For those who have kept an eye on movies over the years, the name Uwe Boll should be familiar. The uniquely named German-born filmmaker has been synonymous with cinematic disasters for a few decades now, and his fascination with filmmaking has often gravitated toward adapting video games into big-screen spectacles. The success of those spectacles to deliver thrills (or coherence) has rightly always been in question.
One might guess that his announcement of retirement today to the Metro has to do with not-so-great reception to his work to date but that’s not the whole story. Boll has made some bad movies to be certain – Postal and Assault on Wall Street stick out for me – but he’s certainly not made the worst films of any decade or year. He makes efficient trash that is probably very appealing to cynics and he rightly takes issue with movies that pretend to be cynical just to evince a sense of intellect or research. Upon the release of Assault on Wall Street, he said that it was a better movie pound for pound than Wall Street 2, and he might very well be right. And yet, it’s ultimately the money that’s put Boll out to pasture in regards to filmmaking, as he explained to the Metro.
Here’s what Boll told Metro about his reasons for retiring:
“The market is dead, you don’t make any money anymore on movies because the DVD and Blu Ray market worldwide has dropped 80 per cent in the last three years. That is the real reason; I just cannot afford to make movies…I can’t go back to student filmmaking because I have made so many movies in my life, and I can’t make cheaper and cheaper movies at my age. It’s a shame. I would be happy to make movies but it is just not financially profitable.”
That’s actually a surprisingly logical and realistic reason for quitting the business, one that speaks to a larger problem that affects all movies, whether great or startlingly not. Today, the idea that I won’t see another Boll movie following the release of Rampage: President Down this year is riotous and of not particular consequence to me, When the same troubles start hitting directors like Andrew Bujalski or Amy Seimetz, however, the issue will very much be a serious issue to me. So, though its surpassingly easy to make fun of Boll and his retirement, it signals something distinctly unsettling about the reality of making a living as an indie filmmaker or anyone making money from low-budget movie-making.