In the current Hollywood paradigm – where most studios’ attentions are largely focused on churning out cynical carbon copies and bland remakes – it’s nice to hear that at least one major film-making corporation is at least trying to keep the movie-goer’s interest firmly in mind.
For the last few years Warner Bros., under the direction of president Jeff Robinov, has managed to take the studio in a unique and exciting direction – rolling the dice on big artistic gambles with the hope of large returns. While the lacklustre-to-modest box-office on efforts like “Speed Racer,” “Watchmen” and “Where the Wild Things Are” have been minor set-backs, smash hits such as “The Dark Knight,” “The Hangover” and “Sherlock Holmes” have proven that sometimes it’s okay to mix a little intelligence and daring into your populist entertainment.
In an article up at the New York Times website, journalist Brooks Barnes has put together an interesting glimpse behind the curtain, revealing the ultra-determined, savvy business plan behind the studio giant, and the players making it all happen. It’s a truly fascinating read and – if you’re truly passionate about the art-form – worth a few minutes of your time to peruse.
This new artist-friendly approach by Warner Bros. was actually a crucial motivating factor behind Kevin Smith’s decision to abandon the rapidly-sinking Weinstein Group. In episode No. 69 of his Smodcast podcast, he cited the company’s ballsy choice to make “Watchmen” as being hugely attractive to any filmmaker intent on thinking outside of the box. Although we have yet to weigh in on whether his collaboration with the studio will bear fruit – their first tag-team effort, “Cop Out,” hits theatres Feb. 26 – it’s an intriguing sign of how even the studio’s less-than-lucrative ventures can still work in favor of their best interests.
With “Clash of the Titans,” “Inception” and the final “Harry Potter” films waiting in the wings, plus Sam Raimi’s “Warcraft” and the next “Batman” film in active development, as well as a soon-to-be-revealed slate of DC superhero movie projects, I’ll be curious to see how the studio’s innovative business plan ultimately works out.
As an active film-goer it’s refreshing to know that there is at least one company out there dedicated to delivering more than flash and bang for my dollar, trying to bring some storytelling and creative spark to the often cynical, boring blockbusters clogging up the multiplex every season. It’s unfortunate that more studios aren’t following Warners’ example (do you hear me 20th Century Fox?), but then, if everyone took the riskier route, it just wouldn’t be Hollywood, would it?
Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.