Recent superhero movies have been bad. Really bad. First Batman v Superman, then Suicide Squad; it feels like a parade of bad plots that are just going through the motions between action sequences.
According to a third-hand rumor about the upcoming Batman movie, there could be a very good explanation for this: money, and where movies make it.
io9 spotted a rather shocking rumor in a wide-reaching Ringer piece about the state of the movie industry. Bret Easton Ellis, a well-known screenwriter, was talking about a conversation he was having with unnamed movie execs:
“I was having dinner with a couple of executives who know other executives who are working on the [forthcoming] Batman movie, The Batman,” Ellis tells me. “And they were just telling me that there are serious problems with the script. And that the executives I was having dinner with were complaining about people who work on the Batman movie. And they just said they went to the studio and they said, ‘Look, the script is … Here’s 30 things that are wrong with it that we can fix.’ And [the executives] said, ‘We don’t care. We don’t really care. The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter, these things that you’re bringing up about the flaws of the script.”
The message is clear: some movies, in particular big franchise movies, are going to make money overseas no matter what.
It’s worth mentioning the context that this rumor comes in, of course. Read the entire interview with Ellis (which is worthwhile), and you’ll see that he has a strong opinion to push related to the movie industry. Seperately, he says that “There will not be another Coppola. There will not be another Spielberg. There will not be another Scorsese. There will not be another Altman. Because the melding of that kind of artistic mind with a cultural experience, which was going to the movies and watching a large-scale film on a giant screen that’s not IMAX that isn’t a Marvel movie, is over.”
But even if Ellis is pushing an agenda, the claims he’s making are certainly believable by anyone who’s watched a superhero movie in the last year. There’s even numbers to back it up — Chinese businesses paid millions to Transformers: Age of Extinction to place Chinese products in the movie, presumably because of the huge Chinese audience consuming it.
Anyway, back to the rather incredible accusations at hand. If Ellis is right, movies are currently being made as part of storied franchises that the studios know are crap. But they’re still being produced because they’re intended for an audience that doesn’t even understand the words coming out of actors’ mouths. Of course movies are a business, but this is something else altogether.