Screenwriter: What’s the bloody point?

The end is nigh, but sequels live forever

Johnny Depp with Keira Knightly in Pirates Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Johnny Depp with Keira Knightly in Pirates Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

 

Don’t worry, Timmy. Screenwriter isn’t dead. It’s being sent to a nice farm in the country where it can play with the horses, roll in the sun and chew lazily on bones torn from Michael Bay’s bloody limbs. But you may never visit.

Obviously, facetious film commentary will continue in various bits of The Irish Times. This particular incarnation is, however, set for dismantlement. It’s been a strange, turbulent time. Over the past seven years, we have speculated on the stupid Oscars, whined about sequels, bemoaned the ubiquity of superheroes and generally behaved like an embarrassing street lunatic whose apocalyptic views struggle to fit on one generous sandwich board.

Has anything changed since this column began in 2007? Less than we might have hoped. The biggest hit of that year was Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. Well, I hear you laugh, at least we’re shot of that atrocity.

Not a bit of it. This very week we hear that, thanks to generous funding from the Australian government, yet another Pirates film is set to lurch depressingly into production. Astonishingly, Johnny Depp, who really should have better things to do with his time, is returning to essay his increasingly decrepit amalgam of Tommy Cooper and a bad “Johnny Depp” stripogram.

The second biggest hit was whatever stupid Harry Potter film emerged that year. (Look it up for yourself. This column already has one foot in the exit.) Now that’s definitely gone the way of all flesh. Right? Every last sentence of JR Rowling’s saga was translated with depressing faithfulness.

Steady on. David Yates, who directed the last four wizard films, is set to helm an adaptation of Ms Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The Potter spin-off will investigate unexplored corners of the franchise’s universe and, no doubt, offer one more golden-years bonus to several lucky RSC alumni.

No 3 was Spider-Man 3. That franchise, also, went away and came back again. Then it was Shrek 3, which ultimately spawned Puss in Boots and – coming your way in 2018 – Puss in Boots 2: Nine Lives & 40 Thieves.

The only surprise triggered by the appearance of Transformers at No 5 concerns its relatively low placing. Why, the first film made a mere $700 million at the world’s box office. The latest incarnation, released earlier this summer, has gone past a billion and, for all the effort of Hobbits to come, looks set to end the year at the top of the pile.

“Oh, what’s the bloody point?” So ends the published version of Kenneth Williams’s diary. Shortly after scribbling those words, he died of an apparent barbiturate overdose. They will do as well for the last words in this column.

We can moan all we want. But, boasted by huge takings in China, Michael Bay’s awful, awful films will continue to get made. We may die, but no profitable franchise will be allowed to lie unmolested in its bed.

What’s the bloody point?

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