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Getting out my crystal ball - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Getting out my crystal ball
I just bought the DVD for Pirates of the Caribbean, and it got me into a mood to make some predictions about Hollywood over the next few years. Maybe I'll hit the nail on the head. I don't know. I haven't hung out the crystal ball for the real world before. We'll see...

First, since it started with PotC:

Pirates of the Carribbean
There will be a sequel to Pirates of the Caribbean. I haven't heard anything about this, but I'm reasonably sure that, unless Depp refuses to play along, the studio won't be able to resist. This sequel will open big, and do moderate business afterward. Everyone will know that something is wrong with it, but no one will quite figure out what, and it will end up sailing away on a sinking dinghy.

The way they should do this would be to take Jack to another port, where someone else has a problem and Jack waffles around in the process of helping. That's what made PotC work. But here's what they will do: They will make it a Jack Sparrow story, and that's what's going to kill them. Jack is a very loveable character, and he was absolutely the glue that held PotC:CotBP together--a pretty good definition of a supporting role, and in fact I'd say Jack is, structurally, the quintessential supporting role. The hero role was Will's, as he grew from his initial total intolerance to the ability to see people for what they were.

So what's the problem with Jack being the hero?

People love Jack because he's Jack. A hero's journey is transformative. It has to be, or there's no point to it. So a movie about Jack Sparrow would ultimately change Jack Sparrow, and the very character who made the movie so desirable will disappear.

Star Wars
Episode III will be released, and it will be the best of the lot. It will receive a thorough critical drubbing, but sail serenely to the top of the box office for the summer. A small but vocal group will complain that it just wasn't right and George Lucas betrayed them. The press will follow this group around with cameras and microphones. Someone somewhere will say, "Aw, I'm supposed to feel sorry for poor little Darth because his girlfriend died?" And my head will explode from constantly banging it against a brick wall.

A new cultural group will call racism. I'm not sure who's left now. This group will not be the one group with a legitimate gripe--the British.

I will have to re-write all my SW fanfic, and/or twist around my interpretations to make canon fit me. :p

Harry Potter
The movies will divurge further and further from the books as they go on, and they will steadily lose viewers as they do so.

Nevertheless, the three kids playing the leads, plus of course Tom Felton (Draco), will have burgeoning careers as the first wave of British teen idols (movie-wise) sweeps American youth. There will be, as there were in the time of the Beatles, many teenage girls in America doing bad British accents and clamoring to visit London instead of Hollywood in the hope of catching sight of their favorite stars.

To everyone's shock, the books will continue to be read before the movies come out.

With the success of fantasy films, there will be a rash of absolutely horrendous ones that simply don't get it. In the midst of these, a low-budget but well-written romantic comedy will sweep its season and a lot of executives will stare in a puzzled way at audiences and say, "But we fed you what you liked last time!" They will then proceed to make a lot of high budget, badly written romantic comedies, at which point a historical drama will sweep its season and...

Reality television will finally run out of steam. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think it will happen. It has "fad" written all over it. A talent show like American Idol may stick around--the talent show is a perennial, and hey, they discovered Scootergirl this year--but the silly romance shows have already jumped the shark, and they will go the way of the dodo. I just hope the networks don't hold onto them too long just because they're cheaper than actually, you know, hiring writers as well as paying the cast and production crew.

Angel will last two more seasons.

We will lose some old standbys, including E.R. and possibly The West Wing. Law and Order will continue to plug away, possibly with another handful of cast changes. That's a show that there's just never any real reason to end except for people not watching it, and watching it is habitual.

Hopefully not just wishful thinking: Saturday Night Live will get one more second (third, fourth, fifth?) wind as the current crop of regulars gives way to the "Featured" cast. (I like Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph, but that's about it with this bunch.) There will be at least one more nationwide gag as big as "You look fabulous!" or "Could it be... SATAN???" I'll put my money on Starkisha the hip-hop teenager.

Dramas will take the place of the sitcoms that are going away. Someone may try to bring back the primetime soap again.

A different city will be fashionable in tv and movies for awhile. Maybe Philadelphia? (Hey, why not be really iconoclastic, Hollywood? Go to Buffalo! I mean really, film there. It's not overexposed, and there's lots of fun hooks.)

In turn, there will also be a small town drama (not a soap), and people will go into a small town nostalgia phase. If this is before the Episode 3 drama, this may well be when my head explodes.

