Article entitled "Fans, Fans, Fans", originally posted on the website abnersjournal.com, you can read it here
WELCOME to "The Reboot Awakens", an ongoing series that follows the development of Disney's new Indiana Jones film.
INDY FIVE: THE REBOOT AWAKENS
EPISODE 7 : FANS, FANS, FANS
JUNE 18, 2015
Thanks for joining us for another installment of "The Reboot Awakens". Last episode I discussed a number of ideas that Disney could take away from the new Mad Max movie. If you have not read Episode 6, you can do so here. This week I wanted to devote an episode to all things good and bad pertaining to fans of popular franchises and how they could end up shaping what the new Indiana Jones film will look like.
BUT FIRST, A LITTLE NEWS
Nothing in the way of official news from Disney to report, but who cares, check out these diamonds in the rough.
- Indiana Jones has been named the greatest film character of all time, beating out the likes of James Bond, Batman and Han Solo. This, according to a poll conducted by Empire Magazine that tallied the votes from 10,000 fans. Read the full story here.
- An article posted on aintitcoolnews.com says that sources close to Lucasfilm are hearing that the forth quarter of 2018 has been penciled in as the release date for the new Indiana Jones film. You can read the entire article here. This news seemed to be nixed by Indiana Jones producer Frank Marshall, in an interview with slashfilm.com's own Peter Sciretta which you can read here.
- HARRISON FORD is back! The actor has been spotted taking to the skies once again, only a few months after his terrible plane crash in Santa Monica. Always imposing on people's privacy, the Daily Mail has pictures. Check them out (here and here), if you want to support that kind of thing.
- Jurassic World has broken records with the number one weekend opening of all time, taking in an astounding $208.8 million. The success has driven Chris Pratt to the top of the list (if he wasn't already there) to take over the role of Indiana Jones in Disney's reboot. Chris Pratt discusses the opportunity with GQ which you can read here.
- If you have not heard the bi-weekly Indiana Jones podcast at The Indycast, do yourself a favor and go listen, they just released a special on John Williams!
- Want an Indiana Jones MAGAZINE? Here you go. INDYMAG has just released their fifth issue.
- Going to be in the Washington D.C. area? Go check out the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archeology exhibit at the National Geographic Museum. Running until January 3, 2016; the exhibit offers a redefined, modern experience with a combination of Hollywood magic, history and science. Head here for more details.
- Christopher Lee died at the age of 93 on June 7. A brilliant stage and screen actor, his career spanned decades and included iconic roles in film series such as Dracula, Fu Manchu, James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and even an episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Read just a few of the many tributes that have been released since his passing (here and here) And then watch in awe at the montage below that captures Christopher Lee's stunning screen presence as the vampire Dracula.
AND NOW... EPISODE 7: FANS, FANS, FANS
Allow me to ramble for a moment, and I promise to try and tie this into Indiana Jones somehow...
"YOU RUINED MY CHILDHOOD"
When I first started this blog I had been a frequent visitor to a number of film websites and nothing more, mainly to keep up with breaking news and rumors about upcoming films. I had never given much time or thought to the various forums and discussion sections of those sites, nor had I ever dabbled in any kind of social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook. That all changed when I started abnersjournal.com and realized I needed to get the word out and promote the website.
I have to admit I was a little disappointed once I went down that road. I guess what I was looking for was a more constructive conversation or debate platform, but what I kept reading was nothing but rude, borderline evil, comments. Without any kind of source or argument to back up their statements, these words just spewed out like bile from the mouths of angry fans. And the most discouraging part was; in some ways I agreed with them!
I felt like I was back in school again, and even though this was a virtual institution of sorts, it was still comprised of geeks and cool kids, jumping on bandwagons, pointing their scrutiny towards one thing, ripping it apart, devouring it, then moving onto the next, just as judgmental and harsh as I remember kids could be. No one was safe, not even those people we once held so sacred, the very ones that had, in a way, created us.
George Lucas quickly became an outcast. Steven Spielberg had lost his touch. We had all reached that moment when we realized Santa Claus didn't exist and no one wanted their friends to make fun of them for still believing. Needless to say I was bothered by what I was reading, bothered by the fact that I was taking part in it. A seed of a thought grew out of all of this turmoil and I slowly came to an understanding... a bittersweet realization.
All of this is somehow strangely necessary, a rite of passage if you will. Much like a kid leaving his or her home for the first time and striking out on their own, becoming an adult; they find it easier to leave the nest by causing conflict and turning their back on their parents' ways. A generation of fans are at a crossroads now, they are no longer kids and a certain amount of resentment lingers. But there is no turning back, and to make the transition from child to adult, they strike out at the very people that created them, taught them everything they know. They shout things like "you ruined my childhood" and that "it's all about the money now"! They become upset when their expectations are not met, when their beloved film franchises do not cater to their taste but to a different audience. I, myself, am responsible for doing this.
