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Friday, December 27, 2013

BANKABLE BOX OFFICE STARS

'Best Valued' Hollywood Stars 
Emma Stone, World's Most Valued Actor


Like any investment, a movie needs to make a profit so its backers get a return on their money.  A major component of a successful box office is the named actors which are cast in the movie. Some actors are more 'bankable' than others but even better are the stars with real 'bang for the buck' - those actors that return the most profit for each dollar invested. And, by this measure, it's the female actors that dominate.

Recently, Forbes Magazine issued a list of the 'best value' Hollywood stars, and three young female actors topped the list - Emma Stone, Mila Kunis, and Jennifer Lawrence.
Emma Stone, who appears in the Spider-man films was named "best value actor in the world", with a return of $80 per $1 invested in her!  Kunis was second with $68.70 per $1 paid, while Lawrence, was just behind, at $68.60 per $1. Natalie Portman, who stars in the Thor series, rounded out the top four with $31.30, pushing the male actors top stop to 5th place - that spot being held by Dwayne Johnson, who returned $31 for every dollar he was paid.

Unfortunately, for the women, their high dollar returns didn't negate the fact that older male actors are overwhelmingly the highest paid.  Robert Downey at $75m, Channing Tatum at $60m, and Hugh Jackman at $55m were the highest earners in Hollywood last year.  The highest paid female star was Angelina Jolie at $33m. None of the highest paid made the top ten list of best valued stars. Adam Sandler, holds the worst valued star position, with only a $3.40 return for every $1 paid - no surprise there.

The Top 10 Best Value Stars
1. Emma Stone - $80.70 per $1
2. Mila Kunis - $68.70 per $1
3. Jennifer Lawrence - $68.60 per $1
4. Natalie Portman - $31.30 per $1
5. Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) - $31.10 per $1
6. Daniel Craig - $25.60 per $1
7. Russell Crowe - $25.60 per $1
8. Kristen Stewart - $25 per $1
9. Robert Pattinson - $23.50 per $1
10. Taylor Lautner - $21.40 per $1

In related news, the Associated Press, which polls 70 of the top U.S. editors and news directors, gave their annual Entertainer of the Year Award to Jennifer Lawrence. She beat out Miley Cyrus, who came in second.  Besides the over $1.5b global box office of the Hunger Games films, Lawrence won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in 'Silver Linings Playbook' in 2013.

Best
Jim Lavorato

Thursday, December 26, 2013

'Binge Viewing' - The New Normal

I feel sorry for the movie exhibitors that opted to purchase the most inexpensive digital cinema equipment for their film-to-digital conversion.  What they are left with is a dim, unexciting visual/aural presentation that, over time (a few years at most), will be so inferior that moviegoers will fore-go viewing movies at that cinema.

Binge watching is widely accepted by consumers

At the outset, I warned exhibitors that upon conversion they needed to ensure a 'presentation wow' factor'. That their presentations had to be better than high-definition TV and that their sound systems needed to be enhanced (if needed) to have the dynamic feel unattainable in consumers' living rooms.  Unfortunately, many exhibitors didn't heed my warning, but those that did will reap the benefits as moviegoers gravitate to their cinemas. This will be doubly true when movies are released day-and-date across all media outlets - which is inevitable.

To bolster my case, least CMG readers think I'm just blowing smoke, case in point. Harris Interactive, the polling company, recently conducted a survey which found that 'binge watching' is widespread behavior among adults aged 18-34, with 61% binging on a regular basis.  Of all people in the survey, 73% defined 'binge watching' as viewing between two and six movies or TV show episodes in one sitting.  Nearly 80% felt positive towards binge watching!

Binge watching has become a cultural phenomenon as people are changing their content viewing behaviors.  Grant McCracken, a cultural anthropologist, who has consulted for the major studios, Netflix, Apple, and Google told CMG, "Binge watching has really taken off.  The current content viewer is different, the couch potato has awoken.  Consumers now have control over what and how they view content."  McCracken believes our digital lifestyle where storytelling is often reduced to Twitter 144 character conversations, leaves us craving for a long narrative of storytelling. "Content viewers are no longer zoning out as a way to forget about their day, they are tuning in but on their own schedule."

According to Harris, 76% of viewers say watching several movies or multiple episodes of a TV show is a welcome refuge from their busy lives - with 80% saying that watching several movies at once is more enjoyable to them.  Nor is binge watching a solitary experience. Of respondents, 51% said they binge watch with at least one other person.

