News Column

Adventures in Barrywood: We reveal the secrets of StudioSpeak

June 10, 2013

YellowBrix

Why does Hollywood have to make everything so complicated?

I can remember a simpler time when the biggest problem coming out of Hollywood was trying to tell the Jessicas and the Jennifers apart. It wasn't exactly the Manhattan Project, but there sure were a lot of Jessicas and Jennifers.

Now the movie industry has really muddied the waters by coming up with a secret language of its own. I call it StudioSpeak. Studio executives use this language to communicate with each other, and the media passes it along without challenge to an unsuspecting and bewildered public.

I think the time has come to expose this secret language that not only confuses the public, but mocks it as well. If you don't learn the language, you won't know how to find a movie to watch.

No part of this new language is more confusing than the "re" words. These are words that begin with the letters "re," but have little or no connection to similar words in our language.

For instance, one of the most highly anticipated movies of the summer opens next week. It's called "Man of Steel," and it is a reboot of the Superman franchise. Do you know what a reboot of the Superman movie franchise means? Do you care? You should care because it might guide you in planning your night at the multiplex.

Reboot is a relatively new addition to StudioSpeak. I'm not sure who coined it but I'm confident that it was a marketing executive at one of the major movie studios.

I can imagine what it must have been like when he came up with the word: "Hey, let's call it a reboot and really confuse the public. We'll make a ton of money before they realize what hit them."

It's time to blow the lid off StudioSpeak. Here is the real meaning behind some of Hollywood's favorite words:

Reboot: It's derived from the Latin word rebootus, and its literal translation is "We have run out of original ideas and we're hoping that you don't notice that we made the same series of movies a decade ago." I don't want to point any accusatory fingers, but "The Amazing Spider-Man" comes to mind. These are not sequels or prequels. They are slightly different versions of the same movie you already saw.

Remake: One of the biggest lies in Hollywood is that every generation not only wants, but needs its own version of great old movies. It's just a lame excuse for being unable to create something new. But studio executives will swear on a stack of trades that young people want newer music, newer cars and newer actors in old movies. That may explain why Jay-Z was so prominent in "The Great Gatsby." That's the only explanation for that.

Re-imagine: This is used as a selling tool to prospective directors for remakes, as in "We want you to direct this movie but re-imagine it for a different generation." That same line will be used to sell the movie to the public.

Re-animate: This is a fancy word for what happens to people who die and become zombies. They used to get infected by a virus, die and then come back to life as slow-moving zombies. Now you've got dead people re-animating and becoming fast-moving zombies. The whole world is turning upside down.

Redo: This is a lot like a remake. Oh, who are we kidding? This is EXACTLY like a remake.

Re-count: On Sundays, studios release preliminary box office numbers, which often change on Monday when the official tally is counted. Some believe that there are studios that exaggerate the preliminary numbers in a lame attempt to boost attendance on Sunday nights.

Release: This signifies the date a movie opens in theaters, but the release date has become a joke. Movies that are supposed to open on Friday are now opening for special midnight showings on Thursday. Movies that are supposed to open on Thursdays now open for special midnight screenings on Wednesday and, in the case of the new comedy "This is the End," a Wednesday opening is now going to happen on Tuesday. I don't know why they announce release dates anymore.

Re-release: When a studio can't get away with a remake or a reboot, they simply reach into their own film libraries and put out the exact same movie they released 20 or 30 years earlier, but they add some whistles and bells, like 3-D or color, to make the re-release seem special.

Recoup: When a studio says it has recouped losses, it means that its movie opened worse than expected in this country, but for some reason, foreign audiences didn't hate the film as much.

Respectable: A movie that didn't make enough money to justify a sequel, but might win an Oscar.

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Barry Koltnow: bkoltnow@ocregister.com

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(c)2013 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)

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