Superman ‘O Steel, Oeuvre or Oeuf ?

Attention Reader: This post started as a comment to THIS POST which is a continuation of THIS POST. While writing my comment I felt it was aspiring to be … more than a comment so I graduated it to be its …own post. Although you will be the judge as to whether it should have remained a mere comment and I clearly think it is worthy of post-hood, I do suggest that you read the posts it refers to. Also of note, I do not intend this to be a review of the the new Superman movie, although it is certain to contain elements of a review, it is intended to be a continuation of the same theme as the two posts referenced above.

Well then, that being said, let’s jump right in, shall we?

Spielberg and Lucas’ Big Budget Impending Implosion Theory (B.B.I.I.T., pronounced as though Patrick were stuttering and spitting) has been weighing on my mind as well.


Their theory, as I see it, basically states that Hollywood has leveraged itself into an insupportable position by predominantly producing Block Buster hopefuls and that if several of these were to fail in one season then the bubble would burst and … something would happen (queue ominous music… and by ominous music I mean original unencumbered Hans-Zimmer-is-free-to-do-what-he-wants type music) At this point Steven and George surmise that ticket prices would fluctuate based on what the movie/market can bear, or how close to first release it is, or some such thing, the result being that you pay more for new release block buster films much like you pay more for certain musical groups concerts or certain Broadway type live shows. This actually seems like a no brainer to me now that I think about it, why is a ticket price linked to the theater as opposed to the film anyways? Is that a last vestige of the movie palaces of old?


Now, I’m no basketball fan but I’d be tempted to go see a game in the above pictured gym! But for a movie I am looking for good seats, a big screen, and a good sound system … in a large dark room, no room or Theatre (spelled the snobby “-tre” way) frills required. I guess I no longer need to expect to pay the same price for every movie at a theater, we already pay extra for 3D or iMax so why not pay more for Pirates of Carberator? (one of the block buster wannabee mash ups between Pirates of the Caribbean and Fast and Furious that got the red light 😉 ) I remember when I was the Manager of the Minor Theater in Arcata California …
cover0127-minor… we had first run pricing for movies in the big theater and reduced rate for re-runs and “art films” in the small screening rooms. So what’s the big deal Steven? What’s the big deal George? I don’t see pricing as what’s at stake, I see the theater itself as in jeopardy. I for one, like watching movies in my home, and as my home screen gets larger and sound system improves, I will  deem upcoming film releases as being theater worthy less and less.

So, in my mind, if the perfect storm were to brew and several block busters were to collapse at once then I think the resulting fallout could be the closing of all movie theaters. It would start slowly, and perhaps the sliding scale ticket price idea would prop it up for a while, but in time the cine-plex would go the way of the drive-in.

Hollywood, in jeapordy, tied to the railroad tracks like the damsels in distress of old, wrestles against its bonds as the sinister moustache twisting bad guy wrings his hands. Look! Up in the sky! Its … Superman … again …


… and again. Years from now if someone reads this post there will undoubtedly have been at least a few other Superman movies made so I better identify which one I mean. This is 2013 and the movie I am referring to is Man of Steel with Russell Crowe as Jor El. It was a fine movie which I enjoyed, but why do I bring it up here, in this post? Because I want to ask the question … why was it made?

Here are some possible reasons as to why it was made:

a) Fear.

b) Zack Snyder is big enough to get to put his stamp on the ouvre (as in a distinguished line of work, not as in oeuf which is the French word for egg), like Branagh doing Hamlet and Olivier before him. (and then there’s Gibson, as in Mel, who’s version, some may say, served more oeuf than oeuvre.)

c) Fear.

d) Hollywood suffers from Attention Deficit Disorder to such a degree that the story actually appeared as new to all the yes-men lined up to green light it.

e) Fear.

f) All of the above.

Let me just once again say that I love Superman, love the boots, love the tights, love the cape, love it … but I think these guys made this movie out of fear. Not that they didn’t love the franchise as well, but there are a million stories out there, a million risks to take, …why reboot Superman? Man of Steel has some neat stuff in it, one of my favorite bits being that Krypton was destroyed by generations of following an artificial-womb-eugenics program to the point that all creativity and risk had been bred out of their blood line. This is ironic because what I am suggesting is that Hollywood produced this movie out of the same type of fear of risk that, in part, destroys Krypton. There’s further irony here as they also float the notion that Krypton engineers have basically mined the planet to death, sucking it dry which leads to its implosion. The environmentalist overtones are so thick as to be a choking hazard and I understand that in the original screenplay there was another rogue scientist warning of impending environmental disaster like Jor El, named Al Gor, but they cut him out 😉 My point being that the use of man-made-global-disaster is a committee tested risk free safe for blockbuster approved storytelling gimmick. It is my opinion that if, during production, someone placed some truly creative idea in front of them, they weighed it against their fear of lost revenue and nixed it.

Final analysis? Will Man of Steel be one of the failures which threatens to sink the block buster for good, as the Lone Ranger is sure to be? I think not, its too good a movie, but is it just one more fearful attempt to make a safe film in a long line of Super-safe films? Yup.


  1. You’re probably right about that last point. (Well, you’re probably right about everything you said, but I’ll focus on that last point about fear.)

    Apparently the controversial ending of the film was initially vetoed by Christopher Nolan, presumably because it’s too “brave” for such a film as Man of Steel. That makes me curious what else Nolan wanted to keep in or out of the film, and how much control he had over the project.

  2. One of my posts had a click-thru under a click-thru that I should have pulled out and emphasized; I think it speaks to your point. The snarky dude had a link to his comment on the “New Abnormal” that referenced a Lynda Obst book.

    (If that trip down the rabbit hole made sense, I’m glad.)

    Obst says a title must have pre-awareness (which can be fulfilled by an A-list actor); it must sell overseas; and it should generate a franchise or sequel. Man of Steel certainly fits the Obst description of how a film gets green-lighted. What Steven and George don’t say is that American butts in the theatre seats seem to be economically unimportant. We already don’t go often enough to finance a film.

    My original complaint way back when was that the Dudes don’t understand the New Consumption, based on the internet and heavily influenced by gaming. They can sit in their ivory projection tower and lament the dying art of film; meanwhile the fresh creations will thrive on the internet and in self-published gaming. We are bypassing the establishment in so many facets of life now. American filmmaking, I predict, will follow that trend.

    However . . . if directors like Zack Snyder with Man of Steel and Kenneth Branagh with Thor are given free reign to imagine other worlds, and not forced into a cookie-cutter notion of art design, then my butt will still be looking for the theatre seat. Hiding within the summer blockbuster was Art, and that still has value as a theatrical, big-ticket experience.

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