December 19, 2005

Someone's in the cocoon.

Says Mickey Kaus, here and here, talking about Frank Rich's opinion on how Middle America will respond to "Brokeback Mountain." (And thanks to Mickey for appreciating my sarcasm!)

UPDATE: Three Years of Hell has some excellent, and nicely bloggish, comments about the movie -- and he's actually seen it. He makes it sound -- gasp! -- boring. That's the worst condemnation, really -- in my book anyway. That reminds me: Chris saw "Syriana" and said it was one of the most boring movies he's ever seen.

IN THE COMMENTS: Some talk about who this movie is being marketed to. I give my answer -- and it's not gay men.

46 comments:

downtownlad said...

It will play well in the heartland, because there are a lot of gays in the heartland.

If people think that gay people only live in the big cities - they are the ones in the cocoon.

But most straight people will not see this movie.

The Drill SGT said...

Beyond that segment of the gay population that is "out", and most of the gays in the hertland aren't, I don't see it doing well. Beyond gays, what are the natural demographics?

Action film appealing to men 16-39? I dont think so.

Chick Flick / Date film? couples 16-29? only the artsy elite urban crowd

Hen party, Girls night out film? How many women are going to identify with a forelorn love story about sheep herders?

I think it sputters and goes quietly into the night

downtownlad said...

I think lots of fag-hags will go see this movie.

I'm going to see it with my fag-hag next week.

When I say heartland, I'm talking about middle America, i.e. Chicago, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, etc. Tons of gay people there.

Rural Wyoming? Not that many. But then again - does Wyoming even have a movie theater?

The Drill SGT said...

We have different definitions of "Heartland". Mine was more Red State / Blue state versus your non-coastal urban area.

sure, it will do fine in Chicago, but not downstate

chuck b. said...

Well, isn't the heartland wide open spaces where relatively few people live?

What would inspire Hollywood to cater to tiny heartland audiences?

downtownlad said...

If you can get 3% of this country to attend a movie, that translates into 9 million people. At $10 a pop, that's 90 million dollars.

That's like saying that movies shouldn't target black people, because they're only 12% of the population.

There's nothing that prevents a movie that's targeted towards a specific audience from being successful.

Gay people, their friends and family easily constitute 30% of this country, at least based on the percentage who vote in favor of gay marriage. That's your target audience.

I wouldn't not expect anyone who's opposed to gay marriage to see this movie - as they've already made up their mind that love between two gay people is an impossibility.

downtownlad said...

Oh - And I don't want to imply that not seeing this movie makes you a homophobe. It doesn't.

But homophobes will not see this movie for obvious reasons. So essentially it's target audience is the 30% of this country that is not homophobic.

chuck b. said...

"If you can get 3% of this country to attend a movie, that translates into 9 million people. At $10 a pop, that's 90 million dollars."

I don't think Hollywood employs your analysis. There's the big blockbuster, and there's the independent film. Brokeback falls in the latter category. It's a $13M film. If small films appeal to the heartland, fine. But if not, noone in the film industry is going to care--at all. They don't need to.

Brokeback is going to make tons of money. It's got the right combination of star power and artistic interest and it was dirt-cheap to make. It's all about the bottom line.

That's my only point: It doesn't matter if the heartland sees the movie or not. Why Frank Rich thinks that matters, I don't know.

Troy said...

Fag hags may go see it, but they don't really want to see Bubble get some Knight's Tail. Word of mouth will kill it for some. This ain't Will & Grace homosexuality.

FRank Rich doesn't know a damn thing about much outside of NYC and I doubt he knows much outside of his cadre of Kool-Aid drinking buddies.

downtownlad said...

My friend saw it in Philadelphia and he said half of the audience was female.

He didn't think there was a straight male in the house though.

But he did add that every show was sold out and he had to go at midnight (also sold out).

Icepick said...

DTL, most straight people don't see most movies. Take a $400M film, at an average ticket price of $8.00 and you've only got 50,000,000 people ... ~1/6 of the population of the USA. (And I'm not sure if the $8.00 is low or high factoring in afternoon 'cheap' prices, but the idea is the same in any event.)

And Chuck B, those wide-open spaces tend to include the suburbs and exurbs...you know, the people who elected GWB. That's not an inconsiderable number of people. But if Hollywood wants to keep pissing those folks off by constantly insulting them, then fine. I guess it will just leave a bigger audience for those weird Mel Gibson Dead Language films....

chuck b. said...

