“Old Hollywood” v “New Hollywood”

What’s the difference?

New Hollywood is run by business and media graduates on the fast track. Mostly under 30, these high-achievers accomplish more by the time they’re 21 than most people do in a lifetime.

And yet…

That generates an ugly problem in Hollywood. Ageism.

I recently heard an agent say that anyone trying to break into this business who’s over 40 is dead in the water. Is that true?

If so, anyone who has had another career, raised a family, or gone out and got the very life-experiences that make up most great writers (Jack London, Ernest Hemmingway, to name a few) may find themselves redundant. Unless they work in television.

Sad but true, experience is seen as being cheap.

Maybe that’s why so many “New Hollywood” movies are, well… unfulfilling. They are starting to look more and more like video games. I’m afraid one day I’ll go into a movie theatre and see a first-person shoot-em-up. Oh, wait, they already did that.

And yet a strange thing happened when I compared the two…

So here for your amusement are the top-grossing films of 1940s v the top-grossing films of the 2000s. List provided courtesy of listall.com.

See what you think.

Top Grossing Movies of 1940s

9. Golden Earrings

10. Easter Parade

9. Golden Earrings

8. Meet Me in St Louis

7. Sergeant York

6. The Bells of St Mary’s

5. Samson and Delilah

4. Song of the South

3. Pinnochio

2. Fantasia

1. Bambi

Top grossing movies of the 2000s:

10. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

9. Passion of the Christ

8. Spider-Man 2

7. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

6. Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith

5. Transformers 3

4. Spider-Man (2002)

3. Pirates of the Carribbean 2

2. Shrek

1.Dark Knight

So what can we take away from this?

Religion sells. Samson and Delilah? Passion of the Christ? Phew!

Secondly, there’s always one. You know the kind of movie I’m talking about. So dumb it tries to make out with the water cooler at parties. Proof that hype will sometimes sell a movie.

Thirdly, family movies can make big money. Look at how many people went to see Bambi and Shrek.

And finally, stars. In the 1940s many of the more obscure films were made famous in their day by their stars: Gary Cooper, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Bing Crosby, Victor Mature, Ingrid Bergman. Yet in today’s techno-driven age, the only “star” who really pulls an audience is Johnny Depp.

So maybe the golden age of cinema is dead. Maybe there are little or no “stars” whose faces illuminate the little people sat there in the dark. But the family movie is alive and well. And at least HALF of the top movies of the last 10 years came from properties created back in the 1960s and beyond. Also, the biggest grossing film is the very dark, dramatic and philosophical Dark Knight.

Maybe audiences aren’t as dumb as we think we are.

Food for thought, Hollywood. Food for thought.


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