Filmism.net Dispatch September 15, 2013

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Deadline Hollywood, the website famous for making enemies across Tinseltown, recently posted a simple story about how a Disney Channel movie beat out the much-talked-about SyFy movie Sharknado a few weeks back. There's a even a sly dig at Twitter-friendly screenwriter Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus, Star Trek Into Darkness), saying that because he didn't tweet throughout Teen Beach Movie, it didn't warrant notice on the cultural radar.

The story explained how Teen Beach Movie got 8.4 million viewers, more than five times Sharknado's audience, and it probably did. But here's the thing whether you're talking about movies, TV or any other form of popular culture.

In the media, the only real currency is buzz.

We (and by that I mean the people who swirl throughout popular culture's eddies and rapids, not the people who surf through channels hoping something good comes on or stand at the box office scratching our chins, unaware what the films we have to choose from are even about) were all talking about Sharknado.

Look up some infographic somewhere of mentions of the deliriously stupid show on social media and I'll bet it looks like the seismograph of a heart attack or earthquake. I'll also bet millions more people than those who actually watched the show watched the trailer, because it was white hot all over the web for a fortnight or so and you couldn't click anywhere without seeing a link to it.

Now, in six weeks or months or whatever, when some studio executive is sitting around flicking through a portfolio of names trying to match a director to a videogame adaptation or zombie shoot-em-up, who's he going to think of? The guy who directed some Disney Channel movie a bunch of tweens watched but nobody talked about and everyone forgot as soon as it was over?

Or the guy who gave the Internet one of the most identifiable memes of recent times, one we all remember, anchored by a distinctive word that contains the whole sales pitch, to which they're already making a sequel?

Or do we all think Hollywood studio executives are among the smartest and most dedicated people in the working world, keeping studious records of projects, viewer and attendance figures?

I've touched on this before (http://filmism.net/2011/09/filmism-net-dispatch-20). In an industry where it's all about your brand and your image, money doesn't matter as much as you think it does. In the above story, I was talking about Kevin Smith, but he's not the only filmmaker whose movies rarely make money but who keep getting jobs.

Why? Because the people in those churning eddies of pop culture, everyone from producers to kids reading comic books, all know them and that particular thing they do.

They, and the movies they make from Sharknado to Pacific Rim (which also performed far less than anticipated, but Guillermo Del Toro certainly won't stop working in Hollywood because of it) have the X factor all Hollywood wants.

They have buzz.

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