Changing Times

the host

I noticed something recently.

The Host bombed.

And when I say, “bombed,” it went down in a burning hellfire of “do not want.”

It proved a theory I’ve been forming for quite some time: it’s not who it is, it’s what it is.

Twilight was huge. It’s not because Stephanie Meyer wrote it. It’s because people loved the story. You can’t turn another Stephanie Meyer book, from a whole different genre, into a movie and expect the same people to go see it. The ones who loved the whole vampire/werewolf thing aren’t going to care about body-possessing aliens, or whatever the hell those things are (I haven’t read the book, and don’t really care to, which only proves my point).

You see, there are two kinds of people in this world:

Blind Fans: no matter what the author writes, the singer sings, the producer produces, or the actor acts, they will go see it. They will think it is wonderful and salivate over it. They will refuse to realize it sucks. Fortunately, this makes up a miniscule point of the population. (Or not; see the last presidential election.)

Everyone Else: who basically looks at something and says “make me care.” Yes, J.K. Rowling, I loved your Harry Potter books. Do I care that now you are writing boring, sleazy adult mystery novels? Nope! You know why? I don’t read boring, sleazy mystery novels, and I’m not going to start just because you wrote one. I’m not a fan of you. I’m a fan of one thing you wrote. You will not sell me other books unless you write in a genre I like to read. The same goes for everyone else. David Tennant, I enjoy your work – but if it isn’t a costume drama, Doctor Who, or a vampire movie, I don’t care to see it. I ain’t interested.

Hollywood has to be wondering why so many of their trillion dollar movies are bombing. Well, you’re not giving us what we want. You’re giving us what you think we want, and finding out, hey, you’re not the only alternative anymore. Why would a fantasy fan want to go see a badly-written movie in a genre they aren’t interested in when they can sit at home, play Dungeons & Dragons live with their buddies, and then marathon Game of Thrones?

While I’m at it, hey, Christian book distributors – why would I buy any of your Amish books when I can log on to Amazon.com with my Kindle and get a ton of self-published fantasy e-novels for a few bucks each?

It’s a changing world. Either Big Business is going to have to figure out how to take a much smaller slice of the proverbial entertainment pie, or it’s going to go under, because now, it’s all about giving the audience what it actually wants.

32 Replies to “Changing Times”

  1. I think I may have heard about The Host, though I’m not sure. Since I don’t have cable, I don’t see many commercials (though there are some on Hulu). With an author or actor, I like to read/see other things the person has done if I love one thing, but sometimes the other things are just awful. For instance, there’s one author who wrote a trilogy of books I adore; I hate the sequel to them, and don’t like any of her other books. It boggles my mind that the three books are so strong and well-written, but all of her other stuff either causes me to roll my eyes or is so poorly written.

    Hollywood just doesn’t get it. Really. I love scary movies, but they haven’t put one out in years that I’ve wanted to see. I like sci-fi, but I’m not excited about anything coming out any time soon. Do you know what I’m excited about? The sequel to Finding Nemo, Finding Dory. So many kids movies are well done and have heart and a good story. Now if only movie companies would put out an adult movie that did the same!

    1. I sat through the trailer in front of half a dozen movies over the last few months and… it’s not amazing.

      That’s really strange that a favorite author of yours would have so many bombs! Are the books you don’t like older than the ones you do, or did she write them later? (Sometimes an author can “slip” after a big success, since she doesn’t self-edit nearly as much.)

      There’s a ton of movies coming out this summer, but only one I’m interested in — Star Trek Edge of Darkness. (And maybe an assorted costume drama here and there!)

      1. They came kind of in the middle of her writing career (though I think she may still write). So maybe all her other books were just practice, and after she wrote them, she just fell into bad writing. Or maybe having a loose story to base hers on helped her to write stronger. I don’t know.

        I should look and see what movies are coming out this year.

  2. If I like an author, I will check out works the author has written; I don’t think not expecting a writer to stay in certain prescribed genres makes me blind–certainly, it allows me to see more of a writer’s facets. Any genre should be able to have successes, if well done. You say Twilight succeeded despite being terrible because all ages of women went. Why did they?

