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THE MANIC MANIAC- Hollywood's New Year's Resolutions
Tinsel Town's to-do and to-don't list for 2009
By Joe Crosby
January 08, 2009
IRON MAN 2 slideshow
The new year is under way. Gym memberships have climbed, someone somewhere has started writing the next great American novel, and you're going to be organizing that chaos in your garage right after you finish reading this. Or maybe tomorrow. OK, this weekend, or probably next week, but no later than March, probably for sure.
Resolutions have been made, and almost as many have already been abandoned just one week in. In the name of resolutions, the Manic Maniac has taken the liberty of listing Hollywood's "to-do" list for 2009. But like all new year's resolutions, the chances of follow-through are not good.
1. Don't screw up Iron Man 2.
The film doesn't appear in theaters until 2010, but Favreau & Co. begins shooting in just a few short months. Their task is not an easy one: Provide a sequel to one of the best comic-to-film interpretations ever made. The origin chapter in comic films have at least one thing going for them in that they offer a template to work with. Granted, it's a flexible template, but getting from point A to point Iron Man can guide the story arc. Comic sequels to origin spins sometimes struggle with story (and, consequently, quality) because they're forced to rely almost solely on the hero-villain relationship as the overarching conflict. Campy renditions ensue. This isn't always the case, of course, but it's a concern. Red flag number one was the replacement-without-notification of a talented Terrence Howard, forcing an obvious character change of someone who will undoubtedly play a much larger role in version 2.0. Red flag number two is the possible Mickey Rourke attachment. Ostensibly, this is a great addition to the cast. But when "names" are being added two-by-two (Don Cheadle, included), one worries that star power is placed ahead of story; that the big box-office draw is more important than the script. And plenty script changes will be made between now and release. Let's hope they're good ones. The good news: John Favreau is still directing.
2. Avoid green-lighting more re-boots/remakes, adaptations and sequels than original stories.
To be sure, movies are in the hopper until 2012, many of which follow into those categories. But this is about new movies. Movies that aren't in pre-production as we speak. Movies that might not have even left their writers' computers or their creators' minds. As businesses, studios have been making safe bets for years now, banking on existing brand names that will almost guarantee a huge opening weekend on history alone. If the critical response is mixed, the financial response will still almost surely pay dividends. But original genre stories can make money, too, and a lot of it. They're not all indie-house flicks that garner awards and miniscule box office receipts. Big budget science fiction, in particular, has been suffering because of the lack of originality in that realm, at least in creativity. The Manic Maniac has loved seeing classic story lines reinterpreted just as much as the next fan, and he still wants to see them made. But, as noted by the consistent theme of his columns, he also has hankering for something new. Something we can't pull off of our bookshelves or out of our movie collections. Where new worlds are created for our imaginations to get lost in. After all, that's kind of the foundation of this business anyway.
3. Keep saturation levels of James Cameron-related content at a minimum.
One of the genre godfathers has two big, big films approaching in 2009. IMAX epic Avatar apparently explores new terrain in the world of digital filmmaking, creating a sci-fi film with what might as well be sci-fi technology. Despite its secrecy, production notes have been made available, of course. Not least of which is the fact that he hired a linguist to help create a new language. Still, precious little is known about this planetary race existing 200 years from now. Then, we have Terminator: Salvation. It isn't a James Cameron film, but what was thought might be a bomb at green-light has been gaining steam. Unlike Avatar, everyone knows Terminator, not in small debt to Cameron. However, the fear for pre-release over-saturation is high. On the one hand, you have a Cameron film (that will be generating enormous buzz by mid-summer). One the other hand, you have the Terminator. Both of which demand attention. But as Mania contributor Rob Worley pointed out in his most anticipated of 2009, and as the Manic Maniac argued last year, over-saturation is exactly what could be the potential death knell of what would otherwise be a potentially excellent Watchmen film. Part of the quality of films is on the coaxing. Upfront exhibitionism doesn't serve a film well, nor the audience.
4. [Insert Resolution Here.]
If we were perpetually satisfied by the output of genre entertainment, then sites like Mania would scarcely exist. Despite many of its triumphs, where could Hollywood improve? Where are you concerned they might fail? What would you hope they resolve to do in 2009?