Cinemas must be aware and prepare for the changing competitive landscape in which they will find themselves.  Screening a so-so movie presentation, unimaginative concession offerings, and poor showmanship will not cut it.  Those cinemas that have heeded our warning and are adjusting and making the require commitments will be the big winners as the future unfolds.

Jim Lavorato

Friday, December 20, 2013

CMG's Christmas Gift Selections

Perfect gift suggestions from Cinema Mucho Gusto need to be useful, thoughtful, and technology-forward.  With this in mind, our 2013 Christmas gift selections are:

The Smart Toupee

A Sony Patent Drawing for Smart Toupee
For the man or woman who has everything but hair, the Smart Toupee is the perfect gift. Created and patented by Sony Electronics, these hairpieces can notify wearers of text messages, phone calls, or emails.

Termed a 'wearable computing device' the wig is adapted to cover part or all of the head with, at least, one sensor for providing input data, a processing unit, and communication interface. The wig is designed to provide tactile feedback directly to the scalp.  The sensors notify the wearer of incoming text messages, phone calls, emails, or in concert with GPS, to alert the wearer when they are going in the wrong direction.

Yes, the Smart Toupee is the gift that will set you apart in showing appreciation for the bald folks (or wannabe baldies) in your life. Pair it with a set of Google Glasses.

A Gift Card for Ghost Texting Software


Ghost Texting is communicating with the dead.  No, its not through the use of a Ouija Board, medium, or psychic but the digital domain.  It is software that ingests all of a person's previous public content and develops an interactive artificial intelligence blog that communicates through text messages. It could be your giftee's next 'Friend' category on Facebook.

To further enhance and upgrade the dead's communication skills, the opportunity to provide his/her personal emails, videos, pictures, and prior social network postings to the program will allow for phone conversation.  Hmmm..... Creepy but a great gift suggestion, nonetheless.

The Sit and Be Fit Stool

Why pay for the cost of a gym membership.  Why feel the need to workout. Just give your best friend or relative the Sit and Be Fit Stool.  Designed as an ergonomic exercise chair for office or home work environments these whimsical cuties - a cross between a traditional stool and an accordion - bend and flex. It provides that all day workout your giftee needs as they work their core chatting with staff or co-workers, it's the best workout device since the ThighMaster.

The Alcohoot

For $119 you can gift a breathalyzer that plugs into the audio port on a Smartphone or tablet.  So for the friend or relative who likes to throw back a few, this is the perfect gift.  No more need to rely on their own inner sobriety tester the Alcohoot does it all.
It boasts, "law enforcement grade" sensors, paired with an internal pump and pressure sensor.  And, each year, for $30, the folks at Alcohoot will ship you a brand new device along with a shipping label to return the old one.

So, your giftee can drink up and then test themselves before getting behind the wheel.

PointGrab


PointGrab turns your finger into a remote control!  Imagine dimming the lights simply by pointing at the switch. Or, turning on a microwave without leaving your couch. PointGrab makes this a reality.   A TV can be controlled simply by pointing at it.

Termed 'gesture-based functionality', PointGrab says that "our technology allows users to point at lights, air conditioners, and other appliances to turn them on and off.  For the real couch potato on your X-Mas list this is the gift that will keep on giving and giving.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

WAKING UP TO A NIGHTMARE

I like the Coen Brothers' films - they are different, edgy, unpredictable. Like Kubrick, the Coens attack the audience, leaving them with unanswered questions of good v. evil, right v. wrong.
Coen antiheros
Joel (59) and Ethan (56) Coen started out making 8mm films as youngsters. Joel is married to actress Frances McDormand (who has starred in 6 Coen movies) they have one child.  Ethan is married to film editor, Tricia Cooke, they have two children. Both brothers live in NYC.  The Coens began their professional movie careers with the release of  'Blood Simple' in 1984. That film, like others in the Coen repertoire has become a cult classic. Including the just released 'Inside Llewyn Davis', the Coens have produced 16 feature films: Blood Simple (1984), Raising Arizona (1987), Miller's Crossing (1990), Barton Fink (1991), The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), The Lady Killers (2009), No Country For Old Men (2004), Burn After Reading (2008), A Serious Man (2009), True Grit (2010), and Inside Llewyn Davis (2013).