    And *The Casual Vacancy* was not a mystery, by the way (yes, I read it).

    1. I don’t think reading something by an author you like in a different genre is blind adoration, no, but it IS blind adoration to love everything they write just because they wrote it. Everyone has tastes, and we shouldn’t let them be overruled by adoration for anyone — not a politician, an author, a comedian, an actor. Sometimes, it’s okay to try out something new, wrinkle your nose, and say, “Ugh, I don’t like this.” I am driven insane by people who giddily “love” everything; that isn’t possible. EVERYONE HATES SOMETHING.

      Twilight. Oh, honey, if I knew what drove women to see this in droves, I’d be a wealthy woman since I’d have tapped that money vein a long time ago. It’s beyond me why it did so well. My best guess is that it tapped into the teenage fantasies of housewives and teens alike, in spite of being so poorly done film-wise.

      1. I think you’ve hit upon something. It is this sick fantasy about older women and younger men that makes Twilight so popular. I mean, at least with Edward, he’s over a hundred years old. Right? Or is he not out of double digits yet? But with Jacob, he’s still a kid! And that makes me sick, how all of these housewives are nuts over him. He’s a teenager for cryin’ out loud!

        Sometimes I like only one book by an author, or maybe two, but I will never like every book a writer publishes. It’s just not feasible. I mean, even look at you and Terry Pratchett. You love him, but you don’t love every book the man pops out onto the market. Some of them are downright stinkers! It’s healthy to dislike something once in awhile, plus, it puts some critical thinking into practice. And everyone needs to develop their critical thinking.

        1. Edward is 157, if I remember right. But yeah, Jacob ends the story at 18 years old when he imprints on a baby, ew. And it does gross me out, all the old women lusting after the actor’s abs.

          I LOVE Terry Pratchett’s Death books. I like his witch books. I don’t care for the Night Watch books at all. But I did enjoy his Dickens-esque book very much.

          Critical thinking, huh? You’re not letting school influence you or anything, are you? 😉

  3. So…cough…I watch anything David Tennant’s in because David Tennant’s in it. *cough. cough.* I can admit to not liking it afterward…but I do watch it. *shrinks in semi-shame…only semi…*

    The Host trailer was SO boring, especially right after Star Trek, as you said. I didn’t even bother with seeing it. But I was surprised at how it bombed.

    1. Aha, but there’s the difference! If you were blindly adoring, you’d LOVE everything you saw him in, just because he was in it! Watching something and saying, “Wow, that sucked,” is a lot better than watching it and gushing, “That was so amazing!”

      True, true, after hearing Benedict threaten the Enterprise and all of humanity, and seeing Spock and Kirk kicking some butt, The Host looked like a total snooze-fest.

  4. I agree, but not in everything… So, all people who went to read The Host because of Stephenie Meyer’s name are blind fans? Because, the last time I checked, everyone who actually read The Host thinks that it is a MUCH BETTER book than ANY Twilight books. They are not blind fans, they liked The Host because of THE STORY too, not Smeyer’s name.
    But it’s true that Twilight fans just care about their beloved sparkly vampire, hipocritically enough they like to make STEPHENIE MEYER IS OUR QUEEN a trend topic on twitter, but let’s face it, they don’t care about her, they never cared.
    But don’t say The Host is crap or bombed because you do not like that genre, the movie bombed because the marketing was dreadful and most people didn’t even know that the movie would release end of March, and the haters/cinephiles of course wouldn’t go to watch a SMeyer movie, so… They could’ve made one by one all the Twilight fans like it, but the marketing was poor and nothing “interactive”, if you understand what I mean. (and I guess, that is the problem of other YA movies bombing, they don’t know how to market it for non-readers) It has nothing to do with the quality of the story (although the movie is really bad, but with Twilight it was never a matter, Twilight movies were always mocked by critics and the fans didn’t even care, they liked it the same way, so the quality of the movie is not really the problem here) or the genre (The Hunger Games is a dystopian sci-fi too).
    Sorry for the english, btw.

    1. That is what I’ve heard, actually — that the book is a lot better than her Twilight novels. If I liked reading sci-fi (for the most part, I don’t, but I do enjoy watching it — at least, the stuff aimed at adults) I’d probably even get around to reading it.

