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The Great Iraq War Movie Scam

Filmmakers, ignoring the fact that U.S. boots were on the ground, cranked out a series of films painting Bush and his War on Terror in an unflattering light. Or worse.

Is history about to repeat itself?

Films like “In the Valley of Elah,” “Lions for Lambs,” “Stop-Loss,” “Rendition,” Redacted” and “Green Zone” showed U.S. soldiers as either victims or murderers. The country’s Iraq war plans were mocked as were the intentions behind them.

So how did the public react to stories tied to the Iraq war?

All the films flopped. Some did so in spectacular fashion.

Iraq Spells Box Office Bust

“Redacted” earned $65,388. That’s as much as “Zootopia” makes during an office worker’s lunch break. Others, like “Green Zone,” made far less money than what its star, Matt Damon, typically generates.

RELATED: Critics Seethe Over ’13 Hours’ -- ‘War Pornography’

“The Hurt Locker,” which won the Best Picture Oscar, only hauled in $17 million despite massive critical acclaim. That movie featured a far more positive treatment of U.S. soldiers, but it still focused on the harrowing nature of the Iraq War. That clearly didn’t resonate with audiences.

The industry finally got the message. Studios licked their wounds and realized audiences had little appetite for stories that cast the country in such a negative light.

Years later, Hollywood put its faith in films like “Lone Survivor” and “American Sniper,” which didn’t promote war but highlighted the integrity of  American soldiers.

The box office lit up. Twice.

Even “13 Hours,” which proved a box office disappointment despite its heroic portrayal of U.S.security officials, brought in a respectable $52 million.

So why in the world is director Rob Reiner prepping “Shock and Awe?”

The upcoming film, according to Deadline.com, “centers around a group of journalists who asked the tough questions about Saddam Hussein’s alleged WMD’s (weapons of mass destruction) which was the way the Bush administration sold the Iraq War to the American public and around the world in 2003.”

Here’s the shocking part:

The company financing the feature, Jorva Entertainment Productions, has just one movie under its belt so far.

So a fledgling film company is banking on a subject audiences loathe from a director with just one hit (2007’s “The Bucket List”) over the past 20 years.

Fear Factor

Modern Hollywood is as risk averse as any business. Studios are pressured to produce as much can’t-miss fare as possible. Audiences simply have too many credible options for their leisure time. They can watch cutting-edge content, or old favorites, on their tablets on smart phones. They can play some of the most sophisticated games ever produced on computers and gaming systems.

That’s why we see so many sequels and reboots these days. Studios pray that familiar brands will draw a crowd. If not, millions might be lost. Careers compromised. Companies, too.

The stakes have never been higher.

So why would a movie like “Shock and Awe” even be considered in the first place? Just ask the team behind “Truth,” last year’s feature on “RatherGate.” It didn’t take a genius to predict few people were invested in that journalism scandal. An even smaller subset of that potential audience wanted to watch a movie pretending Dan Rather and co. were right all along.

Yet not only did it get made, but the studio scored some of the biggest actors around (Cate Blanchett, Robert Redford) to headline it.

RELATED: ‘Truth’ Actor: Right Wing Swamped Truth in RatherGate

Why? The powers that be wanted to peddle a narrative, and they didn’t care how the fiscal chips might fall as a result.

And, of course, “Truth” flopped. Hard.

Show business is always a business … until the filmmakers have a message to send. Then, the industry ignores reality and cries, “action!” It’s what Reiner is about to do once more.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to better reflect the content of “The Hurt Locker.”

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41 Comments

  1. The sad part of it is there are so many dramatic inspiring stories that could be, deserve to be told…that aren’t about Navy SEALs and movies get made that spread lies and disinformation about the people and the reasons we were there for.

    1. I still recall one of the most impressive war accounts I heard.
      Brian Chontosh, USMC. His hour or two of heroism is a Hollywood movie, if they were into that type of thing.

      1. You know what would be an interesting story for me. There was a captain who managed to form some friendships with the Muslims in Anbar, and got with them to help found the pro US Sons of Iraq, which was a major factor in the success of the surge. Kind of a US military Lawrence Of Arabia.

