14 votes

Destroying movies for fun and profit

10 comments

  1. [8]
    krellor
    Link
    I understand the disappointment from fans, actors, writers, etc. At the same time, this really isn't any different from any multi-year project or initiative being cancelled in another...

    I understand the disappointment from fans, actors, writers, etc. At the same time, this really isn't any different from any multi-year project or initiative being cancelled in another organization. Large software projects, R&D initiatives, product development, etc, all get cancelled sometimes and the costs written down as a loss.

    The idea that they should move forward because they've already spent $x isn't very compelling and is the sunk cost fallacy. That money is spent; it can't be recovered. What the decision in front of them is, should we spend $y millions in marketing and life cycle management of the asset with z% chance of achieving a return that recovers not only $y, but ($y * 1.10) or whatever they have chosen as their cost of capital or discounting rate, or do they take a guaranteed $w in the form of reducing their tax liability by recording the loss and accelerating the depreciation of their asset.

    When this happens to product development teams, it is always devastating to them. But it isn't uncommon or unique to Hollywood or actors.

    As far as robbing the world of art, I feel like that argument falls flat in this article, but perhaps it has been made more persuasively by others.

    15 votes
    1. [2]
      Rez
      Link Parent
      It may not be "art" art, but I think people are just disappointed that such a great portion of society's collective effort was put into a cultural product only for the finished project to be...

      As far as robbing the world of art, I feel like that argument falls flat in this article, but perhaps it has been made more persuasively by others.

      It may not be "art" art, but I think people are just disappointed that such a great portion of society's collective effort was put into a cultural product only for the finished project to be tossed in the trash can. If some other business product gets canned, like an app or program, the sense of loss is still acute, but not widespread, since the potential consumers for that work would be a much smaller group of people, and the work wouldn't have any cultural or entertainment value.

      Whereas there are (at a minimum) thousands of people that will be unhappy they'll never have a chance to see this movie. The fact that it is basically finished is one of the most key parts. It'd be like if GRRM said he finished the last Game of Thrones books, but due to tax reasons he's deleting his work. Most canceled business projects are somewhat substitutable (e.g. canceling an internal business project because you've decided you can accomplish the end result more efficiently by just contracting with or licensing from others), but with these works, it's a one-of-a-kind thing going away forever.

      10 votes
      1. krellor
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        I'm not trying to gatekeep what art is, and I don't view cartoons, comics, etc, as any less of a creative endeavor than other films. I simply didn't find this authors argument compelling. The fact...

        I'm not trying to gatekeep what art is, and I don't view cartoons, comics, etc, as any less of a creative endeavor than other films. I simply didn't find this authors argument compelling. The fact that more people are disappointed because it is a more public process didn't seem related to the authors point that we are being deprived of art.

        Art is worthwhile for its own sake, whether 10 people or 10,000 appreciate it. So in my mind, from an art perspective, I don't see the number of people disappointed as being relevant.

        Challenging myself here, how would I argue the artistic loss better than the author? Well I would frame the following position: art is worthwhile for its own sake, and uniquely valuable to culture when it inspires new artists, expressions, or ideas. If it becomes a trend to scrap creative works, we drain the pool of opportunity that inspires the next generation or triggers the next revolution of thought or art. Individual movies will have greater or lesser impacts, but it is often hard to tell what impact something will have before release, and you never know when the current zeitgeist will align with the themes of a film or its nostalgia, and become more than the sum of its parts.

        I could probably flesh that out into a reasonable position, and add to it.

        5 votes
    2. [2]
      cloud_loud
      Link Parent
      What's interesting to me is that the films getting shelved are IP dominant films. Batgirl, Scooby Doo, and now Coyote v Acme. As much as I think I would have enjoyed Coyote v Acme, these are the...

      As far as robbing the world of art, I feel like that argument falls flat in this article, but perhaps it has been made more persuasively by others.

      What's interesting to me is that the films getting shelved are IP dominant films. Batgirl, Scooby Doo, and now Coyote v Acme. As much as I think I would have enjoyed Coyote v Acme, these are the types of films writers like Oller complain Hollywood only makes (and that's ignoring that they were all developed to be straight to HBOMAX films). I'm not sure these films would get the same treatment if they were actually released. In fact I can see a lot of people making fun of them and posting screenshots of janky CGI shots.

      Hollywood being a mix of both business and art trips up a lot of these writers, because they're not particularly interested in the business side of things. Same with people who exclusively write about the business of Hollywood not being terribly interested in the art side of things. But at the end of the day WB is a company and movies are their products.

      6 votes
      1. krellor
        Link Parent
        Those are good points. Cancelled products are viewed through rise colored glasses because they never get the full scrutiny of a commercial release.

        Those are good points. Cancelled products are viewed through rise colored glasses because they never get the full scrutiny of a commercial release.

        4 votes
    3. [3]
      DefinitelyNotAFae
      Link Parent
      I think there's some difference here in the fact that people haven't actually been paid for their labor fully due to residuals not being paid. Additionally your credit on a film counts towards...

      I think there's some difference here in the fact that people haven't actually been paid for their labor fully due to residuals not being paid. Additionally your credit on a film counts towards your union eligibility and future earnings in a way that isn't the same as being able to list/describe work on a cancelled project outside of this field. I'm not sure how the industry considers that sort of cancelation for all the people below the big stars.

      I get your comparison I just think those areas differ some.

      5 votes
      1. [2]
        krellor
        Link Parent
        That's a good point, although royalties aren't that dissimilar from bonus compensation tied to performance in that they are both forms of compensation with risk and variability. Engineers, product...

        That's a good point, although royalties aren't that dissimilar from bonus compensation tied to performance in that they are both forms of compensation with risk and variability. Engineers, product managers, etc, often get bonuses when products successfully launch and don't if the project is scrapped. Royalties or percentages of revenue are similar in that there is possible greater upside, but with the risk of getting very little. Likewise, scrapped projects don't boost your resume like launched products, similar to the credit issue.

        E.g., getting less guaranteed salary vs lower salary with the potential for substantial bonuses, is a common part of negotiating compensation.

        So while I don't disagree that this is a raw deal for folks, there are reasonably close analogues outside of Hollywood and what the studios are doing isn't particularly unique.

        1 vote
        1. DefinitelyNotAFae
          Link Parent
          Perhaps it strikes me as less fair because the people aren't employees of the distributing production company. They don't reap any of the benefits of WB saving money and it doesn't help them keep...

          Perhaps it strikes me as less fair because the people aren't employees of the distributing production company. They don't reap any of the benefits of WB saving money and it doesn't help them keep their jobs in the long term either.

          I don't care particularly about the "art" argument but also I don't feel particularly kind towards companies that want to save money by not paying the people that work for them.

          2 votes
  2. [2]
    Xenophanes
    Link
    First they came for Batgirl, and I said nothing because I'm not a manchild. Then they came for Scoob, and I said nothing because I'm not a literal child. Then they came for me, but I didn't even...

    And sure, you can say that you didn’t want to watch those movies anyways. Kid movies! Superheroes! Cartoons, yuck. I get it, you’re tough and cool. But one day, this will happen to something that you were looking forward to.

    First they came for Batgirl, and I said nothing because I'm not a manchild. Then they came for Scoob, and I said nothing because I'm not a literal child. Then they came for me, but I didn't even notice because I only watch anime and old movies anyway.

    6 votes
    1. krellor
      Link Parent
      I was stuck by that quote as well. It's such a weirdly bad presentation for the argument.

      I was stuck by that quote as well. It's such a weirdly bad presentation for the argument.

      1 vote