[18 August 2009]
The Orange County Register (MCT)
Do you know what intrigues me most about the people who run Hollywood?
They’re full of surprises.
Just when you think you have them figured out, they do something you didn’t expect.
For instance, I was sitting in a movie theater last week, watching yet another silly action movie based on a toy, and I was thinking that this is as low as Hollywood executives can stoop for source material.
It wasn’t that long ago that some of us thought Disneyland rides were the most ridiculous source material for films. Compared to toys, Disneyland rides look like John Steinbeck novels.
Well, Hollywood surprised me again when plans were announced that a movie might be made based on footage shot during rehearsals in Los Angeles for Michael Jackson’s series of London concerts. The pop singer was scheduled to perform 50 concerts, which obviously were canceled after his death. But just because Jackson can’t benefit financially from his work, people in Hollywood have figured a way to make a buck.
Yes, I know that Jackson’s family will make the bulk of any profits that come from this film, but I’m sure there will be plenty left over for the people behind this morbid scheme.
Making a movie based on rehearsals for a concert that never happened has set a new standard for movie source material. The bar is now set so low that nobody could limbo under it. Perhaps a snake could slither under the bar.
According to reports, 80 hours of rehearsal footage were shot, presumably with the late singer’s blessing. The proposed movie would draw heavily on that footage, but also might include three or more classic Jackson music videos. Although it sounds suspiciously like a documentary, the people behind it insist that it is a feature film. Are they worried that the word “documentary” might scare off some people (documentaries generally don’t make a lot of money), or do they plan to fictionalize the singer’s final days?
Anyway, I’m sure Michael will be spinning (or moon-walking) in his grave when this movie comes out. But he won’t be laughing all the way to the bank. Somebody else will be doing the laughing.
Now that rehearsal footage is officially designated as source material for a movie, it’s probably time to discuss other source material used by filmmakers.
And why just discuss something when you can make a list?
In reverse order, from the dumbest source material to the smartest, here is a glimpse into how Hollywood works.
Of course, there will be some industry people who maintain that this is a list of smartest to dumbest because they equate smart and dumb with how much, or how little, money a movie makes.
Smart or dumb, this list has nothing to do with success or failure. A movie based on a brilliant novel can bomb, and a movie based on a toy can be the biggest movie of the summer.