“Hidden Figures” and Breaking The Myth of the Blockbuster Movie

In researching a chapter on the film Hidden Figures (for a new book on Women’s History on Film) I was happy to read this clip that supports the fact that there IS an audience for films that are not explosion-packed blockbuster tentpoles meant for young male audiences…. But I was really taken aback when I learned that while the studio allotted 25 million to Hidden Figures… that same year they had allotted 125 million to a movie no one even remembers…Monster Trucks.  When, oh, when, will THAT craziness end?

In an article in The Atlantic by David Sims:

“In its first weekend of wide release, Hidden Figures defied tracking numbers and for the subsequent four-day Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend, Hidden Figures increased its gross, making $26 million and staying at number one, holding off the expansion of La La Land and Paramount’s broad-skewing children’s adventure Monster Trucks.  And yet Monster Trucks is a patently silly piece of kids entertainment about a young man who finds a squid-like monster living in his truck. It stars Lucas Till, hardly an A-lister (though he had a small role in the recent X-Men movies), and cost $125 million to make—$100 million more than Hidden Figures. Devoting such a large budget to a film with little brand recognition that was basically guaranteed to get terrible reviews was quickly regarded as a disastrous decision. Viacom, the company that owns the Monster Trucks studio Paramount Pictures, took a $115 million write-down in earnings last September in anticipation of its failure (it opened to a lackluster $15 million last weekend). This is what Hollywood’s emphasis on big-budget films with “broad appeal” inevitably leads to: hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on toy-focused action films with no real audience. For the cost of Monster Trucks, Paramount could have made five Hidden Figures—smaller films, focused on telling grounded stories to fill a market gap that studios continue to ignore. That Hidden Figures’s success has to serve as a lesson to Hollywood in 2017 is ridiculous, but the lesson is nonetheless there to be learned. Audiences are hungry for films that look beyond the movie industry’s narrow worldview. It’s time to start delivering them.

All I can say about that is its fodder for every writer out there pitching a new project to shut down any executive’s questions about audience numbers.  And writers need all the fodder they can find to fight back when they know they are correct.

Dr. Rosanne Welch

 

Event: When Women Wrote Hollywood presentation for the Empire State Center for the Book – Tuesday, March 9, 2021 – 7 pm EST

Event: When Women Wrote Hollywood presentation for the Empire State Center for the Book - Tuesday, March 9, 2021 – 7 pm EST

Tuesday, March 9, 2021 – 7 pm EST

MFA Executive Director Dr. Rosanne Welch will give a Zoom presentation on “When Women Wrote Hollywood” for the Empire State Center for the Book, the New York State affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book. This event begins at 7 p.m. Eastern/6 p.m. Central on Tuesday, March 9, and is free and open to the public. 

Dr. Welch will discuss many highly successful female screenwriters of early Hollywood and explain why they don’t appear in most mainstream histories of the era.

Join the Zoom Call — Passcode: 120524

Visit Empire State Center for the Book Web Site

Rosanne and front window display of “When Women Wrote Hollywood” before reading and Signing event at Skylark Bookshop

New Book Arrives April 2020 – The Civil War on Film by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier (ABC-CLIO) – Pre-Order Now

New Book Arrives April 2020 - The Civil War on Film by Dr. Rosanne Welch and Dr. Peg Lamphier (ABC-CLIO) - Pre-Order Now

The Civil War on Film will inform high school and college readers interested in Civil War film history on is-sues that arise when film viewers confuse entertainment with historical accuracy.

The nation’s years of civil war were painful, destructive, and unpleasant. Yet war films tend to embrace mythologies that erase that historical reality, romanticizing the Civil War. The editors of this volume have little patience for any argument that implies race-based slavery isn’t an entirely repugnant economic, political, and cultural institution and that the people who fought to preserve slavery were fighting for a glorious and admirable cause.

To that end, The Civil War on Film will open with a timeline and introduction and then explore ten films across decades of cinema history in ten chapters, from Birth of a Nation, which debuted in 1915, to The Free State of Jones, which debuted one hundred and one years later. It will also analyze and critique the myriad of mythologies and ideologies which appear in American Civil War films, including Lost Cause ideation, Black Confederate fictions, Northern Aggression mythologies, and White Savior tropes. It will also suggest the way particular films mirror the time in which they were written and filmed. Further resources will close the volume.

