The Hollywood effect Intro In this presentation I am going to analyse the differences and similarities between the British film industry model and the Hollywood film industry model. To do this I am going to use an example of a traditional British film that has been made into a Hollywood remake because of its past success and/or critical acclaim. The Two examples ill be using are is Get Carter 1971 (Caine) and Get Carter 2000 (Stallone) Slide 1 The production company for the original ‘Get Carter’ (1971) was MGM an American production company. The film was made by the British arm of the company and at the time they were beginning to close it down because MGM had a lot of financial trouble. When it was made it had a budget of 750,000, but it is unknown whether it was dollars or pounds, and there are still some arguments over this. The main producer was Michael Klinger who purchased the rights to the 1969 novel ‘Jack Returns Home’ written by Ted Lewis. The original was also distributed by MGM and Angelo-EMI Film distributors Ltd in the UK. The original was also distributed by United Artists in the US but it was poorly promoted so wasn’t very successful. It was also distributed in countries like the UK USA, South Africa, Belgium France, Turkey, Spain, Germany and Mexico. The production for the remake of ‘Get Carter’ (2000) starring Sylvester Stallone was a collaboration of several different companies Morgan Creek Productions, Franchise Pictures, Canton Company, Epsilon Motion Pictures, Carter Productions and Warner Bros. the two main production companies were Morgan Creek Productions and franchise pictures. As there were so many companies involved and most were big companies the budget was much higher than the UK original it had a massive 64 million dollar budget. There were also a lot of distribution companies involved this time to make sure the film was distributed effectively globally to ensure maximum earning potential. These companies included, Warner Bros Pictures, Warner Bros, Cosmopol FD, Warner Sogefilms A.I.E., Rialto film AG, Warner Bros Entertainment. The film was distributed across a range of media from vhs and dvd to the cinema, and distributed across countries like the USA, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, Japan, Argentina, Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, the Middle East and the Netherlands. This suggests that the American film industry has a monopoly where all the big studios own distribution companies and cinemas around the world so they easily release the films in multiple countries especially because they also have the big budgets to promote the film in a dozen countries where the British Industry does not have this big monopoly or the big production companies that have massive budgets so they cant release films in a dozen countries and afford to promote the film everywhere its distributed. Slide 2 The marketing of the ‘Get Carter’ original was done by MGM and Angelo-EMI Films Distributors Ltd. The producer Michael Klinger also helped with the marketing because of his previous background as a distributor. Michael Klinger oversaw the promotion of the film in the UK. He made sure there was a ‘Get Carter’ poster on
every London bus. There were also several different posters made for the ‘Get Carter’ original which were created by Arnaldo Putzu. There was one poster with Carter wearing a gaudy floral jacket. The poster places Carter’s shotgun in Eric’s hands and features a grappling man and woman that appear to belong to a different film. There was poster that showed carter holding a pump action shotgun but in the film Carter has a double barreled shotgun. There was also a poster that shows Carter on the phone holding a pistol. These posters all have one thing in common and that is that they all have guns in them as well as this most of them feature Carter the main character, I think this is done as it promotes the film as a kind of action film (which is unusual for British films) that has some gun fights in that almost features a mystery character as no one knows who Carter is, just that he is holding a gun so it encourages the audience to think why has he got a gun what is going on? And the only way to find out why is by watching the film so the curiosity and not knowing ends up promoting the film and gets people to watch it. Posters were used to promote the film mainly because of the low budget that Klinger had to work with but also because that was the main way to promote films in those days as film trailers particularly film trailers shown on TV were rare. There was a French poster produced showing the person that killed carter pointing a sniper rifle at carter and above it shows the sight of the sniper rifle. This is a very bad idea as it already shows the audience what is going to happen in the end before they’ve even watched the film so why would the audience want to go and see a film if they know what happens its pointless so they wont bother going to see the film. There were so many posters made to promote the film because that was really the main form of film promotion at the time unless they showed a trailer which would be rare unless people saw the trailer at the cinema. The Get Carter Hollywood remake was marketed and promoted by Warner Bros because of how big the company is and how high the budget for the film was. Film trailers appeared all over TV about twice a day on peak times, there was also a poster made for the remake which differs from the original posters quite a bit, because it looks a bit like Stallone is posing for a photograph as he’s