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Movies, money and a lady with a whip

 

By: William Thomas, For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of Wainfleet, go to www.williamthomas.ca

I went to see Titanic 3D last week at the North Park Cinema in Buffalo, New York.  With the enhanced depth dimensions, it’s more up close and personal and therefore even more of a ‘chick flick’ than it was on the flat screen.

James Cameron spent many years and $18 million to retrofit the original Titanic to 3D and still, with all that time and all that money, the boat still sinks in the end.  I prefer to watch movies in the United States because when the rude and restless begin to talk during the movie, there’s a good chance someone will silence them with a gun.  I’m not advocating killing people who talk during movies, but a flesh wound sends the right message.

With the original Titanic taking in $3 billion, Titanic 3D grossing more than $200 million in just two weeks and Avatar eclipsing Titanic in ticket sales, Director James Cameron would appear to have the midas touch.

On the other hand, the Walt Disney Company, having opened the $350 million production of the science fiction epic John Carter to mostly empty movie houses would appear to have the merda touch.  Storyline:  A U.S. civil war veteran is transplanted to the planet Mars.  Cinemas pulled the film, Disney took a $200 million beating and Hollywood Studios were forced to sell Mickey Mouse to a medical research lab in Bakersfield, California.

Disney movie moguls were hoping to cash in on the track record of last year’s blockbuster Mars Needs Moms.  Actually, with a $200 million loss, they far exceeded the numbers of Mars Needs Moms which grossed $40 million and cost $150 million to make.

Despite the fact John Carter landed in North American cinemas with a thud, 3,000 people who did see it, actually loved it so much they signed a petition demanding Disney produce a sequel.  I want their names and addresses.  I want to sell them copies of the 1980 epic western Heaven’s Gate.  With a cast of ten great actors from Jeff Bridges to Willem Dafoe, director Michael Cimino used a $44 million budget to earn back $3 million at the box office and go down in Hollywood history as the creator of the worst movie ever made.

At least copies of Heaven’s Gate exist.  The 1956 heroic saga The Conqueror starring John Wayne as Genghis Khan (there’s your first mistake) was so bad Howard Hughes apparently spent millions buying up every copy … to burn them.

So it’s big, epic, cash-fat films that have the greatest chance of becoming box office bombs.  A small, goofy, family movie like My Big Fat Greek Wedding cost $5 million to make and returned $241 million dollars to its backers.  A tiny, hokey horror movie known as The Blair Witch Project cost maybe $25,000, the sparking water budget for most Hollywood movies and brought in $248 million at the cinema gate.

Give the people what they want and they will beat a path to their local cinema and sell off their gold jewelry in order to pay for the popcorn.  Give the people the over-arcing, grand vision of a director with a really stupid storyline and suddenly you wind up with Ishtar when you set out to make Avatar.

I have this idea for a quirky little movie I think people would pay to see.  It’s got it all – sex, violence, extortion, a crooked cop, a lonely widow, a high-powered lawyer, a dapper rich guy, a woman with a cat-o’-nine-tails and bikers.

The film opens with a diaper-clad millionaire named Max being whipped and slapped around a hotel room by his dark-haired dominatrix, Lash LaRue.  When Max and Lash hatch a plot to kill the old guy’s annoying wife, the witch with the switch enlists her ex-boyfriend and ex-biker Angel to do the job.

Angel’s very keen on the regular advance payments coming from Max, not so gung-ho on fulfilling the killing contract.

$100,000 later, Angel gets 6½ in prison for extortion but leaves four audio tapes of the three of them discussing the demise of Dorothy who doesn’t believe the welts on her husband’s ample ass due to allergies.

A witness to the murder plot emerges but is soon found dead in a burned out SUV.  An Ontario Provincial Police detective is assigned to Dwayne’s’ suspicious death and falls in love with the very, very recent widow.  “OPP COP” then moves in with the dead Dwayne’s wife but sorts through the evidence selectively, in order to protect her.

In the end, high-powered Eddie Greenspan who plays himself in the movie, informs the judge that the cop was doing way more than his job and all charges are dropped.  Max gets a pass, Lash takes her frustration out on a defrocked priest and the OPP severely reprimand their love struck detective.

Title:  When You Take A Switch To The Rich.

Sorry, but this is not so much a thumbnail sketch of a movie along the lines of Bonfire Of The Vanities as it is a true, front-page story from Toronto Star.  The people are as real as you can be if you come from the Ottawa area and their names, except that of Eddie Greenspan’s were changed to protect the guilty.  All true six months ago.  Everybody walked away free except that guy in the SUV.

Makes you wonder why we pay to be thrilled or frightened at the cinema when this stuff keeps popping up in newspapers every day of the week.  Be more afraid of your neighbour than Freddy “The Saw” Krueger.  And go see Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, a delightful little gem that’ll make you feel good.

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