To label their films 'noir' would be too easy as they are much more Sisyphean. Gloomy, flawed characters who rise to the occasion only to fall because of their inner demons.  Coen films have quirky, twist and turn plots with people placed in unnatural circumstances.  More visual than narrative, for Coen antiheros it all about waking up to a nightmare - and that's what makes Coen films so enjoyable and engaging.

I have recently begun to re-watch all of the Coen films, many of which have been critically acclaimed.  Their latest, 'Inside Llewyn Davis' is no exception. It depicts a week in the life of a folk singer in NYC in 1961. It stars Oscar Isaac as Llewyn and Carey Mulligan, as his girlfriend Jean. "Everything you touch turns to shit. Like King Midas' idiot brother", says Jean and the movie proves her right. Winner of the Cannes Grand Prix, one of the American Film Institute's top ten films of 2013, and the nominee of three Golden Globe Awards, 'Inside Llewyn Davis is Oscar bound.

The Coens (photo of Ethan and Joel with Oscars) next project is what they have referred to as the third installment of their "numbskull trilogy", its current title is 'Hail Caesar', the other two numbskulls being 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' and 'Intolerable Cruelty'. George Clooney, who starred in the first two, is slated for the 'Hail Caesar' lead. Besides Frances McDormand and George Clooney, the Coens have used many of the same actors in their films, including: Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, Jon Polito, and John Turturro.

The Coens have been nominated for 13 Academy Awards and have won four.  They have 20 Golden Globe nominations with three wins. I believe these numbers will all change in 2014 with Oscar and Globe wins.

Best
Jim Lavorato

Saturday, December 14, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 13 December 2013

Best Selfie of  2013
Best Selfie of 2013

Why do people take selfies?  Two reasons: Look At Me! or I Was Here!

Well, for me, the best selfie of the year (although you don't get to see a face) was taken by Astronaut Luca Parmitano on his space walk.  You see the void of space with the earth reflected on his visor.  You decide.


Let The Games Begin

The fun of picking the best films et. al. of 2013 has started and will culminate on March 2nd when the Oscars are presented.  Two of the most influential prognosticators are the American Film Institute and the Golden Globe nominations.

For 2013 the AFI's top 10 movies are:

American Hustle (Columbia/Sony)      Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)
Captain Phillips (Columbia/Sony)       Nebraska (Paramount)
Fruitvale Station (Weinstein)               Saving Mr. Banks (Disney)
Gravity (Warner Bros.)                        Twelve Years a Slave (Fox)
Her (Warner Bros.)                              The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount)

According to the AFI, these films "best advance the art of the moving image, enhance the rich cultural heritage of America's art form, inspire audiences and artists alike and/or make a mark on American society."

Prominent films excluded from the AFI list: The Hunger Games, The Butler, Blue Jasmine, Dallas Buyer Club, All Is Lost, and Labor Day.

The Golden Globes, which include both movies and TV shows, are much more extensive than the AFI selections.  Within their movie related nominations the Golden Globe include:

Best Drama, Comedy, or Musical:

American Hustle (Columbia/Sony)           Twelve Years a Slave (Fox)
Her (Warner Bros.)                                  Captain Phillips (Columbia/Sony)
Inside Llewyn Davis (CBS Films)            Gravity (Warner Bros.)
Nebraska (Paramount)                             Philomena (Weinstein)
The Wolf of Wall Street (Paramount)       Rush (Universal)

Best Actor:                                                            Best Actress:

Chiwetel Ejiofor - Twelve Years a Slave              Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Idria Elba - Mandela                                            Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Tom Hanks - Captain Phillips                              Judi Dench - Philomena
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club     Emma Thompson - Saving Mr. Banks
Robert Redford - All Is Lost                                 Kate Winslet - Labor Day

We still have the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the MTV Movie Awards, Scream Awards, and Golden Raspberry (Razzie) Awards that have yet to be posted, just to name several.

Behind The Curve - Big Time 


Whether the cinema industry, cable or broadcast TV, satellite company, cell phone or internet provider, or web-based retailer - communications law reform is desperately needed to take our society into the future. However, our behind-the-curve federal government is literally decades behind in terms of dealing with the communication issues confronting us.

A perfect example of this governmental incompetence is that it was just this past August that the House of Representatives voted to repeal the FCC requirement to report to Congress on the status of the telegraph. I'll repeat that.... the telegraph!  As of today, however, the Senate has yet to act, so the telegraph report obligation by the FCC is still required. 

