Theatrically, the big spring guns have been launched. We’re about to enter the lull period – as it were – before summer begins. Which happens on May 2nd with the return of Kadeem Hardison to the big screen with Made of Honor. Granted he was in Bratz: The Movie last summer, but that was a very small part. May 9th, What Happens in Vegas, May 16th, Midnight Meat Train, and then for Memorial Day weekend you get Uwe Boll’s Postal. Things sort of slow down 5/30 with The Strangers, and then it’s June. Kung Fu Panda and The Love Guru June. I don’t know about you, but this summer looks awesome to me.
OWEN WILSON TRIED TO KILL HIMSELF
The nature of showbiz is that it’s a harsh workplace that – for the most part – grinds on its talents, even though most of those who got famous chose to be in the biz. The very act of wanting to be famous is not a healthy desire at all, and usually stems from some dysfunctions at home or in childhood. The act of film-making on the creative side requires people who spend their time either imagining things that never happened, or people who spend weeks and months pretending to be people they are not. For being good at this you become famous, though if you’re on the more technical side of things you generally can not achieve great fame except by fans or industry insiders. That is to say, Chris Doyle might be a rock star of a cinematographer, but his groupies pale in comparison to anyone he’s ever shot a film for, including Barry Levinson.
Becoming famous means that people who you don’t know feel that they know you because part of your job is to talk about yourself while selling the product you made. If you’re on the low end of the spectrum of success it means that when people see you in public maybe they recognize you but may not be able to place where (living in LA, I’ve had a couple of moments where I wasn’t sure if someone was my neighbor, or co-worker or something along those lines until I realized I knew them from a film or TV show I had seen). On the high end of things it means that people who don’t know you will photograph you or ask you for your autograph while you’re going about daily concerns. It means that access to privileged things becomes easier, and people will give you a lot of things for free because they want to be around you. It means that people will sleep with you simply because of your fame. It also means you can’t trust a lot of the people around you, and it’s hard to know if a friendship is born out of something actual, or if the other person is simply a sycophant.
Filmmaking is, by nature, a gypsy’s life. Even if you have the good fortune of shooting where you live, you’re going to spend your days in the process, generally working long hours, and drained of a strong social life. If you’re going to party, you have to be of hardy stock. If you’re an actor you spend three months or so on a film becoming this person – who may or may not be an extension of yourself – and then leaving that behind. If you’re lucky you can get away with doing this once a year. And then you have to do publicity, where people ask you the same sorts of questions over and over. You have to learn the skill of saying similar things repeatedly and making them sound at least a little fresh. If you get famous, real famous, the pay is really good. Even if the salaries listed don’t explain agents, managers, and PA’s fees and the enormous amount that goes to taxes. But fame is a fleeting thing. And while you’re being judged by all corners of the world for your attractiveness, and all that, you have to keep working, though you may not have great control over what you get to do. So you may have to keep compromising yourself in the sake or search for something commercial. So maybe you can do what you want every once in a while.
I’m not saying this to present something new. I’m saying this because when you sit down and look at it, it’s fair to see how this could make someone go crazy, and to note that Owen Willson is not doing publicity for Drillbit Taylor. Being famous means that your mistakes are made public (see also: Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez), and can corrupt the image you’ve created of yourself as a film star. People still want to work with Wilson, but he’s also got to decide how to re-engage with the publicity machine. And since he didn’t or wouldn’t on this picture, that it will fail can be hung on his suicide attempt as much as any failings of the film (word: not good). But where Warner Brothers may be able to spin Heath Ledger’s untimely demise into a selling point (and as gross as that sounds, they will. See Also: The Crow), it’s hard to sell a comedy on a guy who recently tried to off himself. In generations past the studios might have been able to hush something like this up, but that’s not how it works any more. When Owen Wilson can be known as The Butterscotch Stallion, and his sexual proclivities joked about on websites, there’s a level of privacy for that sort of fame that is pretty much out the door. Studios don’t make movies to lose money, but they also know that it’s a mercurial business they’re in. Drillbit Taylor then becomes a sacrificial lamb – in its way – as the Darwinian process of natural selection means this hobbled production won’t be able to sprint. Expect the cover story for some psuedo-tabloid in the future (Owen Wilson Speaks), likely prior to his next big outing. People will forget. They always do. But they kinda like closure. Drillbit Taylor isn’t it.
I FORGET THAT THIS REALLY ISN’T MY PREDICTION, I BOUGHT IT IN HONG KONG… IT’S A KNOCK OFF
This week Barack Obama gave a speech that moved me pretty close to tears, as he dealt with America’s longstanding awkwardness with race and race relations. On that note, Tyler Perry is a social phenomenon. and perhaps I should really watch more than ten minutes of his films. But they’re not for me (I’m white), and I’m okay with that. I don’t need to judge a part of a culture that is not meant for me to judge. I think this is the third Tyler Perry film I’ve written about in the year I’ve been doing this column (thank you, thank you). It’ll open. That’s what they do.
Shutter is a a day late and a dollar short in the J-Horror westward expansion. Then again, it’s a film starring Joshua Jackson. And I don’t want to wait for our lives to be over. As such Horton Hears a Who shouldn’t have a problem staying Top Dog. Big Kahuna. While Drillbit at least gets a bit open, though will have a hard time getting past $30 Million.
So, it’s the M-E-T-H-O-D Man. M-E-T-H-O-D Man:
1. Horton Hears A Who: $28.7 Million
2. Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns - $21..2 Million
3. Drillbit Taylor - $11.4 Million
4. 10,000 B.C. - 9.0 Million
5. Shutter - $7.1 Million
Sunday we’ll rock a cuff and a crease.