Yesterday in my post about the X-Men movie I asked why directors get so much credit for good opening weekends, especially in the case of a sequel like X-Men III when nobody was lining up because of the director. Anyway, here’s an interesting, if somewhat off-topic, email in response:
As a longtime officer of the Director’s Guild, lemme clue you in re.
the “credit” people get for big openings. First of all, it is a
proven axiom of the biz that NO DIRECTOR’s name will EVER “open” a
movie except perhaps Spielberg’s and maybe not even him anymore. Even
with all the fanboy crapola about the behind-the-scenes stuff, the
numbers tell the tale. BUT…getting attention, bigger billing,
position on billboards on Sunset Blvd. etc. etc. is the movie studio
equivalent of a “corner office” or a “company Mercedes” in this game,
and frankly, the advent of the “Special Features” stuff on DVD’s has
made it worse. It is, like most things in this town, a very
in-crowd-patting-itself-on-the-back retromingent game. But then, so’s
Hollywood in general. And when they begin to pay you such HUGE money
you start thinking you’re worth it, whether you are or aren’t.
Remember the lyrics to that song from “Team America” about Michael Bay?
MEANWHILE, slightly different topic–if you want to see a GREAT DVD
presentation of SUPERB special features and a great restoration of a
long-out-of-circulation film, get the new release of the 2-disk “The
High And The Mighty” which not only is the original “disaster” movie
par excellence and holds up quite well, the extras on disk 2 are
really, really good. Everything from the inside stuff on John Wayne’s
production company “Batjac” (the name, which comes from a fictional
company in one of his early movies, was a TYPO on some stationary
that he decided not to pay for reprinting, hence the missing “k” at
the end of the “jack” part) to all sorts of interesting stuff on
director William Wellman, author Earnest K. Gann, and most
interesting on Dimitri Tiomkin, who got his 2nd Oscar for this one
after “High Noon” made him the highest-paid scoresmith in town. ALSO
of unique value on the disk (which is hosted well by the sometimes
too kissass but this time just right Leonard Maltin) is a little
featurette called “Flying In The Fifties” which intercuts period
footage and advertising art with interviews with older retired
airline captains and stewardesses of the era. Really great Americana.
I devoured this from Netflix this past weekend and have already
ordered one to keep AND sent one to my brother the American Airlines
captain. Its a keeper.
AND AS LONG as I’m on the subject, the DVD of “The Great Raid” is
out, the amazingly great story about the WWII rescue of POW’s in the
Philippines, and for movie techies, there is a HUGELY great section
of “special features” footage and interviews on the well-explained
but complex subject of post-production sound mixing and editing, even
complete with a “sound board” you can play with to mix and isolate
the dialog, effects, music and other tracks. The movie was wonderful
and sadly overlooked by many and, for its patriotism and positive
military portrayal, of course a film NRO folks would enjoy.
But then, the John Wayne whistling epic is the same.