Random Thread for October

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Or as my daughter’s World History teacher said in an e-mail this weekend – ROCKtober

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  1. Just for the heck of it, and since I forgot to do a mid-year best of, here’s a top 10 list as we head into Oscar season:

    1. Certified Copy (Kiarostami)
    2. Bellflower (Glodell)
    3. Incendies (Villaneuve)
    4. Beginners (Mills)
    5. Another Earth (Cahill)
    6. Moneyball (Miller)
    7. The Trip (Winterbottom)
    8. Cedar Rapids (Arteta)
    9. Hanna (Wright)
    10. Meek’s Cutoff (Reichardt)

  2. Only seen 4 of these, but my copy of Incendies is in en route from Netflix. Though I liked Beginners and Cedar Rapids, they wouldn’t make my top ten.

  3. Also just for the heck of it, the 10 I’ve seen that I liked the least (from best to worst):

    10. 50/50
    9. The Debt
    8. Cowboys & Aliens
    7. Green Lantern
    6. X-Men: First Class
    5. Horrible Bosses
    4. Cars 2
    3. Rango
    2. The Conspirator
    1. The Green Hornet

  4. I’m the same JS. Watched ‘The Simpsons’ avidly until the late 1990s when I found it increasingly tedious, crude and repetitive (probably inevitable when the characters never age). Did watch the film though and thought it was pretty good though.

    While it would be strange for the series not to be around in a way, on the other hand I’m surprised it’s lasted as long as it has. It really belonged in the 1990′s.

  5. I should add that despite being an avid buyer of TV series on DVD I’ve never been interested in buying any of the DVD’s of The Simpsons. Not sure why, for some reason doesn’t have that rewatchability factor, perhaps because it’s an animated series or perhaps because the early shows were replayed so constantly here in Australia for years.

  6. Universal Pictures will be releasing the Eddie Murphy/Ben Stiller pic ‘Tower Heist’ on-demand three weeks after theatrical release. Price will be 60 bucks.

    While Tower Heist is a little below the radar, this is a huge, huge move. No doubt the theater chains will revolt, but we’ve all known it was inevitable that a major studio would take this step.

  7. I really have no problem with it either way. We’re going to see less theaters in the coming decades and that’s really for the best. May the strong, who actually give a shit about presentation and the theatergoing experience, survive.

  8. Brian, in addition to being right about Manhattan, you’re right about Incendies. Very good film.

    Hey, all right. Glad you liked it. As soon as I have money again, I’d love to buy the Blu-ray. It had me right from the first shot, set to “You and Whose Army”.

    Universal Pictures will be releasing the Eddie Murphy/Ben Stiller pic ‘Tower Heist’ on-demand three weeks after theatrical release. Price will be 60 bucks.

    Who in the hell would pay $60 to see Tower Heist at home? Back in the VHS days, they used to call that “priced for rental”, but at least then they let you keep the tape.

  9. I had the same thought. 60 dollars?!
    I understand what a chore it can be…the outlay for parking, tickets, concessions…but 60 dollars?

  10. No love for Dylan Dog on this blog?

    Anyway – for me Apes is the best this year so far.

    On the other end of things – The Adjustment Bureau was laughable, The Rite and Priest were both dreck, and Cowboys & Aliens really shouldn’t even be classified as a movie.

  11. Interesting. I knew something like this was coming. Distrubutors have been fighting Exhibitors for years (or is it the other way around?).

    I think perhaps an average living/family room media setup could comfortably have 4 people watching for basically $15 each. Obviously the more people watching the least expensive it is per person. Not to mention having a wider variety and less expensive refreshments. If you can tolerate it, everyone can comment during the movie. Or at the very least, it can be paused when someone needs to get up. You can even play with your phone to your hearts desire.

    For the same $15 each at the theater (assuming Friday evening prices), you get a ticket and maybe a soda. You also have to tolerate the people that talk and play with their phones because they forget they’re not in their living room. And because you can’t pause the movie when someone gets up, you have to hear them ask someone what happened during the few minutes they were gone.

    Or that’s how I assume it would be marketed by distributors. Of course it’s not cost effective for singles or couples. And that’s IF you want to see the movie a few weeks sooner than the rest of home audiences. Of course it’s cheaper to wait a few more weeks for a $6 VOD or disc rental. Are people *that* excited for Tower Heist? Probably not unless you’re under house arrest for contrubuting to a Ponzi scheme. But if that’s the case you can probably afford to watch it by yourself.