Yeah, where all those Jesus films we were promised with the success of Passion of the Christ? I guess there aren't that many entrepreneurial Christian filmmakers out there after all.

***

The exurbs and suburbs contain GWB's base, but he won the election because he swung moderates like me who found Kerry intolerable. (Well, not me...I live in California and my state's electoral votes went for the loser this time.)

downtownlad said...

Icepick,

So it "insults" you when Hollywood makes a movie that acknowledges two gay people are human.

Strange.

chuck b. said...

I'm not sure Icepick meant to refer to Brokeback specifically. Hollywood makes frequent fun of middle America and middle American values very generally. That can feel insulting after awhile, I guess.

The problem with feeling insulted is that eventually it gets hard to take the insulted very seriously. That goes for gays who feel always insulted and Christians who feel always persecuted. We all need to get over ourselves a little bit, imo.

grumpyTA said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Palladian said...

God, the conversation about this movie has become intolerable. It's really sad to see that the only reason most people can find for making a movie is financial demographics. Doesn't anyone care about art anymore? This movie was cheaply made and will easily end up in the financial black. It wasn't meant as a cash cow, and won't be a cash cow (though I suspect it will make a bigger profit than most Hollywood "successes". But seriously, is the subject matter so off-putting as to make the film unwatchable? That's like me refusing to see Vertigo (a movie I love) because it's a forlorn love story about a mentally unstable heterosexual man with a penchant for tossing icy blonds off of belltowers; not my thing, man, no offense.

Anyway, they have plenty of DVD players in the Heartland, and I suspect everyone who wants to see it there will get a chance. Who goes to the theater anymore anyway?

chuck b. said...

I'm sure the directors and actors involved consider their film work artistic. But if the conversation's about what makes money, that requires different considerations.


And I agree...I'm all Brokebacked out and will say no more about this movie (until its grosses exceed $50M, at which point I will needle Sarahweddington about it until she cries).

I certainly won't see Brokeback until the DVD arrives from Greencine (my Netflix). I only saw two movies in the theater this year (Sin City and Harry Potter) both of which I made a point of seeing because they played on IMAX screens. If the movie's not on an IMAX screen, I'm not interested.

In other Althouse-exhausted movie news, I just saw Batman Begins and really liked it. The al Quaeda connection w/ Ra's Al Ghul wasn't there for me, but I saw where you were coming from, Ann.

Aspasia M. said...

The movie will also appeal to straight women. Two hot men -

Remember the "Sex and the City" episode where the girls are watching gay male porn?

Icepick said...

DTL, perhaps you would be more convincing if you read what I wrote. As it is, I can only assume you are one of those people whose only joy in life is being insulted, so thta you can start hurling invective in any and all directions.

But since you bring it up, I have no reason to go see this movie. The main characters sound like awful people, and the situation sounds tedious. It looks roughly equivalent to Boys Don't Cry in those respects. But that's not what's insulting. That's merely a question of personal taste in movies.

What's insulting is the passive-aggresive attitude Hollywood is taking in the marketing of this film. It's just BEGGING for someone to start a fuss over it so they can tell us what bigots we are. Sorry, I'll pass.

But this is just a part of the problem. We also get a series of George Clooney movies that have very obvious political content, a series of Michael Moore films telling us how stupid we are, etc., etc. It's just effing tiresome. Meanwhile the 'popular' movies are basically overproduced crap.

But if you want to persist in just calling everyone who doesn't want to rush out and see this particular movie over and over again homophobes, fine, be my guest. But don't pretend to be anything other than someone who is intentionally looking to be insulted so that you can proclaim your moral superiority to the rest of the world. How tedious.

Icepick said...

Palladian, who do you expect to make movies that will intentionally lose money? Someone has to shell out the dollars for these things. If someone with lots of money wants to produce artistic films that lose money, more power to them. But the industry won't survive without someone somewhere making a profit at least some of the time.

But this movie is probably going to make a healthy profit for all concerned. It's a relatively cheap production from a well-known and well-respected director and it's getting a big push from the studio. It's already off to a good start and all of the Oscar buzz will help. If this movie doesn't turn a profit it will be because the studio spent to much on marketing, but really the marketing campaign hasn't been THAT big.

But it's unlikely to be a blockbuster and seems unlikely to make $100M in the theatres. Still, making money is the thing that allows Ang Lee to keep making films, and this kind of success will keep him happy and probably making the movies he wants to make.

