ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Monday, April 03, 2006

Movie a Flop? Blame the Bushies!

It seems that Sharon Stone's latest is a complete flop. (Did anyone really think it would rocket to the top of the box office? seriously...) Anyway, it seems that since we're all not lining up to see Sharon in her latest erotic film for 20 bucks (not including popcorn and beverage), it must be the fault of....


Erotic thrillers lose steam at box office
Mon Apr 3, 2006 8:01 AM ET

By Tatiana Siegel

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The last time "Basic Instinct" man-eater Catherine Tramell prowled the big screen, the studio erotic thriller was hitting box office heights. The first "Instinct" took the top spot when it debuted in 1992, with an opening weekend of $15.1 million, the equivalent of $20.45 million in today's dollars.

By comparison, "Basic Instinct 2" limped into 10th place upon its arrival this weekend, grossing just $3.2 million.

In the years between the two films, a string of high-profile flops, including MGM's "Body of Evidence," United Artists' "Showgirls" and Paramount Pictures' "Jade," have all contributed to the cooling off of the erotic thriller, a genre that had once sizzled at the box office.

Paul Verhoeven, director of the first "Basic Instinct" (which scored $353 million worldwide) as well as the widely ridiculed "Showgirls" (now regarded as something of a camp classic), attributes the genre's demise to the current American political climate.

"Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States," said the Dutch native. "Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends."

Scribe Nicholas Meyer, who was an uncredited writer on 1987's seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale "Fatal Attraction," agrees, noting that the genre's downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement.

"We're in a big puritanical mode," he said. "Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?'"

Now, anyone with a brain knows that sex is having an increasing role in our society - not a decreasing one.

In fact, I would submit that the very mainstreaming of sexual content (from the soft-core porn on MTV to the sexualized content on broadcast television) has caused the drop-off in the erotic-thriller genre. It has lost its appeal, since it's in our face 24x7.

Add to this the fact that the movies themselves are just dreadful and you get a pretty good explanation for why these aren't box office smashes.

Mark Damon, once dubbed the king of eroticism for producing such steamy classics as 1986's "9 1/2 Weeks" and 1990's "Wild Orchid," said he stopped producing sex-steeped dramas because "I didn't find any scripts that were worth producing. The genre had exhausted itself."
But he admits that the appetite for the genre has taken a hit, and he blames the international market.

"Korea used to be a big erotic thriller market (in the '80s and '90s). Japan, too. You used to be able to cobble deals together based on those markets, but it has become more difficult," said King, who also produced "9 1/2 Weeks" alongside Damon. "There used to be a way to finance erotic thrillers if you had the right cast based on the foreign market. The foreign market doesn't support it in the way that it used to. They are now embracing more mainstream fare."

Part of the problem, King said, is that agents are loath to put their actors and actresses in titillating fare despite the fact that Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Richard Gere and Sharon Stone rocketed to fame thanks to memorable R-rated performances.
Nevertheless, the studios have only a handful of erotic thrillers in development. They include the Jim Carrey starrer "The Number 23" at New Line Cinema, the Jennifer Garner starrer "Sabbatical" at Disney's Touchstone Pictures and the "Basic Instinct"/Hitchcock homage "Need," which revolves around a psychiatrist, a patient and an extramarital affair.

For producer JC Spink, the genre's demise has little to do with politics, scripts or willing talent and everything to do with the Internet, which became ubiquitous in American homes around the same time studio executives were suffering through such debacles as "Body of Evidence," "Showgirls" and "Jade."

"Why pay $10 to see something at the movies that you can see for free on the Internet?" Spink asked. "I think the genre is suffering because sex is more pervasive in our society now than it was 10 years ago, from Vanity Fair ads to reality TV. I mean, there's porn stars on reality TV."

And, one last point... they need to work on casting. Jim Carrey in an erotic thriller? Hellllooooo?!?!

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler