The most innovative movie studio of the 1990s is a shell of its former shelf. With only its brand name propping itself up, Miramax Films is readying a slew of sequels. What is this, the game industry?
Established in 1979 and named after Harvey and Bob Weinstein's parents, Miramax made a big splash with the gripping 1988 documentary The Thin Blue Line. The following two years saw the release of Steven Soderbergh's edgy Sex, Lies, and Videotape and the X-rated Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! Miramax was coming into its own. The company was releasing ground-breaking film after ground-breaking film. Movies like The Crying Game and Pulp Fiction entered the cultural zeitgeist. Not bad for two brothers who only saw François Truffaut's The 400 Blows because they thought it was a porno.
A year before Pulp Fiction swept film festival after film festival, Miramax was sold to Disney. That, sadly, was the beginning of the end for the studio. A little over a decade later, Harvey and Bob Weinstein would wipe their hands of the company they created.
The 1990s were great, however. Miramax was the home to many of the most talented filmmakers and writers of the day. In its Los Angeles office on Beverly Blvd, Quentin Tarantino's office was only a stone's throw from Billy Bob Thorton's — neither of them were ever in their offices, though. There were new movies, lots of them. And there was a feeling that cinema meant something, that it wasn't simply product.
The Disney ownership brought with it the baggage of Disney. So certain films that the company could have released in the past got the nix. Things came to a head with the controversial Fahrenheit 9/11, and the Weinstein brothers bolted. Earlier this month, Disney sold off Miramax to an investment firm.
The Weinstein brothers are now back in the fold, however, agreeing to co-produce sequels to several of their biggest Miramax films. First up are Bad Santa, Rounders and Shakespeare In Love. Also in the works are sequels to Swingers and Copland. Granted, Miramax did several sequels in the past. Genre films like Scary Movie and From Dusk Til Dawn both got sequels. What is different this time is that the Miramax back catalogue is being pillaged for possible movie fodder. Does the world really need another Shakespeare In Love?
Game companies are guilty of this — going back through, looking at what's due for a sequel and then churning it out. It's not the most creative way to operate, but it's what drives the biggest game companies year after year. Sure, there are those flashes of originality. But sequels rule.
The 1990s were a wonderful time for movies, a wonderful time for games. But the 1990s are over.
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