I’ve seen three terrific mystery/suspense films this year. The Secret In Their Eyes from Argentina, which won the academy award for best foreign language film, The Ghost Writer, a
European production made from the Robert Harris novel, and the Swedish made film,
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, an outstanding movie that captures the essence
of Stieg Larsson’s novel while leaving out all the needless extraneous
information. Hollywood is making their own version starring Daniel Craig (James
Bond), but they’re going to have to really come up with something special to
outshine the Swedish version and especially Noomi Rapace’s outstanding
performance as the tech hacker Lisbeth Salander.

Here’s my question. Television is saturated with popular crime dramas and good crime movies are generally well received and successful. So why do we see so few Hollywood films being made from successful crime novels or original scripts. It’s not as if Hollywood can’t do it well. (See LA Confidential for example.) Instead, literate, mature audiences are continually subjected to comic book characters, computer generated graphics, and explosions that substitute for actual suspense. It's getting old.

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It boils down to cost. The costs of making movies in Hollywood has an inflation rate somewhere between Weimar Germany, and Zimbabwe. This is because everyone is expecting to get screwed in the long run, so they demand every penny they can get up front.

With $100 million the average budget these days, coupled with shady accounting, studio movies need to break records just to break even. That means young ticket buyers who will pay to see a big FX extravaganza multiple times in the theater, then buy all 27 "special editions" of the DVD included the "unrated" version with a potential half-second glimpse of a boob.

Crime movies can do well, but they don't normally break records these days. Now they can also be done cheaper, but studio execs don't like that, because that limits the range of dirty games they can play with the money.
Greed may have much to do with the lack of quality crime dramas and films in general being made in the U.S. Maybe it's just me, D.R., but summers used to herald the opening of some much anticipated quality films for adults. Now, I have trouble finding anything of interest except films made in other countries.
Hey Chris,

They don't make regular movies anymore. You can't find a good mystery or drama these days. If something's not blowing up every five minutes or isn't some stupid comedy with someone vomiting or farting, no one's putting it in the theater. All the movies are the same.

I am a big comedy fan but I'm so tired of these rude comedies about folks' body functions.

The only time I catch a good mystery now is on Encore Mystery or on television once every blue moon.

Remember Hollywood is losing money too with the economy. Plus they don't care about quality films anymore. All they care about is something they hope to get folks into the theater with. The world has been dumbed down and Hollywood plays on it. Most of the movies now insult a three year-old's intelligence. The last good mystery I heard of was that movie with Meryl Streep when she was the nun and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. Forget the name.

You don't see movies like that anymore or anything that needs a brain to watch.

Best Wishes!

I believe the movie you were thinking of with Meryl Streep and Phillip Seymour Hoffman was entitled, "Doubt." It was based on a successful Broadway play, and was, in my humble opinion, a very good "adult" movie.
Yeah that's the one! LOL!
I'll take some of the blame for this, Christopher, as I stopped going to the movies years ago. I used to love the movie theatre experience and I even made trips to other cities for film festivals but I started to prefer watching movies at home.

I may watch The Secret In Their Eyes on DVD (the other two don't interest me at all) but I wouldn't go see it in a theatre.
Try The Ghost Writer. It's Polanski at his Chinatown, Rosemary's Baby best.

My wife and I watch most of our movies on DVD as well, but it's nice to see some movies in a theatre. I'd second Richard's opinion on "The Ghost Writer." Also, I think the Swedish film version of "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" is much better than the book.

Given your TV writing experience, John, do you have any opinion as to why more good detective/mystery novels aren't made into films?
No, I have no idea, except to say that it's very hard to get any movie made. The TV show I worked on was in development for about five years, a two-hour pilot was filmed and then the series went into production and it lasted for two weeks on CBS.

DR is right, studios don't like lower budget movies - as a producer said to me once, "How can I steal a million from a million?"

I am surprise more book series aren't turned into cable TV series, but with the rise of the "showrunner" as the creative force behind a cable series more of them like to write their own original material - The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Deadwood, The Wire and so on.
I don't go to movies either. I used to be a big DVD person. I still love to buy movies but I buy mainly movies I've already seen that I wanna add to my collection. I used to be addicted to DVD's. Every time I got some change, I'd buy a movie, LOL! Not like that anymore. I hardly get DVD's now. Sometimes on Christmas and maybe my birthday. That's it.

The only movie I find worth watching lately would be Inception. I'll check it out when it comes out on DVD. I love comedies too. I will probably get Hot Tub Time Machine soon or wait until it comes on cable, LOL.

The films in the movies don't mirror my taste. I'm not a big action buff, I don't like half of the so-called actors of today. I stick to older movies now. That's why I just watch Comcast On Demand. I also have an extensive DVD collection.

But as far as following the trends of movies these days? Nope. I never went to the movies anyway. The last movie I saw in the theaters was Titantic. I figure it's a waste of money when the thing will be on DVD in less than two months. LOL!

Best Wishes!

I believe you're right, Dan. It seems the "executives" running Hollywood have the mindset of a fourteen year old. But I think they're losing a whole generation of adult movie goers who have money to spend on good movies -- if they could find one. Maybe there's a "smart" executive out there who will finally realize that turning out a series of well-made movies for mature audiences will make more money than betting everything on a comic book, computer-generated blockbuster. In a way, the Hollywood movie mindset mirrors the publishing industry, i.e., pour all the money and resources into one book and author, and hope that it's a blockbuster.
Yeah, we've pretty much given up on the movies too. No intelligent life found.

Ghostwriter was much better than we thought it would be, but Hollywood isn't a place where art is made. It's just a hedge fund.

William Dylan Powell


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