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Envelope Directors Roundtable: Sequels and board games vs. original work

January 21, 2010 |  7:00 am

Hollywood may be bombarded by sequels, franchises and toy adaptations -- yet many of the year's most acclaimed films derive from little else besides their makers' imaginations. Five of the directors who've succeeded in creating something wholly original this season contemplate why Hollywood continues to be enamored by decades-old properties, with James Cameron taking the sternest tone. "You can make money on a movie that's not based on something else," he said. The drive for profits "is not an excuse for people to constantly be whining about how the business is failing and we have to do all this commercial stuff in order to pay the payments on our corporate jets."

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Comments () | Archives (11)

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These roundtable interviews have been fantastic! Keep them coming.

Interesting discussion. I so wanted to hear from Kathryn but James dominated the whole conversation. Not a surprise why she needed space from him to become the artist that she has become. I mean what he said made sense, but why does he have to be so group-dominant. It's tiring. But interesting dynamic between the filmmakers.

Making movies out of board games... Now I remember why I had my TV reception shut off and have all but stopped going to the movies.

Not to be reductionist, but the three middle aged white guys do ALL the talking. Where was the moderator, whose job it is to make sure everyone gets in on the discussion. Clearly they were in the room for more than the five minutes shown; how about evening out the screen time?

Matthew,

I think the middle-aged white guys are just the dominant personalities. Though I can't argue that I'd have preferred to hear more from the other two (especially Bigelow).

Where's the 5th episode ... Jan 22nd

"James Cameron taking the sternest tone. 'You can make money on a movie that's not based on something else,' he said."

Interesting comment coming from the guy who ripped off the main plot of his movie from Disney's "Pocahontas".

I think doing a remake of a TV show or kids cartoon is at least justifiable on the grounds that they are narrative properties, based around stories and characters. Where the hell is the alluring narrative content in a board game? If all that matters is a name brand, then might as well make Diet Coke the movie (which I'm sure is in the works). Hollywood has no shame.

Because Pocahontas (I assume you mean the Disney version) was entirely original and no movie or book or piece of fiction or fact before it ever resembled it.

That condescending "oh look it's got a similiar plot, I'm so smart and Cameron so dumb!" stuff is getting old. The plot of Avatar is archtypal, and it's a hell of a lot older than a 1995 Disney adaption (considering Avatar was written in 1994, also). What's more the plot if secondary to the emotions, characters and visuals of the film. Not every film is focused on story, nor should it be. Narrative is only one area films can explore.

And Avatar is more than it's plot, it's pointless to reduce a film to one area and say it fails overall because that area has been covered before. What it's about doesn't matter, it's how it is about it. Personally I felt Avatar told a timeless story well, and was a fresh visit to that plotline, but that was just me.

Cameron's point about films not needing to be an adaption of comics or toys or cartoons, or books to be a blockbuster (Reitman's Up In The Air and Daniels' Precious don't count, despite being book adaptions, they're smaller dramas, not blockbusters) is very valid in this age of endless sequels, remakes and cartoon/comic adaptions.

I love watching these but seriously...why do you shorten them, it seems like they were heading deeper into the conversation and then it ends. I'd like to see more of what these directors have to say about he landscape of films.

I dislike Jason Reitman so much, so full of himself... jeez.


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