The Casting Dock

Fighting World Hunger One Movie at a Time (Guest Blogger)

You all will be sad to know that the budget for the much-anticipated movie sequel “Ghost Rider 2: Spirit of Vengeance” was slashed almost in half recently, from $135 million to a paltry $75 million. If you don’t remember the first installment, let me help. It’s the one where Nic Cage fights evil by dressing in a lot of leather, riding a motorcycle, and turning into a demon with a flaming skull for a head.

If you’re like me, the preview from the original “Ghost Rider” is probably burned in your mind somewhere, pushed back into a recess so deep you hoped you’d never find it again. Selective memory is not always a bad strategy (though as a child my parents told me otherwise with the occasional spanking). Some things are worth forgetting. Quickly. And “Ghost Rider” was one of them. Why did we try so hard to forget about this movie? Or, if you somehow missed the previews, why did you groan when you read my synopsis above?

Because the movie was terrible, and everybody knew it would be as soon as they saw Cage’s face burst into flames in the preview. You didn’t have to see more than two minutes to know. The movie critics who had to not only watch the entire movie but actually pay attention to it confirmed our suspicions. “Ghost Rider” received a pitiful rating of 26% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The reason I am summoning this painful, repressed memory is because I have a theory. Let’s call it the Sorcerer’s Paradox (named after Cage’s recent Disney-sponsored misstep, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”). Here’s the basic thrust: Nic Cage’s capacity to find himself in predictably terrible movies has the potential to be extraordinarily beneficial to society at large. Or in other words, Nic Cage’s movies are so bad that they can be immensely good. How, you ask?

Whoever decided to cut the budget for “Ghost Rider 2” was close to uncovering the Sorcerer’s Paradox. This decision-maker probably stopped by the set one day, watched for a few minutes, and thought “Why in the world did we give this thing $135 million? We don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Ghost Rider’s hair of turning a profit.” What kept him short of unleashing the full Paradox is that he merely slashed the budget. Why stop there? If we could convince Cage and his filmmaking cronies to take the initial budget for one of his upcoming and clearly unpromising movies and redirect it entirely into charitable ventures, I am convinced we could make a significant dent in some global social ills.

Let’s put the Sorcerer’s Paradox to the test, starting with its namesake. The budget for “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010) was $150 million according to It made only $63 million in U.S. theaters and received a score of 42% from Rotten Tomatoes. The budget for “Bangkok Dangerous” (2008) was $45 million; it only made $15.2 million in U.S. theaters and received a score of 9% from Rotten Tomatoes. “Lord of War” (2005), which did manage a 61% on Rotten Tomatoes, had a $42 million budget and only grossed $24 million in domestic theaters. Give me the money that it cost to make three Cage movies that everyone knew would stink, and I could have had $216 million to join the fight against hunger, cancer, unemployment, and the Soviets.

Are my statistics misleading? Sure—there are DVD sales, television rights, and international ticket sales that swell the total earnings. Does Nic Cage occasionally put out some entertaining movies that do well in American theaters? Absolutely. Two words—“The Rock.” But do me a favor: take two minutes, watch this preview for Cage’s next flick (the imaginatively titled “Drive Angry”), and tell me we couldn’t have stopped this movie and AIDS in one fell swoop.


1 Bryan { 10.29.10 at 7:27 pm }

Good post Mr. Guest poster. It’s great to get some fresh blood on The Casting Dock! I mean, Lisa, once she gets going, can just go on and on… J/K Lisa!!!

I have an opinion, not so much on the idea of Nic Cage helping society by suspending his career and simply donating the production budgets of his certain-to-lose-the-studio-money films to a more worthy cause, but on the very interesting phenomenon that is Nic Cage.

Early in his career he made many good movies (Raising Arizona, Red Rock West, Leaving Las Vegas) and earned a sterling critical reputation. Being an arthouse hero doesn’t get you $20M a film though. He somehow leveraged his Oscar win into “movie star roles” (Con Air, The Rock) and he achieved pop movie star status as those movies were hits.

Then, after making probably close to $100 million starring in crappy action movies, he started alternating between good, less commercial movies (Adaptation, The Weatherman) and big budget crap. Of course, he gets paid a lot more to make Ghost Rider than he does to make Adaptation.

But a funny thing happened. He completely lost touch with reality, at least financial reality.

He bought castles. And mansions. And Monets. And more mansions. So a few years ago he started taking any job that would pay him the movie star rate because, hey, castles aren’t cheap to run or easy to unload.

This is a big part of the reason that Nic Cage movies have consistently sucked for half a decade.

I was never really a big fan of his. That said, I think Adaptation is one of the best 20 movies of the last decade.

Also a great trailer.

2 A Story That Doesn’t Suck (Guest Blogger) | The Casting Dock { 11.12.10 at 1:25 pm }

[...] ever guest blogger so beautifully paved the road for my topic.  If you remember that blog (found here), he wrote about how if we would only stop making terrible movies, we could stop world hunger.   [...]

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