Written by Guest Contributor: Jefferey Pinkos As of late, the arena of Hollywood and nerd-related franchises has seen its share of dust-ups. One the untimely departures of Messrs. Edgar Wright and Drew Goddard from Marvel’s Ant-Man and Daredevil projects. Wright’s absence is still being felt, with rebound director after rebound director fleeing MCU’s now most temperamental project. Some critics feel it spells the doom for Marvel Studios. In the WB/DC camp scribe David S. Goyer’s shitty comments came and went without impunity or apology. Elsewhere in the Star Trek franchise, Sony promoted its in-house maniac Roberto Orci (regarding my use of “maniac,”e.g., insulting fans on message boards, his association with the truther movement) to direct its third installment of the rebooted franchise. All to the dismay of fans.
From all this a questions arises. How much —or perhaps better said, how little —does the Hollywood studio system care for fan approval? Forbes writer Scott Mendelson answers in this essay with a firm, not in the fucking slightest. To wit, “In terms of the financial health of these massive franchises, the biggest fans are the least important.” Give it a read. In it Mendelson notes a litany of hard truths (as awful as Spider-Man 3 and X-Men: The Last Stand were, those two films dominated their franchises in box office numbers for the longest time), to culminate in a bitter (albeit kind of obvious) conclusion: the extreme fringes of audiences who care deeply about the material are outweighed by the casual moviegoer who could really care less about the merits of Marc Webb vs. Sam Raimi, or that X-Men: Days of Future Past director Bryan Singer is on his third set of sexual abuse allegations, or that the title Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice is fucking magnet poetry. All your worry and rage is for naught, because the same people who keep Adam Sandler rich are filling seats.
Which, frankly, I get. A studio exec that’s too mindful of the shifting tides of fan opinion is going to suffer from a lack of creative autonomy, and any commercial franchise set out to favor the needs of the few over the needs of the many is batshit insane. What I don’t get is something that Mendelson writes midway into the article: “Because the fans screaming the loudest are going to show up anyway.” Despite all of the caterwauling about casting decisions, costuming, using Wolverine every which place like he’s goddamned franchise duct tape, what urge compels us to throw our hard-earned dollars at something that will only upset us?
Admission: I don’t have the foggiest. Like you I sit and wonder why the Transformers franchise, by all accounts a critical wasteland without redemption, profits. I have collected a number of theories, which I hope can settle the point and, with any luck, rectify our consuming habits.
- We care. This is the most obvious choice. Long ago we fell in love with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and we want that abiding goodwill to remain untarnished. When in enters Michael Bay with his bombastic aesthetic and a presumably fucking tense Megan Fox in tow. As much as we can’t stand Bay, we care about the characters and sometimes nostalgia is too dear to part with.
- Cure: This will sound dramatic: we stop caring. In Hollywood’s eyes, nothing’s holy and everything’s up for grabs. If your nostalgia is in need of sating, go rewatch your scratchy VHS recording of the Saturday morning cartoon instead.
- Complaining is fun. Isn’t it though? I admit that after seeing Amazing Spider-Man, I so relished in detailing its failures that when its inevitable sequel trundled into theaters and the King Bastard asked me my viewpoint I felt a surge of joy and laid my money down for 142 minutes of ugh fucking why. Also, it’s vindicating. Like Babe Ruth we pointed long and said, “Based on prior experience Zack Snyder doesn’t do characterizations that well, and Superman tends to wash out without a watchful and sensitive scribe”and sure enough critic review roll in and suddenly you’re a genius.
- Cure: One day —maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe ten years from now —we will realize that our cynical game pays salaries and teaches studios that accountability is for lesser souls.
- Curiosity. Maybe, just maybe it isn’t all that bad.
- Cure: There isn’t one. Sometimes curiosity pays off, sometimes it doesn’t.
- Boredom/It’s hot and the air conditioning is broken. I saw Sex and the City 2 for latter reason.
- Cure: Find a hobby/Get your air conditioner fixed.