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C'mon Hollywood: Listen to the fans (they know better)!

02.19.2013

Last week I went and saw a little movie called A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD and, like many of you, walked out feeling like an asshole for shelling out $8 bucks to a tired, shitty, brain-dead entry in a bottoming out franchise. I hit the Internet once I got home and immediately saw that Bumbray had posted his review and sure enough he confirmed that the movie was a festering turd. I reiterated as much in the strikeback and then continued reading what everyone else posted throughout the next few days, many of them with ideas on what they should’ve done. And you know what? Every single idea posted by fans was a thousand times better than the celluloid shit sandwich we were served.

Almost a year ago exactly I posted a column about doing a fifth DIE HARD right. Now, I don’t expect that every Fox exec is chomping at the bit to find out what some geeky columnist on a movie news site has to say and that’s just fine. But, if you reread my advice in that column, you’ll note that they did almost everything I told them NOT to do. And guess what happened? Well, they made a piece of shit, that’s what. Now, I’m one voice amongst many, but take a look and see if you disagree. I’m a movie geek extraordinaire, like most of you, and we all generally feel the same when it comes to what we want to see. In many ways, we are elitist movie pricks, but with good reason; We have all spent more time watching, analyzing, and studying the films we love more so than your average moviegoer who has A NIGHT AT THE MUSUEM in their DVD collection.

We know our shit. We pride ourselves on it. We know, more often than not, who should be cast in what, who should direct, who should score the music, what direction a film should take, etc. We know, and it’s not because we’re highly opinionated (we are), it’s because we f*cking care. That’s right! We care! We, the fans, obviously care more about what happens to the characters we’ve followed throughout the years than those in charge of them and it gets tiring watching studios beat them into the ground, leaving us scratching our heads with the absurdity of their decisions.

Who read the script for A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD and thought it was great? Or even serviceable? Who thought it was a good idea to put McClane in Russia when there are thousands of locations that would’ve served the character of McClane better? How did two movies about the White House being taken over by terrorists get made without the words DIE HARD in them? It’s simple DIE HARD math, people!

Pretty much on the nose...and I would've rather seen this as a film than the fifth entry we got.

By contrast, let’s look at another franchise, which has gotten better over time; THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. What started out as a fun romp, which led to a cheesy follow-up, then an even cheesier follow-up, suddenly went full throttle in part four and is now kicking all forms of ass with each new entry. Inspired casting, a dedicated producer/director, faithfulness to the brand, while expanding the action, and introducing new characters and conflicts that keep us involved in the story is the very recipe of success to the F&F franchise.

So, how did that happen? Well, for one, the studio and the producers believed in the brand. Second, they listened to the fans. That’s right, they merged their fan base via social media and provided an outlet and a voice to those who cheered it on, which led to some outstanding choices, including the casting of Dwayne Johnson in FAST FIVE and bringing back Michelle Rodriguez for FAST AND FURIOUS 6. The producers encourage the actors to promote the film themselves via their own social media outlets and engage fans one-on-one via these outlets. It’s a true merger of the craft and those that support it. Vin Diesel sums it up perfectly, saying, “If we take the time to listen, we will have a better movie.”

DIE HARD...meet the new DIE HARD.  It's called THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS. Deal with it.

Now, I’m not saying that fans should run Hollywood. Okay, maybe they should, but let’s not get off track here. What I’m saying is that oftentimes Hollywood gets way too cocky in the way they pursue their projects, treating fans like bottom-feeding crybabies who pound cash into lifeless films to keep the gears turning and none of it matters (i.e. fan opinion). And, in some ways, they’re right. Because despite its awfulness, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD won the weekend. It may be a decent success for the studio, but it’s an utter failure to audiences and the very picture of lazy, uninspired filmmaking that feels like a slap in the face.

And, it didn’t have to be that way. All it would’ve taken was the studio hiring a few interns to scroll through some movie sites and get some feedback. Don’t give us a mock “R” or after-the-fact CGI blood and call that “listening.” Give us character development, inspired casting, a true conflict, a story arc, etc. Pretty much, just go buy Robert McKee’s “Story” and go from there. If you can’t do that, then maybe it’s time to start a Facebook page and listen to what your fans are saying, because in many cases, they have a hell of a lot of better ideas in a comment thread than you have in a stack of screenplays.

Extra Tidbit: What franchise/series do you think is most in need of some fan intervention?
Source: JoBlo.com

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