about theology.
    Clear?

    https://postimg.cc/LnVrVgDy

  74. @Tiny Duck

    The cost of making a movie, without name actors, is probably cheaper than it’s ever been. People have literally made movies using iPhones and edited video and sound on laptops, with distribution on YouTube.
    So where are all the great movies with brilliant plots and excellent actors made by minorities?

    • Replies: @Tiny Duck
  75. Cortes says:
    @Mr. Anon

    Perhaps the original name had, er, negative connotations?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzie_Borden

  76. @Tiny Duck.

    Re: your comment on Jewish film-makers-

    ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?

    • Replies: @Jack D
  77. @Cortes

    I couldn’t disagree more about John D. McDonald. He wrote his compelling Travis McGee series of novels up to the end of his tragically short life. His earliest stories, reprinted after he was a salable name, are crapola, the work of someone who had not yet mastered his craft. I don’t have the dates of Condominium and the one about ripping off a tele-evangelist’s operation at hand, both excellent read. In any case, they are no better or worse than his Travis McGee series.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  78. Jack D says:
    @Buffalo Joe

    Godfather III was pretty weak but Godfather II was a great movie in its own right. There was more than enough material in the novel to make another movie since Godfather I starts with Vito as an older man.

    Part III is a more traditional sequel in that it was motivated by Coppola’s financial straits at the time rather than by any sincere desire to complete the story arc. Hollywood movies are always a combination of both but very rarely does a cynical desire to make money translate into great art. The movie also suffers from the fact that they couldn’t reach terms with Duvall so they had to kill off the character of Tom Hagen.

    Casting Coppola’s daughter as Michael’s daughter was also a big mistake. As Steyn mentions in his Goldman obituary, casting decisions based on nepotism rarely turn out well. Goldman felt that his Stepford Wives movie was ruined by casting the director’s wife as female lead – she was pleasant looking but in a sort of middle aged hausfrau kind of way. They had to tone down the other wives and their costumes in order not to upstage Mrs. Director. In Goldman’s original script, the robot replacements were much more interested in non-stop sex than in housekeeping. Killing your wife in order to replace her with a housekeeping wizard is not very compelling storytelling, even if she does do PERFECT hospital corners and presses your shirts just right.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  79. Jack D says:
    @Charlesz Martel

    In case you haven’t figured it out, TD often says the exact opposite of what he really believes. He is supposed to be some sort of parody of an SJW but he sometimes misses the mark rather widely. The last thing the new browner America will be interested in is hearing more from Jewish men who to them are just another type of whitey. Ocasio Cortez is already attacking Schumer. If Jewish men were really looking forward to being heard from more under the New Regime they will be sorely disappointed but in real life they are under no illusions. The ones pushing for this kind of stuff already have whatever they want and will be dead of old age soon anyway.

    • Agree: Charlesz Martel
  80. Here’s a link to a good article on why screenwriting has become so formulaic:

    https://goodinaroom.com/blog/real-reason-hollywood-makes-bad-movies/

    Another reason is Wall Street. I forget who said it, maybe Charlie Bluhdorn, but it was a truism: “Airlines and perfume are glamorous, but zinc and auto parts make your money.”

    That all changed with Jaws in 1975. Remember what a cultural event that was?

    Jaws was such a profitable movie that Wall Street got interested in movies. Prior to that, movies were a big cultural deal but not a huge financial deal. First and second run theatres, no cable, no home video, no internet, foreign sales were insignificant.
    Once the big money men moved in, they wanted a safer return. Sequels are easier to raise money for. It’s the reason why if you can get a star to sign onto your project, funding is not a problem. A certain percentage of the audience will go to see a movie with a star they know the work of. So pay the outrageous salary and get it made. It’s also a lot easier to get distribution-the bane of independent films.
    There was an article online a while back where an ex-Disney exec explained why you couldn’t make “Rain Man” today. It was because too much of the movie (autism, grey market cars, etc.) would not be comprehensible to many foreign markets. Paraphrasing – “When I make a movie, I don’t just think “will it play in Peoria?” It has to play in Peoria, Lisbon, Paris, Moscow,Shanghai, Jakarta. The costs are so high I have to consider all global revenue. So what sells worldwide? Special effects, pretty girls, explosions, car chases.”

