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.

17 thoughts on “Way It Is

  1. Gabe@ThePlaylist on said:

    Or some actors like to get paid? I would. If someone told me to wear blackface and shuck and jive in a Michael Bay movie, as of now, I certainly would. Not everyone wants to be a huge star, they just want to have a career, and doing one or two tentpoles, and then whatever indie is shooting immediately after that in a reasonable amount of time is a great way of doing that.

  2. Uh, James Cameron and Ridley Scott routinely spoon feed their audiences. Same with Nolan. There was nothing complex or complicated about Inception if you actually paid attention while watching it.

    Michael Mann is the only major studio filmmaker who takes an adversarial position to his audience.

  3. >There was nothing complex or complicated about Inception

    Nolan’s dream mythology rules take some getting used to, and he’s deliberately ambiguous about certain plot points. Certainly by blockbuster standards it’s a long way from “spoon-feeding.” Bragging about how simplistic Inception is seems to me to be the film-message-board equivalent of flexing one’s biceps.

  4. So, uh, Thunderballs…what’s your specific reading on Inception, then? In your opinion, what happens in the last shot, and why?

  5. “In short, indie-ish films tend to treat moviegoers as thinking, semi-educated adults”

    Except when they wag their fingers at badly dramatized vices.

    Thunderball: Cameron does indie films? News to me.

  6. Pirahna 2 was an indie, DeeZee.

    (You guys have noooo idea just how long I’ve been waiting to zing him with that flick).

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