Today's story is my favorite that I've written recently, mainly because I'm in a good mood. It's an HP fic, featuring five and a half year old Nymphadora Tonks getting a visit from her cousin Sirius, along with his friends Remus and Peter. Warning, it does have a couple of Americanisms that I need to go back and excise.

The Doll Army

I feel a bit...: mischievous mischievous

27 comments or Leave a comment
myf From: myf Date: January 22nd, 2004 05:26 am (UTC) (Link)
That's such a well-thought-out piece of divination! I can definitely see your POTC prediction coming true - please tell me why the studios aren't hiring you to explain the dynamics of plot, characterisation and what doesn't work to them! Someone needs to do it, and you're utterly qualified.

Oh, I adore The Doll Army. You're right, it did strike me as particularly American-sounding, but the fact that I loved it anyway is praise indeed. Remus was just perfectly written. *melts*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 05:53 am (UTC) (Link)
narnian_dreamer From: narnian_dreamer Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, there is such a thing as a hero who goes through little or no character change throughout the course of the plot. There's a name for them: catalyst heroes. While finishing the story in basically the same state as when they started, the the actions and sometimes the mere presence of the catalyst hero causes change in the characters surrounding them. Case and point is the detective story. Hercule Poirot goes through little if any growth throughout his series, but remains interesting becuase of the affect he has on the other characters involved in the crimes he solves.

Jack could work as a catalyst hero, but a good catalyst hero is harder to pull off than a good dynamic hero, so I am nervous about how the Disney corporation handles any possible sequel.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 05:52 am (UTC) (Link)
One more for Harry Potter: The British will coin some droll phrase to refer to these particular tourists--particularly the ones who are faking accents--and the Yanks will adopt the term wholeheartedly. Come to think of that, I do believe that's happened a few times in the past. Yankee Doodle comes to mind. There will be a fad in Britain of trying to pass off newly minted and stupid-sounding words as traditionally British ways of talking, but this will backfire, as British kids pick up the fake lingo and start using it to talk to one another. Britfake will be the new hip hop. (Okay, just joking. But I realized as I was writing that it's not impossible.)
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: January 22nd, 2004 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Is anything comparable going on in New Zealand with all the LOTR tourism?
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
There'll be a PotC sequel...on IMDB it's listed as "announced." And the more I think about what you've said, the more I'm afraid you'll be right. But I can hope against it, right? Hope springs eternal or something.

Go to Buffalo!
Yes! Jesse seemed to do well enough--although I just enjoyed seeing Buffalo Bills and Sabres jerseys on the screen. Go, western New York pride!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:12 am (UTC) (Link)
I gave up on Jesse when they were all surprised to find an art gallery. There's some little art gallery on every corner, not to mention, you know, the Albright-Knox.

I don't know. I had a dream about WNY last week (wandering around Silver Lake and Perry), and I keep tripping over the idea of having a nice visit out there. But I want them to do Buffalo right. Wings at the Anchor!
alphabet26 From: alphabet26 Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:16 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I suppose I should confess that I'm actually Niagara Falls-born, so I'm not all that familiar with Buffalo. But yeah. Art galleries. Even I know that. ;P

Speaking of doing Buffalo right, did you see Bruce Almighty? The movie did not appeal to me, but it was set in Buffalo, and my aunt and uncle (also from the Falls) didn't have any complaints.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:33 am (UTC) (Link)
It was? I didn't know that. Now, I must go rent it.

(Just getting back from a sudden search of LJ's located in my hometown. I hated my hometown. Why am I searching for people from it? I'm a native Buffalonian, but I grew up in the hinterlands to the east. Went back to Buffalo as an adult for a few years, so I know it reasonably well, but when I say "my hometown" I mean the oh-my-God-I'm-NEVER-GONNA-GET-OUTTA-HERE place that I can look on fondly from a great distance.)

I used to take the bus back and forth to the Falls. Not long before I left Buffalo (I was working in the library), I remember the Niagara Falls paper--don't remember if it was NY or Ont--running a cartoon showing all kinds of showy attractions going full tilt with a couple of local pols talking to each other. One says, "We really need something to attract the tourists!" Both of them are turned back from an itty bitty corner picture of, you know, the Falls.

A couple of days before I left, I just went up to Goat Island and listened to the river. I miss the Niagara. The Charles is good here, but I also endured a couple of years on the northern part of the Rio Grande, which I call the Rio Pequeno. It's a creek. (Pronounced, of course, "crick.")

