Over the last couple of years Hollywood has churned out one disappointing movie after another. If they aren’t cashing in on the nostalgia craze (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Dukes of Hazard, Bad News Bears, etc) or ripping off comic books (Spiderman, Fantastic Four, Elektra, etc) they’re taking potentially interesting movies and dumbing them down until they could not possibly offend anyone.

This post is spinning off of a conversation I just had with Jason regarding this article about the upcoming movie version of The Da Vinci Code. Apparently they are so scared of offending certain groups of religious people that they are going to take out references to religious aspects of the book that do not conform to current beliefs of the Catholic church. Has anyone read that book? There would be no point in making it without those references. I’m not a huge fan of the Da Vinci Code as a book, but as I read it I kept thinking what a great movie it would have made. I’m frankly surprised they didn’t release it in screenplay format to begin with.

So what is happening to Hollywood? I blame digital special effects to start with. Like any kid with a new toy, they have been rearranging their lives to find any excuse to use it. Special effects are great and everything, but why not actually, you know, try to write a good story first. They have become reliant on the special effects to distract the viewers from the pathetic storylines.

I don’t really see people putting up with this long-term. Eventually attendance to movies (which is already way down at the moment) will drop to the point that they have to try something else or go out of business. Part of the problem is that movies cost so much to make now. Corporate Hollywood would rather release a mediocre movie that stays in the black than release something that might not be well received. I remember reading somewhere that every major movie studio is something like 5 flops away from going bankrupt. That doesn’t leave much motivation to take risks or experiment.

The independent movie scene has been gaining strength while Hollywood’s wanes. This trend will continue until there is more money to be made in “Independent” films, at which point the corporations will ruin those as well.