Unfortunately for Congress, in the face of all their ineptitude, the digital domain progresses on, stopping for no-one, including the U.S. Government.  Communications delivery mechanisms are morphing and effect every facet of our lives, yet - current regulations are so antiquated it would be laughable if it were not such a serious matter. Congress watches (as spectators) as technology moves ahead: TV on tablets, movies distributed via satellite (and eventually the internet), gaming consoles as primary communication devices, cell phones as payment systems - digital technology moves relentlessly and ever forward. The Congress and Obama Administration need to enact legislation that frees up bandwidth, delineates the boundaries  of video distribution, addresses questions regarding cybersecurity and privacy protection and these are just several issues that need immediate legislative action.

CMG's take: The chances for progressive communications legislation before 2016 (and perhaps beyond) are nil; therefore, it is best that Congress and the Obama Administration just do as they have been doing - staying out of the way, reading the telegraph report, and letting technology and the marketplace dictate the future.                                                                    
Best
Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A STORY THAT NEEDS TELLING

Lamarr was MGM '40s Star
Everyday when you use a wifi enabled device or make a call on your cell phone a technology called 'spread spectrum' is at work.  Essentially, it enables a radio signal to be spread across the entire available radio spectrum - increasing that signal's speed and quality.  The odd thing, is that this very valuable technology was invented by a 1940's Hollywood siren - Hedwig Kiesler, who was better known by her stage name:  Hedy Lamarr.

Lamarr's story is not only engaging but very fascinating and inspirational.  She said that the secret of her beauty was "to stand there and look stupid" - but in realty she was anything but.  She was a genius and math prodigy, who was not only an actor but inventor.  She juggled these endeavors with six marriages. Her beauty made her rich but her great accomplishments resulted from her intellect and inventions, which are still shaping the way we live today.

Hedy Lamarr's interest in wireless communications began in the 1930s. At that time she was married to Friedrich Mandl, then Austria's leading arms maker and supplier to the Nazis.  One of the most interesting topics for Mendl and his customers was the technology surrounding radio-controlled missiles and torpedoes. Wireless weapons offered far greater ranges than the wire-controlled alternatives.  Lamarr sat through Mendl's meetings and dinners "looking stupid" while absorbing all the information on the subject.  In 1937, Hedy left Mandl and escaped to London, selling her jewelry to finance her trip and new household.  In London, Lamarr met with Louis B. Meyer, then head of Metro, Goldwyn, Meyer (MGM) Studios, and signed an acting contract. She became one of MGM's biggest stars. In 1942, at the height of her acting fame, she invented a new kind of communications system, optimized for sending coded messages that couldn't be jammed.  Her innovation was encoding a message across a broad area of the wireless spectrum - if one part of the spectrum was jammed, the message would still get through on another frequency.

In August of 1942, Hedy Kiesler Markey (her married name at that time) was granted a U.S. patent for the 'spread spectrum' technology. Born in Vienna in 1914, she died in 2000 at the age of 85. She had three children.  At 18 she began her film career in a movie entitled 'Ecstasy'.  The film was widely acclaimed but notorious for Lamarr's facial close-up during a simulated orgasm and brief nude scenes.  Her memoir, entitled "Ecstasy and Me" was published in 1967.

Almost no one knows who Hedwig Kiesler was and less know that she was the pioneer in wireless communications.  Many do know Hedy Lamarr, the actress, but not the great inventor.  Hollywood should take note.  Hedy Lamarr's life story should be made into a movie - it's a special tale that need telling.

Jim Lavorato

Saturday, December 07, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 7 December 2013

STINK - STANK - STUNK
Diaz and Cruz in The Counselor


Time Magazine couldn't wait until year's end to post their 10 worst films of 2013, I guess figuring nothing could stink more than the 10 already selected.  In order of 'stink to stunk', following is the Time's list (commentary is mine):

- The Hangover III - Three definitely wasn't a charm. Bad film.
- Oz the Great & Powerful - Nothing great or powerful in this flim.
- The Counselor - A waste of top talent. Diaz's performance only reason to watch.
- The Big Wedding - Need to work hard at making a farce of this magnitude.
- Only God Forgives - Like waiting in line at the DMV - Borrrrring
- R.I.P.D. - Yeah .... and the title was the best thing about this film.
- After EarthScientology, as a life philosophy, belongs in Sci Fi.
- The Host - Thank God, no sequels are planned.
- Salinger - A bio on J.D. A great novel deserves a great film - this wasn't it.
..... and the worst film of 2013
- Grown Up 2 - Tiresome and witless film about aging frat-brothers solving life's adult male problems of: Urination, Defecation, Drooling, and sundry Scrotum issues. Sandler's latest bomb.  How does he get funding for these films?

