#490: Business Models in Cinema

June 15th, 2015

I still say Lex Luthor is the worst businessman in modern cinema, but I knew, when I wandered in the hall of posters, shirts, metal music and film after film after film after film that I had found the right place to check.

It started with a Facebook conversation about who would insure Jurassic World.

My take was that, even considering the other movies, people would be lining the block to take on the Jurassic World contract. It’s located in a nation willing to look the other way on regulations in return for tourist dollars and 13 deaths during the construction phase is pretty easy for people who really, really want to see the finished product to ignore.

The Hammond Foundation is basically FIFA and Jurassic World an exercise in cognitive dissonance that pales in comparison to what any real-life World Cup fan should feel.

(And the lessons of the other two movies are “San Diego is a terrible place for a dinosaur park” and “Don’t trespass in a wildlife preserve, dumbass.”)

But it led to an interesting, real world conversation with a friend of mine: What’s the worst business model in movies?

I don’t mean “Oh no, things went wrong!” I mean “Hey, my scheme went perfectly, but we went out of business because this was a terrible, terrible idea.”

My vote was Lex Luthor’s “Make my desert the new beach” scheme in the first Superman movie, which depended heavily on the demand for beachfront property after the world had just watched California sink into the ocean.

Tommy’s pick was the plot to turn a non-war toy company that made non-war toys into the place for war toys so accurate they’re war. In “Toys.”

Or every villain in a Bond movie.

“It just depends on which you think was the grandest of horrible plans,” Tommy said.

So I decided to seek the advice of an expert and went to Odd Obsession, that glimmering fantasyland for film buffs at 1830 N. Milwaukee Ave.

“Most movie plots are pretty unrealistic if you look at them in real life,” the smiling, bearded man behind the counter said. “Look at ‘Jaws.’ Are they really going to hunt down one shark that killed a couple people?”

The storefront on Milwaukee is magnificent, an improvement from the smaller but pricier Milwaukee space they moved from last month. The two rooms are walled and stacked with every film you never knew you wanted to see, but cannot imagine any other viewing now that you know they exist.

Italian zombie films, Japanese noir, British action, American schlock — a nation, continent, planet of movies from the classics you adore to the rarities you’ll soon crave.

I idolize this place.

I use it so rarely that I forgot I had a decade-old membership when I tried to renew.

That’s not right.

A locally owned business staffed with people knowledgeable in its wares should not be an oddity. It should be a place you can talk about unprofitable business models, not be one.

So, a challenge. Support this place.

Support it by going to their new storefront at 1830 N. Milwaukee Ave. Support it by funding their IndieGoGo campaign.

Support it by just checking the place out and falling in love again with film.

You’ll be glad you did.

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