  2. And the thing is, Katherine Bigelow got it. “The Hurt Locker” was the beginning of Hollywood–for a time, anyway–getting the message. When most of the industry was conjuring up the lame excuse that people somehow weren’t interesting in seeing war films (which was absurd)…Bigelow publically said that the problem was that people just didn’t want to see troops being bashed or a political message tainting thing. “Hurt Locker” was ambivalent towards the war, neither for it nor against it, the hero is sympathetic…and the film did MUCH better than all the “trash-Iraq”, “trash-Bush” garbage.
    Didn’t do TOO well, but still…compared to the garbage, it was a smash hit.

    1. The real infantry (Army & Marines) generally loathe The Hurt Locker because it is, according to them, massively inaccurate and unrealistic in how it portrays the war. Not in a good/bad way, but in a “that’s not how we did it” way.

      I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen that movie trashed on milblogs.

      1. Well, Hollywood famously gets “real-life” details wrong. I’ve lost count of all the times someone shoots a gas tank in a movie and causes it to blow up, or tastes white power to “check” it without any sense of risk, or whatever. My point was that, thematically, it didn’t trash 1) our troops, or 2) the War.

        1. Let us not forget in EVERY film, EVERY time they cock the hammer on their Glock pistol so we can all hear it. (There is nothing to cock on a Glock for those unfamiliar).

          1. Or the classic courtroom-thriller line: “I call (so-and-so) to the stand!”–followed by the witness come out from the courtroom audience. In real life, the witnesses are kept separate from the courtroom until needed, so their testimony won’t be tailored to fit what they heard from the others.

    2. The hurt locker has some problems with reality as well.
      But when they made American Sniper, which still told the unpleasant truth about war, but also had a truthful realistic story of a war hero, it was a big hit. When people see war movies, they prefer seeing audie murphy and sgt york, not us soldiers screwing up or murdering civilians.

  3. Don’t forget “Home of the Brave” with Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel and Fitty Cent….

    Look at how Ridley Scott presented the Mogadishu fustercluck in “Blackhawk Down” — a well-told story with integrity to the events and participants (on both sides) without sermonising or demonising, which allowed the audience to make its own decisions.

    1. Well Scott had a section in the move depicting Clintoon refusing to send heavy weapons to help the fighters because the NYT’s didn’t like the idea…it (the clintoon scenes) were removed before it was shown.

  4. On the other hand, movies like Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, Deer Hunter, and Apocalypse Now did just fine at the box office. Did filmmakers think audiences would react to Iraq the same way they reacted to Vietnam? Or did they just want to promote an anti-war message?

    1. Thing is, the Vietnam films weren’t made, for the most part, until AFTER the war was over. So there wasn’t a chance of giving propaganda to the enemy, or trashing our troops WHILE they were in harm’s way.

      Incidentally, Vietnam veterans have often said to me that they make it a point NOT to watch Vietnam movies–or if they do, they never like them, because “they never get it right”. The only exception–and this is an OCCASIONAL exception, mind you–is “Platoon”. But then, Oliver Stone, for all his faults, actually WAS over there, and so of course “Platoon” would “feel” more authentic.

  5. But liberals were never anti-war. They were just anti-Bush. Interesting how Reiner is depicting a war that Hillary voted for.

    1. Surely you are being sarcastic when you say that the liberals were never anti-war. They were both anti-war and anti-Bush. They didn’t become pro-war until their lord and master, Obama, decided to try his hand at fucking up Libya.

  6. Act of Valor, a pro US and Navy Seals movie which is about the war on terror in general, and not Iraq, did a respectable 70 million despite weak acting and weak plot at times. Does have a long action sequence (when they rescue the CIA agent).

    1. Well, the weak acting might have something to do with having real SEALS portraying real SEALS.

      And after spending money on “Bridge of Spies”, I have to tell you that good acting won’t necessarily rescue a mediocre movie anyway.

        1. I did watch it, and I loved it–a lot. It really shows that Spielberg and the Coen Brothers actually have Conservative values, to an extent. The Berlin Wall construction is charged with a sense of tragic melancholy, and the Soviet trial is played up as a Starr-Chamber-esque kangaroo court–shown in stark contrast to the American trial Tom Hanks takes part in. There’s also a great moment where Tom Hanks emphasizes, in no uncertain terms, that the Rosenbergs were traitors who “sold secrets to the Soviets”.

