Thursday, May 15, 2008

Memo to Oliver Stone: Do NOT Make a Movie about Old Dubya

So controversial filmmaker Oliver (Platoon, JFK, Natural Born Killers) Stone is making a film about President George W. Bush (a.k.a., Old Dubya)? The film, titled W, will be out in theaters in October 2008 if all goes according to plan. Actor Josh Brolin (pictured on Entertainment Weekly above) will play the president.

Memo to Stone: Bad Idea.

Who the hell is going to pay to see a movie about President George W. Bush? I don't care how much controversy you cram into that sucker, Oliver. It ain't gonna fly. It'll go down like a stone to the bottom of the sea (forgive the pun). And it's not just because Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet.

Most moviegoers prefer not to see movies about recent history, especially post-9/11 history (which is so depressing). Look at all the movies about the Iraq War: In the Valley of Elah, Redacted, Stop-Loss, Lambs for Lions. The titles alone tell you one thing: BOX OFFICE DISASTERS. Care to see some figures, Oliver?

In the Valley of Elah (2007) - $6.8 million.
Redacted (2007) - $.06 million.
Lions for Lambs (2007) - $15 million.
Home of the Brave (2006) - $.04 million.

You don't have to be a Universal or 20th Century Fox exec to see that those are pathetic box office numbers.

It's not just Iraq War films that moviegoers don't want to see. Most films on recent history have performed poorly in the movie theaters. Oliver Stone's 2006 epic World Trade Center, a decent (by no means great) movie, did not fare so well with the movie-viewing public, taking in (in the words of the New York Times) "an underwhelming No. 3 at the box office over the [opening] weekend."

Many film critics consider Paul Greengrass's United 93 (2006) -- the powerful docudrama about the 9/11 hijacking of United Airlines Flight 93, the plane that ultimately crashed in a farm field in Pennsylvania -- one of the best films of the past decade. But it absolutely bombed at the box office. Why? It hit too close to home.

I'm still glad United 93 got made, because I agree with the critics: It is one of the finest films to come out of Hollywood in recent years, even if it was exceedingly painful to watch.

But, Oliver, a film about Dubya? That's a doomed enterprise, my friend. Many Americans can't even stand to watch the guy on TV anymore. And I've got news for you: The people who surround him in the White House do not share his charm and charisma. Think about it: Condi Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Ari Fleischer, John Ashcroft. That's not a political drama. That's a damn horror movie.

Now Oliver is telling the press that W will be a Capra-esque tale (in reference to the late, great Frank Capra, who made masterpieces such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and It's a Wonderful Life that celebrated ordinary, small-town Americans). "It's almost Capra-esque, the story of a guy who had very limited talents in life, except for the ability to sell himself," Stone told an interviewer.

Capra-esque? Give me a break. Try Kafkaesque.

Oliver, I know you say you plan to release W in the theaters by October 2008. But in the shadow of your box office turd Alexander (2004) -- the Alexander the Great biopic that bombed for a very good reason (it sucked) -- you need to step carefully. Another steamin' heap of cinematic manure like that one and Hollywood execs might start slamming the door on you. Take my advice: Stay the hell away from Old Dubya.

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