Forbes on the Tragic Failure of Jem And The Holograms

Forbes on the Tragic Failure of Jem And The Holograms

Jem And The Holograms-smallLast week Box Office Mojo reported that Guillermo del Toro’s gothic horror film Crimson Peak “crashed and burned into 2,984 theaters to the tune of an estimated $12.8 million.” So what did it make of Jem And The Holograms‘ historically bad take of one-tenth of that total this weekend, $1.3 million from 2,413 theaters? It calls it one of “the year’s biggest flops… the fourth worst opening for a film in more than 2,000 theaters.”

Jem And The Holograms was a much-loved 80s cartoon produced by Hasbro, Marvel, and Sunbow (the same team behind G.I. Joe and Transformers). Featuring the plucky Jerrica Benton, whose father left her virtually flawless hologram technology that allowed her to disguise herself as a beautiful pop singer, Jem was the brainchild of comics writer Christy Marx (Sisterhood of Steel, Conan, Red Sonja). Forbes writer Scott Mendelson sees the massive failure of the live-action version as a genuine tragedy.

The film took a source material that is over-the-top colorful and over-the-top exciting, filled with larger-than-life characters and musically-charged action sequences where Jem and her friends had to both be kick-ass rock stars and kick-ass crime fighters at the same time, and made a toned-down, muted, and overly patronizing “young girl gets in over her head due to fame and artistic success and forgets what matters” fable that basically penalized its young heroes for wanting and achieving success and power…

It was the kind of film that Josie and the Pussycats spoofed a decade ago, and basically operated as a dark-n-gritty origin story that spent the entire film building up to the possibility of maybe seeing a Jem movie that Jem fans wanted to see the first time out in a would-be sequel. Okay, so a cheap film that spit on the source material bombed, who cares right? Well, here’s the rub: The overriding message of Jem and the Holograms is that a girl-centric action cartoon from the 1980′s doesn’t deserve or justify even 5% of the resources given without a second thought to boy-centric properties cashing in on 80′s nostalgia.

Read the complete article here.

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Thomas Parker

This looks like it’s on a par with Speed Racer; watching that one I felt like Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange, during his forced aversion treatments. Instant migraine material.

Joe H.

I honestly enjoyed Speed Racer, as long as I just shut off the part of my brain that thought about things and let the visuals wash over me. (Ditto Jupiter Ascending.)

I have zero familiarity with Jem, and am unlikely to seek out same. But just from the description of the original source material, it sounds like it would’ve been better-served if it had been given more of a Scott Pilgrim vibe. (And it still would’ve crashed and burned at the box office, unfortunately.)

Thomas Parker

I would have been happy if Speed Racer’s visuals had just washed over me; that sounds gentle and soothing. Unfortunately, the sensation was more like being sealed inside a galvanized trash can and kicked down a rocky hill.

Joe H.

A galvanized trash can whose inside was painted with jagged fluorescent designs.


We’ve got to END this “Chew ‘N Spew” of modern Cinema…

Really, I’m fascinated by it. Back in the 90s I read this book “Random Acts of Senseless Violence” by Jack Womack – might be sci-fi in it shows a near future economic dystopia. A decadent slow slide of Hollywood was the initial thing, the protagonist young girl’s father wrote scripts to make new movies and the studios were too afraid of making a mistake so started “Re-Releasing” movies…and he was out of work and they went into their poor slide, read the book otherwise if interested.

Heh, in RL we have a decaying sabotaged by rich elite economy more or less in step with that book but what do studios do? They go with “Safe bets” of buying up our childhood memories all right! – but THEN – man RL is crazier than fiction sometimes – they SPEND up to 100x the budget making a visually amazing thing but sabotage the story so it’s “Meh…” at best….

We should no longer support these pieces of crud. Not even by pirating them. Really, don’t “Steal” them, that adds value to them. If we must see them, wait till they are in the bargain bin at Hastings, usually <1 year from release. But better to spread the word for Boycott. There's enough "Meh" at best, easy to convince the public it doesn't work.

I'm really sickened how there's so much tolerance for the "Chew 'N Spew" – really, would anyone here want their works made into a movie if butchered to the level they do now? Maybe then also a re-write to appease their image of the audience? There's a "Movie to book" parody of Lord of the Rings for instance… I'm going to be making it clear in my will that if my works ever get made into a movie it'll be the 1984 Conan formula – namely toss a decent director/musician the money and hands off – or it does not get made ever while it's in copyWRONG term limits.

Right now we are in an era where we won't have the next "Gremlins", "Mad Max", "Back to the Future" etc. It's all re-dos of past things that appealed to earlier generations. Nothing new, nothing added, nothing improved… They might re-make Labyrinth with a CGI clone of Bowie and CG goblins that look out of place despite rave Z-Brush website reviews and Brian Froud burns himself in protest – but every stop pulled to prevent "Dark Crystal 2"…

I say we should boycott and push for boycotts on the Chew 'n Spew and let Hollywood DIE if it can't change. Changing tehcnology we could do "Conan 84" or better for a "Deathstalker" budget today and with computer tech expanding soon a movie will be 100% makeable in a good home computer, just a question of time and effort, at least maybe a $10k-$100K investment for what is a $30 million movie today. Anyone who whines about CG, please watch the early 80s Hercules movie with the mechanical monsters… (I loved it, btw)

And, really, complaining how low the BUDGET is and implying sexism? Would it be better if it were a $100 million neon painted galvanized trash can? (thanks, Joe H!) As equal suckage as a Boy's cartoon made movie suckage? Just as in literature – it is NOT about how "Politically Correct" we can be, nor even how "Non-PC", nor representation of genre, style, etc. Those are as much surface as the collection of elves, orcs, wizards, spacemen, etc. Nor is the swordfight about "Realistic" fencing, with apologies to Poul Anderson a 50lb wet noodle is deadly in the hands of a heroic barbarian if done right…

It is ultimately about the STORY. Both the entertainment of the surface story but also the art of the medium be it the author's prose or the complex work to make animation or a full movie and beneath it the themes, passions, the message.

Modern movies seem to be against the story, and to be totally for everything but – the cover, the effects, the make-up, etc. This needs to change. And it's not going to if people keep slurping up what hollywood chews up and regurgitates – we need people to demand they risk on NEW stuff, not a polished mirror to memories of old.

Martin Christopher

There are plenty of movies being made that have an interest in artistic value. They just don’t make the massive profits that superhero movies do, and their audiences are smaller and more specialized, so they don’t get talked about in public as much.

But this movie seemed like a terrible idea from the moment I first heard of it.

James McGlothlin

If one just focuses upon the Hollywood movie machine (whatever that is), there’s plenty of reason to be pessimistic. However, if you know where to look, I think there are quite a few low-budget (indie, cult-flick, whatever) movies out there that put the bigger budget movies to absolute shame.

And, for what it’s worth, a few of us don’t mind the occasional more-flash-than-story movies from Hollywood. I thought Jurassic World was “adequate”, at best. But I still enjoyed it. It hit the beats that I was looking for in a popcorn movie.

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