GOOD NEWS for FAST & FURIOUS CO-STAR


Although fresh on the heels of the awful, untimely death of Paul Walker, there was some very good news for one of the 'F & F' family' this week. It was announced on Wednesday, that Gal Gadot won the part to play Wonder Woman in the forthcoming Batman v. Superman movie - ending months of speculation over whether Wonder Woman would appear in the film.  The movie, yet untitled, is known to center on a conflict between Superman and Batman and along with Wonder Woman, will also feature superheros:  The Flash and Nightwing  (neither of these roles have been cast as yet).

Gadot, a former model and Miss Israel tweeted, "Wonder Woman! So exciting!!! Can't express how happy I am:))))"  If the film is a hit, it is expected that Warner Bros. will produce a Wonder Woman solo film. Along with Gadot will be Ben Affleck, playing Batman (he has signed a multiple film contract) and Henry Cavill, who reappears, as Superman.

Linda Carter (62), who played Wonder Woman in the TV show, tweeted, "Congratulations to Gal Gadot!"  However, some reaction to Gadot's casting was mixed.  Comments like, "She's very pretty, but looks like she'd snap in half if leaned on her the wrong way." were blogged.  We can only wait and see, good luck Gal.

GOOGLE SUES UNCLE SAM


Having been under scrutiny over the past few years by the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and other government agencies, Google has turned-the-tables and is suing the U.S. Government regarding requests for information on its users.

Having growing concerns with the amount of information about its users that the government is requesting Google is pushing back. In its most recent report detailing U.S. Government information requests, Google stated that these requests have increased by more than 100% since 2010.  In its suit, Google is requesting that it be allowed to make public the requests it receives for information reported under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which the government wants keep secret.
Additionally, Google wants legislation that would require a warrant, based on probable cause, before forcing Google to disclose the content of the any user's electronic communications.

CMG believes Google has a better than fair chance of winning its suit as the requests for information on user searches and emails by a myriad of  U.S. government agencies - many unrelated to national security - has proliferated under the Obama administration. To bolster its suit, Google has been very aggressive is shutting down pirated content on YouTube which clearly benefits the cinema and other media industries.


Sunday, December 01, 2013

Best Movie Restaurants - MPAA Blasted on Oral Sex - Top 10 Sports Movies

CMG's List of the Best Movie Restaurants


I consider myself a 'foodie'.  I do not cook, at all, but I do enjoy eating all sorts and types of food prepared by others - from street vendors in Singapore and food trucks in Buffalo, to culinary on-the-edge joints like Alinea's in Chicago or La Bernardine's in NYC. So, I thought it would be a good idea to 'pair' my love for food with my favorite movie restaurants.  They are in no particular order and I'm sure you have favorites of your own - please share.

1. Mos Eisley Cantina - Star Wars - Featured the Modal Nodes Band
2. Jack Rabbit Slim's - Pulp Fiction - '50s style landmark
3. Rick's Café American - Casablanca - Never was a 'real' Rick's
4. Cafeteria (Univ. of Oregon) - Animal House - Belushi at his best
5. Korova Milk Bar - A Clockwork Orange - LSD laced milkshake, anyone
6. Louis Restaurant (the Bronx) - The Godfather - Dining mob-style
7. Katz's Deli - When Harry Met Sally - NYC landmark
8. Gonpachi Nishi-Azabu, Tokyo - Kill Bill - Bloody rare
9. Copacabana - Goodfellas - Wise-guy central
10. Grafton's Saloon - Shane - "a low-down Yankee lair"

Oral Sex - Not Mainstream, Yet


Evan Rachel Wood blasted the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for demanding that the scenes featuring oral sex be cut from her latest film.  Wood's (26) is starring in 'Charlie Countryman' which would have received an 'NC-17' rating vs. the 'R' rating it has if the oral sex scenes were not omitted.

After viewing the edited version, Wood took to Twitter and described the MPAA action as, "Symptomatic of a society that is frightened of female sexuality.  I would like 2 share my disappointment with the MPAA, who thought it was necessary to censor a woman's sexuality once again. The scene where the two main characters make love was altered because someone felt that seeing a man give a woman oral sex made people 'uncomfortable'.  This is a symptom of a society that wants to shame women and put them down for enjoying sex".