Something I haven't heard mentioned in these threads, although maybe it was mentioned in a linked article, is that in regions where this movie does well it will likely be VERY popular with theatre owners.

The contracts the studios have with the theatres usually involves the studios getting the biggest share of the pie for the first week or two a film is in the theatre, with theatres getting bigger percentages of the take the longer a movie plays. Most movies these days make all or most of their money in the first two weeks, so the theatres get the short end of the stick. (Thus the exorbitant prices on foodstuffs.) But this movie isn't playing on that many screens, and is likely to do steady business for weeks where it does play strong. Brokeback Mountain will likely make some theatres more money playing on one screen to packed shows for 8 or nine weeks than King Kong will make for them in a run on several screens for three or four weeks, with a trickle of people coming in later. This isn't the kind of thing to 'save' the industry, but those houses that get these small hits will be grateful for the additional revenue.

Sorry for the rambling post, but it's late.

Ann Althouse said...

In the comments to the earlier post, I wrote about the trailer:

"Terrible trailer, geared to people who aren't very bright and are very sentimental about gay people, that is, I'm thinking, middle class women, as imagined by Hollywood nitwits."

So that's my answer about the demographics. The movie is geared to women. The story was written by a woman too, published in the New Yorker. Who reads short stories in the New Yorker? Women! Obviously, gay men are the natural audience, but the movie is basically being marketed to women. I think if gay men were being targeted as the audience, as opposed to assumed as part of the audience, the movie, the casting, the ad campaign -- everything would be different.

Aspasia M. said...

I agree with Ann about her analysis of the demographics.

Of course it's geared to women! This movie looks like it's filled with romance, some melodrama, analysis of relationships, and two hot men dressed up as cowboys. (Who cares about art? Maybe they'll take off their shirts! But I have low tastes.) The cowboy theme is definitely geared to attract a female audience.

I haven't seen the trailer, but the movie poster seemed to convey the above characteristics. I don't like melodrama, but the possibility of shirt-less-ness may be enough to drive me into the theater.

lindsey said...

The movie poster is practically stolen from Titanic. It's uncanny.

Ann Althouse said...

Lindsey: I think they've been open about talking about the similarity to "Titanic" in the poster. And look at the similarities: the presentation of the story: the doomed lovers, the narrow society that told them they could not be together, a very large object that forms the setting for their love and gives the title to the movie.

downtownlad said...

Icepick,

I never said that people who don't watch this movie are homophobes. In fact I said the complete opposite. Do you always go around putting words into people's mouths?

Again - it's just strange that you're so insulted by a movie about two gay men. Most people wouldn't care.

downtownlad said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Icepick said...

DTL made this comment, directed at me: So it "insults" you when Hollywood makes a movie that acknowledges two gay people are human.

First, I never said I was insulted by this movie. In fact, in the post I referred to, I didn't mention that I was offended at all.

Later I did explain why I find Hollywood's marketing of this movie insulting. As for the movie itself, it just looks like a movie about awful people in tedious situations. I don't really care for such movies, so I'll pass. Ang Lee has enough credibility in my book that I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he's not trying to insult or inflame. It just looks boring.

So, to reitereate and sum up, I find Hollywood in general to be annoying and insulting to that wide swath of the populace known as Middle America. This movie I just don't care to see, although the marketing seems designed to offend for the sake of causing a stir. Clear?

And your earlier comment about me being insulted by a movie "that acknowledges two gay people are human" is clearly implying homophobia, or at least priggishness, on my part. Especially since I have explicitely stated REPEATEDLY now that I am not offended by this movie. But no doubt you will once again accuse me such, so just go right ahead.

downtownlad said...

Here's what you said icepick:

"But if Hollywood wants to keep pissing those folks off by constantly insulting them, then fine."

Again - how is making a movie about two gay people "insulting" to people? Your words, not mine.

"movie I just don't care to see, although the marketing seems designed to offend for the sake of causing a stir. Clear?

No. It's not clear at all. It looks like a movie about two gay men in love. How does that offend?

Again - I never said you were a homophobe. But if you think that a movie about two gay men is offensive and insulting, then I can see how other people might jump to a different conclusion.

Again. Very strange.

Ron said...

I wonder if Rich thinks, "Let's see...west of the Hudson...Why, it's full of cowboys! Until you get to LA! They'll love it!"

