“In a business as ephemeral as the entertainment industry, it’s easy to lose track of what you’re really selling,” Peretz says. “The truly great ideas are built on concept” because filmmakers need to “get beyond plot and dialogue” and into “the essence of a movie, a video game or an entire film-based franchise.”
Peretz isn’t wrong in identifying plot and dialogue as secondary elements, and saying that movies tend to sink or swim because of things within that resonate with people due to their own personal reasons. But marketing people who try to simplify the mystical process of movie-creation and movie-selling always seem intellectually smug. In itself the phrase “get beyond plot and dialogue” is enough to make my blood boil, but what really sets me off is Peretz’s assessment of the James Bond franchise.
Bond “is not a cold-blooded killer but “a cool-blooded one who must temper every assassination with a joke,” Cieply summarizes. But “when Bond became too serious in Quantum of Solace,” Peretz reportedly believes, “the entire franchise was put at risk because it wandered off-concept.” (This despite “healthy worldwide ticket sales of $586 million,” Cieply notes.) The killing-with-a-wry-joke thing goes back to Dr. No, and it was the staleness of this attitude or behavior that led to Quantum taking things into an angrier, more visceral direction.
Meet The Parents was conceptually popular because we’ve all been grilled and assessed and perhaps unfairly judged by families of boyfriends or girlfriends. But the second and third Fockers didn’t connect, in part, because misjudgments tend to be early and temporary and the basic truth of things tends to prevail after a while, so it made no sense that Ben Stiller‘s Greg Focker would continue to suffer except for the persistence of asshole-ism, which is not restricted to families. The second and third films were made in order to make money, plain and simple.