    Which explains a lot about Tom Cruise’s movie choices, and Michael Bay movies.

    • Replies: @Sam Malone
  81. Cortes says:
    @Anonymouse

    Thanks for the reply.

    Agree to disagree.

    My look back at the Wikipedia entry showed that I have a good many titles to read.

    Nevertheless, I’m sticking with my assessment of the McGee series. Following “The Empty Copper Sea” the quality plummeted. The quality of the first 3/4 was, ahem, variable but I’d put that down to “bedding in” the format. The final ones frankly seem ludicrous.

    “Dead Low Tide” an early novel was very good. And his final published work “Barrier Island” (how did I forget about that!) is a sensational novel about the tensions between development and conservation of the ecosystem.

    • Replies: @Jim Don Bob
  82. Abe says: • Website

    Generally speaking, books about screenwriting are written by people who aren’t very successful at it. For example, Story by Robert McKee (who is played by Brian Cox in Adaptation) is an impressive combination of how-to and motivational books. But McKee had time to become the leading screenwriting coach because he wasn’t in all that much demand as a screenwriter.

    Or how can one forget the all-time leading poseur Syd Field? His screenwriting book was considered the bible once upon a time, but I don’t think he ever had a screenwriting credit to his name.

    I once had youthful ambitions of breaking into that biz, even submitted (or tried to submit, don’t remember now) an entry into the Nichols Screenwriting Competition, a contest sponsored by the Academy supposedly to find and promote new talent. Unfortunately even the Nichols Contest, the gold standard of screenwriting breakthrough opportunities, is a bit of a rip. One contest winner’s script eventually became the feature film ARLINGTON ROAD, but that is by far the exception. I’m not in fact aware of any other Nichols winnning script that was ever produced, or a winning writer who had much of a career. And there are of course all the much more blatant rip-offs out there, like 3 and even 4 figure writing workshops. $15 for a Field or McKee paperback is a bargain by comparison.

    Let’s face it- trying to break into screenwriting as a screenwriter is a sucker’s game. For just a little bit more effort doing almost the exact same thing you could be writing short stories or an actual novel. Instead of, at best, becoming a poorly paid, lowly screenwriter (and ever since THE LARRY SANDERS SHOW even the general public now knows that if you’re a writer in Hollywood you’re at the bottom of the totem pole- a social outcast ignored by the starlets and mocked by the staff- one writer on THE SIMPSONS recalled how the secretaries would call him and his colleagues “the rich nerds”), why not become the next J. K. Rowling or George R. R. Martin, the richly paid, powerful (pretty much on par with any executive producer) and most importantly RESPECTED content originator, who retains very strong creative control instead of helplessly watching his work sliced and diced into crap during development like most screenwriters do?

    Plus all the favoritism. Otherwise how to account for a hack like Akiva Goldsman (writer of the 2 worst 90’s BATMAN films) having such a long and well-renumerated career?

  83. @Jack D

    Jack, thank you, a very informative reply.

  84. Kirt says:

    The Princess Bride is a classic. My kids watched it so often, they had not just the dialogue but the sound effects memorized.

    • Replies: @Buffalo Joe
  85. “(…) Every time out it’s a guess and, if you’re lucky, an educated one.”

    This sentence seems like it came right out of Groucho Marx. The notion that one needs luck to make an educated guess is really absurd.

