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 Life Skills for Fanboys: The Hollywood Double Edged Sword

 written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

The Comics High

Comic book fanboys are in their hey-day.  Every Marvel movie seems to be doing gangbusters at the box office (and most, deservedly so).  They are announcing more comic book movies every day.  But I’m going to make a prediction here based on my own experience in Hollywood.

The heady highs give way to terrible lows.

I know, I know.  I’m a nay-sayer.  A Negative Nancy.  Star Wars is coming back with the original cast, the Star Trek franchise is bound to go a third movie before they reboot it again and Avengers 2, well, even I’m psyched to see that but—

You have to understand Hollywood.  It’s a money, image and the “hot thing” of the moment.

Back in the Day

When you’re a screenwriter and you’re looking to pitch your spec screenplays or write new ones, typically producers will seek what’s hot.  During the days of the X-Files, every producer wanted Sci-Fi conspiracy theory scripts.  Before that it was thrillers and before that, horror movies.  (Although horror movies are a perpetual request for movie producers for money reasons.)  You might ask, “Are they asking for superhero scripts?”  Short answer, no.

There was a brief window—  And I saw it at L.A. Wizard World one year—  Where movie producers were literally gobbling up comic books they could option.  Their assistants showed up to comic book shows looking for the latest thing.  (It was great for sales!)  But Hollywood (ie money guys or producers) they don’t read anything, even with pictures.  (I had a producer who tried to option one of my comics, he literally had not read past the opening page.  He held the open comic in front of him while we were on the phone and even pitched some of my own ideas back to me, because he only heard the concept and hadn’t read the comic itself.)

When it’s Over, it’s REALLY Over

Enjoy it while it lasts, fanboys.  I’m going to predict that superheroes are going to jump the shark with Superman vs. Batman: Dawn of Justice.  Now I have my own personal prejudices when it comes to Ben Affleck (he’d be better off directing this movie, rather than being in it), but I think the last Superman movie was kind of shaky in terms of fan reaction.  (Some of it was downright hostile because of the events of the movie.)  That and the sad Batman meme, signals to me that the cracks are beginning to show.  When the next big superhero thing finally tanks (along with a bunch of little ones, say, something like this) Hollywood will start looking for the next “thing”.

I don’t know what that next thing is.  It will have a window to arrive right around the time of the “tanking”.  Some obscure, non-superhero, non-comic book movie will just explode.  It becomes a phenom and in comparison to the comic book movie, everything comic book will look very, very “played”.

What Happens Next

I predict, that at that moment, you’ll see studios start to cut back.  Certain superhero and comic book movies will already be in production, but the budgets will be cut.  You’ll see big name talent move else where, possibly like this.  This usually coincides with a studio shake up of execs.  New guys come in and they don’t want the projects of the old guys to do well.  Rumor has it, that’s what happened to X-men 3.

With the talent vacuum, the superhero movies tend to do even worse just when they need to make a comeback to stay in vogue.  And once one embarrassing movie really stumbles across the screen, it’s over Johnny.  It’s over!

Things will return to their pre-comic book movie days, although probably without Stan Lee roaming L.A. looking for a producer for Spiderman.

The Other Shoe

You might say, “Well, that’s not big deal.  These things are cyclical and it couldn’t last forever.  So what?  In a few years, they’ll do it again.”  Yeah, you’re right on that point, straw man.  Hollywood loves reruns.  The problem is, they spent a shit ton of money buying both major comic book companies.  Disney owns Marvel and Time-Warner owns DC.  When comic book movies go out of vogue, someone in accounting is going to ask, “Why are we still publishing comics?”

You see, no matter how you slice it, comic book publishing just doesn’t compare to movies.  Disney already licenses their characters.  Licensing is a win-win for them.  You pay Disney up front and if the comic makes money, you pay them again.  They can’t lose in that deal, even if the licensee does.  So why take the risk in publishing your own comics in-house?  You can save millions by outsourcing it to another company and still have all the control.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen now, but maybe, say within five years.  DC and Marvel will be shipped to L.A. and just be another division of a multi-national corporation.  And divisions get cut all the time.

From there, you can pretty much do the math.  Comic book stores evaporate.  Diamond, well they probably shift focus to some other merch.  And the quality, consistency and storylines that you complain about now?  You wish they were still running with the outsourcing and sporadic issues that come out.  Good luck getting your comics at Barnes & Noble, assuming they’re even still open.

The comic-pocalypse ain’t here yet fanboys, but I can smell it.  It’s on the horizon.  It’s coming.

Anyhow, that’s my prediction on this day, May 26, 2014.  Mark it well!

Previous Columns
Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
The Line Between Fans and Pros
Geek Elitism
Convention Panels
Convention Volunteers
Food Gifts
Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Franchise Worship
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
 Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory
Con Locations
Traveling to Cons on the Cheap
Con Economics
Comics, Sexism and Trolling
Searching for the Words
How to Fix Comics?  Stop Reading Them

Shopping at the Con