    Is releasing movies on VOD for $60 3 weeks after the theatrical release a threat to Exhibitors? Maybe yes and maybe no. I assume there will always be people that want to get out of the house to go to the movies. And while Friday and Saturday ticket prices seem outrageous to me – there are a plethera of matinee and discounts that would still make it more cost effective per person than $60 VOD.

    It depends on how badly you want to see a movie. The Twi-hard types will probably continue to flock to see a movie opening day. But perhaps we’ll start seeing a huge drop-off in week 3 theatrical audiences. With the exception of movies like Avatar that continue to have high grosses week after week, the week 3 and 4 theatrical grosses aren’t much to write home about. Movies have become even more front-loaded these days, which in recent years led to re-negotiations with distributros in how film payment terms are calculated. For example, when Star Wars Episode I came out, I’m pretty sure the terms were 70% (to distributors) two weeks in a row, with 10% decreases each week after that. These days terms are much closer to 50+% (again with the majority going to distributors) and it stays mostly even across all weeks.

    In reality, this affects Megaplexes more than it does the theaters with a smaller number of screens. Smaller screens don’t have room to hold movies over for more than 3 or 4 weeks anyway since so many movies are constantly opening week after week.

    My theory would be to get rid of the complicated pricing structure (adult matinee, adult weekend evening, adult evening) and go for an approach where the price of the movie is cheaper the longer it’s been out. For example, $10 for the first week, $7 for weeks 3-4, and $5 for weeks 5+.

  12. Jeanine, you’re in the business, so you know best, but I have a hard time believing someone will pay $60 to watch a movie in their house. That kind of price is usually reserved for pay-per-view boxing matches. I understand that families pay a lot of money to all go out to the movies, but I would think they feel like they get more from their money by actually making an outing of it, rather than spending money simply to sit in their own living room. Especially when you can wait a little while and get the same movie on pay-per-view for under $10.

  13. The big difference is, at home, it’s one person paying. When a family goes together, they each get a ticket, there’s really nothing else to do but watch the movie…when a father pays 60 bucks to make Tower Heist (?!) and event (hahahahaha) and then the FAM doesn’t sit to watch it, holy hell…he’s gonna be calling for a refund. This is so dumb on so many levels.

    On a side note, I’ve really not liked every movie this last part of the year. Really kinda disliked. The boooorrring stasis of Contagion with its neat little bow at the end, the completely self-absorbed and just copy of all eighties movies that Drive was. I mean…that movie could’ve been 20 minutes and been KILLER…but Incendies I didn’t like though I REALLY wanted to. It’s a class of filmmaking we need badly, but maybe it’s just my mindset. From the outset, it made me too sad to want to invest too much. Anywho…at least I wanted to like it. Contagion and Drive I want my 3 and a half hours back.

  14. And the sound design on Drive…especially how loud the music played over every scene and the way the lyrics got you inside the head of each character…come on, Refn…you’re my next Mann adherent…do something huge and not so self conscious, please. An epic Logan’s Run?

  15. Well, I wouldn’t say I know best…if the the theater business was in my hands, I’d probably go out of business. Tickets would be the same low price for everyone, and concessions would be $1 for everything. And then I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills to keep the building open. I would have certainly never agreed to spend money on gimmicks like 3D – in which case Cameron, Lucas and Rodriguez would have made sure I went out of business.

    Anyway, what I said was purely my opinion. I don’t have any real knowledge it. I wonder what happens when someone accidentally buys the VOD for $60 when they think it said $6?

  16. Well, I was right, Mass Effect 2 (using female Shepard) is the deepest, most engaging, enthralling, satisfying, well-made piece of entertainment I have ‘watched’ this last decade.
    Remarkable entertainment…truly.

  17. I always get stoked for “Rocktober”, but then it comes and goes and I usually do very little rocking. Last year I completely forgot it was Rocktober.

  18. Getting back to the Tower Heist thing: I spent 10 bucks to watch Melancholia a month BEFORE opening and (opinion of the film aside) felt it wasn’t the wisest purchase.

    Universal wants six times that to watch a film not earlier, not day-and-date, but three weeks AFTER release. It’s going to be very difficult for them to sell the value there.

  19. The problem is they can’t charge $10 because you can have as many people over to watch it as you want. People would just wait three weeks, then split the $10 with one or more friends and save assloads of cash the studio will never see. They also don’t want to go right to $20 or $30 cause that would piss off the theater chains even more. They want to be able to say, hey – we’re making it really expensive, guys.

