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Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter

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Scott Roberts
Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 24, 2011 at 9:35:45 pm

This is the reaction by Sean Hood, screenwriter of the new Conan the Barbarian movie, on what it feels like to write a horrible flop of a movie.

I found it to be pretty honest, revealing, and (sorry to say) also kind of funny:

The Friday night of the release is like the Tuesday night of an election. “Exit polls”are taken of people leaving the theater, and estimated box office numbers start leaking out in the afternoon, like early ballot returns. You are glued to your computer, clicking wildly over websites, chatting nonstop with peers, and calling anyone and everyone to find out what they’ve heard. Have any numbers come back yet? That’s when your stomach starts to drop. By about 9 PM its clear when your “candidate” has lost by a startlingly wide margin, more than you or even the most pessimistic political observers could have predicted. With a movie its much the same: trade magazines like Variety and Hollywood Reporter call the weekend winners and losers based on projections. That’s when the reality of the loss sinks in, and you don’t sleep the rest of the night.For the next couple of days, you walk in a daze, and your friends and family offer kind words, but mostly avoid the subject. Since you had planned (ardently believed, despite it all) that success would propel you to new appointments and opportunities, you find yourself at a loss about what to do next. It can all seem very grim. You make light of it, of course. You joke and shrug. But the blow to your ego and reputation can’t be brushed off. Reviewers, even when they were positive, mocked Conan The Barbarian for its lack of story, lack of characterization, and lack of wit. This doesn’t speak well of the screenwriting – and any filmmaker who tells you s/he “doesn’t read reviews” just doesn’t want to admit how much they sting. Unfortunately, the work I do as a script doctor is hard to defend if the movie flops. I know that those who have read my Conan shooting script agree that much of the work I did on story and character never made it to screen. I myself know that given the difficulties of rewriting a script in the middle of production, I made vast improvements on the draft that came before me. But its still much like doing great work on a losing campaign. All anyone in the general public knows, all anyone in the industry remembers, is the flop. A loss is a loss.

Full article here:
http://www.quora.com/Whats-it-like-to-have-your-film-flop-at-the-box-office...


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Mark Suszko
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 25, 2011 at 2:37:50 pm

Well, Hollywood films especially are a collaborative effort, and no matter how big the team and how preofessional, the results depend on the weakest member of the team. If he wrote a script that Robert Howard himself would adore, nothing would come of it if the thing wasn't shot right, acted right, edited right, or if the vision was modified at any of a hundred possible places.


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Jeff Breuer
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 25, 2011 at 4:46:47 pm

Very educational. Thanks Scott!


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Tim Wilson
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 25, 2011 at 5:13:06 pm

Here's a link to a better-formatted version of his letter, as well as an update/clarification/apology for the part where his claim to have "vastly improved" the script could reasonably be construed as disrepectful of the previous drafts.

That too is pretty insightful. There are a lot of hands that touch a script that aren't credited, and the shooting version is often very different than the one the writer turns in. The director realizes something isn't working on location, things get cut for time, etc.

It has always amazed me that any movies get made, and that they're any good.

I'm still looking forward to seeing Conan. This is an early scene from the movie that really sets up how a boy shows early promise for barbarism. The trailer earns its red band, but hey, it's barbaric. I enjoyed the heck out of this.



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Fernando Mol
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 25, 2011 at 5:57:29 pm

Yea, that preview rocks. I kind of miss the black blood from the comics.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 25, 2011 at 8:36:04 pm

Apparently they put everything they had into that segment, and the rest of the movie was panned critically. Damn good preview though.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 26, 2011 at 3:03:27 pm

Ironic given the whole screenplay kerfluffle, but most of the reviews singled out the lousy script. Quote submitted at Rotten Tomatoes:

Give me a clean sword and a clean foe to flesh it in. Damnation! What would I not give for a flagon of wine!

Wow, really?

That said, Leonard Maltin: You don't go to a movie like this expecting to hear Shakespearean dialogue, but the action, under Marcus Nispel's direction, is consistently vigorous and exciting. So are the visual effects...

LA Times: It's kind of a wicked blast to watch, especially if you're in the mood for some righteous revenge.

NY Times: Mr. Momoa has some awfully big biceps to fill. He rises to that task with a pumped physique made for ogling. Thankfully, he also shows glints of self-awareness that can make hypermasculine blowouts like these more watchable and were largely missing from Mr. Schwarzenegger’s wide-eyed turn...

[The director brings] the gore and plenty of it (those severed heads are simply the sanguineous beginning) as well as some wit and surprisingly O.K. performances...


Village Voice: Both truer to the vision of its character's creator, Robert E. Howard, and more satisfyingly pulpy than the 1982 movie incarnation.

Variety: With all earnestness, Nispel embraces the property's classic roots, placing this new Conan squarely within the tradition of sword-and-sorcery pics.

And of course, The Authority, Us Weekly: Though the adventure gushes with blood (there's an amateur C-section on the battlefield), it's also packed with thrills and sexy romance.

So, only 23% fresh, yes, but not exactly an entirely unmitigated disaster either.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 26, 2011 at 4:03:21 pm

[Tim Wilson] "(there's an amateur C-section on the battlefield)"

I won't see Conan in theaters because, to me, it looks like this year's Prince of Persia. But the notion that there's something that crazy in the movie indicated to me that it might be worth watching at some point. My only concern is that it doesn't STAY that crazy. I need like a Crank/Shoot 'Em Up level of consistent craziness for Conan to work. And based on the trailer, I'm not sure it does that. But I might be wrong. But based on most reviews, I'm probably not. There also aren't a lot of internet mumblings about it being a cult hit kind of movie, that's super fun despite the reviews. Kind of like Crank and Shoot 'Em Up were.

There might be a few good action sequences here and there (that clip from earlier in the thread was pretty decent), but that can't make a movie great alone. I guarantee Conan is a lump of flaws. Just watch Game of Thrones to see Jason Momoa being badass.


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Tim Wilson
Re: Reaction to Conan Flop, by Conan Screenwriter
on Aug 26, 2011 at 4:36:37 pm

[Scott Roberts] " I need like a Crank/Shoot 'Em Up level of consistent craziness for Conan to work."

I almost never see that in pieces like these. They're mostly ponderous and mythical. Certainly why I gave up on Game of Thrones. The swordy winner for me is still 300.

But in addition to overall reviews, I look at who wrote 'em. I'm inclined to give more weight to people like LA Times, NY Times, NY Post, Variety and Maltin (who I really like) than I do to a lot of other people. When they're the ones who like it most, I'm already paying more attention.

I especially noticed this with Fright Night, where the aggregate was quite good at 75% -- but the Top Critics rating was 88%!

But I still lines like "I live, I love, I slay, and I am content," and wonder - how can these guys not see that as at least a little funny? We don't need to go Monty Python, or even Arnold's second Conan, but c'mon, lighten up. Conan is mostly in pajamas and fur.

Anyway, the thing that's holding me back is the sadism. I like the featured clip a lot, but I'm thinking that the violence might be less cartoony than 300, which, along with Shoot 'em Up and Red stand for me as the best graphic novel adaptations. There's a Conan yet to be made that has as much energy as the comics had in 1925.


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