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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hollywood's surge strategy failing

Hollywood's recent surge of anti-war movies is failing at the box office. That's particularly heartening, given the star-power -- and advertising budgets -- that has been deployed in this P.R. war.

I went to the premiere of In the Valley of Elah, and heard writer/director Paul Haggis deliver a rant about how noble he was for producing the film, calling the war in Iraq "corrupt". I didn't know what he meant by that -- he didn't take questions. Was the bi-partisan U.S. congressional vote to go to war "corrupt"? What would that even mean? Was Saddam's regime legitimate? The new, democratically elected Iraqi government, with a fairly liberal constitution, also democratically approved -- is that corrupt? The fact that Americans (and other allies) are there to help prop up that nascent government, and stamp out terrorists, including many foreign-born terrorists of fortune -- is that corrupt?

I watched the movie and learned the answer: according to Haggis, the U.S. soldiers themselves are corrupt. The film is styled as a whodunnit -- who killed a U.S. soldier back home from Iraq? The answer: another U.S. soldier, best friends with the victim. The movie's lowest moment is the confession of the murderer, who says if he didn't kill his friend, his friend would probably just kill him a few days later -- that's what U.S. soldiers do. Another U.S. soldier in the film kills his dog, then drowns his wife. Soldiers regularly kill innocents in Iraq, driving over kids -- it's part of their standing orders, says the movie.

The Left often says it supports the troops, just not the war. Anti-war types know that condemning troops is beyond the pale, and they'd turn most people off, so they try to be pro-soldiers, just anti-soldiering. It's logically inconsistent, but no-one ever calls them on it. Haggis doesn't waste time being subtle: there are no politicians or generals in his movie. The bad guys are U.S. troops themselves. It's an anti-troops movie.

I'm thrilled that the film has only grossed $6.5 million in the past month, a flop by any standard. Rendition's opening weekend didn't clear $5 million. The Tom Cruise/Meryl Streep/Robert Redford movie, Lions for Lambs, isn't out yet, but it looks weak. As BoxOfficeMojo's Brandon Gray says in the story linked above: "Is it simply [the actors] sitting in rooms giving speeches? That's what it looks like."

Of course Lions for Lambs got the same exultant applause at its London premiere that Elah got in Toronto. The only place more anti-war than Hollywood itself would be the pseudo-intellectuals who comprise Hollywood's foreign hangers-on and wannabes in Toronto or London. That's why these films are debuted there -- those are the only focus groups who would accept such painfully ham-fisted political screeds as anything close to "entertainment".

These films are not the results of true business decisions by Hollywood. They're personal indulgences -- hopefully ones that will cost the studios dearly.

I don't know showbiz, but it seems to me that the first studio to decide to make an unabashedly pro-American movie about the war on terror -- where the enemy isn't the CIA, or a rogue U.S. Senator -- would set a box-office record. Surely there are at least one or two A-list stars who would swallow their dime-deep leftist convictions and do a pro-American, anti-terrorist movie.

Of course there would be squawking and politically correct attempts to stop it. But if a distributor had some courage, who knows? The last time someone produced a conservative, politically incorrect movie that freaked out the liberal intelligentsia, it became one of the highest-grossing films of all time.

Posted by Ezra Levant on October 25, 2007 | Permalink


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The people are speaking - with their wallets and their time commitments.

It used to be that we went to the movies for amusement & diversion - not political indoctrination. For that, we could just enroll in any university.

Posted by: obc | 2007-10-25 12:32:28 PM

>"It used to be that we went to the movies for amusement & diversion - not political indoctrination. For that, we could just enroll in any university."
Posted by: obc | 25-Oct-07 12:32:28 PM

For that, we could just watch the CBC, we're already paying for it.

As a genre, family movies gross the most mullah.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-25 12:39:48 PM

Slightly off-topic:

I'm so delighted to see good old Beverly Hills Cop near the top of that list. Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks of it as one of the funniest, most entertaining movies ever.

Kingsley Amis may or may not have been joshing or sloshed when he called the movie a "flawless masterpiece" but I like to think he was at least half serious.

Posted by: Kathy Shaidle | 2007-10-25 12:45:22 PM

Paul Haggis is another Canadian Islamofascist sympathiser.

