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Monday, August 22, 2005


Last week, had an article indicating "Seasons of Love" (from Rent of course) debuting at #68 on the Billboard Top 100 singles (as a "hot shot debut"). All this buzz almost three months before the film's release -- how exciting! I'm both surprised and not that the song is also among the top downloaded songs on iTunes. I mean, it's a hit Broadway show and everything...but it's not the most "mainstream" thing out there...or is it? Obviously I'm a tad incorrect because look at the buzz, look at the Billboard chart! Access Hollywood even has a link on their homepage: Access Rent: Behind the Scenes -- 'Rent' the Movie. They've even teased a show with a "first look" at Rent a few months back. Haha, this film has a stellar publicist and a great marketing strategy!

Is it so hard for me to believe that other people might actually be excited about this too? Am I being a theatre snob? Look at how successful Chicago was -- Academy Award winner for best picture, best actress in a supporting role (amongst others) and a Golden Globe for best musical/comedy film. Besides being a great film period, this is a musical. Mind you, musicals used to be a part of the Golden Age of Hollywood -- look at popular films like Oklahoma! and Carousel! These once common, popular film genres were almost a thing of the past. ..until Chicago.

It has been said that Chicago singlehandedly, is bringing back the musical genre in the film industry. Since Chicago, the only other mainstream "musical" film released has been Phantom of the Opera (I'm not counting Reefer Madness since it's a TV movie). Though Phantom of the Opera created buzz -- A.) because it was finally produced and B.) critics questioned how it would do in the box office -- overall, the film failed to surpass or even meet expectation. Despite Phantom's box office failure, film companies continued on with their musical films. In production currently, we have of course, Rent & The Producers with Sunset Blvd. and Aspects of Love in pre-production. Of course this is only seven that have either been released, are in production or pre-production -- but this is seven more than a few years ago. Again, I don't know if this is a good thing. Chicago set a precedence, but the failure of Phantom of the Opera made people stop and question the genre. I think Rent & The Producers hopefully will cause more positive buzz (and successful results at the box office) while Sunset Blvd. and Aspects of Love might slow things down again.

What are the "facts" behind my reasoning? The movie musicals on trial are as follows:

  • Jesus Christ Superstar
  • Evita
  • Phantom of the Opera

  • What do these films have in common? Any true musical theatre fan will instantly know they were written by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. While all are hits on the stage (with Phantom of the Opera set to surpass Cats as the longest running musical on Broadway, Monday, January 9, 2006), his films failed to turn a big commercial profit (a la Chicago). On a personal level, as much as I wanted to love Phantom of the Opera, I just couldn't. Some musicals just don't seem to translate well from stage to screen and Sir Andrew's just...don't. Not to say that Sunset Blvd. and Aspects of Love will fail, but if you look at the history of Sir Andrew's successful films, things just don't look too good for him.

    Ok, I went on a huge tangent. What I really wanted to write about was Rent and what I thought about the excerpts from the soundtrack, but I'm too tired, so I'll save it for another day.


    Mitch Glaser said...

    It seems that "Hollywood" (what we call the motion picture business) latches onto an idea and runs with it for awhile, even if there are a few "flops" along the way. Consider the current trend of re-making old TV shows into movies. The success of "Chicago" has ensured that the industry will continue to produce "mainstream" films in the musical genre, at least for a few more years. You are right to point out that "the musical" was a key genre during the "Golden Age of Hollywood" and that it is experiencing a "comeback" of sorts.

    If a track from the soundtrack to the upcoming "Rent" movie is currently #68 on the Billboard Top 100, then you are hardly the only one excited about the upcoming film and Hollywood's retrun to the musical genre. We'll all have to wait and see how it pans out. If any one of these films flops, it won't sink the trend.

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