  86. Sean says:

    Paleo author and economics prof DeVaney author of “Hollywood Economics: How Extreme Uncertainty Shapes the Film Industry” to “Quality Revaluations and the Breakdown of Statistical Herding in the Dynamics of Box Office Revenues.” references Goldman, and link to that point in a long interesting talk is here. He says the Paramount court decision forced studios to sell their theaters and that altered the business totally

  87. slumber_j says:
    @AnotherDad

    I agree with you on that aspect of Handlin’s work. But he was a brilliant man, and central to the intellectual work that underpinned the advancement of those ideas, and therefore a critically important figure in the whole immigration business as it has unfolded post-1965.

  88. slumber_j says:
    @Stebbing Heuer

    Susan Burden is rich herself, so I don’t think William Goldman had to worry too much about that.

  89. @Sean

    I’d be interested in whether DeVaney sees a decline in the “Extreme Uncertainty” over the last 10 to 20 years.

    Another aspect is that stars don’t get guaranteed as much these days as they did in the 1990s, especially relative to the expansion in global revenue.

  90. @Kirt

    Kirt, My two youngest daughters and I watch it every year after Thanksgiving dinner. “No more rhymes and I mean it, Any body want a peanut?”

  91. Sean says:

    I think he says it follows a Power Law, and the blockbuster films that are key to the overall profits of Hollywood are always unpredictable, but the star is essential to get financing for a picture so the agents have enormous power. I wonder if the stars get as much as before but just in a more tax efficient way. A lot of films are claimed to have barely broke even when they were apparently hits.

    He also says something about baseball and Sosa ect home run statistics and steroids. He was a minor league professional player before he became an academic.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  92. @Sean

    Absolutely correct about the Paramount decision. When the studios owned the distribution channel, they could make good movies in the studio system without worrying about having to please everyone in a race to the bottom for market share, which is where we are today. That’s because they had guaranteed distribution.That’s one reason why so many great movies are from that period. (Of course, being pre-television helped a lot).
    The fact that studios were Jewish owned meant that the owners felt they had to show they were 100% American and did their bit for propaganda in wartime as well as pushing American values in peacetime. If they strayed too far afield, the studio heads got an earful at the Temple and from their wives and families. The system worked well, and Hollywood didn’t see itself as being in constant opposition to American values, as it became post 1960′s.
    Television pushed that world to the side as well.
    Interestingly, the same monopolistic practices that the Paramount decision stopped have returned, but not from the production side. New technologies have created such a large demand from the distribution side that many films are now made and financed by distribution companies- Canal + and Netflix are perfect examples. There is currently a battle going on in the film distribution world about whether films not distributed through theatres should be considered for industry awards.
    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

  93. @Sean

    At the turn of the century, NBC offered Jerry Seinfeld $110 million for one more season of Seinfeld, but he turned it down. At one million per 22 episodes for the three supporting stars, that would have been $176 million to the talent.

    A lot of hard thinking has been devoted since then to not letting actors get in many situations where they have that kind of negotiating power.

    Reality TV shows where the grand prize is one … million … dollars are one response.

  94. Anon[372] • Disclaimer says:
    @AndrewR

    Tell it like a man in ROT13, baby.

  95. Anon[372] • Disclaimer says:
    @prosa123

    Because if they were still there he would no longer be supervising them?

    This whole thing seems insane on multiple levels, but I suppose that’s just the Modern Mind at Work.

  96. @Tiny Duck

    We still have a long way to go as he industry is still offensively white male but in maybe 10 years we will be seeing things that are really good

    The future is always ten years away.

    Can you point us to some good telenovelas in the meantime? Ones with real Mexicans?

  97. Whiskey says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer

    Steve — You could argue (or at least I do) that the model for Hollywood is changing underneath their feet. First, China is not exactly friendly to Hollywood movies. Not only are the built in hedonic messages innately offensive to President Xi and his people, but Chinese distributors don’t like sharing revenue much. And besides, China has a directive from the Emperor-President to have its own, highly protected film industry to push, globally, the Red Detachment of Women and suchlike stuff.