Like the Toronto imam and Madame Injustice Armour, good riddance.


Posted by: Epsilon | 2007-10-25 12:47:53 PM

The public has been speaking for quiet some time with their wallets, but non profitable movies do not seem to deter these ideologues. For how much longer will they continue to produce movies that lose money one can only wonder.

Posted by: Alain | 2007-10-25 1:02:31 PM

"I don't know showbiz." No, and you obviously don't know the magazine business either. But if you are so sure you know what would make a box office hit, how about financing one and using those huge profits to re-launch the WS.

You live in a dream world, Ez. An LSD dream, but a dream nonetheless

Posted by: Fact Check | 2007-10-25 1:51:52 PM

And just what is your point Fact? Other than proving that you are just another angry and frustrated naivist.


Posted by: Epsilon | 2007-10-25 2:58:27 PM

If only there was a wealthy conservative/moderate filmmaker who would put some of Vince Flynn's books to the big screen. Now those would be good movies!

Posted by: Markalta | 2007-10-25 3:18:43 PM

Funny you should ask about the Middle East dmd because it is actually going very well:

Al quaida is busted in Iraq.
US combatant casualties and civilian deaths have dropped substantially
Canadian Afghan casualties have dropped
The Turks are taking it to terrorist Kurds.
Pakistan is getting more aggresive fighting Taliban on its own turf.

And there have been no suicide bombings inside Israeli borders since they but up the wall to keep the nutbars out.

Sorry your side is losing dmd. You must hate yourself right now.


Posted by: Epsilon | 2007-10-25 3:38:15 PM

Good one, Epsilon.

I'd like to add that the actor who plays Crazy Sammy on the latest al Qaeda video says:
"The darkness has become pitch black" - Osama bin Laden on Iraq situation


Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-25 3:44:53 PM


WE (Canada) are in Afghanistan.

YOU (Canadian Commies) obsess about Iraq. And, it's no wonder, since NDP president Anne McGrath is a former Communist Party candidate.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-25 4:09:26 PM

>"The only thing that can be said for sure is that Iraq is not going to end up the pro-American democracy the neo-conservatives promised."

In your mind.

Nobody said Iraq was going to end up pro-American.
Nobody said making them our friend was a war goal.

Germany and France aren't pro-American.
Does that mean that the U.S. 'lost' the Second World War?

Just a bunch of loose $h1+ from another neo-commie.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-25 4:11:54 PM

Folks, we have a major TROLL here running around with multiple nics leaving it's droppings on multiple threads.

I hope you are reading this Epsilon.
This is why I dispise the Left.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-25 4:19:56 PM

Being an American living in the Us in 2007, paying movie tickets to go watch what I can see on CNN would be my last choice.

Posted by: Marc | 2007-10-25 4:29:19 PM

wtf are you taking about Speller?

Lapsed into delusions again?

obc, syf, Lady and other credible posters can all vouch for me.


Posted by: epsilon | 2007-10-25 5:22:09 PM


I can vouch that you are real.

And I will affirm your observation that our good friend speller does lapse into delusions occasionally.

That doesn't make him a bad person.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-25 5:32:47 PM

I assume you haven't noticed that approximately 20 comments have now been deleted from various threads by someone who used different nics.

For instance the person you were talking to here: Posted by: Epsilon | 25-Oct-07 3:38:15 PM

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-25 5:42:04 PM

Thank you Speller.

Your parole shall not be revoked!


Posted by: epsilon | 2007-10-25 6:02:32 PM

These movies don't usually do well until long after the war is over. There were very few Vietnam movies released during the conflict.

Trying to influence the outcome by making a movie will probably fail.

Posted by: dph | 2007-10-26 10:44:42 AM

>"There were very few Vietnam movies released during the conflict.
Trying to influence the outcome by making a movie will probably fail."
Posted by: dph | 26-Oct-07 10:44:42 AM

There were oodles of war movies made during the Vietnam War. There were also oodles of TV programs about war. At the time, the producers just didn't have the Vietnam era surplus equipment to make productions about the Vietnam War itself that looked like the near real time footage that Americans were seeing in the evening news on their TVs every single night.
( which influenced the outcome of the war quite a bit a la Walter Cronkite)

The only movie about the Vietnam War that was shot during the war itself that I know of, right at the end of the American involvement, was the John Wayne movie 'The Green Berets' which was shot not only with the aid of the U.S. Army using real contemporary equipment, but was shot right in Vietnam.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-26 11:04:35 AM

Hollywood has missed the mood of the market.

