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JJ Abrams explains why you can’t please everyone

The rebooter-in-chief behind 'Star Trek' and 'Star Wars' on living up to expectations

JJ Abrams explains why you can’t please everyone
21 February 2018

You can never please everyone. Sure, you have to be mindful of what it is people want, but equally you can’t do things just to please them. In Hollywood, you have to go into every idea knowing that some people will be taken by it and other people will be offended by it. You want to please as many people as you can, but the master you’re serving is the story itself.

Any time you endeavour to tell a story, you can be pretty sure you’ll annoy some people. You just have to look at the opportunity and less the ungodly pressure. 

Especially with movies that pre-exist, like Star Trek and Star Wars: you’ve got such a passionate fanbase that the pure maths of it says that there will be those who will be offended. Some will be offended that it’s too similar, others will be offended that it’s too different. I love all of them, and the fact that they care so much is something I’m so grateful for.

The thing is, it’s not possible to take risks and please everyone. That’s the fun of what we’re doing with the Cloverfield series. 

If it were a literal, traditional, linear narrative with the sort of sequels we’re accustomed to, it could be super-fun but it could also, like many franchises, fall into the trap of redundancy or repeating the same old stuff again and again.

Anything that’s genuinely good doesn’t play by the numbers. Some of the great stories that are being told, especially on TV, are incredibly risky and unusual and wildly successful because of that.

Even in things like the Marvel universe, which is so profoundly successful, they’re taking chances within that world and doing things that certainly wouldn’t fall into the category of playing it obvious and playing it safe. It’s a testament to the fact that people are hungry for things which aren’t just the same old.

As a filmmaker, if you don’t feel excited and inspired, then you shouldn’t be working on those stories. You should be able to picture yourself in the audience, laughing and cheering and crying with the crowd.

If you’re not feeling the heartbeat of the story, it’s probably something best suited for someone else. That’s not to say that you’re always going to be right, but if you’re genuinely feeling thrilled by it yourself, it’s a fairly decent litmus test that other people might feel the same.

(Images: Rex)