Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Over all else, severed appendages equal box office

Starting this summer, carbon-neutral Hollywood will attempt to roll out a series of big-budget films with environmental themes. Many of these movies will cast man as the bad guy and Mother Nature, with her own unique brand of hurricane and melting ice caps vigilantism, as the victim.

This melding of Tinseltown's environmental ethos and box office aspirations has worked in the past -- in 2004, environmental disaster flick The Day After Tomorrow grossed over half-a-billion dollars world-wide and facilitated discussion of global warming. More recently, Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth proved quite profitable.

Although some studio executives are concerned that, partly due to the relative success of Gore's documentary and the awareness it raised, mass audiences will now avoid the parade of environmentally themed would-be blockbusters -- just as they have been avoiding other topical message films, such as Syriana and Blood Diamond.

That calculus provided no hindrance to 300, a movie which just posted the largest March opening ever. 300 tells the tale of Thermopylae, an epic battle in the Greco-Persian war of the fourth century BC. In the end the brave self-sacrificing Greeks, who are considered the fathers of democracy and Western Civilization, defeat the Persians, who are portrayed as homosexuals. A double whammy which isn't sitting well in Iran, the current home of the Persian Empire and the rumored next stop on Team America's tour of democracy.

Of course it's highly probable that, unlike the hyper-sensitive Iranian clerics, American movie goers aren't seeing any parallels to the present; they just like to see guts spilled and heads removed.

Which means, assuming Mother Nature does her share of impaling and braining, this summer Hollywood may be able to have its cake and eat it too.

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