(Sorry, all non-WNYers. Got distracted.)
ladyaeryn From: ladyaeryn Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
Instead of reiterating 90% of your post, I'll simply say I think you're dead on, especially on the PotC and SW parts. Although with SW, that outcome's hardly a matter of Divination. ;) PotC 2 will want to cash in on all the Jack-loff that made the first film so successful, and that's going to render moot what made his character appealing to begin with.

As far as non-biggie (SW, HP, etc.) fantasy films, I think there will probably be one surprise semi-biggie that strikes close to the mark of "getting it," but I agree on the whole it's going to be a lovely string of crappy ones hoping to cash in on the obvious recent popular trend toward Big Fantasy Epics.

And I hope to heck you're right about reality TV! ;)
silverhill From: silverhill Date: January 22nd, 2004 08:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Episode III will be released, and it will be the best of the lot.

By "best of the lot" do you mean best of the prequels? Or best of all the Star Wars movies?

I loved Episode II. But somehow nothing can beat the originals for me. (I'll save my opinion on Episode III for when I see it, though.)

I think you're pretty much exactly right about everything else you said. (I don't watch SNL, though, so I can't comment on that.) Excellent analysis of PotC!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 04:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
By "best of the lot" do you mean best of the prequels? Or best of all the Star Wars movies?

I mean of all of them. I loved the Classic, but I like the prequels even better. The story interests me more and I like the characters better; they're much less cynical, with the exception of the legitimate bad guy. The other major characters are pretty much trying to do things right and a be good people, but ultimately being overtaken. This is more interesting to me than someone who starts out not caring.
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fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 04:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, yes. I really wish for an edit comments feature. I keep erasing posts altogether and making new ones.

Incidentally, can I friend you?

Sure! :)
shipaholic From: shipaholic Date: January 22nd, 2004 11:14 am (UTC) (Link)
I hope you're right about reality TV. ;) As for POTC2 - assuming that the same writers do the sequels, I think there's a good chance that they won't make the mistake of herofying Jack. Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio run a website (www.wordplayer.com), and I remember them saying at least once on the forums that they know that Jack only works as a static character... So, yeah, fingers crossed that they don't screw it up. *crosses fingers*
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 04:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh! Yay! I like them already. Here's hoping that Disney, you know, keeps them on it.
shipaholic From: shipaholic Date: January 23rd, 2004 06:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
They'd better! :D I already heard a rumour that they got replaced as the writers for Shrek 2 because they didn't like where the company wanted to go with the storyline. Here's hoping POTC doesn't go the same way!

Although it does make me wonder how they're going to write Jack from now on. Originally they planned for him to be a kind of brash, Han Solo sort of character; it was Johnny Depp who added in all of the hand movements and slurred speech and so on. So are they going to write him more in line with JD's portrayal, or stick with their original perception of the character and let JD play around with the script again? Hmmm.
ladyelaine From: ladyelaine Date: January 22nd, 2004 12:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reality television will finally run out of steam. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think it will happen. It has "fad" written all over it. A talent show like American Idol may stick around--the talent show is a perennial, and hey, they discovered Scootergirl this year--but the silly romance shows have already jumped the shark, and they will go the way of the dodo. I just hope the networks don't hold onto them too long just because they're cheaper than actually, you know, hiring writers as well as paying the cast and production crew.

Well, now that "Friends" is going away, actors may not be driven to sulk in the corner until they're made millionaires over and over for each episode they do. Then the reality craze (which is so fueled by networks not wanting to pay ludricous sums to their actors) will fall away. But hopefully "Survivor" will stay on. (Yes, it's my guilty pleasure!)
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: January 22nd, 2004 01:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

My prediction for sequel to PotC:

According to the backstory, Will Turner's father was weighted down and dropped off the ship. But the curse was in effect -- he couldn't die. I predict that in the decade before the curse was lifted, he managed to free himself and walk along the ocean floor to some distant shore.
Now that the curse is gone, he's heading out in search of his son/former crewmates/Jack.

IMO, the fate of Will's father is unresolved -- only slightly, but still open. Besides, what's his alternative fate; he spent a decade immobile but alive at the bottom of the sea until suddenly and without warning the curse lifted and he drowned? At any rate, I think that will be their hook.