got his suit on and gun out casually standing their with his sun glasses on, the poster is also in black and white where some of the posters from the original are in colour. The other difference is there is only one poster for the remake where there were several for the original this is because the marketing strategy has moved more towards trailers then posters. The posters were shown on buses, bus stops and billboards but the trailers were the main way they promoted the film. Slide 3 The exhibition circumstances of the original UK ‘Get Carter’ and the Hollywood remake differed quite substantially because even though they were both exhibited in the cinema the original was never broadcast nationally on TV until 1986 on a post water shed BBC. It was however broadcast on some other minor channels it was shown on LWT in 1976 and in 1980 where they showed the edited for television version and once on Westward Television, interestingly the original was not distributed on VHS until 1993 after Warner Bros acquired the distribution rights. The film was then reissued on special edition DVD on October 2000 in order to promote the Hollywood remake, it was almost part of its advertising. The remake of ‘Get Carter’ was released in cinemas on 6 October 2000, and was exhibited on video in the UK on 24 June 2002. The film ‘Get Cater’ would have also been shown on TV,
and was released on February 13 2001 in the US (VHS). The companies that are part of the American film Industry are much bigger and have a monopoly where there is a vertical integration e.g. Warner Bros where they own production, distribution and marketing companies so they can operate any stage of the production which allowed them to buy the rights to the video release of ‘Get Carter’ in 1993 and it also allowed them to promote the video when it was released because of this vertical integration. But then with the remake they went one step further and re released a special edition DVD to promote the Hollywood remake so they are very smart as by promoting the new special edition DVD in effect at the same time they are actually promoting the remake by saying their releasing this dvd to mark (celebrate) the remake being released. The British film industry does not have this monopoly where these big companies that have vertical integration so a British company simply couldn’t afford to buy the video rights which is partly why the video wasn’t released until 1993, and the company that did have rights I’m sure did not have the budget to be able to release the video and successfully promote it. As essentially British companies generally only form one part of the production process and they are either a producer, distributor or marketer and even when a British company does get its foot through the door they are generally very small as they are competing against the big American companies, who can afford to market, distribute and produce films at a cheaper price simply because they own every stage of the production through vertical integration. So in retrospect the British film industry is always destined to fail as British companies can never get enough money to be able to setup multiple companies, so they can build a monopoly that has vertical integration (which would greatly benefit the industry as it means film production would be cheaper and we couldn’t have to rely on the big American companies), because they cant get enough work and turn over enough profit to build these companies (as they are always competing against the Americans who can do it cheaper and faster) and if by some miracle a British studio starts to become successful they are bought off by the Americans before they get a chance to get the capital to build a vertical integration, for example look at how Universal bought out Working Title now they own 67% of the company (the controlling interest). Slide 4 The stars in the original film were mainly all British actors with Michael Caine a 1960’s British star in the lead. The Hollywood remake had bigger globally known actors e.g. Sylvester Stallone. Caine wasn’t as big as an actor as he is now. Where as in the Hollywood remake Stallone was a big shot American actor who was really famous at the time. Slide 5 With the original ‘Get Carter’ it was received socially as quite shocking to a degree because of the amount of violence, drug taking, and sex scenes in it. People simply just weren’t use to films like that so it a shock to the system so to speak. This was due to a relaxation of censorship. Socially the film highlighted some key issues that had not been previously addressed in this way e.g. drug taking, violence and prostitution/pornography. Politically the film highlighted how the mob underworld worked in places like Newcastle and showed potentially problem with organized crime getting out of control. The British audience was grudgingly appreciative of