    Really, I fail to understand why EVER. SINGLE. THEATER CHAIN. didn’t unite in their pledge not to show it. Makes no sense to me. Stick it to the mutherfucking studios.

  20. Really, I fail to understand why EVER. SINGLE. THEATER CHAIN. didn’t unite in their pledge not to show it. Makes no sense to me. Stick it to the mutherfucking studios.

    Because that’s collusion and it’s illegal.

  21. Well, I’d love to know your basis for that opinion. Either way, though, if there’s any grey area, that’s probably sufficient disincentive for the exhibitors.

  22. Back in the early 90′s: all the chains individually stepped up and refused to play ball with Carolco’s plans for day-and-date PPV releases of future, uh, blockbusters Cutthroat Island and Showgirls (along with the unproduced Gale Force and Crusade). Carolco and their studio partners backed down. This has happened over and over whenever a major tries to make a big move.

    Couldn’t The National Association of Theater Owners coordinate opposition legally?

  23. Jeezus, I wish someone would make Crusade.

    Just off the top of my head: If the monopoly of studio owned theaters was broken, then where’s the illegality of opposing business practices you don’t approve of and if the theaters had no say, what the hell is ShoWest for?

  24. Couldn’t they all make the same call without “colluding”? Is virtually every theater in the country choosing not to show an NC-17 movie collusion? I know that’s not quite apples to apples, but it’s free choice. They get to make the call.

  25. Couldn’t they all make the same call without “colluding”? Is virtually every theater in the country choosing not to show an NC-17 movie collusion? I know that’s not quite apples to apples, but it’s free choice. They get to make the call.

    Sure, they can do it independently if they all chose to do so. They can’t band together and coordinate, though, which I thought is what you were saying they should do.

    Couldn’t The National Association of Theater Owners coordinate opposition legally?

    No, that’s collusion by definition.

  26. Well, as long as they all did it – even separately – that would have been good enough for me.

    Damn studios.

  27. Yeah, but it’s easy to see why it might not work if they did it all independently – all it would take is one chain to back off and the whole thing collapses.

  28. At least they could say they didn’t just turn over, bury their face in the pillow, and bite their lips.

  29. What difference does it even make? So much of their pre-show advertising is for TV shows and DVDs already. Their own pre-show programming is telling people to stay home and watch TV – hell, one ad I saw recently said this almost explicitly.

    This battle will be won or lost – to the extent that it’s still to be decided – by two things:

    1) the extent to which audiences prefer OnDemand over theatres, and
    2) the extent to which theatres can draw new audiences and retain the ones they have.

    Obviously #2 has a lot to do with how #1 turns out. But either way, posturing and histrionics will have nothing to do with it.

  30. Talent is going to play a big part going forward as aging filmmakers accustomed to 3000+ screen rollouts fade away.

    The next Spielberg (making short films on his iPhone in middle school) is coming of age in a world where a multi-platform release isn’t a stigma. If anything, it’s something to be embraced.

  31. Park Chan Wook is making iPhone movies.
    It’s no different than things have always been. These days are the greatest moments for people to make money from Hollywood. They’re pushing more product from more avenues for more channels than they have things to fill them with. Three companies own everything and the more channels they make for all the rabble, the more product they need on every conceivable platform imaginable.
    On the flip side, it isn’t a really great time to attempt to make quality work for all those channels. The dumber the better.
    But this is a hell of time to eek out a living in entertainment. Streaming is coming. The cloud is coming. People will have access to this shit anywhere. Theaters will stay, but only in main cities.
    That’s my opinion, anyway…
    As they said in Citizen Kane “It’s not hard to make a lot of money…if all you want, is to make a lot of money.”

  32. My template that I had used for five years disappeared. I had to choose a new one or go with the basic. I might change it, this is what I came up with at midnight last night.

  33. That sucks – the old one was so readable and really matched up well with your writing. I’ll miss it.

    FWIW, not like I’m going to quit reading it or anything, but I think the red background with white letters is hard on the eyes.

  34. That’s definitely better. Still going to take time to get used to the change, but of course if it had been like that all along I’m sure it would seem natural enough.

  35. I still don’t know what happened. I think Blogspot changed their interface, and it reverted to the simplest template, which is simply black and white. I looked for my old template and couldn’t find it. Weird.

