Buzz Kills


Critics of American "cultural imperialism" like to allege that U.S. media crowd out local alternatives, not by dint of their superior quality, but by means of a media juggernaut that pushes audiences, zombie-like, into the theatres and malls.

That argument has probably always been mostly bollocks: As economist Tyler Cowen observes [pdf], the success of our culture industry overseas has always been highly variable. Movies—especially action flicks and slapstick comedies—fare well, sitcoms and soaps not so much. Now an article in the Christian Science Monitor suggests that early net buzz is reducing the ability of slick and expensive marketing campaigns to buy audiences. The piece notes that The Hulk had the steepest drop off from its first to second weekend in theatres of any number-one opening film on record. And while I was all psyched, as a fan of the graphic novel, to see The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, I may wait for video or cable in light of the broad consensus that the movie is a wretched abortion of an adaptation.

NEXT: Pipes Disconnected

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “theatres,” Julian. Come on.

  2. Agreed, Julian. Parties interested in further regulating the media industry, above and beyond any hint of a natural monopoly, just sound like sore losers. I’d add to your internet comment by suggesting that it is a great form of decentralized protection from creative fraud, if you will. I define fraud in this context as the hyping of The Hulk as a great movie by a great filmmaker. Nonsense. And you’re probably wise to save League for video rental…for a few months more, you’ll be spared the sour taste of having a piece of small storytelling genius deflowered for all the world to see.

    Are you aware of anyone doing hard economic studies (instead of the usual breathless speculation) of the influence of the internet on the free market? That would be killer reading.

  3. Andrew:

    Agreed, there’s a paucity of research in this area. One person working in this area is Stan Liebowitz, an economics prof at UT Dallas. His home page is a good jumping-off point to some of his research, including a detailed analysis of the impact of downloading on recorded music sales.

    Also economist Arnold Kling’s blog contains some good conceptual thinking on this subject, but not much in the way of analysis.

  4. “I define fraud in this context as the hyping of The Hulk as a great movie by a great filmmaker. Nonsense.”

    Well, that’s one opinion. I am unsurprised to see, however, that “The Hulk” seems to be getting a better reception abroad than in attention-deficit-addled America.

  5. Doesn’t the US also protect its entertainment industry as well?

  6. I too am a fan of the original “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” who decided to sit this supposed piece of crap out. Alan Moore is very hard to adapt to film- His work is deceptively cinematic. But if you just film the book frame by frame it’ll run 12 hours long. Supposedly that’s the only way to do it justice- with an “I, Claudius” type of treatment ( 13-hour critically acclaimed miniseries). Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys,etc.,) wanted to do this with Moore’s magnum opus, “Watchmen”, but now that project has been scaled down to something resembling traditional movie length, though with much better internet buzz than LXG regarding capturing the spirit of its source material. Screenwriter David Hayter has supposedly cut the Gordian Knot of adapting “Watchmen”. I for one am skeptical, but will be there on opening night no matter what… I can’t imagine negative internet buzz changing that.

  7. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/26/2004 09:25:03
    Don’t give up, you are close.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.