Goatwhacker said...

DTL, you are kind of sending some mixed messages and I'm not sure what your exact position is either. I understand you are not saying anyone who doesn't go see the movie is a homophobe, but if I understand you right you feel homophobia is the major determinant on whether one goes to see the movie or not.

Your definition of homophobia, which boils down to anyone who doesn't support gay marriage, is rather broad. I would think it is possible for someone to believe gay people can fall in love and still be against legal recognition of gay marriages.

I doubt I'll see this movie in the theater, but might see it on DVD. It does sound like a boring movie. It also bugs my contrary nature that there's this undercurrent that this is an IMPORTANT movie and I should ought to see it so I can broaden my horizens.

I had the good fortune to live in Wyoming for four years, and yes they do have theaters there. Surprisingly, I did not beat up anyone of any sexual orientation while I lived there.

Jim said...

Ann Althouse said, "Who reads short stories in the New Yorker? Women!"

Well I'm a man who reads the New Yorker. Let me see....

Well son of a gun, there ARE short stories in the magazine. I wondered what all those pages between the non-fiction and the movie reviews were. Now I know.

Thanks,
Jimbo

Big Dog said...

Downtownlad,

Gays are at most 2-3% of the population. The movie was cheap, so it will still make money. I won't see it simply because of gay jerks like who question everyone else's motives and try to make them look mental. By the way, Matthew Shephard isn't the only person to every be murdered in the U.S., just the only one gays seem to care about. So, now are you going to track me 'round the internet and flame me?

downtownlad said...

DTL, you are kind of sending some mixed messages and I'm not sure what your exact position is either. I understand you are not saying anyone who doesn't go see the movie is a homophobe, but if I understand you right you feel homophobia is the major determinant on whether one goes to see the movie or not.

Wrong. I haven't seen this movie yet either. I really couldn't care less if someone else sees this movie. As a gay man, I find the subject matter interesting, but if it was about two lesbians my interest in seeing it would probably be less - as it would be harder for me to relate to it. But then again, I wouldn't go around saying that a movie about two lesbians was "insulting" and "offensive".

Your definition of homophobia, which boils down to anyone who doesn't support gay marriage, is rather broad. I would think it is possible for someone to believe gay people can fall in love and still be against legal recognition of gay marriages.

Well, if someone is against full equality for gay people, then yes, I consider them to be homophobic. Are there degrees of homophobia? Of course. But I have no qualms telling my mother that she's a homophobe since she's against gay marriage, so I fail to see why I can't tell the same thing to a stranger who's trying to deny me my rights.

downtownlad said...

No Big Dog. You seem to have an obsession with everything gay, and are going from thread to thread trying to find gay topics to comment about.

Again - I'll just call your obsession with gay people, hmmm - how do I put this... a little queer.

And sorry - gays are more than 2-3% of the population. Even in the exit polls, 4% of this country self-identified as gay. Something Jack and Ennis (closeted gays) surely wouldn't do, so the number is surely higher.

Jacob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
downtownlad said...

Jacob - I haven't seen the movie, so I don't think I'm spoiling anything. Just going off of what I've read in reviews.

Besides - everyone said they don't want to see the movie.

Ann Althouse said...

Downtown lad: that's a COMPLETELY unacceptable spoiler. I deleted your comment. Here's what you had with the spoiler removed:

Ann - It's not the narrow society that tells them they can't be together. It's actually their own narrow selves that prevent them from being together.

The movie takes place between 1963 and the early 80's. Thus, it spans the gay rights movement. Ennis represents the gays of the old West, totally closeted, unable to come to terms with himself. Jack represents the gays of the new West, willing to forge a life for another man and not as concerned with what others think.

The movie and story are more of a commentary on that, than it is on a narrow society. Although [DELETED] at the end might be misinterpreted as a commentary on society - but I actually think that is referring more [DELETED].

Ann Althouse said...

Jacob: I deleted your post, which complained about spoiling, because it repeated the spoiler. Here's what you had with the spoiler now deleted:

Remember the "Sex and the City" episode where the girls are watching gay male porn?
I brought biscotti... :)

[DELETED] at the end might be misinterpreted as a commentary on society
Er- spoiler?

By the way, Matthew Shephard isn't the only person to every be murdered in the U.S., just the only one gays seem to care about.

