Daily Blog – Adrian Wittenberg – April 29, 2008: HOLLYWOOD: IT’S A SAFE BET.

I was watching I Am Legend the other day, and I was very disapointed. I felt like Hollywood made a mega star sci-fi movie, but the storytelling took second place to Will Smith’s popularity as an actor.  I think this happens far too often these days.

There was one scene where Smith’s character breaks down in a video store when he faces the hardship of his own loneliness. The audience was treated to some million dollar Will Smith tears, but the scene wasn’t very believable, and I couldn’t help but wonder how it and the rest of the movie would have been if it had the same budget for effects, but starred an actor who was talented but far less popular than Will Smith.

Perhaps this would mean more effort would be put into telling a captivating story. Putting Will Smith in a movie is a pretty safe bet for Hollywood though, and apparently the film grossed $256 million in North America and $583 million worldwide. However, I’m tired of shelling out money for theater tickets or movie rentals if it’s just to pay for a mega star’s salary and not a good story.

I prefer movies where the focus is on the story and character (s) rather than the popularity of the actor(s).

Star Wars is a great example of this, because when it first came out, all of the actors except for Harrison Ford were relatively unknown. Seeing them on the screen for the first time was refreshing and the story is what made the characters interesting.  Another good example is the Coen brother’s No Country for Old Men.  Tommy Lee Jones is a terrific actor and one who is widely known, but his popularity never outshines the other actors or the story.  The movie gives equal balance to all of the characters and the end result is a very captivating film.

I just want Hollywood to stop taking the risk management approach to filmmaking. Indie films have taken big risks all along, and perhaps that is where movie entertainment’s future lies.

2 Responses to “Daily Blog – Adrian Wittenberg – April 29, 2008: HOLLYWOOD: IT’S A SAFE BET.”

  1. ovation Says:

    As long as films are budgeted in the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars, I’m afraid “risk-management” will remain a prominent feature of Hollywood studio thinking. But this is hardly new. Bette Davis, Humphrey Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Cary Grant, Grace Kelly…each of these was often cast because they were popular first and talented second. The “two-tier” approach to filmmaking (high and low risk) has a long track record.

  2. JoeDH Says:

    Wow. I thought Smith’s acting was the best part of a poorly written screenplay. I actually got depressed for him, being lonely. I just couldn’t connect to the movie, which I didn’t think was Smith’s fault. It seems like so much of the story was left on the cutting room floor, and more development would have helped immensely. Compared to Independence Day, for example, I thought it really showed Smith’s development as an actor. Think about your comments in the context of the Star Wars prequels – was Hayden Christensen a famous actor? Nope. Unknown, ala Harrison Ford 1977. Ford’s clearly a better actor, but I don’t think the best actors in the world could save the script of “Attack of the Clones”.

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