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The Hollywood Reporter wrote this week about Dr. Ted Baehr’s Movieguide Awards, handed out to the most family friendly films of the year. According to the Reporter, “The report praises such 2011 releases as Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, Battle: Los Angeles, Moneyball, We Bought a Zoo and Hugo while heaping scorn on the likes of Super 8, Red State, A Good Old Fashioned Orgy, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Bad Teacher and Happy Feet Two.”
Just as importantly, the report demonstrated that such family friendly films are significantly more lucrative than non-family friendly films: “Movieguide identified 91 movies in 2011 that scored high in ‘conservative/moral categories’; these earned an average of $59 million apiece. On the other hand, it identified 105 movies that scored high in ‘liberal/leftist categories’; each of those titles earned an average of just $11 million. The average movie scoring four stars from Movieguide earned $53.5 million while the ones that scored just one star earned $10.6 million.”
“Most moviegoers want good to conquer evil, truth to triumph over falsehood, justice to prevail over injustice and true beauty to overcome ugliness,” said Baehr.
Baehr’s exactly right. But there’s another element that’s just as important as morality in determining whether a movie makes money or not: who goes to see it. And family friendly films are just that: family friendly. You can bring your kids to them, your wife to them. While I may love Team America: World Police, it’s not exactly the sort of thing I’m going to take my wife to see (in fact, I told my mom that it was too old for her). On the other hand, there’s nothing in Moneyball that anyone from age 13 can’t see. Family films, in other words, have an automatic demographic advantage over non-family friendly films – take a movie ticket and multiply it by three to start.
So why is Hollywood so addicted to making drivel like A Dangerous Method? It really comes down to the Cocktail Party Mentality. In Hollywood, all business is social. That means you get jobs based on which parties you attend, which bigwigs you hobnob with, and which rears you kiss. There are no families at these parties – no kids allowed. You’re more likely to see a child being molested at a Hollywood party a la Roman Polanski than to see a child being shuttled around by her doting parents.
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