I'm not sure what it's going to take to bring the 3-D movement back down to Earth, but this could be it. I haven't gotten the sense from anyone that $17 is an acceptable amount for a movie ticket, and yet we keep seeing more and more of them. Now clearly, when you look at the upper end of the scale (Avatar, em>Toy Story 3, Alice in Wonderland) you'd conclude that studios should only release 3-D films, and the 18 percent extra profit (on average) is just what a bad economy ordered. But a cursory look at the lower end of the spectrum reveals:
Alpha and Omega
Legend of the Guardians
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
What do those titles mean? They mean we shouldn't be shouting "encouragement!" at the 3-D pushers like the crazy yoga master from Couples Therapy. The method works for new and innovative ideas. It shouldn't be trotted out every time a studio needs to make a little cash on the side. The current 3-D mentality is the same as those "cash for gold" infomercials.You know the ones, "just send us your gold and we'll send you a check!" And so the system keeps getting money infused, but it has no clue what it's sending away in the process.
Will Star Wars be the franchise that officially kills the golden goose? Are people going to pay extra to see Jar-Jar's tongue flicking out at them in 2012? I vote "no" and I think they would have been far better off starting with Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.
The younger guard is beginning to take control of Hollywood, giving me hope that we'll see another Pacino vs. DeNiro or Marlon Brando vs. Montgomery Clift (if you want to go really old school) style rivalry. I'm currently championing Affleck vs. Franco because they both seem to be interested in all aspects of the business. Let's break this one down, category by category!
Writing: Ben Affleck won an Academy Award for Good Will Hunting and has writing credits for Gone Baby Gone and The Town. James Franco as a multitude of shorts and a few lesser known features to his credit. He's planning on writing The Adderall Diaries, so he's gaining momentum but for now this one must be scored: Advantage: Affleck.
Acting: Ben's strongest work was probably Good Will Hunting, but he's had legitimate credits in Chasing Amy and The Town. We're going to gloss over his involvement with Daredevil. James Franco has two massive roles this year, Howl and 127 Hours, and his previous work includes Freaks and Geeks and Milk. Ben has been around longer, but Franco, with this year's performances, takes a slim lead. Advantage: Franco.
Directing: Affleck was recently offered Tales from the Gangster Squad based on his directorial work on Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Franco hasn't really tackled a massive project yet. Advantage: Affleck.
Comedic Chops: Mr. Affleck has wowed us with solid laughs in Dogma and on Jimmy Kimmel but Franco has him lapped with turns in Pineapple Express, 30 Rock, and recent SNL hosting duties. Affleck hosted three times from 2000 - 2004 but hasn't been back in two years. Advantage: Franco.
Intangibles: Ben Affleck could end up being the best director of the next decade, but I see multiple acting Academy Awards in James Franco's future. Advantage: Franco.
And there you have it, a narrow 3-2 for Franco. Close, very close. Let the rivalry begin!
You know the deal, hit play and follow along.
:01 - :10: This is how you secure a Best Picture Nomination via trailer. Best possible start? Haunting children's A capella.
:11 - :27: And then slowly, and I mean slowly, give us a shot of a gun, a horse in the distance, and Jeff Bridges. In that order.
:28 - :34: Throw in a newcomer, just because you can, just because you're the Coen Brothers, and you know your Best Picture Nomination awaits.
:35 - :45: When Coolio, Pulp Fiction, and your previous Best Picture win are the themes that come to mind you're playing with Coen power!
:46 - :52: And now they hit you with the big guns. Have you heard of Matt Damon?
:53 - :56: Can we interest you in Josh Brolin?
:57 - 1:12: Revenge and gunfights set against a beautiful and rugged backdrop. A classic remake just in time for Christmas. Bravo, Brothers Coen, bravo.
On that note, I hope you have a weekend full of true grittiness, without the need for retribution.
Laremy is the lead critic and senior producer for a website named Film.com. He's also available on Twitter.