William Goldman wrote some brilliant books and some brilliant movies, and some brilliant books about movies. And in his first book about movies, he casually defined a central rule of Hollywood. Three maddening words: nobody knows anything.
These three words will probably outlast all of us. Because really, nobody knows anything. In Hollywood you might have the right star, the right script, the right everything, and the film bombs. But equally – this is why it’s maddening – you might have the wrong everything, and yet, to memory-quote The Producers, “The wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast… Where did I go right?!”
This is bigger than Hollywood, of course. To rephrase Goldman’s thought, you might say: all art is a gamble. And if you love art, if you really love it, the gamble is a big part of the appeal. Art galleries are filled with gambles that really paid off. And not just that: even the disasters are oddly bracing – the right kind of honest disaster makes you feel alive. The gamble of art is the best gamble of all, I reckon. But if you’re trying to make money out of this thing, the gamble of art is probably something you are not in love with.