See here's the funny thing... I know many gay people and all of them care about many people who have been murdered. But I'm sure you're right, I guess they're all pretending to advance the Homosexual Agenda.

downtownlad said...

Woops! Sorry bout that.

I didn't see the movie, but just talked to a friend who did and he said my description is innacurate, for what it's worth.

HaloJonesFan said...

A comment: What I've heard about "Brokeback Mountain" makes it sound like those movies where "lesbian" translates to "hot bi babe"; only the characters are men, and the movie's marketed towards women.

In other words, this is a Penthouse letters-page story, only aimed at women instead of men.

reader_iam said...

My oh my, this most seems much ado about not much.

Of course, this movie is being marketed to women. Movies with gay themes often are. Or at least that's my perception.

And it seems to me we're tripping over a lot of stereotypes around here, and not just having to do with gay people.

It's true that this movie isn't playing in my community of Davenport, IA, right now. But that's not because there's been some sort of shocked outrage at the thought of such a theme, much less some groundswell of protest over offended community standards.

It's because the PTB in Hollywood decided it wouldn't play here--and I can't help but think due to some stereotyping of their own (and yes, yes, I know they do market research as well. However, I tend to believe in what Twain said about statistics.)

This is not a big city. There are lots of openly gay people here. In about three minutes, I could walk to at least 7 households comprised of that demographic in this immediate neighborhood alone. The town even has a (self-proclaimed, specifically named) Rainbow (entertainment) District.

I'm not saying everything is always hunky-dory; nothing ever is. True, this isn't San Francisco. But what the hell is? And SF has its issues, too.

I'm a little tired (not offended, not insulted: just tired) of stereotypes of middle America, so-called red staters, and even Bush voters. NONE OF THOSE THINGS are automatic designators, much less synonymous, with homophobia.

Frank Rich is as insular and prejudiced in his own way as the most stereotypical so-called church lady in East Gybyp. I've spent plent of time with both types, and that's simply the plain, flat-out truth.

There, I'm done, with one P.S.: I do plan on seeing the movie, in whatever form.

Joan said...

I'm vaguely curious to see how this movie does, too. In limited release over the past 2 weeks, it has the highest per-theater average revenues, but that still only adds up to $3.5M. Will it even go into wide release? If it doesn't, it isn't going to be able to generate much revenue. If it does, it's per-theater revenue is going to plummet.

I think the Rotten Tomatoes box office list is enlightening. Crap like "Yours, Mine, and Ours", with only a 6% approval rating, made $1M more than "Brokeback Mountain" last week, even though it has been out 2 weeks longer. Yeah, YM&O is in wide release, and it's only pulling in $1.3K per theater, but $1M is still a lot of money, and a lot of tickets sold.

I wonder how much time Frank Rich spends looking at this data.

downtownlad said...

They do plan on a wider release in January, when it will roll out to 400 theaters. It's only playing in 70 or so right now.

Same with Memoirs of a Geisha, and not really that different than other art-house Oscar flicks.

Joe Baby said...

Credit to the movie studio. As with those deep space satellites, they are using a slingshot effect to propel this film past its teeny audience into the mainstream.

This thing will win awards, IMO. Nothing to do with merit, however. The awards don't look at merit.

That said, I think a general public gets tired of the Hollywood that despises moralizing except their own. And when Hollywood gets didatic, ugg -- run and hide.

knoxgirl said...

"Chris saw "Syriana" and said it was one of the most boring movies he's ever seen."

I suspected it was a snoozer. Steven Soderberg (sp?) needs to stop trying to make all these topical movies like "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich" (sp? sheesh) and just stick to movies with good plot and characters. Like "Out of Sight."

off topic again!

TWM said...

A good friend went to see Syriana this weekend and his review was that one terrible word - Boring! A killer indeed.

As to Brokeback Mountain. Well, I suppose if every gay person in the country goes it will be successful, but since gay people can tell a loser movie just as well as straight people, I don't see that happening.

Ann says the movie is being marketed toward women. Well, if that is the case the marketing failed. My wife jumps at the slightest chance to see a movie for women -- and she hasn't paid the slightest bit of attention to this one. Why? It is a cowboy (sheep hearder) movie. And those rarely get the attention of women no matter who is kissing in them.

But hey, it doesn't matter what the box office is, Hollywood makes movies for Hollywood, not for people. It has, and will, win all sorts of awards for political reasons if nothing else.

And box office receipts will continue their deline.