Way It Is

In a 7.30 piece called “Lure of The Dark Side for Bright Young Things,” The Independent‘s Tom Teodorczuk explores the syndrome of younger big-name actors (Kristen Stewart, Amanda Seyried, Robert Pattinson, Zac Efron, Amber Heard, Emma Roberts) making low-budget indie flicks alongside tentpole blockbusters.

The pattern, of course, is that the mob that pays to see these actors in tentpole flicks usually avoids their indie-ish outings. It’s not the stars they’re interested in as much as the moods and colors and exhilarations that big movies tend to deliver. Name-brand stars matter to some extent when appearing in a primary-color movie made by a big studio, but they’re secondary to the films.

The article ends with an agent saying that “the movie’s now so much the star in Hollywood that the trend for [young actors] to go off and do indie movies will proliferate…[but] the challenge lies in getting their fans to be as interested in paying to see the movies as they are in looking at the on-set pictures online.”

Agent Translation: The majority of under-35 moviegoers (i.e., “Eloi”) are looking for fundamental drug highs every time they see a film. They want sweeping, heavy-impact movies that carry them along on a powerful North Shore wave that won’t require a lot of energy to catch — movies that will excite, induce awe, make them laugh or get them to feel strong emotions. But they don’t seem to have an interest in doing much heavy lifting on their own, which is what indie films tend to ask of its audience, or muddling through ambiguities, which is also what they sometimes require.

Some indie flicks tie things together in a nice red bow at the end, but many of them say “here are some characters and a story and a milieu, but don’t expect to be spoon-fed like a baby. We’ll give you a little help here and there, but you have to bring the elements together on your own and…you know, think it out and talk it out with your friends.”

In short, indie-ish films tend to treat moviegoers as thinking, semi-educated adults while big studio movies (which the exception of films by Chris Nolan, James Cameron, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, etc.) tend to regard audiences as children looking for rules and guidance.