        2. Well, it does have good acting, and Mark Rylance deserves the Oscar. Hanks is Hanks and Spielberg is Spielberg, but is no “Saving Private Ryan”.

          My wife an I actually both fell asleep and had to finish watching the next day, so you might want to try it earlier in the day. While caffeinated.

          1. Definitely, I watch it at least once a year. I’ve said that someone should edit Damien Lewis’ scenes as Colonel Winters into a “How to Be A True Leader”.

  7. Don’t forget: Truth and its ilk, including many of the flops you list, will run forever on cable. They’re out there now, “educating” the low info public about the “truth” of their topics.

  8. The left insists that Bush lied about Iraq having WMDs yet various officials from the Clinton administration bemoaned Saddam having and using WMDs. Funny that the left doesn’t call them out.

    To the WMD doubters, did Saddam ever have and use WMDs? The Iranians said he used them in the battlefield and the Kurds claimed he used them against their villages? Are they lying also?

    If Saddam had them back then, where did they go and when they go? If he didn’t have any WMDs, then why all the games with the UN inspectors?

    I remember during our year-long rush to war seeing a report that large convoys of trucks were seen moving from Iraq to Syria. Funny that nobody in the media is even the slightest curious where the Syrians got the WMDs they’ve used.

    Of course the biggest lie is that WMDs weren’t found in Iraq. They were, just not in the vast quantities expected.

    1. Of course Trump sided with the leftists in the debate, channeling Michael Moore and Code Pink on the old Bush lied about WMD lie. And here I thought the trumpies claimed they hated lefties like Michael Moore.

  9. It is important that the American people be constantly reminded that Bush and the criminal Republican Party lied to get us into war in order to enrich their cronies, while enjoying the added benefit of culling the population of women, minorities, and gays, who were disproportionately killed in Iraq, most likely the product of a war plan carried out by Republican generals that made sure minorities and women were placed in harm’s way first, over the white and Republican-voting males. Hopefully, this movie comes out before the election and points out how Hillary Clinton stood in staunch opposition to this illegal war from the beginning.

    1. You’re not only deluded, but factually incorrect. The “putting minorities in harm’s way” bit is especially ludicrous, showing you have no idea of the racial composition of various units in the armed forces, and how they’re used. FYI, white soldiers are actually over-represented in combat units, with a higher proportion of non-whites and females in support (logistical) units.

      As for Hillary and her partners in crime, she was a full-blown supporter back then, so you are wrong. Again. In fact some folks have made very amusing video mash-ups of well-known Democrats who called for Hussein’s ouster during the 1990s, before Bush was even elected.

      1. Oh, for the Love of Life Orchestra. Don’t you smell the obvious sarcasm of bggatbdl’s statement? Then again, we’ve all seen such raging insanity from the Left, meant absolutely seriously, so it’s gotten harder to tell….

        1. While it was clear to me from the reading that it was sarcasm, it does handily conglomerate a series of Lefty points, each and every one of them easily found on Lefty sites. Today.

          1. Exactly right. The Left has evolved beyond parody; no matter how snarky we get, it’s never enough to keep up!

    2. Good parody. But dont worry, if the leftists dont spread the lies effectively enough, Trump will, since Trump actually channeled Michael Moore and Code Pink on the Bush lied on WMD in the debate. And here I thought trumpies disliked leftists, but Trump just seems to love Code Pink..

  10. And people wonder why Hollywood is always going in for sequels, remakes and reboots these days. They gotta go with what sells; how else are they going to offset their losses from their latest liberal propaganda dumpster fire?

    1. You could do a great movie about female soldiers in Iraq. Feminists wouldn’t like it, though…unless you portrayed the female soldiers as victims. Really empowered women serving their nation because they choose to doesn’t seem to fit the third-wave feminist narrative…

  11. Zero Dark thirty told the story of the hunt for bin laden pretty well, it even highlighted the real heroes, the lower level people at the CIA that found out where he was hiding, partly by use of waterboarding.

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