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Monday, December 12, 2005
The Kiss of Death

Tom Cruise.  Media Icon or freak?Was Tom Cruise the kiss of death for Steven Speilberg? Is Cruise the anti-Hanks? Either way, the Katie Holmes era Cruise is definitely bordering on strange, and not in a circus sideshow kind of way either.

As this relates to Steven, well, his studio, Dreamworks SKG, has been sold to Paramount for $1.6 billion US. It seems that Mr. Speilberg, et. al., couldn't find enough hits and dug themselves $400 million in the hole.

Now, first off, I do have to say, Speilberg's latest flick, War of the Worlds, was a complete turnoff for me. Being a remake aside, it's release co-incided with Cruise's antics in the spotlight, having to make a spectacle that he's with Katie, nearly 20 years his younger. Meh. Who cares. You turned me off of (and more than likely a ton of others) your latest film, and now you share a distinction with Kevin Costner for me, whose films past 1991 I refuse to watch (JFK being the last). Did you sink the Titanic of a film company? Perhaps, though in all honesty, it seems financial difficulty existed in Dreamworks many directions, not just film.

However, what I find disturbing, is in the first sentence of the linked article from CBC. For those of you who are follow the link challenged, I'll repost here.
Paramount Pictures has bought independent film studio DreamWorks SKG in a deal worth about $1.6 billion US.
I don't know about you, but I have major problems swallowing any sentence that has independent film and a dollar figure in the billions in the same sentence, especially when referring to one company. Where I come from, independent film typically falls in the following.

1. The money available to spend does not come from major studios, but rather from government grants, arts grants, loans, private investment, and most typically, from the producer's and director's pocket.

2. The money situation being as such, many crew may work for no salary, but rather a percentage of the profits. Heck I've worked on shoots where the money situation is so bad that craft service is nothing more than carrot and celery sticks, and catering is one slice of pizza, which is all the food you get for about 20 straight hours of shooting.

3. Independent film is usually shot with non-union crews. When dollar figures hit millions, the union does make it's presence felt.

Hell, even directors like Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and the like aren't independent directors as such. There's just too much money, which though it is a good thing, as people get paid, has one downfall.

The studios take something artistic, strip it of that value and make it commercial.

For all those who insinuate that Dreamworks, Tarantino, and the like are independent, I hereby issue you

That is all.

*Speilberg/Cruise photo courtesy AP.
neolithic pondered at 00:30
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