the film's technical excellence, but dismayed by the complex plotting, the excessive violence and amorality, in particular Carter's apparent lack of remorse at his actions. Politically there is nothing directly linked to get carter but around that time there was a lot of economic depression, unemployment rose and there was social unrest with the growing emphasis on the class system. Caine and Hodges had ambitions to produce a more gritty and realistic portrayal of on-screen violence and criminal behavior in a British film. Caine incorporated his knowledge of real criminal acquaintances into his characterisation of Carter. Hodges and cinematographer Wolfgang Suschitzky drew heavily on their backgrounds in documentary film to try to make the movie as realistic as possible. This, combined with Hodges' research into the contemporary criminal underworld of Newcastle in particular the one-armed bandit murder, made the film gritty and shocking. In the remake of ‘Get Carter’ they changed the setting to Seattle but in the present day. They also changed Carter into a New Vegas mob enforcer working in the casinos, where previous Carter was a London gangster who did some work for some organized mob bosses the Fletchers. They changed Brumby into a loan shark, who was previously some rich business man who owned all the arcades on the east coast. Kinnear was changed to a wealthy computer mogul who was previously a mob boss. Paice is changed into a local boss, who was previously a chuffer for Kinnear who was an old associate of Caine’s. In the UK original film ‘Get Carter’ Carter is killed by a hit man because he was shot through the head with a sniper rifle but in the US remake Carter lives and gets into a car and drives to Las Vegas. All these factors are changed in the remake so the film can appeal to modern audiences, who have adapted socially over the last 30 years since the original. People now a days don’t want to watch a film that is about a small time gangster from Newcastle with an ending where the protagonist dies they want to watch a film about some big shot mob enforcer who just goes around reaping havoc, causing problems and beating people to a pulp who get in his way no matter the consequences. In the UK original it is more about revenge and bringing his brothers killers to justice but Carter gives them the old style justice where the punishment is death for killing the people he cares about. It is more about treating the killers how they treated his brother. Where with the US remake it’s not even really about revenge, sure the people killed Carter’s brother but Carter kills them and beats them to a pulp not for revenge, but because he enjoys it the fact that they killed his brother is irrelevant, it just gives him a good excuse to do something he would do anyway because he enjoys it. Films like this sell as now a days we care less about the script and are more interested in seeing big explosions, gun fights and fights to the death which are fast action packed and never stop which is exactly what the US remake does because the Hollywood industry is all about spectacle and high production values. Slide 6 The UK original film didn’t have many censorship issues, the only thing that worried the censor was a stabbing scene and in some countries like South Africa a sex scene was edited out. The target audience for the original ‘Get Carter’ was mainly adults. At first it was rated X then it got changed to an R meaning people
under 17 could view it if they were with an adult. “In the late 1960’s film censorship relaxation, produced an increase in dark, uncompromising films, with many directors pushing the boundaries of acceptability. ‘Get Carter’ was a film that explored this freedom.” explains Wikipedia’s Get Carter page. There was a 9 minute shorter version that was edited due to censorship and released in West Germany. While in South Africa the phone sex scene with Britt Ekland was edited out by the censors. The original was rarely shown on TV, but when it was shown on the LWT channel in 1976 and 1980 a bowdlerised version was shown that again edited out the phone sex scene for TV viewing. In terms of censorship issues with the US remake there wasn’t really any mostly because what is deemed socially acceptable to be shown on the screen especially to increasingly young audiences has changed over the past 30 years. In films that are rated 15 it is now commonplace to see drug taking, violence, and mild sex scenes as long as it is not glamorised, which is why Get Carter did not face any censorship issues. If you look at the original the sex scene and the stab scene were censored because it wasn’t deemed morally right or acceptable to show these events occurring, but attitudes have changed towards this so a lot of scenes similar to these are not censored in modern day. You have to remember that with censorship in films it is controlled by society’s views and morals and what the public feel are acceptable to show so when these boundaries of what is deemed acceptable change in society then censorship changes in response. Slide 7 Audience research and reviews for ‘Get Carter’ The reviews vary widely in terms of the UK original, compared to the US remake of ‘Get Carter’. The US remake received mainly negatives reviews where the original received mainly mixed reviews. UK ‘Get Carter’ “Initial UK critical reaction to the film was mixed, with British reviewers grudgingly appreciative of the film's technical excellence, but dismayed by the complex plotting, the excessive violence and amorality, in particular Carter's apparent lack of remorse at his actions. This is because the film was socially shocking and people weren’t use to films like this that showed excessive violence, drug taking or sex scenes. As it was deemed socially unacceptable so when people saw this film for the first time it’s was a massive shock to the system. When the British reviewers said they are appreciative of the films technical excellence I have to agree and think the reason this was picked up on in ‘Get Carter’ (1971) is because they weren’t use to films looking as professional or as well shot as ‘Get Carter’ in that time period. It broke boundaries with it’s raw, gritty representation. Describing the initial critical response to the film, Steve Chibnall wrote "Initial critical vilification or indifference establishes the conditions in which a cult can flourish. Get Carter had to make do with ambivalence." He thought the general stance of British critics "was to admire the film's power and professionalism while
