Sci-fi films are as dead as Westerns, says Ridley Scott

AdrianE

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The problem with Hollywood sci-fi movies are that most of them fall into two limited categories:
action-adventure sci-fi
horror sci-fi

That is what sells and makes money. Hollywood can sell the above to non sci-fi fans.

Science fiction usually has very broad and complex storylines. They don't necessarily translate well to movies. Although LoTR was a very complex story and it worked out well so it is possible. Its just too difficult for the average studio to pull off.
 

Scott Tortorice

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This is a complicated topic, but here is a short answer:

Science fiction is not dying, it is just going through a bad spat. And a big part of the problem is Star Trek and Star Wars. Why? These two franchises have come to symbolize what sci-fi should be all about to most studio executives (and publishers). And why shouldn’t they? Those two franchises have generated a fortune in revenue and a groundswell of diehard fans willing to fork over more cash at a moment’s notice. So Hollywood, being the less than mentally agile town it is, has reached the conclusion that every sci-fi film must be just like Star Trek and Star Wars. As such, we have had an endless series of clones that try to tap into that whole “space opera” or “space adventure” motif. It is easy money.

Hollywood has little interest in trying new things…not that there is a whole lot of stuff to try. For even literary sci-fi has succumbed to a lack of imagination. As I have mentioned in another thread, literary sci-fi has broken down into three genres: artsy “New Wave” sci-fi that only a literary critic can truly love, “hard” science fiction that only a scientist can love, or, yes, endless “soft” Star Trek/Wars official spinoffs and unofficial ‘wanna be’ titles. Take a look at recent Hugo and Nebula winners - what are there, two… maybe three memorable novels in the last decade? Sci-fi, be it on the screen or between covers, is moribund. I think the last truly great science fiction book was Card’s Ender’s Game.

Not that there are no sci-fi books out there worthy of a movie. I think either WH40K or David Drake’s Hammer Slammers would make wonderful movies, especially during this time of warfare. Or Keith Laumer’s Bolo series. Or countless other books from the more fertile years of sci-fi. To make any of the above into a movie would require a director/studio to trailblaze a new path. Alas, that is not going to happen unless a director has a special love for one of these books (as Jackson had for LotR). Heck, if a sci-fi book doesn’t appear in Variety, I doubt the majority of directors will ever hear about it. I suspect the powers that be have a very low opinion of the genre in general. You don’t see too many directors perusing the sci-fi sections of their local bookstores. Sci-fi is a cash cow, but nothing to be taken seriously. Basically the same attitude they have had towards fantasy…until Jackson proved them wrong.

And, just for the record, who appointed Ridley Scott as the official voice of sci-fi cinema? After his Kingdom of Heaven debacle, he should be a more forgiving critic. Yes, Blade Runner and Alien are in the top tier of sci-fi cinema, but that is less a testament to his supposed genius and more of a critique of Hollywood’s sorry track record with the genre.
 
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Blackcloud6

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Scott:

Good assessment. I repped ya for ya.

As to Ender's Game, I do agree it is a good book but I think that the sequal "Speaker for the Dead" was even better.
 

Pdqport

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And, just for the record, who appointed Ridley Scott as the official voice of sci-fi cinema? After his Kingdom of Heaven debacle, he should be a more forgiving critic. Yes, Blade Runner and Alien are in the top tier of sci-fi cinema, but that is less a testament to his supposed genius and more of a critique of Hollywood’s sorry track record with the genre.
Wired Magazine just did an interview with Ridley Scott regarding Blade Runner. When asked about Do Androids of Electric Sheep?, he admitted that he never read it all the way through because he couldn't follow all the story lines. I think that's pretty telling as far as the relationship between Hollywood and literary Sci-Fi goes.
 
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Well, are we asking the right questions? Even if you grant that there are few (if any) really good sci-fi movies out there right now, you can take a step further. What's the last truly "great" movie to be made in your eyes? Any genre.

Is the problem that Sci-Fi movies are in a creative drought, or that Hollywood just makes an endless succession of forgettable movies of all kinds?
 

Dr Zaius

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There have been some very good movies in the not-too-distant past. Some of these are older than others.

Master and Commander (2003)
Lord of the Rings (2001, 2002, 2003)
Seabiscuit (2003)
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
The Sixth Sense (1999)

I wouldn't consider these movies great, but they are fairly enjoyable:

The Last Samurai (2003)
We Were Soliders (2002)
Black Hawk Down (2001)
The Matrix (1999)
The Green Mile (1999)

I tried and couldn't come up with anything really memorable from 2004, 2005, 2006 or 2007. There have been some okay films in the last few years, but nothing that stands out.

Here is a site that lists movies:

2006: http://www.leesmovieinfo.net/WBOYearly.php?y=2006
2005: http://www.leesmovieinfo.net/WBOYearly.php?y=2005
2004: http://www.leesmovieinfo.net/WBOYearly.php?y=2004
2003: http://www.leesmovieinfo.net/WBOYearly.php?y=2003
 
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heh, I'd disagree with your characterizing the LoTR movies as great, I'm too much of a source purist (especially on Two Towers), and CTHD isn't from Hollywood, so that narrows "my" list at least a hair. That said, one has to admit that not everyone sees eye to eye on what makes a "great" movie.

I just don't see any of those, other than maybe Seabiscut, as being a movie that people look back to in 20 years they way they do the two Godfather Movies, or the like.
 

KG_Cloghaun

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Scott Tortorice

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We'll see. :) Personally, I have become very skeptical of Cameron ever since he declared that the future of film-making lies with a return to 3D. Oh, how novel. Yeah, that'll make up for the dim-witted plots coming out of Hollywood. :rolleyes:

That new monster movie might be interesting. I've been following it ever since I learned it is loosely-based upon Lovecraft's stories.

As for the last great movie I've seen: I would also have to say Lord of the Rings. It is a beautiful, intelligent and uplifting epic the likes of which I have never seen before. Because of that damnable film, I have started to develop an interest in fantasy (prior to LotR, the only fantasy film I could ever stomach was DragonSlayer). :) I guess this newfound interest is a good thing as it has taken my mind off of the lack of worthwhile reads in sci-fi. :angry:
 
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Scott Tortorice

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Hey all,

I just posted some thoughts on how to make sci-fi more realistic and engaging on film. You can read 'em over at my blog.

Let me know what you think.
 

A/CSM Bird

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I agree with most of your blog entry, except one. A little humor is OK.:D
Too much of anything is,... well, too much, I agree and there probably is a tug-of-war going on between the screen writers and directors to 'lighten up' the script. We are not likely to see a 'meeting of the minds' like Kubrick and Clarke and if we did I would be very surprised. Look at all the excellent sci-fi novels and stories that are prime movie material that are languishing, wherever these thing languish, and are never brought to the big screen.

Actually the more I think about it the more depressed I get:paperbag:, too bad Bill Gates isn't more of a sci-fi fan then maybe there would be more $$ for a project or three:rolleyes:
 

Scott Tortorice

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A little humor is fine, but lately every sci-fi film is packed with it. It's almost as if Hollywood has concluded that sci-fi can't succeed as a genre unless it is blended with frivolity (fantasy went through a similar phase until - you guessed it! - Peter Jackson made his LotRs masterpiece).

As for Bill Gates...didn't he already make a sci-fi movie? I believe it was called Colossus: The Forbin Project. :D
 
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