My old writing professor (yes, the one who wouldn’t shut up about his Oscar) told my class a story–
I was at a dinner party. I knew some people, didn’t know others. You know how it is.
No, we didn’t know how it is, because we were fucking 19 and had never been to a dinner party. Anyway…
My movie had just opened, and it wasn’t doing very well. So, my buddy was ribbing me about it. Finally, I said, “Yeah, well, at least it was better than that piece of shit Rambo III.”
Which was out at the time; my professor was old.
The room goes totally silent, I have no idea why. Suddenly, a guy at the other end of the table slams his fists down, stands up, and says, “Fuck. You.”
Then he storms out. I don’t know what’s going on. So I turn to my buddy, and he goes, “Why did you say that? That’s ________. He produced Rambo III.”
I didn’t mean to insult the guy. I didn’t even know who he was! I was just trying to think of a movie that we can all agree was pretty awful.
Which is why you should never badmouth a movie. No matter how bad you think it is, somebody is very proud of the work they did on it.
Like Thomas Lennon said: “Nobody in Hollywood ever sets out to make a bad movie ever but about 99% of the time, that’s what happens.”
There are a lot of good reasons to not hate a movie, but the fact that you work in Hollywood just adds another. You might hurt someone’s feelings; you might even cost yourself a job in the future.
I’m sure your grandma told you, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” But at some point, someone is going to ask, “What’d you think of _______?” You can’t just avoid the question.
You definitely shouldn’t give a non-answer, like, “I wasn’t really the target audience” or “Congratulations on completing the movie!” Everyone can see through your transparent act; they know you hated it.
But here’s the thing– there’s (almost) always something good about every movie or TV show that actually made it to your screen. Maybe there were impressive effects, maybe a good performance, maybe even just a single funny line. Whatever it is, say that.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie in question, mention something in the trailer that looked appealing. “I haven’t gotten a chance to see it, yet, but man, that scene with the bees looks awesome.”
I’m not telling you to lie. Just look on the positive side.
Or, y’know, you could lie. This is Hollywood, after all.