|In another age, if Hollywood’s priciest annual boondoggle turned into a turgid public debacle, it might not have been such a big deal.
Back in the 90’s, to send half the industry around the world for two weeks of grim headlines about the collapse of the international film world might not have been so bad – hey, what’s a few tens of millions if the troops had fun.
But the incongruity becomes glaring in these days of austerities and cutbacks and housekeeping deals sent packing, for Hollywood to still spend millions on an event that gets headlines, from the Trade. Press no less..like this:
“It wasn’t just the shadow of disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein casting a pall over the proceedings. Everywhere you looked, there were clear signs that the old thrill is gone.” When THR says thrill is gone from a Hollywood mega-event, you can put your money that the thrill has cleaned out his office, taken his name off the door, painted over his parking space and is halfway to Fresno.
THR’s signs include: “This year’s “big” stunt was a damp squib: Sony’s lame promotion for Hotel Transylvania 3” and that the big Hollywood premiere for Solo, wasn’t even a world premiere, just the roadshow premiere follow-up to the LA debut a week before.
(That Transylvania wasn’t worth nothing, however. Here was how Deadline covered the event. How can one put a price on the value of a Deadline headline?)
The festival opened with gloomy mutterings about the selfie ban and the Netflix feud and have continued on to mass evacuations from the Lars Von Trier screening. You’d think that one pro-Hitler rant would get it out of a guy’s system, but apparently, he had a little more to share.
So wither Cannes? Or at least wither the Hollywood wing of Cannes? If the festival went back to being a celebration of international filmmaking, would that be so terrible? Focus and Annapurna can come and make some pickups. The Brand Ambassadors will still have Chopard parties to go to. There will be plenty of critics to give 247 minute standing O’s to Gus Van Sant’s next movie.
But perhaps we won’t have to play the game of trying to make the case of why this matters to those of us who aren’t brand ambassadors or highbrow critics, to keep the boondoogle alive.
This marks the second major festival this year – after Sundance – which will go do as a major bummer, Focus pick-up notwithstanding. The causes (collapse of the indie market, Oscar calendar) have been well documented, but maybe there’s more going on.
If you look this in the same glance not only with Sundance but with the decline of the Oscars, you’ve got all these major, glitzy, super-luxe Hollywood mega-events in retreat. And given the current global mood, should that be even slightly surprising?
Add to that the fact that the films celebrated by these three events (Hotel Trans PR event notwithstanding) have become a separate, a distinct genre apart from the films that the globe’s unwashed masses attend.
Add to that how every time one of these events happen, it is consumed by some awful controversy about itself – MeToo, the Selfie Ban, Windows Wars – instead of, doing the job its there to do, celebrating movies.
Mix those elements together, and what’s not to like? And at what point do we ask ourselves is the conspicuous glitz lavished on top of a nervous breakdown doing actual harm to the moviegoing cause rather than helping it?
When the moviegoing tradition hangs in the balance, what better way to tell the world how the magic of seeing films can uplift their lives? Next year, let’s send a bigger crew!