Monday, August 15, 2011

A Marketing Department Film



I have not seen The Smurfs and I have no intention on paying my money to see it either so this is not a review of it. But watching the clips and reading the reviews of this film got me to thinking: Why does it exist? Why do really bad films of this type exist? The Scooby Doo movies, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, etc. Why do they get made? And more importantly, how do they make so much money despite being critically reviled? The answer: Marketing.

Now, I believe no one actually sets out to make a bad film. I know the hard work and effort it takes to put together a single film. However, films made in mainstream Hollywood studios are an entirely different case. Studios like these are not run by creative types. It's reported many of them aren't even fond of films. They're businesspeople first and foremost, concerned primarily to make the maximum amount of profit. Therein lies one of the problems.

The entertainment business is a highly risky venture because unlike, say, a mechanical product or a food product, your product relies a lot on highly subjective factors rather than objective factors. You can measure the size, weight, length, width, etc. of let's say, a screw and you can create a satisfactory product for your customers. But film, music, video games, etc. all rely on lots of subjectivity which can't be easily be measured or weighed or quantified. This is why a lot of huge tentpole Hollywood blockbusters are adaptations of previous material like books, comics, previous franchises, etc. because they have built-in audiences for them already so money is all but guaranteed. So the Harry Potter's and Dark Knight's have little to no problem.

What about something midway like The Smurfs? That's where the marketing department comes in. The studio behind this wants to launch a kiddie franchise akin to the similarly positioned Alvin and the Chipmunks: Take something old that some older people will be nostalghic about and reintroduce them to a new generation. But instead of trying to do something creative and inventive with the material (which really could be done), they instead went to the easily marketable route of cheap laughs and forced hipness (Papa Smurf in shades? Please). It's the same for a lot of these types of films. These are films whose scripts is dictated by Q-ratings, focus groups and strictly lowest common denominator filmmaking, designed to create products and consumers out of the kids who will bug their parents to buy the tickets and the toys. This film and films like it are purely a product of marketing, made for the pure purpose of making money.

So the next time you see a movie like this, just think, that's a film by the marketing department.

15 comments:

My 2 Pesos said...

This movie is just a piece of crap.

The Angry Lurker said...

When I worked in the film industry in Ireland as a bodyguard, I was told that some movies were made to fail because you made more money back due to tax breaks?

To Tipota said...

This man with his post speaks the truth! I'll be grateful to join a boycott campaign of movies like these. You should probably add '' Rise of the planet of the apes '' and '' Watchmen '' on that exception list. Also you could point out that there is a great lack of original screenplay writers.. Can you remember the last time you watched a movie that wasn't based on a book? Probably Inception but what about before that?

J.B. said...

I intuitively avoid movies like these. just gets me bored to death. I don't fall for the scheme I guess. It may be some fun for the kids though

Bart said...

i just really want to NPH and hookers, is that too much to ask?

Bersercules said...

Its all about getting parents to think, my kid will like this, its from a kids show that I know of!

Film Geek Bastard said...

@To Tipota: There are lots of original ideas in indie/foreign/low-budget (and to lesser extent, animated) films. But mega-budgeted completely original work? That's rare.

msmariah said...

I wonder this all the time. How/why do bad films get made? There are so many great indie writers out there who given the chance would write something fabulous.

Diego Sousa said...

i won't watch it neither! it really looks like a piece of junk just forcing the common people to spend money...

Ting Kubby said...

Yes marketing, plus kids love this crap.

tracirz said...

Totally agree.

That Bastard From Bellingham said...

Y'know, this movie deserves to fail (despite the awesome that is NPH)much in the same way that Avatard the Derpbender deserved to fail.

It was not made with entertainment in mind.

As always m'man, you hit every single point right on its' pointy horrible head.

It's been proven before that when businessmen and politicians meddle where they're not needed (and especially where they have no expertise in) then all you get is crappy results. These mega-blockbusters are usually derped from the get-go simply BECAUSE they have to rely so hard on a marketing team.

Y'know, you spoke of horrible scriptwork...have you read the script for G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra? I actually forgave that movie for a couple of points (No longer a Real American Hero? The crusade to make Americans feel guilty goes on...), and I had to stretch in order to do it but stretch I did.

No, once I read the script I became incensed and have thusly embarked on writing a better one. Because, seriously now, a friggin' five year old could've written G.I. Joe's script.

Originality in Hollywood? SO long as people keep shelling out money in order to keep the executives goin', they're only going to keep churning out the same crap end over balls.

We can only all hope that the masses in general will come to their senses and start sending the proper message to them: stop letting Michael Bay, M. Night Shamallamawingwong and all these other crap directors (Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, I'm looking at you you friggin' rapists you) and friggin' executives make movies.

Seriously, we're in a downward spiral of crap.

Kenneth Tso said...

Looks pretty bad...

joe said...

I have no plan to see any Smurf movie either...

Necroticism said...

It exists... because God didn't.