This is a movie everyone in Hollywood thought would fail. With its scientific talking heads, theories of quantum physics and low-drama storyline, What the Bleep does not have the usual makings of a blockbuster. It’s no surprise Hollywood didn’t see stars around it — yet Arntz says his intention was always to have 100 million people around the planet see it.
“I started feeling that a huge chunk of the population was looking for entertainment beyond the crap that’s been spewed out for the last 20 years or so,” Arntz says.
“You know, we’ve seen all the stories, basically. We’ve seen all the dramas. We’ve seen Tom Cruise always win at the end of the movie. Nothing personal, Tom, but that’s just what always happens. So, you know, we’re kind of bored by it.”
“Hollywood assumes people are stupid,” asserts Arntz. But he and fellow filmmakers Betsy Chasse and Mark Vicente made the opposite assumption when they took a risk on What the Bleep. “We just want people to think for themselves,” he says. “It’s a lost art in this culture.”
“We’ve seen Tom Cruise always win at the end of the movie. Nothing personal, Tom, but that’s just what always happens. So, you know, we’re kind of bored by it.”
If so, What the Bleep has certainly revived it. In Q-and-A sessions in theaters across the country, Arntz says people ask him to further explain concepts from the movie, and they want to know what impact the movie has made on the culture.
He also hears from a fair share of naysayers. But that’s OK, he says, because at least it’s starting a dialogue about deeper issues.
“A lot of people who are more in the mainstream have said, ’Well, these ideas, I’ve never really been exposed to them before, but they’re really interesting and intriguing,’” Arntz says.
Will Other Meaningful Films Make It to the Box Office?
Moviegoers aren’t the only ones intrigued by What the Bleep — so are Hollywood execs. To them, a new market of people searching for inspirational films based on science and spirituality has been tapped, and Arntz says everyone is wondering how to get a piece of the action.
John Hagelin, a world-renowned quantum physicist interviewed in What the Bleep, met with MGM executives recently. “They told him, ’Look, we don’t know why this movie is popular,’” Arntz says. “’We don’t know where it came from. Not only that, we don’t even get what people are getting out of it. But we are really, really interested in this, because apparently it’s this huge segment that we didn’t even know existed.’”
It was a similar story at Paramount. An overtly mystical, stretch-your-mind movie has never made it to the big screen before, which is “partly what surprises the movie people,” he says. And that’s a big reason Arntz was so driven to make this film.