Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Auteur in Residence

Okay. So perhaps "auteur" is too strong a word, but this is beside the point. Warner Brothers just announced that Batman director Christopher Nolan will be mentoring the development of the company's new Superman franchise. That's good news for Warner Brothers. If only every movie could make a billion dollars (and being half-way decent wouldn't be too bad either!).

I thought this news was exciting. Mostly because it put this notion into my head: Every major studio should have an auteur in residence. It would be a symbiotic relationship in which high-profile directors are assured backing for their projects in exchange for supervisory consultation of the studio's various projects. Sort of like a well-funded American Zoetrope.

Who benefits: The auteur. Projects no longer have to be assured commercial giants. The notion of film as art is supported by the studio under the stipulation that budget costs don't rise like a second production of Cleopatra. We smack Jean-Luc Godard upside his head and make him swallow his oft quoted pity. Assured vision and art-film for the masses.

The studio. This is where is gets tricky. In order for this to work, the director in question needs to be someone both innovative and with a commercial mind. Someone who can thin out bad ideas while simultaneously keeping the studio in the green. Someone who knows the difference between Transformers and Dragon Ball, and who could have improved either of them with their input. The goal here is to eliminate box-office drags before they hit the ground.

Someone who has the mind to suggest the proper people get into the director's chair rather than the same schmucks who have made friends over the years.

Loss on auteur project is less than the loss on box office failures

The Audience. Not only does American cinema get a blast from the art world, but hopefully the bar standard on popcorn flicks get raised in the process. There will always be Matthew McConaughey movies: They take $30 million to make and generate around 50. But maybe all hope isn't lost.

So that's my idea for near cinematic utopia. Plus, think of how much of a big deal it would be when a studio had to change directors. It would be like waiting for white smoke!

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