[Mmm... Hook... Want to see Jason Isaacs' Captain Hook with Geoffrey Rush's Barbarossa... They would commisserate so well together over the finger things...]
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 22nd, 2004 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: My prediction for sequel to PotC:

Hey, I like that plot concept! I wondered about poor Will, Sr, too. I didn't think it would be possible to work in Will and Elizabeth, but who knows? Working that plot could get more originals in.
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: January 22nd, 2004 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)

Reality tv will be with us forever

It's a new genre, just like comedy and drama and game shows.

Because it doesn't use actors, it may appear to be a simpler genre to create, but that's not true. All the writing and creativity goes on behind the scenes in the concept and setup. There's some room to maneuver in the editing afterwards, but most of the work must be done up-front before they bring the people/contestants in. The number of reality shows that have failed shows that isn't a given and isn't necessarily easy. Consider the first American Big Brother, where the concept bombed, and their efforts to tweak it after the show began to air reeked of desperation and only made matters worse. [No, I did not watch the show; just read the weekly wrapups on Salon.]

While there have been some true stinkers, there have also been gems, such as 1900 House and all the other educational historical reality series. Besides, some of the earliest game shows were also pretty lame by modern standards and look how that genre has improved as it matured.

No, reality TV will be around for a good long while, and (as with the rest of television) all we can do is look for the good ones and avoid (or mock) the odious.
katinka31 From: katinka31 Date: January 22nd, 2004 01:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
From what I've read, they're actually doing TWO sequals to PotC, shot back-to-back (you trendsetter, Peter Jackson!).
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: January 22nd, 2004 03:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, that trend was begun with Back to the Future which shot parts 2 & 3 simultaneously and released them in 1989 & 1990.
cheshyre From: cheshyre Date: January 22nd, 2004 03:49 pm (UTC) (Link)


the practice of shooting sequels simultaneously is apparently far older, at least internationally.
I remembered Back to the Future getting a lot of press for doing so; they may have started the trend among modern Hollywood big-budget flicks, but they didn't originate the idea...
jiminyc From: jiminyc Date: January 22nd, 2004 04:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reality television will finally run out of steam. Maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think it will happen.

Oh, I hope you're right here, Trelawney Jr!

(I like Tina Fey and Maya Rudolph, but that's about it with this bunch.)

I am also a big fan of these two - it seems like the funniest bits on the show have consistently involved one of the two of them. There was a run of really good shows last year, and some really funny moments this year, but lately...a lot of duds. Someone really needs to tell them that churning out the same skits with a few different words every week is a bad idea to begin with and even more so when the skits aren't funny at all.

Finally - The Doll Army still stands as one of my Top Five favorite stories of all time!! I usually go back & re-read it once a month or so.
thewhiteowl From: thewhiteowl Date: January 22nd, 2004 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
This group will not be the one group with a legitimate gripe--the British.

Ha ha ha ha...I'm tempted to start a TF.N thread about that!

LUCU$ is a RASIST!!!

Why are we always the bad guys? I mean, at least British films rotate the French and the Germans as baddies :-P
chickadilly From: chickadilly Date: January 22nd, 2004 08:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hi there! *waves*

I hope you don't mind if I friend you. I remember you from when I used to frequent Soul of the Jedi a lot and I always loved your entries. They're well thought out and interesting.

I haven't been to the Sugar Quill in a while but I remember you from there too!

Lea :D
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: January 23rd, 2004 02:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree Episode III will be the best of the bunch and I'm old enough to be old school. You can count on Darth Media and Darth Fanboy mounting yet another assault and the trophy people will suffer amnesia come awards time. But the film will be mega-succesful and Lucas will be shocked at how audiences have accepted his "dark" movie. My own Amazing Kreskin crystal ball shows the prequels' reputation growing over time and that they will be looked upon as the launching point for many young stars the way "American Graffiti" did in 1973.

Copycat fantasy epics are as inevitable as death and taxes; superhero flicks IMO have already run their course. Studios will be raiding every halfway successful fantasy book series to build another franchise. But I think at some point there's going to be "franchise fatigue," with audiences getting bored with pre-packaged trilogies and multi-parters. No one in our lifetime will be crazy enough to attempt a six-part series totally from scratch ;).

I agree with another post that reality t.v. is a genre here to stay. It'll wax and wane like anything else but I often find it more interesting than scripted t.v.. How many freakin' cop/doctor/lawyer shows do we really need?
27 comments or Leave a comment