Here’s a big non-surprise: the spate of antiwar films Hollywood has begun to release in recent months has laid a big egg at the box office. David Kahane has outlined the situation in National Review Online, documenting the painfully obvious "antigun, antiwar, anti-Rethuglican" messages in Shoot ‘Em Up, In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, and Grace Is Gone and mentioning the the upcoming The Kingdom, Lions for Lambs and Rendition, and recent films such as Syriana, Shooter, Jarhead, and A Mighty Heart, "all passionate indictments of one thing or another vaguely connected to the military-industrial complex and the so-called “War on Terror.” Kahane observes:
Now, what do all these films have in common—besides being passionate indictments?
They all flopped. Or will, soon enough. (Except for, maybe, The Kingdom, which apparently has an appalling whiff of vigilantism.)
Kahane then sarcastically critiques the nation’s movie audiences in the guise of a "progressive" Hollywood insider:
What the hell is wrong with this country? We support the troops, showing them as the dysfunctional, murdering, drug-addicted, red-state crypto-rapists in need of psychoanalysis we all know they really are. Hey—even the Marine officer in Alan Ball’s award-winning American Beauty a few years back was humanized by making him a sadist and a closet queen. And this is the thanks we get? . . .
So who cares if the American public is so benighted that it won’t go to see our antiwar films this season? Sometimes a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do, a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do and a gay/lesbian/transgendered/bi-curious carbon-based life form’s gotta do what a gay/lesbian/transgendered/bi-curious carbon-based life form’s gotta do. Thank the top dog of your own personal belief system—or Nobody at all!—that we had a record summer this year, the Summer of the Threequel, to finance our consciences!
It’s true that Hollywood people generally pursue the respect of the progressive left, even though it never pays in box office receipts. They’re able to do so, as Kahane notes and as I and others have observed in the past, simply because the industry makes huge gouts of money off the vast general run of more politically innocent, centrist, or rightist films they make.
With the vast amount of money they get from those movies, the studios can afford to waste a comparatively small amount on their most valued contractors’ lame conscience projects. But it’s still a huge waste of money and a blatant disservice to their stockholders and to paying customers across the nation.
In contemporary Hollywood, even basic greed isn’t enough to make people bow to common sense.
In general, U.S. films that do well abroad are the ones with the biggest stars and most action and visual excitement. Hence, films such as those mentioned here do poorly abroad just as in the United States. Here’s the most recent global ticket sales chart I could find, and there’s lots of useful more recent information here.
As you’ll see, the big hits in the United States tend to do well elsewhere, and the flops usually don’t do much better in other countries.
While the anti-American flicks are moneylosers here, is this also true globally? How do net profits compare with more centrist fare?
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