  36. Because of the part that says Universal “have been engaged with individual exhibitors on this test…” (my emphasis)

    I’ll quote myself from earlier: “Sure, they can do it independently if they all chose to do so. They can’t band together and coordinate, though…”

  37. Three or four chains decided not to show Tower Heist, to boycott the showing. If collusion existed in this instance, then they could all be accused of colluding not to show Tower Heist.
    Are you certain collusion exists in this circumstance? I don’t believe it does.

  38. Three or four theater chains got together and boycotted Tower Heist.
    They all collectively decided not to exhibit the movie.
    That is separate theater chains coming together to not exhibit a movie. To say ‘We’re not exhibiting this movie.’
    Therefore…collusion does not exist in this circumstance because if theaters had no say on what they show, then this wouldn’t be an issue and studios would have a monopoly again.

  39. It says, in the Consent Decree in United States of America vs. Paramount Pictures: “(3) blind buying (buying of films by theater districts without seeing films beforehand) would now be outlawed and replaced with “trade showing,” special screenings every two weeks at which representatives of all 31 theater districts in the United States could see films before they decided to book a film.”

    If you can have a trade showing and ‘decide’ on what films to show…I believe this is what we call ShoWest…how can anything illegal occur when it’s been *decreed* that you can get together and if enough of you pressure a studio enough, you can deny showing a movie and change distribution practices.

    Interestingly enough, this article states why the decrees may actually harm good business practices. Interesting read.

  40. What is so hard to understand about this? You clearly do not understand what collusion is.

    If a baseball player is a free agent, and no team wants to sign him, that’s not collusion. That’s each team making up its own mind about whether or not signing that player is a good move. This is legal.

    Unless, of course (as was alleged with Barry Bonds), teams coordinate to blacklist a player. If they make an agreement amongst themselves that no one will sign him, that is collusion. That is illegal.

    It’s the same way with trade showings, and it’s the same way with Tower Heist. The exhibitors didn’t “come together” to decide anything – they each decided on their own that they would boycott the movie. That’s why NATO made sure to include the word individual in the press release (which I thoughtfully bolded in the quote above), to guard against charges of collusion.

    Again, the difference is between independent action and coordination.

  41. I’m here! A little busy (baby coming in less than two weeks) but hanging around.

    Finally got around to seeing Moneyball this past weekend. Well-made, but I’ve already forgotten about much of it.

  42. Anyone see the new Tykwer movie 3? Tykwer’s kinda fallen off the map lately with a string of mediocre films, but I see his new one is playing here next month.

  43. I actually made a short film at work today using Space Oddity as the background music, based solely on it’s use in the international “3″ trailer.

  44. That is spooky, sir. I was LITERALLY watching the trailer 20 seconds ago.

    I believe you, if only because I don’t know how one FIGURATIVELY watches a trailer.

  45. Sadly, I could replicate dozens of trailers from memory with the proper equipment. My brain is filled with such useless information.

  46. For the second weekend in a row, the major openings are shit. I long for a good version of The Three Musketeers (the Richard Lester version has not been topped), but this new one looks horrible. Why do they have to take a good story and screw with it by adding Matrix-like martial arts? One good thing–Take Shelter is opening near me, so that will be my movie of choice this weekend.

  47. Why do they have to take a good story and screw with it by adding Matrix-like martial arts?

    Is this a real question?

  48. Tired of the recent slate of movies? Bored with a slow time in moviegoing? Want a WTF?! bigger than anything in TipToes?!
    Then pop in the dvd of the *Extended Cut* of Sucker Punch and marvel at the jaw-dropping un-believability of a movie that many believed could not stoop to any lower levels of ridiculous WTF?!-ness………..really. Do it. I dare you.

  49. Why can’t Safari save my WordPress credentials? No matter how many times I click “remember me” it never does (that’s somewhat heartbreaking for some reason).

  50. About a million people in Connecticut are without power after a freak late October snow storm (both storm and darkness being historic). All good here, but I’m right on the coast.

    Jackrabbit and Filmman – how did you make out?

  51. Lots of power outages all around me, but I never lost it. Up at my sister’s in Wayne today we had to go to three different restaurants before we found one that wasn’t closed due to no power.

  52. Lots of snow and downed trees and branches, but still have power. A lot of areas real close have no power, some they say until Thursday.

  53. Mine slips out periodically, the password for WordPress, James. I have to re-enter it at random times. It just seems to forget. So maybe it forgets faster in Safari, but it happens in Chrome, too.

  54. Is this just an issue with enabling cookies? You might have to go into the options and manually tell it to accept cookies from WordPress.

    Not really sure how other browsers work (I still primarily use IE, and it works fine for me), but that sounds like the most likely explanation.

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