The Alamo Disneys latest stand a Disaster|
Director Ron Howard (A Beautiful Mind) reportedly parted ways with Disney after the mega-corporation failed to give in to his demands. He wanted a realistic movie that would be bloody (i.e. rated R), and he wanted it to be an epic (i.e. $125 million or more budget), and Disney was not willing to give in. (Not to mention that Howard also wanted a piece of the backend.) So, fair enough, Disney didnt want to take the risk. What did they end up doing? Making a no-risk film that sank at the box office.
Disney apparently wanted a PG-13 movie so all the high school kiddies and what not could go see it. They wanted as broad a reach as possible. They could smell the money, I bet. After all, everyone in Texas would go see it! Unfortunately, the rest of the country didnt.
They obviously didn't want the realism. Apparently, the memo about how realism is in when it comes to telling a story based on historical events (see Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, hell, The Passion of the Christ) didn't get to them. They wanted to pull their punches. Disney also wanted a more affordable director (i.e. a lousy one). John Lee Hancock wrote one of the best screenplays of the 1990s with his work on A Perfect World. His excellent film The Rookie apparently was a fluke, or maybe it was all in the screenplay by Mike Rich. At the very least, something was amiss when the Christmas release date came and went. Reportedly, Hancock requested more time for editing. Disney agreed and paid an additional $3 million to go along with the already $95 million or so spent on the film.
I've read that Disney Studio boss Dick Cook wanted The Alamo to be an example of a cost-saving epic in an era of out-of-control movie budgets. (Associated Press, April 12, 2004) That's honorable, and I believe thats a bunch of bovine scatology. Disney spent a hundred million on the thing. They tried to make it a sweeping epic. They delayed the release because they had to. I believe the story is a mess. It was then and is now.
Disney thought they had a home run hitter that couldn't miss; just put it up there on the screen and count the money. Consider that Dick Cook acknowledged late last year that the movie was being groomed for Oscar contention.
But in the end, the ironic thing is that Disney should have paid more attention to the screenwriting. There are two ways to make a historical event into a movie: 1) make it as accurate as possible (i.e. your risk boring your audience) or 2) take as many liberties with accuracy as it takes to make it heroic (i.e. you risk having too much fun). The screenwriters, Hancock (the director), Leslie Bohem (Taken) and Stephen Gaghan (Traffic), walked a fence on this one. They meandered and flirted with both sides, never quite taking a leap of faith with either. That's where this movie failed, not its budget, not its director, but right there on the page. The words failed Disney. The words have been failing them for several years now, especially in their animation. Concepts and can't miss story ideas do not make a movie. The screenwriter makes the Goddamn movie! - CW
Chris Wehner is a film critic for the Movie Review & Screenplay Database (www.iscriptdb.com), editor-in-chief (and publisher) of Screenwriters Monthly, author of Screenwriting on the Internet: Researching, Writing, & Selling Your Script on the Web (2000) and Who Wrote That Move? Screenwriting in Review: 2000-2002 (2003), script reviewer, and founder of ScreenwritersUtopia.com. He is also Vice President of Development for MoviePartners, Inc. He is currently developing (and writing) several projects for various companies. He has been involved with screenwriting for nearly 10 years and in many different capacities.
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Published on: 2004-04-29 (4020 reads)[ Go Back ]