From being a major Warner Bros. Pictures executive to a producer on the “Transformers,” “G.I. Joe” and “RED” franchises, Lorenzo di Bonaventura is a man who knows how to get behind films that consistently make money.
In a new interview with THR ahead of the release of his latest work “Deepwater Horizon,” he has spoken about the health of the film industry. On the one hand he makes the obvious point – Hollywood has become far too risk averse. On the other he offered a perspective you don’t hear much anymore – that young males aren’t being catered too enough and ubiquitous PG-13 films have got to go darker and more adult:
“As an industry, we’ve weathered the collapse of DVD. We’ve weathered the onslaught of video games and really quality television. The disappointment I have is that the response to those challenges has been a narrowing of choice. And I don’t think that’s the right thing. We’ve abandoned young males largely in our business. They like R-rated movies. They were the most dependable audience of my 25 years in this business. They’ve become less dependable because we are not making product for them. That’s a big mistake.”
The success of “Deadpool” would certainly seem to suggest this is true, though the failure of the R-rated, young male-targeted likes of “The Nice Guys” or “Popstar” doesn’t support that argument. Bonaventura points out that this weekend’s “The Magnificent Seven” is just the latest example of a film of too much compromise thanks to its PG-13 rating:
“That’s a perfect example of the mentality. It makes no sense to me. It makes me not want to see it. The notion that polarization and controversy is unprofitable is something I absolutely reject. The fear of that has the corporate masters of the business – and I don’t mean the people running the studios, I mean their bosses – [becoming] increasingly safe.
I’ve had personal experience where controversy has made movies widely profitable. ‘Three Kings,’ ‘Training Day,’ ‘Falling Down,’ [‘The] Matrix’ in its own way was not exactly controversial, but it was in your face. With ‘Three Kings,’ every single time we tested the movie, when the woman got shot in the head during the milk truck scene, 10% of the audience stood up and walked out. And we kept it in. Today they would take it out.”
Streaming, quality television, gaming and a studio system now geared towards ‘too big to fail’ blockbusters that have to play it safe to earn their money back has led to the current changing landscape of media consumption.