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Today's homework: suggest new rules for the movie industry

Last week I wrote about reasons why the movie industry is losing money.

Today, we are going to suggest some new rules for the industry to make movies as a whole better, more creative, fresher and interesting. In short, we will tell them how to to stop making movies that suck.

Some of my new rules for Hollywood:

  • No more talking animals
  • Chase Uwe Boll out of town
  • No more movies taken from video games
  • No more cop-buddy movies in which the stoic, straight laced guy is paired up with the bumbling, comedic guy
  • No more singers/rock stars masquerading as actors (see, Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears, Mandy Moore)
  • Stop building good movies around bad actors
  • I understand the need for sequels, but let's stop them at three
  • Good athletes do not always make for good actors (see, Brian Bosworth, Shaq)
  • Movies taken from television shows are outlawed
  • Stop even trying to make horror movies. Hollywood forgot how to do scary and I'd rather just rely on my DVD/VHS collection for a scare than sit through another supposedly creepy Japanese-inspired movie starring children and water.
  • No actor can star in more than three films per year (see, Jude Law)
  • More of: ninjas, pirates, zombies, evil clowns and Gary Oldman; preferably in the same movie

Your turn!

Jim has more here.


A movie that stars Gary Oldman as a evil ninja-zombie-pirate-clown?

I would go see that.

All those rules are good.

Add to it 'something for kids': I have a 9 and 2 year old. As a family we've only seen 'March of the Penguins' and 'Finding Nemo' last year... both at drive-ins.

Earlier this year the Cub Scouts had a "Camp-Out at the Drive-In", so the 9 year old had his first PG movie. It was tame as far it goes, but the idea there's so little for kids is disheartening.

My much-better-half and I haven't been in a theater ourselves in over 12 years, and we're at the point of only renting classics... too much of Hollywood is hardly worth Netflix.

Also add 'No more needless remakes': I love Steve Martin as a writer, actor and commedian. But he'll never beat Peter Sellers as Jaques Clousteau.

I'm old school, they should just use the Joe Bob Briggs formula of blood, boobs, and monsters. Currently HBO is using this recipe with great success - have you seen Rome?

Good rules all.

(I am SO with you on the "no movies from television shows" rule)

I'd add:

no movies featuring smart-mouthed or precocious child actors.

no movies based on comedy sketches/characters that comedians made up (So "Wayne's World" was good; that's the rarity).

no "remakes" of movies that are generally recognized as "good" to begin with; why not just re-release the original movie instead of, say, sticking Jessica Simpson in the Kate Hepburn role and Adam Sandler in the Cary Grant role?

please no more "meet cute" movies.

don't make a cgi/computer animated movie just 'cos you can. Make sure there's a story worth animating in the first place.

I agree with ricki... No. More. Remakes. There are so many really wonderful properties that I've read, whether they're on the NYT Bestsellers or not, that are unique and really entertaining. So why is it that they'd rather to a hum-drum remake of something that doesn't need to be updated?

Two rules for writing:

1) Hire writers who can actually write.

2) If adapting a movie from a book, be faithful to the source material (a recent notable failure was Sci-Fi Channel's Riverworld. Bleagh!)


What about a FOURTH movie installment that has GARY OLDMAN?

See: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

When one rule is broken yet one is also fulfilled, tie goes to the runner?

Come now, I think taking your list of banned items would make a GREAT movie.

Law and Order: Special Zombie Unit, starring Gary Oldman and Jude Law, (not sure which one would be the bumbler) set in a Half-Life 2 theme (with Morgan Freeman as Gordon Freeman) and Britney Spears as the the villianess mad scientist creating talking dogs that bite professional athletes and turn them into zombies. And there would be women in latex in every scene, firing guns. Lots of guns. Half the movie is set in a stylized cyber-world, and if you get bit by a talking zombie sprite dog in the cyber universe, you turn into a vampie in the real world and attack more professional athletes. And there would be Jessica Simpson's ass somewhere, driving an SUV. And just before the movie ends, there would be a huge orbital battle between the ship from the "Boston" album covers and the Borg, which cracks the moon in half and lets out the space turkey from "Superfriends" and Gary Oldman has to have his molecules rearranged so he can grow and fight it, and he'd reach up and grab the Borg with his bare hands and beat the turkey with them and...oh, that would be SO FREAKIN AWESOME!

