The Middle-Aged Genius’s Guide to Almost Everything 32 – Things to Marvel at
January 8, 2019
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Let us talk about an axis of utility and futility of theatres.
Rick Rosner: You are talking about movie theatres. At the end of Bohemian Rhapsody, it goes to black screen and then this message comes up saying, “This movie employed 10,000 people.” If you go to a Marvel movie, you must go through the credit roll to see the teaser scene. I believe that credit roll contains between 2,000 and 3,000 names. What you get when you go to the theatre, this was so [Laughing] long ago.
A McDonald’s French Fries wrapper and a dime would get you into a double feature. The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts or The Incredible Mr. Limpet starring Don Knotts. It was Deputy Barney Fife if that is any help [Laughing].
Rosner: Now, a movie costs $20. But you are getting the pinnacle of a movie like Bride of Frankenstein. Not that I am old enough to see it during its first run. But the freakin’ Bride of Frankenstein took a couple man hours to do. 120 people working an average of 20 or 30 hours a piece. You then had a complete movie. Captain Marvel will be 2,500 people each working an average of 150 hours.
So, that is close to 400,000 hours. So, compared to 2,000 person hours to do Bride of Frankenstein, I do not know. I am pulling these numbers out of my ass. But also, the visual majesty of well-done CG. That is the utility of theatres. You are getting big-time entertainment. The entertainment suffers, in that, you are not getting an idiosyncratic individual vision. Everything is done by huge groups of people who must agree on stuff.
But that can be a good thing. Movies by committee, especially stuff like Marvel, can be good. You hire the best costume team and the best punch-up team. At the very least, every aspect of the movie will be a 6 or a 7. But if you look for a movie that is an independent expression, like a Duplass, it is an independent vision, but there are no guarantees. You will not see friggin’ 50 superheroes squaring off against each other.
Not every line in the movie has been rewritten by committee three times. You have pluses and minutes. But big blockbuster movies are super blockbustery; they are the pinnacle of art right now whether you like it or not. It is the same way Rococo architecture was the pinnacle of ornateness and fanciness in the 17th and 18th century. Everything with gold scrolls and cherubs, and saints. Superhero movies are kind of the same pinnacle.
It hurts in comparison to anything that is not a huge production. Some call this the golden age of TV. When I was a kid, there were three broadcast channels. 95% of the programs were crap. But now, with all the competition with 200 channels, and TVs ability to talk about anything, and to say anything, a movie can only have one fuck before going to R. You can get PG-13 if you say, ‘Fuck,” only once.
On Netflix, you can say, “Fuck,” all that you want. The huge competition for eyeballs; the license to talk about all aspects of life. People who are making TV. That is all they do. They are being egged on to make the story emotionally resonant, more antiheroic and complex, more visually friggin’ amazing. The deal is that that really is different. I never liked going to live concerts. It is an hour getting there and then leaving, at least. Then you are in a crowd.
People who are rowdy not the way that you want to be rowdy. You may not want to get laid. It is another half hour to get out of there. Someone spills Sangria on you. It is not spectacular. People doing live versions of their songs. So, there sound a little bit crappier than they did in the studio. It is similar to live theatre. Less is punched up about live theatre. There is nobody going in and cleaning everything up.
You must appreciate that actual living beings are doing the thing in the audience just for you. Each performance never to be repeated. But still, my preference is to see stuff on TV than see stuff in a play. It is a crap show whether it will be good or not. You talked about futility or utility of theatre. It is a tough friggin’ thing to make live theatre good enough to challenge the half of a million-person hour production that costs $280 million.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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