'Charlie Countryman' received the 'R' rating by the MPAA once the oral sex scenes were cut in fear of receiving the dreaded 'NC-17' rating (anyone under 18 not admitted) which can spell box office disaster as the large cinema chains will not exhibit films with an 'NC-17'.

CMG's take: Like most things in society, the more frequent - the more accepted. So, the more film-makers feature oral sex in their movies the less offensive it becomes until it is viewed as normal and not taboo.

10 Best Sports Movies


Published in England since 1791, The Observer, is the world's oldest Sunday newspaper. It also prints some of the best 'top ten lists' and recently it ran a list of the 10 Best Sports Movies. Here is their list:

1. Raging Bull/Boxing
2. The Hustler/Pool
3. Hoop Dreams/Basketball
4. The Wrestler/Professional Wrestling (photo: Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler)
5. Jerry Maquire/Football
6. Point Break/Surfing
7. Bull Durham/Baseball
8. Slap Shot/Hockey
9. Olympia/1936 Olympics
10. This Sporting Life/Rugby
 
Can't say I disagree.

Best
Jim Lavorato



Thursday, November 28, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 28 November 2013 (Happy Thanksgiving)

Black Bird Nets $4.1 million
Bogart with Falcon


Last month CMG reported that the James Bond Lotus Submarine car sold at auction for $800,000, and while this is impressive, it pales in comparison to the sale of  'the black bird'. Yes, I'm referring to the iconic statuette that appeared in the 1941 classic 'The Maltese Falcon'.  Last Monday, 'the bird' was auctioned off for over $4 million.

The auctioned statute was one of two used as props in the movie but the only one authenticated by Warner Brothers, as it has a WB inventory number etched into its base and bears the name of the movie.  The sale took place at Bonhams, the British art auction house.  In the movie, the statuette is termed "a priceless work of art", which is the cause of several murders.  The movie stars Humphrey Bogart as detective Sam Spade, with co-stars: Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet. Directed by John Huston, it was nominated for three Academy Awards.

Lee To Create New Superheros
Stan Lee and Superheros


90 year old comic guru and genre creator Stan Lee has been hired by Sony Pictures to create new Superheros for the movies.  Lee created or co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, X-Men, and other comic superheros and was the moving force in the development and expansion of Marvel Comics.

Sony tapped Lee because it needs more superheros, as it has only one, Spider-Man.  Disney owns the rights to The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Hulk via its purchase of Marvel Studios in 2009.  Warner Brothers owns the heroes from rival publisher DC Comics, which include: Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. Fox Studios owns the rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

Thus far Sony's attempts at creating new superheros has failed, so Lee (who is no longer affiliated with Marvel) was hired to dream up new characters.  We wish Stan the best.

Gaming Is Really Big


Spil Games, a maker of online and mobile games, reported that more than 1.2 billion people play games worldwide each day, with 700 million playing online.

Oscar Diele, Spil's Head of Marketing told CMG, "Gaming is a huge part of people's online activities. It's really mainstream, crossing age and gender boundaries.  Many people really don't know how big gaming is. We are beginning to see more and more advertisers realizing that they need to spend more on video ads within games." 

Spil's data shows that 46% of gamers are women with 54% men. The top game categories for men and boys are racing, sports, and action games. The top categories for women are puzzles, quizzes, word matching and mahjong games.  The top categories for girls are cooking, dress-up, and pet care games.

47% of all females aged 15 to 24 play games, while 54% of that age group in males play games.  On the other end of the age spectrum, 41% of females and 37% of males over age 45 play games.

Movies and games feed off of each other. Many movies have turned into very popular games, such as Harry Potter and popular games have turned into movies, like Tome Raider.

Best
Jim Lavorato

Sunday, November 24, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 24 November 2013

Are Hunger Games Movies Over-branded

'The Hunger Games' movie franchise is a perfect example of branding, and then marketing, the hell out of your product.  Prior examples abound: Harry Potter, Star Wars, Fast & Furious, Twilight, Star Trek, and so on.  The trick is for the studio to get as much as they can for as long as they can - and the milking can go on for decades. Branding/marketing the six Star Wars films has been on-going for decades and now three more sequels are in the works.  A perfect example of a massive franchise in the making is 'Avatar' - one film, thus far, but with three more planned. However, sometimes the brand can be oversold - and 'The Hunger Games' is an example of this over-branding.

Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, is the prime character in the story and a great role model for young women.  Problem is: how does blue makeup, Subway foot-longs, and Hasbro archery toys fit the brand? It doesn't, but for the royalties Lionsgate Studios (owner of  The Hunger Games) receives.

Lionsgate has sanctioned a line of clothing, The Capitol Collection, marketed to young women; however, their recent ad (in collaboration with CoverGirl makeup) depicts women (much older then teens) with blue lips and very heavy eye shadow and makeup. The makeup is almost in cosplay fashion.  My issue isn't with the makeup, if a young girl wants to wear it - go for it, but it represents everything that is wrong with the society in The Hunger Games, - these products are directly opposed to what Katniss represents.  The Capitol is superficial, cruel, and the epitome of Big Brotherism - where the citizens are numb to the fact that they are allowing and viewing 'games' where children kill each other for amusement.  The CoverGirl ads are telling girls to paint themselves to look pretty in direct contrast to the Katniss character who is earthy and loves nature and strives for a simple life.

However, the CoverGirl ads are trivial compared to the absurd Subway ads, with their "Fiery Footlong Collection" - I was unaware that you could 'collect' sandwiches. According to the ads, you can celebrate your love of the movies by consuming Subway's 'hot and spicy' chicken, turkey, or beef sandwiches.  But, unless I'm wrong, isn't the entire premise of The Hunger Games about food shortages and massive class inequality.

Better still, is the Hasbro line of Hunger Games nerf archery products - called the 'Nerf Rebelle' collection.  'Rebelle' - you have got to be kidding! Their TV ad shows little girls running around firing nerf arrows - using bright pink bows.  Hasbro has even given the bows names (you need to collect them all): The Pink Crush Blaster, the Guardian Crossbow, and the Heartbreaker Bow - chalk one up for girl power.

Ok, enough. My point is:
even movies (the stuff of make-believe) can be over-branded, to a point where they lose there moral, or any other, compass in the name of promotion and profits.

Stunt Oscar

Last week I wrote a piece on Jason Statham.  As a follow-up, I learned that he recently had an interview with Vanity Fair magazine where it came out that he is on a crusade to get stunt performers an Oscar category.  Said Statham, "I think it is an overlooked category considering how much responsibility these people have for the greatest entertainment in action movies.  I mean, all of the stunt performers - these are the unsung heroes.  They really are.  Nobody is giving them any credibility.  They're risking their necks.  It's total injustice."  I couldn't agree more. Without stunt coordinators and the people that actually perform the stunts the action, high-impact films that rule today's box office would not exist. They deserve an Oscar category.

Statham went on to scorn his fellow actors who are inserted into action scenes via visual effects. "Then you have some guy standing in front of a fucking green screen screwing his face up pretending like he's doing the stunt.  To me, it's a farce.  I have a real frustration with that because I know these stunt coordinators, they are incredibly talented."  Statham should know, his action films have grossed over $2 billion.


Best
Jim Lavorato

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The WORLD of COSPLAY

Cosplay - short for costume play - in which people dress as characters from movies, comics, and video games has become a global sub-culture.  Dedicated cosplaying is especially prevalent in Asia, with Japan in the lead.  In fact, the term 'cosplay' is derived from the Japanese Kosu (costume) and Asobu (play). 

In cosplay it is not unusual to see gender switching or dress-up centered on sex appeal where choosing characters, known  for their attractiveness and/or reveling costumes. This is not Halloween dress-up but for real character role playing. In the extreme, cosplayers dress-up and stay in character full-time.

Most cosplayers create their own costumes and great pains are taken to ensure the authenticity of the outfit.  This taxing and expensive process also serves to unite cosplayers and is part of the culture.  Many cosplayers also engage in various forms of body modification.  Contact lenses to match the color of the imitated character's eyes, the copying of tattoos or special skin markings their characters have, hair dying, and even plastic surgery to reshape a nose etc.

The psychology of cosplaying is profound.  To express adoration for a character (real or animated) is the ultimate in fan expression. For example, in its nascent form, you see many sports fans wearing their favorite player's jersey - in Japan this is termed 'otaku' - and is considered a form of affection.  But cosplay at the max, is all about the notoriety the character bringing to the player as they play out their fantasy.

Be it a movie, TV show, video game, or anime character the purpose of cosplay is to show off your character - and cosplayers do just that. Cosplay is culturally universal, and show-off  events are held around the world.  The single largest event is the ComiKet convention, held in Japan each summer and winter.  It attracts hundreds of thousands of cosplayers from around the world.  The largest event, outside of Asia is the annual San Diego ComicCon, there are also cosplay conventions in the UK, France, LA, Toronto, and Australia.

