It had to happen. Somebody who loves numbers invents a machine that can calculate exactly what ingredients determine a film’s success at the box office.
Hollywood executives secretly love this, because they can use it to make more money.
Screenwriters are not so keen, because they have been making replica calculations on the backs of envelopes for years. They have made trigonometry and other fancy maths words out of equations such as Tools to Sell Out With – I mean, Commerce: Art, and Commercial Paradigms: Indie Tropes. NB. It is always good to use words such as ‘paradigms’ and ‘tropes’ to stop words such as ‘story’ and phrases such as ‘a bloody good story’ getting in the way of sounding fancy pants/like a cinematic fancy pants (CFP).
Hm, what role does imaginative storytelling play? Will writers have to wear aluminium foil around their heads to stop the Hollywood statistics machine messing with their imaginations?
I reckon there might be a few home truths in the statistics garnered by this wizz-bang new service, that writers, such as myself, should cop sweet. Such as: successful action films always have action scenes in them and/Bruce Willis. Or, the older Bruce Willis gets, the more likely he is to take the piss out of his earlier action roles, which is endearing on the one hand, but raises questions about how fast he can run away from baddies on the other. I refer particularly to Die Hard 96 which is due on cinema screens in thirty years time (but don’t hold me to that being true or not because I just made it up). Bruce will probably be close to 96 himself by then.
Lolly Bag Gift for Writer: always include a dramatic action sequence in your action film, and if you can’t get that, write Bruce Willis taking the mickey out of his youthful action star persona. He loves that kind of shit*. Especially if you make him some young hottie’s dad and he gets to show him up in a wild action scene, such as in Die Hardest.
Never Mind Hollywood, What About the Real Down and Dirty statistics?
Speaking of Bruce, I have had a few thoughts. Instead of writing my screenplay in which Bruce Willis gets to play a flute in a highly emotionally-charged but totally pointless scene that leads the story nowhere, and is thus illustrative fluff (hm, or maybe his character is playing the flute in the desert and when the sun shines off his silver flute, he is blinded, and this makes him go dizzy, and when he wakes up, he is confronted by wolves who threaten to turn him into wolf breakfast unless he plays Xmas carols), but will cut down on the musical composition budget because that’s one less musician to hire – I have just come back from a top secret investigation and discovered some surprising statistics that screenwriters should be aware of before they next put finger to keyboard or quill.
- Films about shy young men who turn into spiders always put loads of bums on seats and make bucket loads of moolah.
- The brand and quality of coffee on set is directly proportional to the proportion of cranky actors who carry on like plucked-arse parrots, get shickered in pubs on location, and end up on the front pages of trash mags just before their latest film premieres.
- Tom Cruise + any film about aeroplanes = always a safe bet. Ditto for Tom Cruise rescuing maidens and them falling in love with him.
- If you write a film where Meryl Streep plays a paper sandwich bag in a hair shirt in the the pitch black of night where you cannot see her performing, this role is over 90% likely to result in a Best Actress Oscar nomination. And 0.003% likely to end in an actual win. Still, you will have Meryl Streep in your film, and that, in my book, is heaps better than all the Oscars in China.
- Kids love films about animals, and films about kids saving the world from stupid adults. Thus kids are 100% likely to pester their parents to spend silly amounts of money on taking them to the pictures to see these films, or annoy the crappola out of them until they buy the DVD. So you should probably write one.
- French films are 99% likely to have French-speaking characters and 96.2% likely to look classy and glamorous, even in a working class setting. Even if they talk pointless or banal crap in a scene, the subtitles always make French characters’ dialogue sound impressive and meaningful. So if your dialogue is a shocker, just write it in French.
- American films often have shit character names, and kid characters with boring old man names. I’m looking at you, Home Alone.
- Horror films are 100% horrible.
- Angelina Jolie is 100% unlikely to break into a sweat even if she has run for what looks like kilometres across a freeway. See Salt if you don’t believe me.
- Australian actors are like ants: everywhere and into everything. Sometimes you can’t even tell that they are Australian. Statistically they are 95% more likely to do a good Yank accent than the other way around.
- Quentin Tarantino is 99% likely to have never made a rom-com or a kids’ film.
- Successful rom-coms ALWAYS have kissing in them.
- Films about Xmas always have a Xmas tree in them.
- Films about nuns are either miserable or romantic. If they have songs in them they are 100% successful at the box office, and they won’t reach reach their peak again for close to sixty years.
- 100% of films set in space have aliens in them.
c. Kylie Lawrence 2013.