The release of both Pacific Rim and Grown Ups 2 this past weekend and their respective box office intake raises a growing concern on the current state of not just the film industry, but on those who keep it alive: us.
What many a human with an IQ surpassing 100 feared came true: Grown Ups 2 made more money than Pacific Rim at the box office, while the latter film’s takings were rather disappointing.
However, I don’t see what’s so surprising. I, for one, can understand why many filmgoers would consider Grown Ups 2 a better film than Pacific Rim. The former was directed by the great Dennis Dugan, but, like, who the hell’s heard of Guillermo Del Toro? Also, most people like to ignore them, but the opinions of the critics do matter, so it’s understandable why anyone who’s going to spend $10 on a movie ticket would prefer to spend it on a Adam Sandler comedy than to watch robots and monsters bash each others’ brains out for 2 hours. With reviews like, “A movie of fools, by fools, for fools” and “ the lazy, scattershot and anything-but-mature sequel to the leaden Grown-Ups” coupled with a 7% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 20 out of 100 score on Metacritic, Grown Ups 2 does seem like the obvious choice.
On the other hand, who’d want to waste their time with a movie as critically panned as Pacific Rim, with scathing reviews such as “Pacific Rim, thank the gods of cinema, is the work of a humanist ready to banish cynicism for compassion” and “a titanic sci-fi action fantasy that has been invested, against all expectations, with a heart, a brain, and something approximating a soul,” along with a pathetic 72% rating on Rotten Tomatoes to go along with its mediocre Metacritic score of 65 out of 100.
For any idiots that did not pick up on the sarcasm above, stop reading now and do something useful with your life like, for example, getting one. For those who did, an argument I made a while ago, regarding the quality of filmmaking and the quality of audiences is now given more credibility: the problem is NOT the quality of filmmaking, and for one reason. The very fact that Grown Ups 2 is able to perform well at the box office (which, sadly, dictates the future of awards successes and the continuation of any film franchises these days) is a clear indication that there is a market for these bad films that will ensure the continuation of their over-abundance on the silver screen.
Now, many of you who cried “duh!” at the aforementioned statement perhaps did not consider it hand-in-hand with the imminent “implosion”- Spielberg and Lucas recently spoke of this, but in a different light – that is about to hit the film industry. Soon these bad films that make all the money are going to totally dwarf the number of potential good, great and masterpiece films – on a big and small scale, commercial and independent scale – that might have graced our movie screens were it not for the successes of golden trash. At The Mountains of Madness, a film Guillermo Del Toro wanted to make (one which I’d stand in a queue forever to see) was never green lit because the studios didn’t want to take a risk.
However, maybe I’m being pessimistic, and maybe Pacific Rim (a hands downs masterpiece which sets the benchmark for blockbuster filmmaking) reminding us of why we started going to movies in the first place, can make its money back and then some, thereby ensuring the continuation of the resurgence of these epic monster vs. robots films, making sure they have a future. And while Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla reboot has yet to hit cinemas until next year, it is scary that history could repeat itself and forever dissuade studios from taking risks, in a world marred by economic instability. From visionary blockbusters like Cloud Atlas to cult hits like Fight Club, to independents like Moonrise Kingdom and The Grey, all of these bombed at the box office. I consider all of the films above to be masterpieces yet none of them broke even.
What can we do? It’s simple: educate. What can studios do? Simple: market their potential masterpiece-failures better. Pacific Rim was, unfortunately, a victim of bad marketing, but through word of mouth, like Inception, it can still potentially thrive at the box office and crush that utter crock of shit that is Grown Ups 2.
Tell all your friends about Pacific Rim. Talk to people about how much you loved it. I know I’ll be seeing it multiple times, as I would any Guillermo Del Toro movie, as it reinvigorated my sense of wonder and reminded me once again why I want to be a filmmaker: to astound and to touch the hearts of the human race with wonder. It made me feel like a kid again living at a time when the sky wasn’t the limit: it was just another playground.
The irony is that many people think that this film is a senseless action flick for 12-year-olds – not a glorious fantasy epic with strong characters and themes centering around love, revenge, heroism and family – and would therefore opt for the more adult, or “grown up” picture, a comedy with Adam Sandler, about “old bullies, new bullies, schizo bus drivers, drunk cops on skis, and 400 costumed party crashers.”
There’s something rather juvenile about that.[subscribe2]