But maybe the most ironic part of all the backlash is that the very machine that we have grown to hate, is the very machine that we as fans help to feed. The blockbuster, the cash cow, the dreaded reboot. And yet, all the while the machine keeps turning, spitting out film after film. And who are the first people to line up and buy a ticket, the fans. And we watch the movie shaking our heads and when it's all over we walk out of the theatre and into the parking lot, throw back our heads and shout...
INTERNET KILLED THE MOVIE STAR
Shia LaBeouf might very well be a genius; he understands how ridiculous the film industry can be and is not afraid to throw it back in our faces. One minute you're on top of the world, the next minute you're not. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Was his performance in Crystal Skull that bad? If you think it was, I'm curious to know why.
Just a few years prior he was one of the most sought after actors in the world, raking in money from the Transformers series. So what changed? Nothing really, unless you spend a lot of time online. Then you probably are aware of what can only be seen as a witch-hunt type scenario, started by cynical fan boys, to find someone to blame for the disappointment they found in the latest Indiana Jones installment.
They seemed to really focus their attention on two individuals, Shia LaBeouf and George Lucas. Shia did not help his case by coming out and saying he was partly to blame for the film's reception. The claim actually threw fuel on the fire. At the same time George Lucas, who was still being prosecuted for the changes he made to the original Star Wars trilogy and his work on the prequels, found the new Indy film only seemed to cement his new reputation as "the destroyer of childhood memories".
Throw on top of all of this a platform like the internet, where in the first time in history every fan in the world had a soapbox to preach from, and the anger soon snowballed into boulder size proportions (that would give the boulder in Raiders a run for its money).
I guess my question is this: is all of the anger, resentment, and backlash even justified? Are we "in the right" to criticize those that have given us so much? Maybe we have forgotten what it was like to be children. We've forgotten how to just sit back and enjoy the ride. We can't help to go to the theatre and compare and contrast every minute detail. We have expectations, which in turn, can never be met because we base everything on this timeless sense of nostalgia.
George Lucas discusses nostalgia on the Daily Show here.
And maybe these films are made with a single goal in mind, to make money. It is in fact a business after all. When successful filmmakers sit around pondering their next movie, they don't choose the story guaranteed to fail at the box office. These filmmakers want to be seen, they want to be praised. They, like any other human being out there, would prefer a pat on the back instead of a bombardment of questions asking why their movie sucked. And I do not think that filmmakers like Lucas and Spielberg would risk their reputations on putting out a product without any heart behind it. Deep down they are artists, and though stubborn they may be, they want nothing more than to entertain.
I know we sometimes forget, but these men are nerds at their core, just like us they are huge fans of cinema. They also know their place in history, the memorable characters they have created. Why would they want to tarnish them? For the almighty dollar? I don't believe that, especially in their old age, when success has already been achieved. Now you start thinking about your name, where you stand in history, how you will be remembered.
These filmmakers did not make movies directly to appease the original fan-base and that is where the problem lies. They wanted to make movies for a new audience. They wanted to experiment with technology. They wanted to pay tribute to 1950's films instead of 1940's films. They wanted to do something slightly different. We wanted the greatest hits and they played us songs from their new album and we left the concert pissed off.
HOW QUICKLY WE FORGET
The faces of these filmmakers should be etched into rock on the Mount Rushmore of film history. Take a moment and look back briefly in your mind's eye and think of all the moments, all the years of film, the characters. Even the worst of their creations have been glorious wondrous entertainment. Howard the Duck? Awful, but damn I love it. Maybe not as much as I did as a kid, but still. Their films have changed pop culture, they have become our modern day myths.
And yet we turn our backs on them in an instant, while their achievements heavily outweigh their mistakes. Some say Steven Spielberg shouldn't direct the next Indiana Jones film. Blasphemy! If George Lucas wants to make another Star Wars film, we should stand up and applaud!
Not with me? Still holding tight to that nostalgia? Swearing off any future Indiana Jones film? Well you're in luck. It turns out you don't have to go to the theatre if you don't want to. These are only movies people, meant to inspire and make you believe in the impossible. They should not be taken so seriously. They are fantasy.
I have been given a little bit of hope recently with the release of Jurassic World. With all the blatant mistakes and flaws the majority of fans have grabbed on to this movie and embraced it. I'll be honest, I did not like the film. I'm not going to rip it apart. I love the fact that people are enjoying it. I wish I could. They have allowed themselves to forget about all the nitpicking, and for those two hours they were able to return to the simple pleasures and wonder that a lot of us have forgotten when it comes to the movie going experience. They were able to watch the film with child-like eyes.
