of the Perfect Movie
Rolfe, chairman, The Dove Foundation
"Everything old is new again," "Thereís nothing new
under the sun," "Been there, done that," "Dťjŗ vue all
over again." All of these popular phrases are different
ways of saying, "Havenít I seen this movie somewhere
Since the beginning of time (on celluloid at least),
Hollywood has been on a pilgrimage for the Holy Grail.
No, Iím not referring to the Last Supper chalice of
Jesus Christ; nor the womb of Mary Magdalene as author,
Dan Brown would have us believe. In tinsel town, the
search is for the secret formula to create the perfect
movie. The perfect picture is not so much about the
story that moves you spiritually or emotionally. Itís
more about the story that moves you physically to the
local theater box office or the neighborhood video
store. Most filmmakers are more interested in tugging at
your purse strings than at your heartstrings.
I read recently where medical researchers have
discovered a cure for Shingles, an excruciatingly
painful skin rash that plagues some adults who had
Chicken Pox when they were children. As soon as
researchers discovered this revolutionary cure, they
reduced their findings to a formula. They had to mix
just the right combination of ingredients, so they could
repeat the exact dosage over and over again in the form
of a vaccine.
The entertainment industry is not too different from the
field of medicine. Once a certain type of film proves
successful, the motion picture "researchers" attempt to
boil down the "secret" ingredients into a formula, which
hopefully can be repeated over and over again with the
same degree of success. As in medical research,
sometimes it works and sometimes it doesnít.
One of the most vivid recent examples of how a formula
picture didnít work is "Basic
Instinct 2." Unlike its predecessor, the sequel
barely made enough money at the box office to cover
Sharon Stoneís salary.
An equally striking example of how formulas can work is
Marvel Comicís hugely successful, "X-Men"
trilogy. The third installment opened Memorial Day
weekend by setting an all-time record at the box office,
debuting with a staggering $122.8 million. It was the
biggest opening weekend in history, averaging an amazing
$33,296 per theater. That compares with the second
highest opening weekend box office, another Marvel comic
character, "Spider-Man II," which averaged $28,244 per
theater during a four-day weekend debut in July, 2004.
Kudos go to "X-Men" producer, Ralph Winter, a member of
Doveís Advisory Board.
Entertainment executives rely on formulas because
sequels and remakes actually do have a better
statistical chance of success than movies without a
recognizable name or "brand" attached to it.
There are many different types of brands. A brand can be
an "A-list" mega movie star, a popular well-known
director, or a best-selling book. When you add those
three ingredients together, its no wonder movies like, "The
Passion of the Christ," and "The
Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the
Wardrobe" did as well as they did. Actually, "The
Da Vinci Code" which ranked high in all three
categories, should have fared better at the box office
than it did. In this case, a well-written script would
Comic books are equal to most best-selling novels, since
they have such a huge following. Thatís why
Spider-man, Superman, Batman,
Fantastic Four and X-Men did so well.
Some adaptations from television programs have done well
on the big screen. Franchises like "Mission Impossible
I, II and III" are the front-runners with the highest
box office receipts for any television series made into
a movie. Among those titles that didnít make it big on
the big screen were, "Bewitched"
of Hazzard" with less than stellar numbers.
One of the most uniquely successful brands in filmmaking
history was not created in some formula lab, but rather
in the imagination of a young special effects producer,
George Lucas when he wrote, produced and directed the
extremely successful six episode major motion picture
Wars". To Lucasí credit, he thrilled audiences of
all ages without cheapening his brand with graphic
language, gratuitous violence, or explicit sex. All six
Star Wars episodes received the Dove Family-Approved
Some sequels managed to maintain their innocence without
losing their appeal. "Herbie:
Fully-Loaded" is an example of a kind, gentle, and
thoroughly enjoyable remake of the famous Disney
Love Bug," starring Dean Jones. (Jones is a member
of the Dove Foundation Advisory Board.)
Another family favorite was the 1959 Disney classic "The
Shaggy Dog," starring Fred MacMurray, and later reprised
in 1976 as the "Shaggy DA" with Dean Jones. In 2006, the
Walt Disney Company wisely decided to take advantage of
comic Tim Allenís brand as a family-friendly actor with
such successes as the TV series, "Home Improvement;" "Toy
with the Kranks," "The
Santa Clause" I and II (and soon to be III). With
Allenís comic skill and wholesome reputation, they
Shaggy Dog" for the 21st Century.
Another safe TV remake was "Fat
Albert" created under the watchful eye of comic
legend, Bill Cosby, creator of the original Saturday
morning cartoon series.
Other examples of successful franchise brands, whether
sequels or remakes, are Steve Martin hits, "The
Pink Panther," "Father
of the Bride," and "Cheaper
by the Dozen: 1 and
2." And, donít forget, "The
Legend of Zorro," and "Yours,
Mine and Ours."
Every once in a while a real stinker comes along. Movies
an unimaginative remake of the Poseidon Adventure, and "Guess
Who," a tasteless rip-off of the original classic,
"Guess Whoís Coming to Dinner" are lessons learned the
Movie tickets and DVDís are not cheap. Finding the
perfect movie is not easy, but looking for a
Dove-approved title with a 4 or 5 Dove quality rating is
a good place to start. Happy hunting!
Note: Some of the movies in this story are not Dove
approved. Click on the links to read the reviews before
making your selection.
The Dove Foundation is a
501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to
encourage and promote the creation, production,
distribution and consumption of wholesome family
entertainment. We are supported primarily by donations
from families such as yours who want to move Hollywood
in a more family-friendly direction. All donations are
Copyright © 2006 The Dove Foundation. All rights