    So China is not going to bail out Hollywood from the rich revenue streams of first VHS and the DVD money falling away. Revenue that allowed them to swing for the fences, a John Carter here, a Black Disney Princess there, who cares if you get a Frozen and a Marvel Universe out of it? Indeed who cares if Star Wars tanks, those toys of empowered Mary Sues will just sell themselves, right? Right ???

    And really, who cares if audiences just get fatigued over the 11th iteration of Spider-Man or various pointless super-hero battles. The audiences are obligated by law to show up right?

    Instead it seems the money is coming through streaming. Which means the end essentially of movies and traditional, 13/22/24 episode broadcast television. You will get shorter, 8 to 11 run episode seasons, of highly tailored mini-series or maxi-movies. Which if successful enough will continue the story until there is no further demand. This is a model without toys, licensing, and other ancillary revenues that overshadowed the films (Frozen, the Marvel stuff, Star Wars). That stuff will still go along, and movie studios will limp along on that revenue, but the bulk of the action seems set to go to streaming.

    And the way that works out is premium content for affluent (read: White) people who will pay for the content. And the content has to be enough story-addictive that people will watch till the end and demand MORE. As noted by Sean above this means owning the content and the distribution.

    Hollywood can pat itself on the back with “the Help” and “Hidden Figures” but that stuff won’t get audiences that can pay a $25 a month streaming bill just to watch the latest (where the industry is headed). Netflix tried to expand into India and found … way too many poor people and the middle class in India equal to poor people here. Very few could afford their service. And they can’t make money even with lower production costs with global poor prices.

    You can expect a new kind of story-telling, eight to eleven episodes, of varying length each. Perhaps an episode as short as 45 minutes or as long as an hour and fifteen minutes. Telling a story designed to get audiences hooked so they re-up their subscriptions again, and again, and again. And let me add, the only growth opportunity is White men. The female audience is over-served, there are a zillion things out there for them. But if the model is a continuous subscription revenue and all that implies at premium prices, the global poor or people of color don’t have the green to put the company in the black. As it were.

    • Replies: @Cortes
  98. Tiny Duck says:
    @Charlesz Martel

    Wong fu productions

    Issa Rae productions

    Fung bros

    It’s all on YouTube

  99. anon[170] • Disclaimer says:

    Not to go all meta, but sequels were big in pre television 40′s. But they were called series, at least in retrospect. Plus, Godfather II was better than I, no?

    Cable TV Series have eclipsed film for story and character development.

    Maybe that has something to do with the re-evaluation of Heavens Gate.

    How do you strip-mine everything from a story or personalty? Plus the rather depressing economics of it all explain a lot. Direct to China?

    The best film is mesmerizing, of course. The best TV engaging.

  100. bjondo says:

    Why is Marc Stain so promoted?

    He belongs in Guantanamo in orange.

    With all the other “Neo”cons.

  101. @Steve Sailer

    “Wealth beyond the dreams of avarice.” I’ve met a few Hollywood folks, but don’t work anywhere nearly even remote to it. I was reading recently that the cast of friends still pull in $20 million per year just in syndication residuals. Seinfeld has to be comparable.

    That guy from the Cosby Show working at Trader Joe’s only had to take a job there after all of the show’s reruns were pulled from TV. I was surprised that he was only in something like 50-something episodes, so if he was staying afloat off of that income, to be a real player means making some genuine bank.

    There’s a certain falling from Olympus aspect to big names who piss away their fortunes, but it always fascinates me to read about “that guy” actors who are low-grade wealthy.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  102. @Dieter Kief

    The difference between fiction and real life, according to Tom Clancy, if I remember right, is that fiction has to make sense.