Jason, zombies and Gary Oldman aren't BANNED. I want MORE of them.

But that does sound like an awesome movie.

Your exclusion of Jude Law agreed upon absolutely, how about a mandatory rule requiring the studio heads to go to the Brit and European film studios to learn how to make a Hollywood movie similar to that which they develop over there? At least they (and I lump in Irish films with the Brit for the sake of making this point) focus on the nuances of character, etc rather than the 'big bang' garbage churned out in Hollywood. They also don't discriminate against actresses over thirty-five, like they do in Hollywood.

On an unrelated note, I'm new to your blog which I like and come via Sheila O'Malley's. Also used to work in Long Island before I took up the pen myself.

How about some female characters that don't suck? That would be interesting. Y'know, one with some depth, possibly based on a real female instead of a charicature of one.

Even some male characters with depth would be cool now that I think about it.

My rule: stop trying to desperately make a vehicle that only serves to push Happy Meals and toys with over-the-top special effects and get back to storytelling.

And no more Aerosmith anthem soundtracks,please.

As long as there is a codicil that allows any or all of them to be broken proportional to the skill of the writer, director, and cast.

Other, lesser, rules:

  • No ironic foreshadowing - from here on out it's just 'foreshadowing'.
  • No quippy post-death blow remarks from the hero. Just have the actor say 'fucker' over the corpse, 'bastard' if it's a PG movie.
  • No gratuituous nudity - just make nudity part of the plot. see 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' for an example.

Damn, Jason, get your ass over to the Warner lot pronto! That's the best pitch I've seen for a movie since freaking forever!

I like some movies from TV shows. 'Wrath of Khan' comes to mind. I got a lot of milage out of 'Wrath of Khan.' I'm also looking forward to the 'Firefly' movie, 'Serenity.'

The only rule you need, it seems to me, is to have a good writer. The script is the number one most important aspect of a movie. If the writing is good, I'll let you violate all sorts of rules. I don't even care too much if you can see the strings, if the writing is good.

That said, I want more movies with spaceships, preferably starships. And good writing. I love starships and dialogue. Not too jokey, please, but a little levity is welcome. And keep the allegory to a minimum, particularly with regard to contemporary politcs. Give me a great universe that takes itself just seriously enough, populate it with interesting characters with believable motivations, and let them have at each other. With starships. And put good words in their mouths.

no battle scenes longer than 30 seconds.

And ESPECIALLY no battle scenes where you can't tell who is on which side. They should have to go shirts & skins, or something. :)

No more trailers with voiceover dialog of the form "In a world where [X], one man [Y]"

Movies taken from television shows are outlawed.

Hey now.. Firefly might be an exception...

Oh,and that slow motion scene where the lead characters are walking into the final battle.Knock it off.I mean it.

Not only can one actor not be in more than three movies a year, they should be limited to ten or twelve movies in a lifetime.

I have a few rules for the list:

Dakota Fanning may only appear in a film in which she also dies. (And none of that "Oh she's alive!" crap at the end.)

No more cooky race combo films so forced that rape seems like a lighter alternative. (Shanghai Noon/Knights, Bringing Down the House, Rush Hour 8, etc)

Nicolas Cage may only appear in a film where he can actually play someone other than Nicolas Cage.

jude law? fuck jude law. i don't watch chick flicks, so i never see jude law films.

you wanna talk about over-working actors? how about "Vince Vaughn and Will Farrell are only allowed one movie per year"?

i was watching "Cobra" last night... man, movies in the 80's were simple. the "bad" good guy, and the obviously evil bad guy. fights, death, and then a showdown in an industrial park. that's how all movies should go.

If you're going to have a group of historically good actors, the story must NOT suck.

See "Sphere."

I think your requirements in the last bullet point was fulfilled by Oliver Stone's JFK.

"No more movies-by-committee."

"Only allow marketing to get involved after the movie has been completed."

"When making animated movies, rely primarily on actual voice actors rather than celebrities and movie stars." (If you have a choice between Billy West and Brad Pitt, choose Billy.)

I don't care how it's framed, set-up, "screenwriter adapts book after reading the Clift Notes edition or the bloody cover flaps," just give me this:
I want Will Farrell's ass absolutely smoked dead onscreen, and some character mutters, "Cheelead this, skippy," before deliver the put-away bullet.

