First, a few things before we dive into this: There isn’t a topic around Hollywood that Bret Easton Ellis doesn’t have a (usually contrarian) #hottake on, and third-hand dinner conversations aren’t the best sources for anything. All that said, it’s hard to ignore a juicy quote, which is something you don’t always get in this era of telephone-tag rumors. So again, who knows — but nonetheless, this is intriguing.
In a piece at The Ringer that argues Peak TV has overtaken the pop-culture zeitgeist from movies (an argument we’ll have to get into another day), Ellis of course shares thoughts on the matter (i.e. movies are dead).
“There will not be another Coppola. There will not be another Spielberg. There will not be another Scorsese. There will not be another Altman. Because the melding of that kind of artistic mind with a cultural experience, which was going to the movies and watching a large-scale film on a giant screen that’s not IMAX that isn’t a Marvel movie, is over. It’s shifted to television, and that basically now what we’re going to get on television, is someone trying to recapture the glory of 20th-century cinema on TV,” Ellis proclaimed.
And while you might disagree, like I do, with Ellis’ eulogy on the state of cinema, it’s coming from a place informed by what he’s hearing is going on behind-the-scenes of a major upcoming superhero movie.
“I was having dinner with a couple of executives who know other executives who are working on the [forthcoming] Batman movie, ‘The Batman,’ ” Ellis said. “And they were just telling me that there are serious problems with the script. And that the executives I was having dinner with were complaining about people who work on the Batman movie. And they just said they went to the studio and they said, ‘Look, the script is … Here’s 30 things that are wrong with it that we can fix.’ And [the executives] said, ‘We don’t care. We don’t really care. The amount of money we’re going to make globally, I mean 70 percent of our audience is not going to be seeing this in English. And it doesn’t really matter, these things that you’re bringing up about the flaws of the script.’ So I do think global concerns play a big part in how movies, and what movies, are being made, obviously.”
Given the public raking over the coals Warner Bros. got for “Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice” and “Suicide Squad” for being, well, not good, it’s hard to believe they’re just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ about screenplays. Then again, those movies made $873 million and $745 million worldwide respectively, and yes, much of that was globally.
For what it’s worth, Ben Affleck himself recently told EW that “The Batman” is still in the script stage and a budget hasn’t even been worked out, so perhaps all Ellis heard was one side of a frustrating conversation that happened in a studio meeting room that made it to a dinner table. And with filming not yet slated to start until the spring, there’s plenty of time for the creatives and suits to get on the same page. Meanwhile, no one is rushing to a release date either, because one hasn’t been set, so don’t quite freak out about “The Batman” just yet.