      I think it bombed for several reasons: bad marketing (even the trailers bored me), a bad time of the year for release (March? isn’t that where most movies go to die?), a bland format, and most of all, reliance on a teen market. Twilight succeeded in spite of being terrible because it had such a huge female audience base; it wasn’t just teenage girls paying to see it, but mothers and grandmothers too.

      So many YA-based novels are being turned into movies, but what studios don’t realize is teenagers don’t have the cash to go to movies anymore and YA-based films aren’t going to draw in much of an adult audience. They’re aiming their marketing plans at teenagers who can bootleg the cam in four days online, when they really should be putting out decent, well-written movies for adults who actually have a few bucks to spend on a movie ticket.

      Bad economy, great home theaters, and online bootlegging are killing the movie industry, but it doesn’t help that they’re not giving audiences what they really want to watch.

  5. While I enjoyed reading “The Host” when it had just been published (not because Stephanie Meyer wrote it, but because I *love* Sci-fi and saw it at my library.) I was disappointed at how boring the movie was. The only thing that made me slightly enjoy the movie (which I saw for free – didn’t want to actually spend money on it. lol) , was Max Irons and that Irish actress (I forget her name. :P). The book was far more exciting and gripping then the movie, in my humble opinion. Perhaps one of the biggest flaws the director made was the inordinate amount of screen time that the kissing scenes received. 😛 I swear there had to be at LEAST 15 (very long, very drawn out.) kisses – it was getting pretty ridiculous.

    I left the theater feeling like I hadn’t really seen an entire movie. It was just so…bland.

    1. Strangely, that’s the impression I got from the trailer, too — a lot of boredom in-between kissing scenes. Everything that was supposed to inspire me to see it made me say “… meh.” (It didn’t help that it always ran RIGHT AFTER Star Trek Into Darkness previews, which in comparison REALLY made it look terrible.)

  6. Now all Hollywood is doing for the next few years is movies based off YA fiction of a dystopian sort. It’s weird how many of the books I’m reading are being turned into movies! And I suspect they will bomb just as badly as The Host. Popularity in a book doesn’t always translate into movie form. Here’s hoping Hollywood figures that out before they go broke!

    1. Have you noticed how, except for Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Twilight ALL of them are bombing? Beautiful Creatures didn’t even make back its budget — and that was a best-selling book series! (I don’t know why, it’s one of the most bloated books I’ve ever read in my life. I wanted to go through it with a red pen and cross out all the redundant passages, information dumps, and emo stuff.) The Host torpedoed at the box office. I’ll bet City of Bones doesn’t do well either (although I would like to see it).

      It’s kind of baffling to me in a way, because you’d think big book series = big movie series, but it’s not happening! Is it because we’ve been there, done that, read the book and moved on to something new? Or is it because with our surround sounds and mega screens and Blu Ray players, we figure why go to movies when you can wait six months and rent that sucker for $1 at Redbox?

      1. Some of it could be that people don’t want to spend the money or, frankly, the movies look like crap. I’m interested in City of Bones but that’s only because of the actors. The book is supposedly horrible, but I might still give it a try just to see. I really liked Divergent but am not at all happy with the movie because I think they miscast practically EVERYONE! And that ticks me off.

        But even Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and The Maze Runner by James Dashner are getting movies. Dashner’s book is HORRIBLE, but the premise is fascinating so the movie has got to be better than the book. There’s no physical way it could be any worse!

        It just . . . it feels weird. There’s no originality left in Hollywood so they’re making books into movies. What about those screenplay writers who developed something out of nothing? Whatever happened to them? Maybe we’re past the book-made-into-movie phase, but the directors don’t realize it yet.

        Sometimes I think people imagine they want their favorite book made into a movie, but they already have an image of the characters in their head. No real person is every going to fit that image and so the movie is less than perfect. Somehow Peter Jackson managed it, but I think it’s different with classic books. When we’re talking new popular fiction, there’s just so many ways for an adaptation to go wrong.

        The Hunger Games is one of the rare examples where I think they go most of it right. They’re the exception though, not the rule.