Really. When will Hollywood realize that numbskull delivered everything he had in the tank when he made "Elf"?

They need to give up on the "concept picture." The poster child for this of course is Water World. (Paper is worth a lot - unless it is used in cigaretts since they smoked these non-stop, gills on whats-his-name, etc.) They should have to start with a good story even if it is a special effects movie.

Cute/popular actors who can't act - Keanu Reeves in Constantine for example. I kept expecting Agent Smith to be in the next scene. (Good evening Mr. Anderson Constantine)

Don't give actors script approval.

Don't Let Woody Allen make another move.

If adapting the script from a book give the writer of the book final say on the script.

Don't let an outside agency or 'special interest group' make changes to a movie because they feel their ethic group, religion or 'special interest' is being shown in a bad way. Let the consumers decide with their wallets. See 'Clear and Present Danger' for an example.

I would like to see more classic "B" movies too. Like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, or Evil Clowns from Outerspace, or even The Evil Dead/Army of Darkness.

(Where's Bruce Campbell when you need him?)

Echoing to some extent Keith's, Shawn's and lplimac's comments:

1. No movie can be approved, cast or merchandised until there is a completed script.

2. Merchandise tie-ins may not be promoted or sold until 30 days after the movie opens.

3. Pay studio execs based on how much money the movie makes after the opening weekend.

4. No remakes of movies less than 50 years old.

5. Don't greenlight a movie because you think someone else is dumb enough to like it. Greenlight the movie if you like it.

6. No changing historical facts or the contents of books to make someone feel better about the political implications of the story.

7. At least hire a few people who aren't typical Hollywood lefties. Some Christians, maybe, and some Republicans. And definitely some military veterans. They don't need to run the place, but they might stop some embarrassing errors.

8. Sex, violence, profanity, toilet humor? Fine, use as appropriate. But try writing the movie with the minimum of each first, instead of using them as a crutch. You can always add more later in production.

I have to take exception to the last item on your list. I absolutely agree with the "no more scary movies" proposal, which means I have to absolutely disagree with the "more evil clown" movie rule.

I'm personally sure, however, that you meant to say "no more evil clown movies" though. In which case, I back your full set of rules completely.

My rules:

1. More Zach Braff

2. No more George Clooney vanity projects- two "Ocean's" movies and "Solaris" were enough

3. No more shirtless or fully nude scenes by Willem Dafoe. From now on, he must wear long-sleeved turtlenecks and long pants at all times. Even in the shower.

4. More nude scenes for Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Salma Hayek and Kate Beckinsale.

5. Let the bad guy win at least once in a while.

6. No more Star Trek movies for at least fifteen years.

1. Make two Westerns per year; put the best people to work on the first, put the funniest people on the second.

2. Adapt a Niven/Pournelle book into a movie. I vote for "The Mote in God's Eye."

3. One word title: "Schwartzkopf."

4. Screw the theaters; release the DVD on Opening Day.

5. Some conservative content would be nice, for a change.

1. No More Zach Braff

4. Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Salma Hayek and Kate Beckinsale should get jobs that don't require them to act. Because they can't.

There, fixed that for you. The others are good.

Well, I've been watching a lot of Rome Week on the discovery channel, so I may be influenced by that.

After 3 scripts, shoot the writer. Sure his fourth might be the next 2001, but it might also be the next Miss Congeniality.

After 3 movies, shoot the director. Ditto.

Auditions are first held with the actors/actresses backlit and behind a curtain (so you can see the silhouette). After they make it past that cut, then do it again in front of the curtain.

Movies from other source material shall only be made with the participation of the original author. Compare Sin City with Daredevil.

Personally, an immediate moratorium on further Bill Murray-centric films in which he walks around like an inexpressive middle-aged guy in a funk would certainly help ME to pry my fingers loose from my wallet and spend more at the movie theatre.

That and maybe replacing Tom Cruise in ANY movie with someone who can actually act his way out of a paper bag. And by that I mean, 'Does not mistake Huge Annoying Toothy Maniacal Grinning for Acting' acting.

4. Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts, Salma Hayek and Kate Beckinsale should get jobs that don't require them to act. Because they can't.

How about we just shepard them straight to porn? Would you be ok with that, Michele? I know I would.

