One of the most interesting parts of Zachary Seward’s profile of AMC’s recent business success is that you can exactly quantify how much AMC’s run of original content — Mad Men, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, The Killing — has added to your cable bill.
Whether you watch these shows or not, you’re paying 13c per month for the batch of shows. Welcome to the odd land of cable television economics.
As for me, I’m catching up on Breaking Bad via Netflix — which means I’m basically paying twice. Worth it… but still.
“Once you spend more than $100 million on a movie, you have to save the world,” explains Lindelof. “And when you start there, and basically say, I have to construct a MacGuffin based on if they shut off this, or they close this portal, or they deactivate this bomb, or they come up with this cure, it will save the world—you are very limited in terms of how you execute that. And in many ways, you can become a slave to it and, again, I make no excuses, I’m just saying you kind of have to start there. In the old days, it was just as satisfying that all Superman has to do was basically save Lois from this earthquake in California. The stakes in that movie are that the San Andreas Fault line opens up and half of California is going to fall in the ocean. That felt big enough, but there is a sense of bigger, better, faster, seen it before, done that.”
“It sounds sort of hacky and defensive to say, [but it’s] almost inescapable,” he continues. “It’s almost impossible to, for example, not have a final set piece where the fate of the free world is at stake. You basically work your way backward and say, ‘Well, the Avengers aren’t going to save Guam, they’ve got to save the world.’ Did Star Trek Into Darkness need to have a gigantic starship crashing into San Francisco? I’ll never know. But it sure felt like it did.”
Damon Lindelof (Lost, Prometheus, Star Trek, one-time flamewar participant with George R.R. Martin) in an interview with New York Magazine’s Vulture blog on blockbuster escalation.
The full interview is well worth a read, particularly for the case study of how modern Hollywood would bring a straightforward folklore hero like John Henry to the big screen. (Spoiler alert — it’s a Jesus metaphor.)