Steven Soderbergh‘s address at the San Francisco International Film Festival is still making waves. Blaming the studios for the demise of cinema art and seriously calling into question a flawed decision-making process about which movies get made and which don’t, we could probably write a few different pieces on various aspects of this half hour talk. (In case you missed it, you can read it about here and listen to or watch to the complete speech). But one aspect that stood out to us was Soderbergh’s thoughts on the remake scourge gripping Hollywood.
Of course, we now live in a time when only five years elapsed between “Spider-Man 3” and the refreshed “The Amazing Spider-Man” and seemingly every property under the sun is ripe for being done over. However, Hollywood seems to favor properties that have already been successful, rather than taking an idea that maybe didn’t quite work the first time, putting the right people on it, and knocking it out of the park a second time. Hell, this year alone we’re getting do-overs: “The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty,” “Carrie,” “Oldboy,” and we already got “Evil Dead” in theaters. Next week, “The Great Gatsby” goes for it’s third time up on the big screen as well. And Soderbergh thinks it’s near lunacy. Here’s what he had to say:
I think there are too many layers of executives, I don’t know why you should be having a lot of phone calls with people that can’t actually make decisions. They’ll violate their own rules on a whim, while they make you adhere to them. They get simple things wrong sometimes, like remakes. I mean, why are you always remaking the famous movies? Why aren’t you looking back into your catalog and finding some sort of programmer that was made 50 years ago that has a really good idea in it, that if you put some fresh talent on it, it could be really great. Of course, in order to do that you need to have someone at the studio that actually knows those movies. Even if you don’t have that person you could hire one. The sort of executive ecosystem is distorted, because executives don’t get punished for making bombs the way that filmmakers do, and the result is there’s no turnover of new ideas, there’s no new ideas about how to approach the business or how to deal with talent or material.
So yeah, what he said. This seems like pretty simple straightforward thinking, but from a studio level, they are forever concerned with feeding audiences what they know, rather than trying something new. Do you think Soderbergh has it right? What do you think? Debate and discuss below.