condemning its amorality and excessive violence." Geoff Mayer observed that "Mainstream critics at the time were dismayed by the film's complex plotting and Carter's lack of remorse." In Sight and Sound, Tom Milne said the film was well constructed and had good characterisation, but lacked the mystery and charisma of the earlier American crime films it attempted to emulate. He found Carter's motivations were inconsistent – either being an avenging angel or an “authentic post-permissive anti-hero, revelling in the casual sadism”. whilst George Melly writing in The Observer confessed to vicarious enjoyment of it, but admitted it was "like a bottle of neat gin swallowed before breakfast. It's intoxicating all right, but it'll do you no good." The fact that the UK film has established a cult following shows the films popularity amongst audiences even if it was only a small dedicated cult following. ‘Get Carter’ is one of the few films that maintains a cult status and that shows its stop power even if it was not the best performing film at the box office that year or even if I didn’t win any awards. To me this shows that the films characteristics are very popular with a proportion of the audience and it shows a real understanding and appreciation amongst the cult fans. Again the fact that the audience has condemned the excessive violence shows that it was socially shocking for people to handle. It was also socially revolutionary as the film confronts many issues like organised crime and the class system which I think is why it was popular with the working class at the time. As Mayer says I think the audience would have been dismayed and confused by the complex plotting as the theme had a multi-strand narrative with a number of different themes and plot lines going on e.g. revenge, adultery, violence, betrayal, social injustice and crime. While Carter was trying to find out who murdered his brother he was also faced with problems back in London with his mob bosses, aswell as that going on he is also having an affair and having to deal with a lot of his own personal issues at the time so this was a lot for the audience to focus on all in one film. “Steve Chibnall writes that "America was rather more used to hard-boiled storytelling" and that reviewers there were "more prepared than British criticism to treat Get Carter as a serious work", This review suggests to me that the Americans and the British had two very different understandings of films, which is why it would obviously be received differently. I understand to an extent why the Americans treated it as a serious film, this was because in essence it was a film that covered real issues that the British people were currently going through and in reality the film was not made as a joke (even though some bits are funny). Instead the film was meant for some ‘hardboiled storytelling’ as Chinbnall states which the Americans are not used to. Pauline Kael admiring its "calculated soullessness" and wondering if it signalled a "new genre of virtuoso viciousness." US publication Boxoffice magazine gave a cautiously approving review, describing the film as "nasty, violent and sexy all at once." They predicted that "It should please in the action market, but won't win any laurels for Caine although his portrayal of the vicious anti-hero impresses." They also thought that "Tighter editing would help considerably."
Based on the review given by the US publication Boxoffice Magazine I would argue that the Americans have misunderstood the film to an extent as the film was never meant as an action film it was meant as a gritty portrayal showing people what 1970’s Newcastle is like socially and politically and showing the struggles peoples faced, but the magazine has picked up on an important point that the film has multiple themes and is nasty, violent and sexy all at once. Roger Ebert was less reserved in his praise, writing that "The movie has a sure touch." He noted the "proletarian detail" of the film which is "unusual in a British detective movie. Usually we get all flash and no humanity, lots of fancy camera tricks but no feel for the criminal strata of society." Of Caine's performance he wrote, "The character created by Caine is particularly interesting. He's tough and ruthless, but very quiet and charged with a terrible irony." Judith Crist in New York Magazine gave a glowing review, saying "Michael Caine is superb, suave and sexy" and describing the film as "a hard, mean and satisfying zinger of the old tough-tec school done in frank contemporary terms." The film appeared on several US critics lists of best films of the year. I think both audiences have understood the definition that goes into each character and the unique features that each character has which helps create this atmosphere where film has been able to experiment and expose a number of social and political problems. Politically Caine’s character Carter stands out to the audience not just because he is the main character but because importantly they realize how good his portrayal of the character he plays is because Caine has managed to build a character that is so dynamic that he is tough, ruthless and charged with a terrible irony as Ebert points out. This review highlights why the film is so successful even today as it maintains its cult status. Reviewers seem to