Monday, April 23, 2007

Under The Radar

TIME magazine has done a piece on sites like JoBlo, Aint it Cool, Cinemablend and The Movie Blog. Of course, film ick is small fry, comparatively. We flew miles beneath TIME's radar. And, no, I don't like it that way. Why would I bother writing any of this if I didn't want to spread it, for it to be read and passed on, and to become a talking point?

film ick is in the shadow of the behemoths. But that doesn't mean we don't often break the more interesting stories.

Thankfully, The Movie Blog is a shade different from JoBlo, which is a shade different to Aint it Cool - and I think what I'm trying to do here is different again. If too many sites were too similar, then we'd be in trouble. Everything would be Transformers, Scarlett Johansson and Indiana Jones and Most Likely Something Like The City of Gods.

There's a key point early in the TIME piece that interested me particularly. They represent the casting of Peter Cullen in Transformers as a move to keep the fanbase happy and then go on to suggest this proves that the fanbase has power. Surely the 'talking cloud' versus 'biiiiiig camp giant' argument, regarding Galactus in The Fantastic Four, draws a pretty clear line around the limits of fanboy influence? And the box office for Snakes on a Plane, Slither and definitely Grind House seems to suggest that the fanboy point of view is rather more specialist than Peter Cullen's contract might attest to.

Maybe the fan audience is the one that requires the least tending?


Mark said...

I still think that positive early fanboy reaction, linked to a decent product, results in huge hits, like LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy, the SPIDER-MANs and first two X-MEN films, and even SHAUN and HOT FUZZ.

Early fanboy praise heaped on a poor product, like SNAKES ON A PLANE, is easily exposed as empty hype. So yeah, the fan angle can provide the tipping point, but the substance has to be there in the first place.

Brendon said...

That seems to make sense, Mark, but I don't think it ultimately does. Maybe I'm missing something...

See... who knew that Snakes was empty before it came out? And it was already a flop then. And who knew that Spider-Man wasn't? And how do Grind House and Fantastic Four fit this pattern - surely their box-office 'success' was the wrong way round?

Perhaps the fan boy hype is totally incidental. I really can't see how it is having much of an effect at all. I'd like to think it is, for sentimental reasons, but I don't see any evidence.

Do we know that it was fanboy hype that helped Lord of the Rings or Shaun be hits?

(Remembering that Shaun was only a small-scale hit, and did much better on video formats than cinemas)

Mark said...

Is GRIND HOUSE a success? I'm sure I'll enjoy it when I get 'round to seeing it, but it doesn't seem to be exactly setting the box-offices alight.

Can't account for the "success" of the first FF film, other than it wasn't as bad as it could have been, which maybe meant it got off lightly in certain corners. Maybe it came out against an open field, I can't remember. I do remember the Guardian's critic for The Guide gave it a glowing review, then recanted a few weeks later, saying it was because he saw it in a great mood, the day before going on a long vacation.

SNAKES was a bizarre phenomenon, with a nation of geeks willing it to be good for their own peculiar reasons, with the public then being completely underwhelmed by the movie when it arrived. There's a certain amount of similar territory between the mainstream reaction to SNAKES and GRIND HOUSE at some level - an element of "normal" critics saying, "hey, look what the geeks are getting their knickers in a twist about now".

droidguy1119 said...

Oh, I am more than definitely noticing that filmick covers far more interesting stories than any of your counterparts, and you don't go blathering in EW about how your site is a bunch of "early adopters" and how your site basically is the cause for 300's box office *cough*JoBlo*cough.

droidguy1119 said...

Also I would like to say that Snakes on a Plane was not a flop for lack of substance, same with Grindhouse. These films failed because while they are an easy sell to the audiences that want to see them they are an incredibly hard sell to anyone else. It really doesn't have to do with whether or not the movies are good at all, but the average joe moviegoer has to be able to understand the concept as instantly as anyone making jokes in the talkback at AICN and those concepts for those movies I don't think were relayed well enough.

Brendon said...

That was exactly my point about Grind House, actually, Mark. That the geeks didn't propel it to anyhting more than screenings playing to 4 people at a time.

Mark said...

Droidguy - I kinda agree, but thought SNAKES flopped because the movie itself turned out to be so bloody pedestrian. So yeah, there was a lack of substance: after all the high hopes of the nation of geeks, the final product was just another witless b-movie.

Whereas, GRIND HOUSE apes the conventions of b-movies, yet I'm presuming has an intelligence and flair behind the pastich that SNAKES never did (though I'll have to wait to the end of May to test that theory).