Any war time is a troubled time, so heaping on more anxiety with a lecturing tone is not going to fly.

It's time for comedy, but the moguls appear to be coming from such a negative mindset, they cannot even laugh at their own absurdity.

The entire Hollywood/extreme left connection is also becoming clearer for the American public to understand and there is a backlash against it.

You can only hate somebody like Dubya for so long without offering a solution before you define yourself as a whiner.

A political movement based on hatred never has succeeded and never will succeed.

Hollywood is becoming more irrelevant mostly by its own actions.

I also went to see Elizabeth a couple of weeks back. Although it was an interesting soap opera, there were many historical factual errors, which did not surprise me at all.

Hollywood is not about reality, it has become a propoganda vehicle for utopians.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-26 11:34:19 AM


I guess I meant to imply that not many anti-war movies were produced during the conflict. I was 13 when I watched the Tet offensive on TV. That was actually more graphic than anything being shown from Iraq. I sat up and watched the news every night because I really felt that it was something that could affect me in a few years. When I watched the Saigon police chief put a Chiefs Special against the temple of an NVA soldier, and blow his brains out,(he was handcuffed) it struck me that the US had picked some pretty poor allies.

I saw the Green Berets. Even John Wayne was embarrassed over that one.

Posted by: dph | 2007-10-26 11:53:53 AM

>"A political movement based on hatred never has succeeded and never will succeed."
Posted by: set you free | 26-Oct-07 11:34:19 AM

Well, set you free, I agree wholeheartedly with your entire post, with the above exception.

I think Islam's 1400 year run proves your statement wrong. But I guess that depends on how you define success.

And speaking of Islam, here's a little vid that I have been itching to link to:
Achmed the Dead Terrorist.


Nothing kills a political movement like mockery.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-26 12:09:03 PM


So far, Islam has been contained.

Did you hear the Muslim guy on Rutherford show telling us that we have to understand that not all are jihadists and quoting passages from the Qur'an which say Muslims have to respect Christians and Jews?

I think this guy can do some good among his more radical fellow travellers, since it's his reputation being smeared by the actions of other Muslims.

Not up to us to tolerate these guys if they have no common understanding of what's in their texts.

But, your point is valid. We do have to laugh at these guys. Fearing them just fuels their delusions of legitimacy.

Posted by: set you free | 2007-10-26 12:16:38 PM

>"quoting passages from the Qur'an which say Muslims have to respect Christians and Jews?"
Posted by: set you free | 26-Oct-07 12:16:38 PM

No, set you free, I missed that show.

You do know, though, that those are the early verses of the Koran that are understood by Muslims to have been abrogated by later verses, right?

What you listened to was pure taqiyya meant to lull the Kuffr into thinking Islam can be reformed.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-26 12:24:26 PM

The only movie about the Vietnam War that was shot during the war itself that I know of, right at the end of the American involvement, was the John Wayne movie 'The Green Berets' which was shot not only with the aid of the U.S. Army using real contemporary equipment, but was shot right in Vietnam.

Wrong on several points. The Green Berets wasn't shot in Vietnam but in and around Fort Benning Goergia. To the Shores of Hell and A Yank in Viet-Nam were also shot during the Vietnam war

Posted by: O’Reilly | 2007-10-26 12:32:55 PM

Not to sidetrack the thread with OT stuff about Islam but I'll believe I'm listening to a true Muslim reformer when he DENOUNCES the later verses that tell Muslims to kill and enslave Christians, Jews, and anyone else while converting the world to Islam by the sword.

I won't hold my breath.

It's the Muslims that need preaching to, not the infidel, if any Islamic reform is going to happen.

Posted by: Speller | 2007-10-26 12:33:35 PM

even if one hates Hollywood, should one's values match Hollywood's, one should probably question his values.

Posted by: shel | 2007-10-28 10:31:54 AM

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