Americans keep trying to tell Hollywood that they have adopted a bad business model by constantly insulting at least half their potential audience, but they just don’t seem to be getting the message (an odd Achilles heel for people who are supposedly in the communications business). You’d think that the cratering of the Oscar ratings might have been a big enough hammer on the cranium to get their attention, but does anyone doubt that next year’s Oscars will again feature lots of leftwing preening and anti-Trump snark, a gaggle of “transgressive” art house nominees that nobody paid to see, and most likely a TV audience smaller than test patterns used to pull?
But if TV ratings don’t get the message across, maybe money will talk for us, or the lack of money, anyway. Over the weekend, the much-hyped fantasy blockbuster “A Wrinkle in Time” opened. It had a $103 million budget, a big name cast that includes Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, and it was based on a beloved children’s book. Plus, it got lots of fawning advance publicity for being directed by Ava DuVernay, an African-American woman best known for message movies such as “Selma” and “13th,” which compared the modern prison system to slavery. Yet, it pulled in just $33 million in its opening US weekend, and only $6.3 million at the foreign box office. Those numbers are likely harbingers of a disastrous flop. Why?
A number of conservative critics are noting that the movie makers made a major, very deliberate change from the book that may have alienated its generations of fans. Author Madeline L’Engle was a deeply spiritual person who made Christianity a central theme of her book, filling it with references to the Bible, God and Jesus and quotes from Scripture. The new movie jettisons almost all of that, replacing it with references to liberal social justice heroes such as Nelson Mandela and the kind of self-centered New Age beliefs currently popular in Hollywood.
It’s not surprising that it stars Oprah Winfrey, since replacing God with “The Universe” and moral leaders with gobbledygook about “forces of light,” and promoting self-empowerment instead of spiritual growth, made some critics feel as if they were sitting through a two-hour episode of Oprah’s talk show with CGI effects. There’s already a movie about someone who thought he was God: in “The Ruling Class,” Peter O’Toole played an insane aristocrat who noticed that he was talking to himself when he prayed, so he decided he was Jesus. That was a black comedy (and did I mention, his character was insane?); but hey, it’s as valid a belief system as thinking you’re the center of the universe.
If Hollywood wants to reverse its popularity death spiral, I’d offer a friendly suggestion that they stop preaching to the converted (or more like preaching to the unconverted and insulting the converted). Maybe consider returning to the old, profitable days when studio heads looked at Middle American Christians as their target audience instead of their target. Failing that, they could try praying for these audience-insulting movies to make more money. But since they’ve replaced God with self-worship, I’m not sure that praying to themselves is going to do much good.
PLEASE LEAVE ME A COMMENT BELOW. I READ THEM!
OR IF YOU WOULD PREFER TO SEND ME A PRIVATE MESSAGE YOU CAN DO SO HERE.