31 years ago I was interviewing Jack Nicholson at the Carlyle. The promotional agenda was Tony Richardson‘s The Border, but the subject was mainstream audiences, and more particularly that classic Samuel Goldwyn line that “if people don’t want to see something, you can’t stop ’em.” Nicholson put it more succinctly: “They don’t want that — they want this.”
What they’ve seen and enjoyed before, he meant. Comfort, familiarity, assurance, command. A nice five-foot wave they easily catch and surf back to shore on their boogie boards. They don’t want metaphors and meditative undercurrents. As Nicholson put it back in February ’82, “They want their meat loaf and mashed potatoes and gravy on the side.”
Which is why, as Rope of Silicon‘s Brad Brevet reported earlier today, the public has bought 538,100 tickets to see J.C. Chandor‘s All Is Lost since it opened on 10.18 compared to 30.7 million tickets to see Gravity. It’s also been reported that Gravity has racked up $500 million worldwide.