No Surge at the Box Office

Feature

Friday, March 21, 2008

Why aren't audiences drawn to movies about the war in Iraq? Kurt surveys the landscape and talks with the latest director to brave the war movie marketplace -- Kimberly Peirce. Peirce's new fiction film about Iraq,"Stop Loss," was inspired by her brother, who came back from a tour in the Army and showed her the raw real-life videos combat soldiers were making. Produced by Eric Molinsky.

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Eric Molinsky

Comments [8]

Russell from Dallas, TX

To David Krasnow
Thank you for your response. Pardon my ignorance of the radio trade, but wasn't there any way to 'fix' it other than cutting it out? I'd never heard of the guy before so that was my first impression. Doesn't seem fair.

Now that we have a week of history...

"The people who are the most invested in the military are having the biggest problem with stop-loss.”
Filmmaker Kimberly Peirce

Folks who have the second biggest problem with Stop-Loss are "People who go to movies."

Box Office Mojo is wonderful.
Stop-Loss
Release Date: March 28, 2008
Production Budget: $25 million
Domestic Total as of Apr. 4, 2008: $6,664,000 (Estimate)
http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=stoploss.htm

Perhaps it'll make back it's costs when they dub it into French & German.

Yo, Hollywood. Have you heard "Doing the same thing over & over always expecting a different result" is a definition of something? Get a clue or keep failing. On the other hand I hear blaming the audience works really well. (read: "makes you feel better")

Here’s a suggestion: make a movie where the bad guy is the sort of fellow who would shoot a filmmaker on a city street then cut his throat then stab him with a knife in order to attach a note justifying his actions. No clue? Not surprised. Anyway it’s a heck of a lot safer to keep crapping on the American military (monsters OR victims).

Apr. 05 2008 05:34 PM
David Krasnow from Studio 360

I wanted to answer Russell and Eva's comment about hearing Owen Gleiberman's enunciation of "IED." I'm not sure if he actually misspoke and said "IUD," or if he swallowed while he was speaking and it just came out flubbed.
Either way, we did hear it, and because it was questionable we discussed making an edit, at some length. However, we felt it was important to let him make his point. We don't hear the little flub ideologically, and I certainly hope we didn't do Mr. Gleiberman an injustice.
Thanks for your careful listening, and taking the time to post.

Mar. 25 2008 10:37 AM
Carol from Los Angeles

Regarding the surprise that movie "suits" have as to why people aren't flocking to "Iraq movies". Really?
A daily dose of what looks like hell on earth for our over-worked, mistreated troops, pain and destruction of the Iragi people, why would the angry, frustrated, and emotionally battered masses want to go see a movie about the very source of that anger? I think it's fairly clear that people go see movies to ESCAPE unpleasant realities in their lives. A temporary reprieve. You provided a clue when stating people didn't attend Vietnam war movies until long after the war ended. Isn't that business marketing 101?
Thank you for allowing me to respond.

Mar. 23 2008 11:54 PM
Constance Wiggins from Berkeley, CA

Maybe the new movie by Ellen Spiro and Phil Donahue Body of War can change the public indifference. I haven't seen the entire movie but on Bill Moyers Journal the discussion and the clips shown promise a very moving piece. It is heartbreaking. U.S. citizens need their hearts to break in order for this war to ever end.

Mar. 23 2008 02:22 PM
eva

Russell,
I heard the same error and also thought it also made OG sound foolish. I think your point is valid, and I was embarrassed that Studio 360 didn't correct OG.
Unfortunately, I think the larger point is that, with no obligation for national service in this country there is always going to be a divide between the "liberal" civilians and those who are serving. And the burden will always be on the soldiers, rather than the Owen Gliebermans of the world.
I have many "liberal" friends who have served or are currently serving in the military. They don't have an easy time of it always within the wider military culture, just as you feel a disconnect when you return home and hear IUD instead of IED.
This problem could be ameliorated if we had a required national service. It would help unite the country.
I think the failures of the new-and-improved-no-draft-military are on full display these days, now that we see how it taxes the same rotation of guys over and over and over and over....

Mar. 23 2008 01:41 PM
Russell from Dallas, TX

Eariler in the piece Curt Anderson says “... Transformers made about three times more than all the realistic movies about Iraq combined. Turns out war goes down a lot easier when its a total fantasy...” Obviously you assume the current Iraq war movies are less fantastic than the Transformers movie. Special effects aside, several of the military blogs gave movie reviews that called that assumption into question.

Anyone there surprised? I doubt it. Anyone there care? Same answer. Those Iraq war movies ‘feel’ true to you and that’s what counts.

Mar. 22 2008 06:56 PM
Russell from Dallas, TX

At 05:30 into the first segment EW movie critic Owen Gleiberman says “... soldiers driving down these roads waiting to get blown up by an IUD...” It’s true that soldiers always have to be aware of threats in their environment but modern Intra-Uterine Devices are actually quite safe.

It’s much easier to mis-speak when one is unfamiliar with the subject. Occem’s razor suggests that Mr. Gleiberman is just another liberal who’s understanding of war came from watching The Full Metal Deer Apocalypse. He’s not alone.

I heard the error & laughed. Then I thought for a moment and stopped paying attention to the piece. If someone at Studio 360 caught the error but it was broadcast anyway then only Mr. Gleiberman has a right to be angry. Still, why should I care about a program when it’s creators don’t?

The other possibility is much more likely – no one at Studio 360 heard “IUD” for “IED” and said “Wait a minute...” See above. Mr. Gleiberman has company.

Mar. 22 2008 06:54 PM
JFG from NYC

Some other explanations for lousy box office for Iraq war films? (a) Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now, et al. were successful at a time when the only issues demoralizing segments of the viewing public were the war and, in some cases, Watergate; moviegoers are simply too discouraged and anxious nowadays by EVERYTHING--Iraq, Afghanistan, the prospect of war with Iran, Bush/Cheney's complete indifference to the people's opinions on ANYthing, the economy, etc., even the protracted presidential campaigns--to want to see anything other than escapist films right now (see Preston Sturges); (b) back in the 1970s, movie attendance wasn't overwhelmingly dominated by the 18-25 male demographic, was it? Or if it WAS, then the existence of the DRAFT would have compelled more of them to see those movies; (c) insufficient star power--put Will Smith in an Iraq-war film, and I bet it would top all weekend grosses; and (d) insufficient/inadequate advertising--didn't the middling Jarhead, e.g., do pretty well at the box office, and mostly because of its Kanye-soundtracked commercial that included Jamie Foxx saying with great intensity, "Booyah" (sp?)?
Given that documentaries have a different target audience and demographic, it would be interesting to analyze how well Iraq-war documentaries have fared compared with other subject matter; I suspect that "No End in Sight," for one, may have done pretty well.

Mar. 22 2008 10:36 AM

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