Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hollywood's Bait for Money

"Economics of the film industry demand first and foremost that movies entertain audiences- and that they make money; therefore, Hollywood films must appeal to a ticket- and DVD purchasing audience whose values may in fact differ markedly from those of the filmmakers," (Petracca & Sorapure, pg.244).

When I first think of films that draw me in, I often think of those I can somewhat relate to, or those that catch my emotions. The first film that comes to mind that represents action, love, horror, and emotion, is American Sniper. This movie is based on a Navy S.E.A.L who saved many lives of his brothers at war. Over time, this created a legacy for him saving countless lives throughout his career.

I remember watching in fear, only two days before my own husband was deployed. I covered my eyes multiple times as we watched the battlefield scenes. It was too realistic creating fear and horror in my eyes. My husband sat next to me and kept telling me to watch as it was a good movie with a great story, Chris Kyle's story.  

(This movie is rated R and contains graphic content)

The idea from the movie came after filmmakers were made aware of the fact Kyle (who was known to be a legacy) had written a book about his life before he was killed. They were able to get into contact with his wife who continued to tell his story after his passing. It was here that the industry of Hollywood made a smart business decision. It is likely this idea came mostly from knowing many Americans would see this film, drawing many in knowing of Kyle's legacy, or possibly knowing nothing about it and being interested in war films. In the end, if done well, Hollywood would make the money back that they invested into the film and more.

I watched the story unfold as my husband and many other marines were excited to watch this movie. I sat there mortified watching not really knowing the story line before watching the movie. My heart was pounding throughout the movie as I watched and learned of the legacy Kyle had left.  He served his country with pride deploying four times,  torn between his family and the war. This story line hit too close to home. Petracca and Sorapure (n.d.) said, "good movies challenge us, they provoke us, they make us angry sometimes" (pg. 252).

I couldn't find this to be more true when watching this film. He was a good man, with good values that served his country and loved his family, too. I felt angry after watching knowing what had happened to such a great guy after he ended his career with the Navy. I felt fear and angry for his family who he left behind. I felt angry that he contributed so much to our military and left his family, this life, too soon. All in all though, Hollywood told the story through film and they did their job.

Through this movie we not only saw Chris Kyle's story, but a reflection of what our country is going through. American films are generally more narrative driven than others. This comes from the character of an American the way we look at our own lives. We imagine ourselves being a part of the story.

Hollywood did their job by taking something that would interest a wide audience, our military, by creating it into a film to draw that audience in and make money from it. Often times it can be the complete opposite. Most films that are created the same way are generally bad films produced by filmmakers who were interested in something that their "target audience" was not. The business of film making is completely unpredictable in this sense.

Discussion Questions:
Through this movie did you see the story of Chris Kyle represented? Do you feel as if Hollywood fabricated his story to get the money they wanted out of the film?

Is it wrong that Hollywood used this story to make money?

Do you think movies like this are most often created by filmmakers who would want to watch the same thing if they were on the outside of the industry? 

1 comment:

  1. I think your questions are interesting and a bit soul-searching. However, I think it's dangerous to start assigning motive to behavior, simply because it's nearly impossible to support with evidence.

    Whether or not it is moral for Hollywood to create the film is an interesting question. I would say no, simply because film is all about story telling and this story is a compelling one. Because it's based on a true story, I see it more as journalism. Whether or not Chris Kyle's story was accurately portrayed is really up to him. Seeing as he can't tell us, that response will have to wait.

    Your third question is interesting as well. I think what you're asking is if filmmakers create these films because they find them interesting. While this is, I think, impossible to definitively prove, I would assume that they are in the business of creating marketable films to make money. That doesn't mean, however, that they don't become emotionally invested in the stories they help produce.

    Interesting thoughts!