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Filmism.net Dispatch May 12, 2008

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When the indie movie scene started taking bites out of the credibility of the Hollywood studios, they did what they do best and spent money. The result was Fox Searchlight, Paramount Vantage and a host of other low-fi, awards-seeking or indie movies carefully crafted to snap up the market

Warner Bros closed both its indie arms (Warners Independent and Picturehouse) this week, their reasoning being that they were buying New Line outright and that would give them a spread of projects.

Is this the same New Line that released commercial, money-hauling behemoths like Rush Hour, Lord of the Rings and more?

Maybe after a string of flops like Snakes on a Plane and The Golden Compass they had so little money left they're an indie studio by dint of their bank balance.

At the other end of the scale, Iron Man deservedly reaped its budget back in two days and hasn't slowed down yet. It's not only been the best superhero movies in a long time, it's prompted owners Marvel to go out on a limb and independently produce a bunch more of their properties.

I also saw pictures this week of an unrecognisable James Brolin as George W Bush in Oliver Stone's biopic. I find it very brave of a studio and a welcome return to form for Stone after the Disney-does-9/11 of World Trade Center. Most movies about politicians are made years after the events depicted, but to be studying a man who's not only considered a dangerous idiot but will only just be leaving office as the film comes out is big news.

Lastly (and if they'd asked me I could have told them, just like The Golden Compass) Speed Racer has limped out of the gate with barely $20m of a $100m budget. I mean with CGI dinosaurs, superheroes in iron suits, giant waves overturning ocean liners and every other grand spectacle we've seen over the last few years, who the hell's going to be excited about car racing?

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