understand that a lot of work has gone into the background story and the story of every character no matter how minor, this is probably why the film feels so realistic. The audience also seems to understand that Carter is much more than just some mindless action film, there is actually a point to the violence the films shows instead of it just being for entertainment. The review highlights why the film overall was generally well received despite getting mixed reviews when it was first released. ‘Get Carter’ US remake audience research and reviews Critical reaction was negative. The film received a 12% favorable rating among the critics tracked by Rotten Tomatoes. It did not do well at the box office, with worldwide takings of approximately US$19 million, less than the production budget of nearly $64 million. This shows just how badly the US remake was received and how much people hated it compared to the original. I think this also highlights that all the changes they made to the film like location, time period, plot and characters so the film would appeal to American audiences just didn’t work and was not even popular with the Americans let alone the British. In my opinion the US remake is just another
example of a remake that has literally destroyed and tarnished the original. Among the positive reviews, JoBlo.com praised "the sharp turn given by Sly Stallone, its groovy tunes, and its generally dark and gritty nature." Rob Blackwelder of SPLICEDWire called the film "a stimulating visual showcase of stylish film making that keeps a viewer's attention." Chuck O'Leary of FulvueDrivein.com said that "the original Get Carter is better, but this is quite watchable as far as modern-era remakes go". These reviews point out some of the films good features that critics picked up on and enjoyed seeing, I agree the film was gritty like the original and this shows no matter how audiences have changed socially they still enjoy a gritty film even more so than they did when the original was released as social standards have changed. As O’Leary highlights the original ‘Get Carter’ I’s better but this is better’ this shows that the audience thinks the US remake is worse but still watchable. However this is what some of the critics think, the audiences opinions differ. Shawn Levy of the Portland Oregonian gave an average review, saying that while "the film doesn't touch the original, it doesn't hit rock bottom, either." Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times said the film is "not a terrible movie" but "too routine for its own good." Marc Savlov of the Austin Chronicle said that "the film itself is a muddle, [but] what is good is Stallone". Bob Graham of the San Francisco Chronicle said the film "is murkier than it needs to be, through no fault of Stallone's". These critics were a bit less generous with their praise but now they are basically sitting on the fence saying it was ok but it wasn’t bad. I think some audiences in America would share these feelings less so than the British audiences. I feel Stallone’s fans will praise his performance even though its terrible as other audience members point out. (show the reviews on next slide) Among the negative reviews, Todd McCarthy of Variety called the film "a useless remake." Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times said that the film is "so minimally plotted that not only does it lack subtext or context, but it also may be the world's first movie without even a text". Elizabeth Weitzman of the New York Daily News called the film "a throwaway story hidden beneath a messy jumble of weird camera angles, worthless editing tricks and an ill-placed, obnoxious score". The film was nominated for Worst Actor (Sylvester Stallone) and Worst Remake or Sequel at the Golden Raspberry Awards in 2000. As McCarthy points out the film ‘is a useless remake’ as it doesn’t really attempt to follow the original in anyway, it doesn’t even credit the original in the US remake instead it credits the book ‘Jack Returns Home’. I think a lot of the audience feel the same way that It was a pointless remake that they wasted money on watching. Mitchell points out an interesting point that the film has such a bad storyline or at least a lack of one that he believes it’s the first film no only without a subtext or context but even a text. This highlights a massive difference between the UK original and Hollywood remake as the UK original had a very detailed script where every character had a background story and an important role to play no matter how minor and yet now the only thing in the Hollywood script is Stallone walking around beating guys to a pulp. This was obviously a big turn off for audience and I feel this has happened because the Americans have focused so much on the action
and fighting in an attempt to entice an audience that are use to a big action block buster with lots of explosions and fast paced action that normally entertains them, but in the process they forgotten to write a decent script.
These reviews sum up how much the audiences hated the Hollywood remake no matter if they were American or British. From the mistakes and problems the audience have pointed out it seems that the Americans tried too hard and just went off on their own action blockbuster tangent instead of following the UK original as an example. As one reviewer points out it seems like everyone on the technical crew had their own agenda, each one trying to out do each other and this is perfect to summarise what the Hollywood remake tried to do to the original but instead it fell flat on its face.