And you still haven't told me whether it's ok to encourage Gary Oldman in a movie that's number four in a series ...


Bill, how hot would it be if they all starred in the SAME porn? Like a topless version of Steel Magnolias, where everyone ends up in bed together having one last orgy before Charlize kicks the bucket?

Gary Oldman should be encouraged to star in as many movies as possible, even if it is a fourth sequel. Because Oldman's goodness would negate the badness.

Michele, Kate Beckinsale can act - see Cold Comfort Farm. Unfortunately, she hasn't shown much visible interest in acting lately.

I have to agree with MP - great writing can make pretty much anything work. Unhappily, it's a very scarce commodity these days...

Like a topless version of Steel Magnolias, where everyone ends up in bed together having one last orgy before Charlize kicks the bucket?

Slut November as it were.

(1) Stop meddling with the storytellers.
(2) Don't make sequels of movies that suck.
(3) Stop employing makers of crappy movies.
(4) Don't remake what is already good, re-release the old version instead.

Chris Walken....

Stop. Sucking.

-No more movies where all the kids are smarter than the adults.

-No more movies where the father figure is the bumbling idiot and the wife and kids are the pinnacle of perfection.

-No more movies about Richard Nixon and/or Watergate.

How bout this.

can we make a good baseball movie. It's been about 20 years. and we need another good movie about the yankees, "bang the drum", "the pride of the Yankees." How bout the Thurman Munson story. Heck, it could be Torre with his brother's cancer. How come these have not been made yet? I hate the yankees but darn if they don't make for good movies. and pleast don't try and use another team, unless it is a comedy. Seriously, could you picture a moving story about Curt Schilling's ankle? Or anything from the Braves, Cubs, Dodgers, or Astros? it just will not work.

comedy -
Remember when caddyshack, animal house, Monty Python ruled the world. Oh wait they still do. if you can't top those then don't try.

chick flics
I don't have to watch them, I understand there is a market but can't you just send them to the lifetime channel and save time?

Any director who used quick cuts/mtv/ style editing should be shot.

Bill, how hot would it be if they all starred in the SAME porn? Like a topless version of Steel Magnolias, where everyone ends up in bed together having one last orgy before Charlize kicks the bucket?

Beh ... beh ... beh-beh-beh ... beh GEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEH!!!!!!


*** sigh ***

Anyone have a light?

No more sequels or prequels unless Luc Besson can figure out a way to resurrect the characters played by GARY OLDMAN and Jean Reno in The Professional. No more Bruce Willis either squinting or pouting. No more Harrison Ford finger pointing. No more puppet movies where the lead characters have sex, on this I am begging! No films were the trailers cost more than what the screenwriters make. I agree that Woody Allen should not be allowed to make any more films, as well as banning Remy Harlin, Robert Altman, John Singleton, Henry Jaglom and any of the New Dogma directors. And lastly, no more films made from books that Oprah Winfrey loved.

1) No movie adaptations that are not faithful to the book. (see Sum of All Fears changing villian from Muslim terrorists to who? evil white guys?!)

2) Biopics that are faithful to the events - no need to fictionalize larger than life characters.

3) Actions heros must be under 30 - Arnold, Stallone, Ford, et al are all in their geritol years and unbelieveable in those roles. Find someone young, impressionable, and can do action. There are plenty of kids in the system who can do it. If you can't, find one. Someone is looking for a break.

4) Ban George Lucas from directing and writing duties on the same movie. Better yet, ban him from directing. Period. He doesn't get it.

5) Limit vanity projects to 3 for a career. You get an extra 1 for each Oscar win (acting awards only).

/awaiting banishment by the powers that be...

Then we're all agreed?

MORE Angelina Jolie in everything?

No more comic book stories turned into movies; hollywood seems to have a hard time with this. I don't think they can top spiderman 2 or xmen 2 and I know attempts to try will fail miserably.

Lobotomize George Lucas before he further ruins the star wars saga with another movie or awful adaptation. Do the same to Spielberg for good measure so they don't make a horrible Indiana Jones movie, or remaster the first 3 in an asinine way, like turning the Nazis into Republicans circa 1994 or Mola Ram into Karl Rove.

Anyone who pitches ET 2, Cinderella 2, A remake of Police Academy or Animal House (or suggests Animal House 2) should be beaten to death with the manuscript.