Hollywood Movie Data Machine Puts Bums On Seats

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.

  1. Films about shy young men who turn into spiders always put loads of bums on seats and make bucket loads of moolah.
  2. 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.
  3. Tom Cruise + any film about aeroplanes = always a safe bet.  Ditto for Tom Cruise rescuing maidens and them falling in love with him.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. American films often have shit character names, and kid characters with boring old man names.  I’m looking at you, Home Alone.
  8. Horror films are 100% horrible.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. Quentin Tarantino is 99% likely to have never made a rom-com or a kids’ film.  
  12. Successful rom-coms ALWAYS have kissing in them.
  13. Films about Xmas always have a Xmas tree in them.
  14. 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.
  15. 100% of films set in space have aliens in them.

*Pure conjecture.


c. Kylie Lawrence 2013.


Top Ten Things Not to Attempt in the Nude

Going nude can be a freeing experience.  Below are some places and occasions when you should give it a miss.

1. Job Interview.  Unless you are attending a casting for a nude film, nude photographic exhibition, or trying to psyche out the other applicants in the waiting room, it might be a good idea to keep your qualifications under cover.  Chances are you will get the job anyway, because you are the best qualified for the job and have fabulous interpersonal skills that your new employer is crying out to have onboard.

2. Government Departments.   Public servants are subject to enough entertainment by the public on a daily basis, without your fronting up to the local RTA counter wearing only your car keys and a Low Income Health Care Card.

3. Funerals.  Especially if it is for someone you do not know, which is likely to occur if you lose yourself on the way to the service and end up in the Presbyterian section of the cemetery.  Funerals are like weddings – there is only room for one show-stopping bride and one hysterical guest.  Your entrance sans clothes is likely to steal the limelight.

 4. Shoeing a Horse.  There is a reason farriers wear leather aprons, and it is not because they are trying out costumes for Mardi Gras.  Ask any decent farrier, and they will tell you that you would be nuts not to wear an apron when faced with a large, possibly unpredictable cloven-hoofed animal and flying embers.  However, if you insist upon shoeing a horse whilst in the nude, be warned that the horse may mistake your hirsute backside for a gourmet variety of chaff.  In fact, avoid nuding up for any sort of activity involving welding, hot anvils, or any other sort of irons in the fire.

5.  Operating Heavy Machinery.  Agreed, posing on a stationary combine harvester or all over a mechanic’s workshop in the buff or a bikini can look hot.  But switch that circular saw on, and it may not just be logs that you split.

6. Driving Lessons.  This applies to any sort of lessons involving planes, trains, and automobiles.  It is pretty fair to say that if your physique is sufficiently arousing, your driving instructor will only be capable of doing half the job you are paying him or her for.  Then they will feel guilty that they took their eye off the ball, so to speak, and pass you with flying colours.  Which in the short term is great for the ego, but in the big picture, an absolute nightmare for anyone driving toward you from the opposite direction.

7. Public Rallies.  Any sort.  The chances of acquiring a nasty case of gravel rash if events turn rough, such as at a Young Liberals rally, are high, as are the statistics for most rallies involving peace, politics, or prurience.  So that counts out anti-war protests, union solidarity marches, and anything to do with Fred Nile.

8. Arriving  Late to Mass Nude Photographic Opportunities in Outdoor Venues.  Maybe an hour ago the police were happy to ignore a mass nudathon for the sake of art.  But this is no reason to suspect that they will turn a blind eye to your enthusiastic shortcomings, or your explanation that the bus was late.

 9. Locking Yourself Out of Your Hotel Room During a Political Conference.  Some may view this as the perfect opportunity to form spontaneous new political alliances, or get into bed with the opposition.  It can be hard to take a bipartisan perspective at three o’clock in the morning.  The stakes are a lot higher if you are the innocent party, and the person with the room key problem is your political hero.  Denuded of their intellectual prowess and oratorical charisma, you could either fancy yourself a true equal with leadership potential, or fight flashbacks to last night during their seminar on Fighting the Global Economic Downturn, or Keeping the Bastards Honest.

10. Foreign Airport Customs.  This is especially important if your luggage is lost in transit in another hemisphere, or ends up in the hold of one of Virgin’s new flights into outer space.  There is a good chance that the Customs official requesting your passport or travel documents, will not take kindly to your explanation that you have used up your hand luggage allowance and thus have no room for respectable attire.