A new article from Forbes is sparking some debate on how much Hollywood studios value franchise fans, including Star Trek fans. The article even caught the interest of Star Trek writer/producer (and soon to be director) Roberto Orci, who was mentioned in it. More below.
Does Hollywood Care About The Fans?
When digital effects became a mainstream filmmaking tool in the early 90’s, it gave filmmakers the ability to stretch their imaginations and envision concepts that would’ve been considered impossible to realize just 10 years earlier. The technical progress that came forth over the ensuing two decades has been a boon for geeks everywhere, who finally got to see live-action, big screen depictions of iconic characters like Spider-Man and X-Men and have even gotten to see projects get made that were once considered unfilmable, like Watchmen. The studios found a whole new source of box office and licensing revenue and now flock to San Diego Comic Con every year to give fans sneak previews of their latest projects and often bring cast members along. All in all, it’s been a good time to be a geek.
But according to Forbes’ Scott Mendelson, geek influence in the movie business has been overstated. Mendelson believes that recent controversies surrounding Edgar Wright’s departure from Ant Man, Drew Goddard’s departure from the Daredevil series, and Ben Affleck’s casting as Batman, as well as other controversies, don’t have the influence on studio decision-making that fans would like to think. He also believes their box office importance is exaggerated:
It’s not that Hollywood doesn’t care about or doesn’t appreciate the geek fandom. It’s just that said geek fandom doesn’t make up very much total box office for a given film.
He cites (and it could be said, overgeneralizes) fan reaction to Star Trek Into Darkness and Bob Orci’s appointment as the director of the next Trek film as an example:
The casual moviegoers that propelled Star Trek Into Darkness to $467 million worldwide thought it was an entertaining science-fiction adventure with a fun cast and strong special effects. They didn’t care about the whole “Is Benedict Cumberbatch playing Khan?” controversy or the hamfisted callbacks to Wrath of Khan or the 9/11-truther undertones. It was the hardcore Star Trek fans who took to the Internet to proclaim the film to be the “worst Star Trek film ever.” But Paramount (a division of Viacom, Inc.) knows that most of those ”Trekkies” will still show up for Star Trek 3 in summer 2016 no matter how much they disagree with the choice of Roberto Orci as director.
It isn’t clear what the Forbes writer is using as a source for the claim that Trek fans “disagree” with the choice of Roberto Orci. And it could be argued that Paramount is actually playing to the fans by giving Orci the chair, as he has been the most fan-friendly of all the producers involved in the last two films.
Bob Orci himself took notice of the article tweeted out a link (and posted a comment here at TrekMovie) asking for reactions to this article.
thoughts on this? http://t.co/kqSnFY0apY
— Roberto Orci (@realboborci) June 26, 2014
[NOTE: TrekMovie has verified that ‘@realboborci’ is indeed the real Bob Orci, now under a new Twitter account]
So, what are your thoughts? Is Mendelson right in saying that fans are being taken for granted, or do you think fan opinions carry weight?
Do you think that Paramount cares about Trek fans?