Monday, May 12, 2014

You're Doing it Wrong, Pt. II

In the first installment, I noted that the Hollywood Establishment has a serious case of HUTA with regard to using issues of religious faith as something to wipe their behinds with when they're out of other ideas. Pretty much in the same way, and for the same reasons, every seventh-grade class clown goes for toilet humor: because they can't help themselves.

This time around, let's take a peek at movies about the military.
And I'll be nice, and stick mostly with movies made after 9/11.

"Unfair!" come the shouts.

A) It's my blog.
B) Almost everything before 1970 (give or take) shows a general reverence and respect for the military, on both an individual and institutional level. Everything dramatic from then to nearly 2000 is exactly the opposite. The exceptions were any action-adventure, which was mainly Eastwood, Norris, Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Willis laying waste to everything in sight, including box office earnings records. And Saving Private Ryan.

I'm not going to re-fight the Vietnam War here. But the echoes of that conflict die hard. Most of the boomers that ended up in Hollywood are more inclined to be hippies had they been given the chance, and they keep trying to force-fit everything into that bong-hit wisdom and point of view, with few exceptions. The aging  Children Of The Sixties as producers, directors, and actors keep trying to fight a war they were never in, and relive the halcyon days they never understood, but somehow pine for.

Cases in point, as before:

Rules Of Engagement - 2000 Budget $60M, US Gross $61M, Total Gross $71M
Message: The military is evil, even to its own.
The Four Feathers - 2002, Budget $35M, US Gross $18M, Total Gross $30M
Message: Duty, honor, country? You must be joking!
(Alternate title: The Four Infidels: What happens when you re-write cinematic history with a pro-jihadi script.)
Jarhead - 2005 Budget $72M, US Gross $62M, Total Gross $96M
Message: Don't bother with a war, Saddam isn't worth the trip.
Home Of The Brave - 2006, Budget $12M, US Gross $52K, Total Gross $499K
Message: All veterans are damaged goods.

In The Valley Of Elah - 9/2007, Budget $ 23M, US Gross $7M, Total Gross $29M
Message: US Soldiers are PTSD-ridden dismembering psychopaths.
Rendition - 10/2007 Budget $ 27.5M, US Gross $9M, Total Gross $27M
Message: America routinely tortures innocent people.
Lions For Lambs - 11/2007 Budget $35M, US Gross $15M, Total Gross $63
Message: War is just a game; we happily squander our best and brightest to no good end.
Redacted - 11/2007 Budget $5M, US Gross $65K, Total Gross $782K
Message: US troops routinely kill innocent people without a care. 
Stop Loss - 2008 Budget $25M, US Gross $10.9M, Total Gross $11.2M
Message: US troops are all PTSD bombs, drunks, and baby killers.
The Messenger - 2009, Budget $6.5M, US Gross $1M, Total Gross $1.5M
Message: Your heroes are bums and alcoholics.
The Hurt Locker - 2009 Budget $15M, US Gross $17M, Total Gross $49M
Message: War is just a rush for adrenaline junkies.

The Men Who Stare At Goats -2009 Budget $25M, US Gross $32M, Total Gross $69M
Message: We all know the military is full of wacky fruit loops, and here's the proof!
Green Zone - 2010, Budget $100M, US Gross $35M, Total Gross $95M
Message: WMDs were a mythical cover for a war about oil.

Total totals: Spent: $442M Recouped US: $270M   Recouped Total:$ 532M
Net profit for anti-military, anti-American/West pictures: $90M
13 movies, 7 of which still haven't seen any profit whatsoever.
Message: You can embarrass yourself and lose your financial pants at the US box office making anti-American, anti-military movies, but the rest of the world will help you to just barely break even almost as often as not, because they hate America as much as most of official Hollywood does.


U-571 - 2000 Budget $62M, US Gross $77M, Total Gross $127M
Black Hawk Down - 2001 Budget $92M, US Gross $108M, Total Gross $173M 
We Were Soldiers - 2002 Budget $75M, US Gross $78M, Total Gross $114M
Tears Of The Sun - 2003 Budget $75M, US Gross $43M, Total Gross $86M
The Guardian - 2006 Budget $80M, US Gross $55M, Total Gross $95M
Battle: Los Angeles - 2011 Budget $70M, US Gross $83M, Total Gross $212M
Act Of Valor - 2012 Budget $12M, US Gross $70M, Total Gross $81M
Zero Dark Thirty - 2012 Budget $40M, US Gross $95M, Total Gross $133M
Lone Survivor - 2014 Budget $40M, US Gross $125M, Total Gross $149M

Message, in every case: America, F**k yeah!

Total Totals: Spent $556M Recouped US: $734M Recouped Total: $1.170Billion
Net profit for pro-military, pro-American pictures $ 614,000,000
10 movies, every one of which made a profit.

Of those, only Tears Of The Sun and The Guardian failed to more than break even before they ever left the US.

Messages: You can make nearly seven times the money on 10 pro- pictures as you can on 13 anti- pictures. And never, ever lose a dime.
(Unlike at least 7 of those total flops in the first list that will likely never see a profit.)
When you don't piss on the audience's head, they come to see your movies.
When you're out of step with the home audience from coast to coast, they aren't the ones who are wrong.

So maybe go back to telling good stories, which war movies have supplied literally since the dawn of movie making itself, and stop going out of your way to crap all over both the country you're in and the people who serve it - for one helluva lot less than SAG scale.

I can shoot these fish in the barrel all day long; it's not like too many studio execs in Hollywood seem to take a hint, let alone read their own ledgers.

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