  103. @South Texas Guy

    The residual systems are pretty fair even to minor figures. Also, the money in personal appearances for corporate events and the like is good. And a third thing is that actors tend to do well on real estate. They get invited to a lot of parties, so they get to see a lot of high end houses and hear a lot about trends in real estate. Plus they are glamorous, so Russian oligarchs and the like want to buy into the neighborhoods they and their colleagues bought into in the past. Actors can’t really afford Beverly Hills-Bel Air anymore because of all the foreign zillionaire money flowing in, but they’ll do fine in ten years selling their current houses to Burmese generals’ children (or whomever is stinking rich in 2028) who want to live where the stars live.

    • Replies: @dvorak
  104. @Stebbing Heuer

    The key aspect is the co-mingling of finances. A state may or may not consider you married, but if the woman you’ve shacked up with has been contributing to the maintenance of your house and paying part of the bills, a judge has to settle it.

  105. Cortes says:
    @Whiskey

    First you need a story.

    Second it has to be authentically interesting (not what’s fashionable/trendy/what the folks on the fifth floor feel comfortable with)

    And (as a minimum) it must be told without requiring that lead actors look like robots.

    Hey! I spent a large part of Sunday evening catching glimpses of the Tom Cruise fest on the TV at my sister’s house. (Do they apply something to make their eyes glisten like they’re about to weep?)

  106. larry mcmurtry, famed author, also wrote a book on hollywood & screenwriting etc (called Film Flam)…mcmurtry was an uncredited script doctor…for evidence to support this, see the movie Bandolero, and compare it to the book Lonesome Dove

  107. Zeek says:
    @Steve Sailer

    The real kicker was when Seinfeld was just beginning doing the talk show circuit to sell his big brand new box of DVD’s of Seinfeld episodes with all the bell’s and whistle’s, actors commentary, everything, and the SAME week, Michael Richards went on his wildman rant at the Laugh Factory, effectively scuttling the entire enterprise.

    I just thought, “now THIS is truly the last and final funny episode of Seinfeld”–and it was SOOO Seinfeld! Also thought of poor Jerry, up early in the morning to do interviews to sell his DVD’s, eating breakfast, and turning on his flatscreen to see the Richards rant on the news, and saying thru a mouthful of Cheerio’s, “what… the… FUCK!!!”

    The chaser was Richards via a satellite feed on Letterman, trying to do damage control with Jerry trying to help, and the audience started laughing at Richards.

    Gothic Seinfeld!

  108. Cortes says:

    As usual, when you’re trying to impress her…

    I used to have a copy of “A Story That Ends With A Scream” by the author of Midnight Cowboy…

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Leo_Herlihy

    What a terrific writer!

  109. dvorak says:

    The formula for a Bond film is light weight enough that it doesn’t impede creativity on the sequels. Bond meets three women, one friend who dies after Bond beds her, one enemy who he converts through sex, one friend to the end (beds her after fade-out). h/t Roald Dahl

  110. dvorak says:
    @Steve Sailer

    Actors can’t really afford Beverly Hills-Bel Air anymore because of all the foreign zillionaire money flowing in, but they’ll do fine in ten years selling their current houses to Burmese generals’ children (or whomever is stinking rich in 2028) who want to live where the stars live.

    Los Feliz

  111. Sean says:
    @Steve Sailer

    I wonder if that big fee per episode up front deal he turned down let him keep full syndication rights on top of his fee. Jerry Seinfeld seems to have made a billion dollars through a royalty deal, he had as a result of not taking the big money up front, so ending it when he did probably just a business decision to get the most money he could out of it in the end. The other cast members got nothing from syndication. Anyway, a top rated TV show gave him and his fellow “industrious Jews” so much power they could cancel their own series and yet make Steve Bannon rich without even hearing of him.

    https://consequenceofsound.net/2017/04/larry-david-didnt-know-steve-bannon-made-money-off-seinfeld/
    Rob Reiner, one of the founders of the Seinfeld production company, Castle Rock Entertainment, added, “It makes me sick.”
    Still, the extent of Bannon’s ownership and profit from Seinfield is murky at best. According to Bloomberg, Bannon claimed when Westinghouse Electric hired his firm to sell Castle Rock Entertainment in 1992, he pushed the company to take Ted Turner’s offer of a stake in five shows. Bannon claimed Westinghouse responded, “If this is such a great deal, why don’t you defer some of your cash fee and keep an ownership stake in that package of TV rights?” Bannon said okay; Seinfeld was one of those shows.

  112. Anonymous[276] • Disclaimer says:
    @Sean

    Incidentally, DeVany wrote a paper recently arguing that home runs haven’t increased over the past 50 years and that steroids don’t help one hit home runs and weren’t a factor in recent home run feats:

    http://steroids-and-baseball.com/DeVany.old/DeVanyHomeRunMS.pdf

    The greatest home run hitters are as rare as great scientists, artists, or composers. The greatest accomplishments in these fields all follow the same universal law of genius,
    as I show in this paper. There is no evidence that steroid use has altered home run
    hitting and those who argue otherwise are profoundly ignorant of the statistics of home
    runs, the physics of baseball, and of the physiological effects of steroids. There is no
    standard for great accomplishments, in home runs, in the sciences, and in the arts.
    Genius has its own way and the great achievements of McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds (they
    did it in that order) are of a piece with genius in other fields — they are the Bach,
    Beethoven, and Mozart of home runs.

  113. @Cortes

    I read The Girl, The Gold Watch, and Everything years ago and I still remember it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Girl,_the_Gold_Watch_%26_Everything

    OT: I just saw a Walmart Thanksgiving ad that had nothing but white people in it. Isn’t that illegal?

  114. @Charlesz Martel

    That all changed with Jaws in 1975. Remember what a cultural event that was? Jaws was such a profitable movie that Wall Street got interested in movies. Prior to that, movies were a big cultural deal but not a huge financial deal.

    In Easy Riders and Raging Bulls, the book about Hollywood during the age of the auteur director from roughly 1969 to 1980, it actually says that it was the enormous box office success of The Exorcist in 1973 that really caught the attention of the New York money people. We might forget it now, but apparently at the time The Exorcist was truly a smash on a higher level than thus far seen.

    The even more impressive box office success of Jaws no doubt accelerated the trend you speak of, but it had already begun. I remember the author quoting some studio person who recalled looking at the returns showing the unheard-of money pouring in from The Exorcist and realizing that it was over for the studios as he knew them, that it was only a matter of time before conglomerates started buying it all up now that it had been demonstrated that movies could generate so much money.

  115. @Buffalo Joe

    I loved “Raiders of the Lost Ark” but neither of the sequel Indiana Jones movies.

    Believe it or not, a third sequel was released in 2008, but it was lousy. I agree with you that the Temple of Doom was a lousy movie, but the Last Crusade was better than the original.

    • Replies: @cthulhu
  116. cthulhu says:
    @ScarletNumber

    I agree with you that the Temple of Doom was a lousy movie, but the Last Crusade was better than the original.

    “Last Crusade” better than “Raiders”??!! Whatever you’re smoking is either really good or really bad…

  117. Anonymous[354] • Disclaimer says:

    Steyn is on to something with that Nanette Newman anecdote– if the adaptation had been cast the way Goldman envisioned it, i.e. crass porn shiksas, then “Stepford wife” wouldn’t have nearly the longevity it’s enjoyed, even as nobody connects any more to the (badly dated) original property (remember the Nicole Kidman remake? Me neither)

    By going with the proto-Martha-Stewart portrayal instead, the old film locked into a primal female hate/envy object: the well-appointed domestic doyenne who keeps “the show” running like clockwork. This bit of archetypery alternately fascinates and infuriates women in the Joseph Campbellesque sort of vein.

    Goldman’s thoughts on the various “reality” permutations of Real Housewives shows, in every place in the world that has a female audience and electricity/TV reception, would be interesting to hear.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
  118. @Anonymous

    Right, Martha Stewart is kind of the female Trump, a really polarizing personality.

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