  • Makes clear that depictions of the Civil War on film are often mythologized
  • Analyzes films in a manner that shows students the historical context in which the films were made and viewed
  • Goes beyond just synopses and historical facts, helping students to develop critical thinking skills
  • Stimulates debate over the various ways the war was interpreted and experienced

Working on my next book! via Instagram

Working on my next book!

Working on my next book! via Instagram

Now that the heat wave has passed — for now — I took to my outdoors “desk” to work my on Fact Checking Hollywood book coming next year.

My schedule seems to include at least one book a year, along with several articles, so taking some sustained, dedicated time to write is always good — especially when it so nice outdoors!

Follow me on Instagram

Chelsea Andes Presents on Pioneering Screenwriter Joan Harrison

Chelsea Andes Presents on Pioneering Screenwriter Joan Harrison

Chelsea Andes Presents on Pioneering Screenwriter Joan Harrison

How Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop @skylarkbookshop , Columbia, Missouri during the Citizen Jane Film Festival 


When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.

Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.

Check it out!

Video: When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

 

Buy a signed copy of when Women Wrote Hollywood

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

A Good Crowd via Instagram

A Good Crowd via Instagram

A Good Crowd

How Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop @skylarkbookshop , Columbia, Missouri during the Citizen Jane Film Festival 


When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.

Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.

Check it out!

Video: When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

 

Buy a signed copy of when Women Wrote Hollywood

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Ready for the book signing! Step right up! via Instagram

Ready for the book signing! Step right up! via Instagram

Ready for the book signing! Step right up!

How Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop @skylarkbookshop , Columbia, Missouri during the Citizen Jane Film Festival 


When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.

Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.

Check it out!

Video: When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

 

Buy a signed copy of when Women Wrote Hollywood

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

 

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Chase Thompson, Writer, “Writing Around Lois Weber” from When Women Wrote Hollywood

Chase Thompson, Writer, “Writing Around Lois Weber” from When Women Wrote Hollywood

Chase Thompson, Writer, “Writing Around Lois Weber”

How Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop @skylarkbookshop , Columbia, Missouri during the Citizen Jane Film Festival 


When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.

Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.

Check it out!

Video: When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

 

Buy a signed copy of when Women Wrote Hollywood

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Rosanne and front window display of “When Women Wrote Hollywood” before reading and Signing event at Skylark Bookshop

Rosanne and front window display of “When Women Wrote Hollywood” before reading and Signing event at Skylark Bookshop

Rosanne and front window display of “When Women Wrote Hollywood” before reading and Signing event at Skylark Bookshop (@skylarkbookshop) in Columbia, Missouri during the @citizenjanefilmfestival 


When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

On Saturday, November 3rd, 2018 several of the contributors to When Women Wrote Hollywood gathered at the Skylark Bookshop in Columbia, Missouri for a signing and launch party that functioned like a mini-reunion of the Stephens College MFA in TV and Screenwriting Class of 2017.

Many thanks to all who came to hear them each speak with passion about the research subjects who became whole chapters in this book of essays on female screenwriters from the Silent Era into the 1940s.

Check it out!

Video: When Women Wrote Hollywood Book Reading and Signing, Skylark Bookshop, Columbia, Missouri

 

Buy a signed copy of when Women Wrote Hollywood

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library.
Check it out! † Available from the LA Public Library

Rosanne and Writers waiting to speak “When Women Wrote Hollywood” Book Reading and Signing via Instagram

Writers waiting 2

Rosanne and Writers waiting to speak “When Women Wrote Hollywood” Book Reading and Signing during Citizen Jane Film Festival 2018 

Video coming soon!

Follow me on Instagram

Buy a signed copy of when Women Wrote Hollywood

Paperback Edition | Kindle Edition | Google Play Edition

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs
** Many of these books may be available from your local library. Check it out!
† Available from the LA Public Library

Citizen Jane Film Festival 2018