Welcome to the 405's latest column, 24 Frames. Writers Sahara Shrestha and Andrew Jamieson will be guiding you through the exciting, confusing and often brilliant world of 'film'. Expect news, trailers and plenty of opinion.

This edition is brought to you by Sahara Shresth, who can be found on twitter over at @sanssequel.



Hollywood Is Over

There was a running joke on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon where Arthur, one of their writers, watched all six sequels of The Fast And the Furious (one each show) and reviewed them on TV. After taking fervent notes, Arthur had only the same summary for each of the sequels. The only difference is Vin Diesel leaves in one sequel and returns in another. So why is it that this same story gets turned into a movie six times? In her new book Sleepless in Hollywood, longtime producer Lynda Obst (Sleepless in Seattle, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) says it's because these types of blockbusters along with superhero movies have a "pre-awareness" among the audience, namely those abroad, which lead to their huge success.

With such a moody economy, changes in technology, and a blatant fall in DVD revenue, Hollywood is inclined to depend on franchise movies like the Iron Man 3, Man Of Steel, Star Trek Into The Darkness, and Hangover part III to churn huge profits, more so in the global market where the formula works. At home, for instance, Iron Man 3 crossed $400 million, and went on to exceed $1 billion internationally within a month of its release. Though second to Marvel's The Avengers as highest-grossing release of all time, it went even beyond the total gross of The Avengers in markets like China, Finland, Korea, Russia, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Obst recalls: the international market used to be 20 percent whereas now it makes up 80 percent. These movies with "pre-awareness" revolve around a character or asset that audiences already know, for example, Spiderman from the Spiderman comics. This, without doubt, means abundance of superheroes and sequels, and less intent from studios in working with original ideas. Obst calls this trend the arrival of the New Abnormal.

In the book, she talks to a number of people involved in film business, includingPeter Chernin, one of the biggest producers at FOX. Chernin explains that with the fall in DVD revenue (which used to be 50 percent of the profits, and now only half of that), studios are pretty much frozen because they don't have the capacity to make P&Ls (profit and loss statements) that declare how and what the studio is going to recoup after a film is green-lighted. Things are so shaky that there's no definite estimate. Thus, Obst claims that the arrival of the New Abnormal means it's not just how movies are made that is at stake but also the types of movies that get made or don't get made.

Below is an excerpt from a Southern California Public Radio interview with Obst: "It has to be based on something that is already familiar around the world, like 'Batman', 'Spiderman', 'Pirates of the Caribbean-man'. I call them man movies. It wants to be based on an intellectual property, what we used to call a 'book.' So, if this property has pre-awareness, that means it doesn't have to be marketed from scratch." With the drop in "interstitials" (smaller films), like romantic comedies, adult viewers are left with little choice, and most of them turn to television, where Obst also sees a platform for emerging creativity and experimentation: "Those of us who loved writing, those of us who like movies like 'Fisher King', we started saying, 'Well, where are characters?' We looked, and we found ourselves watching 'Homeland' and 'Madmen' and the 'The Sopranos'.


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