Today was published a piece in io9 reporting from the press conference held by the cast and crew of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. Amidst the discussions and pronouncements from the event was this from the producer:
Producer Jerry Bruckheimer explained that buying the rights to Tim Powers’s 1987 book On Stranger Tides, from which the movie is loosely adapted, gave writer Ted Rossio new ideas and offered a new way to think about the Pirates universe. When asked whether they had learned any lessons from the negative response to the previous sequels Dead Man’s Chest and World’s End, Bruckheimer went on the defensive, pointing out both films made about a billion dollars worldwide and claiming the the media didn’t understand those movies as well as the audience did.
Dear. God. Almighty.
There’s nothing like citing economic performance to defend the quality of your work. Sure, you can say that if people were willing to pay to see something, that there must have been some value inherent in the piece.
Then again, there’s lots of money generated in porn, and no one is daring to claim that anything in that genre is inherently better than To Kill a Mockingbird or The Sun Also Rises…
The point is, how much money you can get someone, anyone, to give you for your work is not the final arbitrator of the quality of your work. All it really tells you is that you have a product in demand; it may not be the best thing you’ve ever done, but boy did you move a lot of copies of that piece.
Frankly, the fact that someone decided to build a movie around an amusement park ride, and managed to make it work, is pretty amazing on so many levels at once. That the producer decided to build on an established work of fiction finally* means someone may have had a moment of either brilliant clarity or clear brilliance.
We’ll know for sure in about two weeks, then…
* With regards to Powers’ novel, I have been desperately looking for a copy the last few weeks, without success, to read up on before going to see the film. I could have sworn I had one, about three apartments and several book divestitures ago, but so far I’ve got zilch. My guess is, there might be an unadulterated original manuscript being made available soon as a close tie-in, which I’m going to read to get a comparison between the two. If nothing else, it’ll be an interesting exercise to see how much of Tim Powers survives Jerry Bruckheimer…