I envy those fans. I am not there yet, but I am trying...
THE POSITIVE POWER OF FAN BASE
That's enough ranting for now. I didn't want this episode to be all about a select few, a minority within a community. We have to remember that for the most part, fans are amazing! Most are devoted individuals, that will bend over backwards to support the creators of the franchises they love. They are empathetic and believe in a sense of camaraderie, banding together to form communities no matter their age, creed or color. What a beautiful thing.
And now, with the help of social media, fans are quickly changing the face of the movie industry. Who would have seen that coming? These are exciting times where fans are actually having a hand in the physical creation and manipulation of their favorite films.
Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made
In 1981, two 11 year-olds in Mississippi set our to remake their favorite film: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. With the help of all their friends, it took them seven years to complete in their basement. Except one scene, the airplane scene. Thirty years later, they set out to finally finish their fan film and full realize their childhood dream. This is the story behind the making of what is known as the greatest fan film ever made.
This film pretty much sums it up for me as to what it means to be a fan. This is true love, with a little obsession thrown in, but overall evidence that fans are inspiring people. This was every kid's dream at some point, to actually recreate a beloved movie, and these kids went and did it. Absolutely amazing. Bravo guys. Make sure to check out the official site for the book that details the making of the classic fan film.
The power of fandom has continued to show its influence through social media. Back in January, Neill Blomkamp released concept art on his Instagram account of an Alien film he had been working on, though he stated firmly that there was no plan to pursue the film into production. But after the images appeared online there was such an uproar of approval from the fan-base that it took only a month for the film to get the green-light. You can read more about these chain of events over at the A.V. Club here.
Another fan victory occurred early this year. Producer Adi Shankar's released a gritty take on the Power Rangers. The controversial fan film was initially taken down by the rights holders but after an outcry from fans and views that reached well over 10 million, the short was allowed to be put back online with a small disclaimer attached.
Have you heard about the fan that gets to officially pitch his idea for a new Star Trek TV series to Paramount? Michael Gummelt, who created a website that thoroughly outlines his concept, caught the attention of the studio after there was a discrepancy with the name Star Trek: Beyond. Well Gummelt changed the name to "Uncharted" and since then Paramount has shown interest in the artist's work.
Here is a quote from Gummelt's official website:
“I can now officially announce that I do, indeed, have an invitation to come pitch Star Trek Uncharted at Paramount this summer! As far as I know, this is the first time a fan (not an established industry insider) has been invited to pitch a Star Trek TV series. This is, obviously, extremely exciting and I’m doing my best to get support for it from industry professionals. One of my concept cast members has read the script and expressed interest in supporting it, which is fantastic!”
And then there was this fan-made image of Chris Pratt photoshopped onto Indiana Jones' body. To think that a fan might have a hand in recasting the greatest role in cinema history. I'm not saying that this image was the only reason that talk has turned to Chris Pratt, his performances in Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World have been spot on. But let's be serious, it was this image that sold it!
From what I can gather, the image was first produced by an artist named Rahzzah. You can check it out on his DeviantArt page here. The image has gone on to be posted on just about every website that runs a story on Pratt taking over the role.
I've never been to a convention like the San Diego Comic Con, but I can imagine the overall feeling of community that one would take away from the experience. Fandom is powerful thing that can be used for both positive and negative effect, but as fans we must remember that there are people behind these creations, a lot of people, that have put in their blood, sweat and tears to try and give us a product that we will enjoy. And it is business, and art, and passion all rolled into one, and sometimes all of those things do not mix well together, and the outcome is anything but enjoyable. But lets be mature enough to talk about and critique these creations with an intelligent mind.
I love talking about film. I love it enough to spend what little free time I have on a website that only a few read. It is a website devoted to the new Indiana Jones film, which might seem like a pigeon-holed topic, but not to me. I think the film embodies all of the issues, good and bad, of what movies are today. How do you reboot a franchise that is so beloved? Should you even do so in the first place? Why was the last film not embraced by the majority of fans? What should the tone of the new film be? Who is your audience? Who do you cast? How do you market it? How do you expand it? I find it all very fascinating and can't wait to see how it plays out. And the best part is, we will see it all unfold very, very, soon.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Keep checking in to Abner's Journal for the latest Indiana Jones news. In the meantime:
CALLING ALL SCRIPT READERS!
I need my script Indiana Jones and the Stone of Destiny (the link is here) reviewed for rewrites. I would like to trim about 20 pages of the script and would like your input on changes I could make. Send your comments or reviews to firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll post a few of them on a future episode about screenwriting. Until next time, thanks for coming back.