        1. Wait, what? They’re making Ender’s Game into a movie. I love that book (and the following ones, as well) and I think that’s a horrid idea. And I’ve thought that before, too, that Hollywood has run out of good ideas and is just making all the books we love into movies, and then it’s like they take the title of the book and just change the whole book to whatever they want.

          1. Yeppers! I haven’t read Ender’s Game yet, but it’s sitting in my stack of library books. From what I know about the plot, I don’t see it translating well to the big screen either. But who knows, they may surprise us. wouldn’t that be a shock! 🙂

          2. Yes it would! I warn you, if you read the series, some of the books are slower than the first and kind of boring in parts, but as a whole, I really enjoy them. I like Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow the best of them all.

        2. I think part of the problem is their audience is so small — most adults don’t read YA fiction and aren’t particularly interested in watching a movie about teenage heroes. By the time a movie comes out, many of its teenage fans are already adults and may or may not be interested in seeing a shoddy movie about a book they read as a kid. Harry Potter succeeded because it had a huge age group of fans — it had new kids coming in, teenagers who grew up with it, grandparents who got hooked reading it to their kids, and parents who read it. Most YA adaptations don’t have that enormous base.

          Yes, City of Bones is a horrible book — badly written, poorly structured, with information dumps every few pages, but the movie looks good.

          It’s true that sometimes, people don’t want their favorite books turned into movies. I certainly know that I was angry when Lupin was cast NOTHING like how I imagined him to be — and don’t get me started on Tonks! Sometimes, the imagination is our best friend.

          PJ succeeded because when it came out LotR was the coolest thing on the block. He used CGI where no one really had done that kind of thing before, and we hadn’t had a fantasy epic on that scale for a long time. He built up a huge fan base and that’s in part why The Hobbit is such a success — not only did he pull in Tolkien fans, he got a new group of fans with it.

          One big problem in book to screen adaptations is “improving” on the source material. When will studios realize that is never a good idea? Prince Caspian bombed because it wasn’t Lewis; if they wanted his fans, they should have changed less about it.

          1. I totally agree. When I read it to the girls, I was reminded of how much was changed from the book, and it made me even less eager for the other books to be made into movies.

          2. I think the third movie was pretty good; it still changed some things, but unlike Caspian I thought it added some terrific moments to the movie that Lewis really would have liked. I can’t say the same for Susan killing people in Caspian! (“Wars are ugly when women fight.”)

          3. That’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, right? I should watch it again as I’ve only seen it once, but I remember being very disappointed with it. It’s my favorite of the books and I didn’t like it at all.

          4. I’m so sorry! That always sucks, when a movie doesn’t live up to how much you loved the book. Let’s not even bring up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and how they butchered my favorite book, so I totally get how you feel.

          5. Oh I know! I loved the first two movies, especially because the kept so true to the books. Yes, I’m sure they had changes, but the movies felt like the books, and then BAM, we were hit with the nonsense that is HPatPoA. *massive eye roll*

          6. Carol, you and I feel exactly the same. I love Voyage of the Dawn Treader so much and the movie disappointed me. I’m almost terrified to see what they do with The Silver Chair, if they ever get to it. That book is amazing, my absolute favorite of the series, and I dread any changes they might inflict upon it.

          7. I know what you mean. I fear for the whole rest of the series. And the last book, how are they going to live up to what generations of children have imagined?

          8. See, that’s why I’m sort of excited for The Maze Runner and City of Bones, because the books are so bad, but the plot concept is awesome. They can’t possibly be worse than the books, so it leaves us with a chance of being impressed.

            The Hobbit was a success? You mean all those critics nay-saying it were in the wrong? I might just keel over in a dead faint!

            Only 8 more months!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. I was SHOCKED at how horrible ‘The Host’ did. I mean, I wasn’t expecting it to be the same as ‘Twilight’ but did think it’d bring in better numbers. Ah, well! Guess, I really don’t care one way or another. 😉

    1. I was kind of surprised too, but to be honest, I thought the trailers were HORRIBLE. I sat through them four times and it didn’t inspire me even once to want to go see this movie. I like Max Irons (horrible actor as he may be) but… I’ll wait and watch him in his next costume drama. 😉

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