District 9 – Sci Fi Action with brains and soul.
It’s a foreign film, so it’s cultural.
So, here we are at the end of summer… and not a great summer. Though there have been some gems like HURT LOCKER and HANGOVER, most of the films have been big really stupid popcorn flicks. Last summer we have IRON MAN and DARK KNIGHT, two films that worked as popcorn *and* were good films that actually explored characters and issues. Movies that were both kinds of good. This year it seems like no one was trying to make movies that were “popcorn plus”, instead we’ve had good popcorn like STAR TREK and bad popcorn like… well, too many to name them all. What happened? Has the slump in DVD sales made the studios stop thinking about tomorrow? And aftermarkets? Hey, no one’s buying DVDs anyway, so why make a film that is good enough that people will want to own it and see it again and again? Let’s just make completely disposable summer popcorn flicks that people forget as soon as they’ve seen them? (Hmm, maybe that’s the marketing plan – if the film is really forgettable consumers will have to see the film again on DVD?) The problem with making completely disposable summer films is that they cost so damned much. There was a time when a movie could live just on cinema box office receipts, but with summer popcorn films costing as much as $250 million, many of these films *need* the DVD money to make a profit for the studio. The thing I do not understand – it costs the same to make a big popcorn movie with a brain as it does to make a big stupid popcorn movie – so why not make the version that I want to buy on DVD and see again, rather than the version that makes me want to go home right after the movie and pop in IRON MAN or BATMAN BEGINS into the DVD player to wash away any memory of that crappy film I just paid $11.50 to see?
So, here comes this $30 million sci-fi film from South Africa with no one in it you’ve ever heard of (Shia LaBouf isn’t in a single frame of this film, thankfully) and it opens at #1 in the USA on opening weekend and ends up #2 in its second weekend… and I suspect this will be one of those word-of-mouth films that hang around for a while. Oh, and I already want to buy the DVD because I not only want to see the behind the scenes making of stuff, I want to see the movie again.