Luckily, it’s just when frustration creeps in that the real magic of The Movies makes itself felt. By opening up the Advanced Scriptwriting and Postproduction offices, you can take the sort of hands-on, total control of your product that even Harvey Weinstein would envy. The Advanced Scriptwriting module has you naming your film, picking your genre, then building your movie scene by scene, changing cast, wardrobe, props, lighting and camera angles as you see fit. Then, once the film is in the can, you can drag it into Postproduction and chop scenes, rearrange them, alter the music and – if you really want to go crazy – dub on your own dialogue and sound effects. The program even does its best to lip-synch the dialogue (though for reasons of my own embarrassment, I haven’t spent much time in this department).
Admittedly, your efforts don’t seem to bear a huge amount of fruit when it comes to box office or critical reception, but then that doesn’t really seem to be the point. What is? The online export option. Just post your film onto Lionhead’s website and you can share it with adoring multitudes of other Movies fans. Now, it’s impossible to predict whether making movies with The Movies is really going to take off and grow, but I have a feeling that it might. There are thousands of keen movie-goers and DVD buyers out there, and a lot of people who fancy a quick and easy way of making cool, animated movies that let their creative side run free. The Movies lets you do just that, and it’s a whole lot easier to do than with any real film-making or animation app that I could mention. There are some quibbles – surely the program could take better care of costume and hair continuity than it does – but it’s a brilliant way for enthusiastic amateurs to get closer to the process of making their own films.
And it’s this aspect that will keep you at The Movies long after the appeal of the tycoon gameplay has worn off. In other words, The Movies isn’t a disappointment after all – beneath the Hollywood glamour, there beats a heart of solid gold.
The main tycoon game has some problems, but once you get into making your own movies, you won’t leave The Movies alone.