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May 22 2006

IFC video interview with Joss at the Saturn Awards. Joss talks about the rise of sci-fi and fantasy films and why he likes to work in these genres.

You know he is so right, it's not the dramas or the comedies that are the money makers for the studios just look at the top 20 grossing movies of all times.

(adjust for inflation)
1 1977 Star Wars $1,012,785,986
2 1982 ET: The Extra-Terrestrial $836,075,432
3 1997 Titanic $801,330,773
4 1980 Empire Strikes Back, The $591,388,817
5 1983 Return of the Jedi $578,423,035
6 1993 Jurassic Park $536,911,818
7 1999 Star Wars: Phantom Menace $529,866,325
8 1981 Raiders of the Lost Ark $515,440,596
9 1994 Forrest Gump $499,673,369
10 1994 Lion King, The $475,768,310
11 1977 Close Encounters of the Third Kind $463,013,454
12 1978 Grease $444,630,884
13 1984 Ghostbusters $441,753,512
14 2004 Shrek 2 $436,721,700
15 2002 Spider-Man $432,940,282
16 1996 Independence Day $430,853,566
17 1990 Home Alone $421,602,958
18 1984 Beverly Hills Cop $421,137,739
19 1989 Batman $391,577,724
20 2003 Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King $386,177,918

So how can sci-fi/horror/fantasy be looked at as genre when history and box office shows that it is mainstream all the way. Yet, on TV and in the movies these genres seem to be treated as something below the dramas and comedies that litter the airwaves and movie theatres. Heck even indies tend to get more respect, unless ofcourse it's Indie genre.
Oddly enough, Home Alone is the biggest support on that list for Joss' argument.
Would just like to comment on the fact that Joss could never have been an "unlovable child." Not possible. :D
Good find derf :). And out of that list RavenU posted, I'd say only about half (and that may be on the generous side) had any decent acting and dialogue in them. Maybe that's why the films are overworked errr I meant overlooked (some of sort of Freudian thing going on there)..

[ edited by Simon on 2006-05-23 00:28 ]
Joss is so right, and that's exactly how I feel about genre.
It's funny, I was thinking about this the other day.

At the beginning of 2005, I didn't believe in genre in terms of money success.

Now? I believe in genre completely. People go to the cinema and switch on TV - often - to escape. When genre connects (and people actually know it exists), it's a gold mine - and has less of the usual artistic limits.
Although I like films like political films like Good Night and Good Luck -- that is, good films with a message -- I am equally comfortable with genre, particularly with Joss's films, where there is also a message, but there is also character development. As RavenU so astutely points out with her list, and as Joss says in the interview, these are both mainstream films and moneymakers. While I like diversity in film -- so I don't want to eliminate any genres of filmmaking, even if I don't patronize some of them (like horror, or saccharine sweet love stories), and I actually work with documentaries in my classes -- Hollywood should recognize what is being done in "genre" films, and give them credit where credit is due. It's a crime that some very weak dramas end up beating out films in other categories for Oscars simply because they were dramas.
The big studios will crumble and after the dust settles the emerging recognized visionaries will be Joss Whedon and Peter Jackson. Jackson for his groundbreaking work in the realm of CG and Whedon for his earth exploding mind of majesty. We should also crown him King of Earth. No political process. Just be like...yea...this guy is king. I am not sure any of that makes and sense but I want endless, endless Joss work. Movies are getting so lame.
That "unlovable child" thing got to me. He says stuff like that too often. And this time he didn't say it with a sense of irony or humor. Makes me worry about him.
batmarlowe, he's a writer, if he wasn't a complete frikkin' mess emotionally he wouldn't be so good ;).

Also, this looks like it was done at the same time as the Spike movie stuff that caused the big fuss a while back (how he's pitched it all he can etc.). I really just think the guy was tired (or hung over - was it any 'verse actor's birthday the day before ? ;) when he gave these interviews and not his usual chipper self. When you're tired stuff you mean to be funny can sometimes come out either too harsh or too self-deprecating and it's pretty hard to raise enthusiasm (which also explains the slightly downbeat Spike interview).

Even knackered though, the fella speaks sense. I think genre conventions allow a filmmaker to use archetypes and simple but powerful ideas which tend to appeal to a broader audience, hence the massive success (though as Joss says, it's still all about people which is why, respected as it may be, you don't see '2001: A Space Odyssey' on lists like the one above).
Great interview, and so good to hear someone with a high profile like Joss making the point about fantasy throughout literature that so many people overlook. It has always amazed me that the same people who teach "A Midsummer Night's Dream," Homer's Odyssey, etc. etc. could be so contemptuous of fantasy.

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