Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Peter Jackson Said It Out Loud!

I'll post a little blog about Comic-con in a few moments. My general peripheral observations on that Pop Culture mash up may stir a hornets nest or two, and my thoughts are fairly wild. However, an interview was put out by the LA Times with Peter Jackson that took place in San Diego over the past weekend. Geoff Boucher put this little question to Jackson and his response was a fair but unrepentant indictment of business as usual in Hollywood today:

GB: (Referring to Comicon) Certainly, it's a place to introduce the new and celebrate the past, but I suppose what I was suggesting is that these days it seems difficult to make a big special-effects film unless it's based on some pre-existing, known quantity in pop-culture, such as a novel, comic book, video game, TV show, toy line or previous movie."...

PJ: Personally I think that’s one of the most depressing things about the film industry generally today. The writers and directors should be blamed just as much as the studios because really everything seems to be a remake or adapting a 1970s TV show that was never particularly good. Why anyone thinks that it would be a good feature film now, you know, goodness knows why. And I guess it’s easy to say it's security that you know a studio is only prepared to put $150 million or $200 million into something if it’s a known quantity. But at the same time I’m also aware that audiences are getting fed up with the lack of original ideas and original stories. And if you look back to the great days of "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" and those sorts of movies, they weren’t based on TV shows, they weren’t based on comics. They were inspired by them and they had DNA in them which came from years of Flash Gordon and various things in the past but nonetheless they were original. And yet we seem to be incapable as a general industry, which includes not just the studios but the filmmakers and writers and directors, we seem to be incapable of doing that now for some reason. It’s a little bit depressing. But hopefully it’s a cycle. Everything in the film business tends to be cyclic and hopefully this all drains itself out in a couple years and we’ll be back into original stories again.

Now, of course you might say, "This is coming from a guy whose biggest success was a series of movies based off an established work of literature." My only argument was that LOTR is just that an established piece of celebrated literature. Scooby Doo the cartoon or The Transformers are not literature. They are pop culture programming designed to sell toys, just as their movie counter parts were designed to do.

Now whether or not Jackson's film which he produced (not directed) District 9 seems to be a collection of themes taken from various sources, but at the end of the day it is original I.P. that has never been seen before. There is never going to be discussion about 'who is cast as the lead' because there is no established fan base to care about a decision like that. You do not have to cater to fanboys, and you do not have to worry about your 'adaptation' of the property or which story to tell. (Good luck with that by the way to Sam Raimi, P.S. I can help with the script if you need it). You have a fresh story that requires you as a film-maker to push your imagination and the technology around you to the limit, just as Lucas and Spielberg did decades ago.

My only hope for the film-biz right now is Jackson's last statement: Everything in the film business tends to be cyclic and hopefully this all drains itself out in a couple years and we’ll be back into original stories again.

It's clear audiences lap up original ideas. In T.V. you look at the preliminary success of HEROES and the long term success of LOST, and you can point to that and say, "LOOK original ideas work in Hollywood."

No comments: