What You Can Learn at the Movies


If a movie is a stinker but it helps you live better is it still a stinker?

I went to see the new Star Wars movie because the original back in the late seventies was, to me at the time, the perfect movie—fast, funny and filled with likeable characters. I thought even Darth Vader was a hoot.

The new version done by Disney left me astoundingly disappointed. The “creative” minds behind this film simply updated the original movie’s storyboards with new faces and new dialog. The storyline was practically the same, right down to everybody chasing after the dopey little droid.

Instead of Darth, there was a pathetic geek we are asked to believe is Darth’s grandson.

In lieu of Luke Skywalker was a girl just as talentless—but not as pretty—as Natalie Portman.

And where the larger-than-life Han Solo strode the galaxy was a dweeby stand-in who made no discernable contribution to the film as either a character or an actor.

The proof of what I say rests in the fact that I left the cinema unable to remember the name of even one of the new characters. 

Then it hit me. It wasn’t the movie that was so bad. It was me! I have aged to the point where I no longer “get it.”

Feeling like the drooling old fool that I must have unawares become, the Stephen King line from Pet Sematary flashed through my atherosclerotic mind: “Sometimes dead is better.”

But I did a bit of reading about the movie industry. I wanted to know what it is about movies that gets people to pay a sitter, drive to a mall and stand in line to see them?

 Here’s what I found out:

  • The six major Hollywood studios have been around for a century, making this the most stable business in U. S. history
  • Studios spend less making films than they do marketing them around the world—with most of their money made not in theater showings but in home video and sales to television
  • Because they mostly turn out movies costing more than three hundred million dollars to make and market, studios mostly stick with what’s worked before—characters and story lines familiar from books, comics and video games

I think the key is this. Hollywood seems to have a knack for identifying who their audience is and getting a pulse on what interests that audience. The studios seem to be able to gather these insights before the rest of us do. It’s like the Distant Early Warning Line of radar stations during the Cold War era—the DEW Line. The daughter who dragged me to see the movie adored it, for instance, because she grew up with the franchise and felt “at home.” 

I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner, so I asked myself what I could learn from this stinker of a movie that I might apply to my own Executive Media corporate communications company, to my fiction and non-fiction writing, perhaps even to the way I approach my lifestyle.

And it’s this:

First, never lose sight of basics. In resurrecting the Star Wars franchise, Disney went back to the basics of the original and came up with a hit that’s shattering every film industry record.

Second, build your own DEW line. So you can be ahead of the pack in recognizing what’s about to come flying over the horizon at you—and be quick and bold in adapting.

Finally maintain your motivation. And the best way to do that is by going out everyday and proving you’re the best. And the best way to do that is by satisfying yourself.


Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Guy-Boat-Peter-Yaremko/dp/0990905012/

Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.

And my weekly reflection on each Sunday of the Jubilee Year of Mercy can be found at: http://www.peterwyaremko.com/mercy

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