From Sesame Street to Star Wars, cosplay characters represent a wide array of fantasy figures to be emulated.  For some, there is an inner need to mimic (and in extreme cases try to become) the movie stars they adore.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Greatest Movie Footage In History

Most Historic Film Footage Ever !
Zapruder
 


The most significant and important movie footage ever - without doubt, the Zapruder footage of the JFK assassination.  Now, at the 50th anniversary of that unforgettable event, we see this 26 second, silent, color, 8mm micro-documentary, cum historic record, over and over again. Some have even termed the Zapruder film, 'the launch of citizen journalism - an omen of the coming age of  YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter'.
But what about Zapruder? What happened to the man who went on lunch-break to record the drive-past of the President and instead produced a film of epic importance?

Giamatti as Zapruder
Within hours of the assassination, Zapruder, an amateur photographer, had given copies of his film to two men.  The first, to Forrest Sorrels, of the Secret Service, the second to Richard Stolley, editor of Life Magazine. Zapruder sold the publishing rights to Life for $150,000 with the promise that they never publish frame 313: the fatal shot itself.  The copy that went to the Secret Service found its way to the investigators at the Warren Commission; however, the reproductions that the Commission printed omitted some frames and switched around others, planting even more conspiracy seeds, which exist to this day (just do a internet search and you'll be faced with a myriad of analyses of the film).

'The camera never lies' and the Zapruder film is the undisputed classic example - the motherlode of a first-hand visual account of an event.  The cinema has tried to address this very theme in films like, Antonioni's remarkable 'Blow-Up', and Coppola's, great film, 'The Conversation', but the Zapruder film is the standard because it is real!

In 1999, the Zapruder family sold the 26 second film to the U.S. government for $16 million, though they still retain the copyright. The going rate for use of it is currently $80,000. 

A new film on the assassination, 'Parkland', will be released shortly. It centers around the hospital that treated both Kennedy and Oswald after they were shot, and includes  all of the usual suspects, but in it is Zapruder, played by Paul Giamatti.  The film zeros in on Zapruder, and rather than reviewing the assassination yet again, it shows a closeup of Zapruder's face during those moments, registering his shock as he films, and the only time you see the famous footage is as a reflection in Zapruder's glasses.

Abraham Zapruder was the poster child for the American dream. A Russian Jewish immigrant who worked hard and made a life for himself and family, he was aware that his 26 second film would change his life as he knew it.  He was haunted by the assassination.  He testified before both the Warren Commission and the Clay Shaw trail - he wept during both testimonies.  He died of cancer in 1970, and according to his family, after November 22, 1963, he never looked through a camera lens again.

Although I don't recommend, nor find any of the conspiracy stuff relevant as I don't believe the mystery, if there is one, will ever be outed. I do find the human stories surrounding the assassination very compelling, i.e. the Zapruder story. So, I will go to the cinema to view 'Parkland'.

Best
Jim

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 14 November 2013

Cinema Ads Beat Out TV

Taco Bell Bets on In-cinema Ads
The Cinema Advertising Council recently released independently derived data that showed in-cinema advertisements beat out both broadcast and cable TV in sales response and audience product recognition. The two major cinema ad networks - ScreenVision and NCM MediaNetworks - view this data as huge support for their claims that in-cinema ads, for the same product, are more effective than TV.

Last month, spurred on by the data, ScreenVision  inked a deal with Nielsen Ratings, giving ScreenVision access to data that can be used to support demographic guarantees to large advertising clients.  The data, compiled by Nielsen's Cinema Audience Measurement Service, is widely recognized within the ad industry as valid for verification if ads are reaching their target audiences.

In its contracts with advertising clients, ScreenVision guarantees a certain level of audience response and recognition. Clients include: Taco Bell and ConAgra (Hunt's, SwissMiss, Peter Pan, and ReddiWhip brands- to name several).


Manga Master Returns


The Godfather of the Japanese animation world, Hayao Miyazaki, has come out of retirement to pen a new series of Manga comics and films.  Miyazaki is reported to be working on a new samurai-themed magna series set in Japan's "Warring States" period which has movie franchise potential.

If you are at all a reader of Manga, you know of Miyazaki.  The 72 year old film maker authored and directed the animation masterpieces "Spirited Away" (for which he won an Oscar) and the famous and widely acclaimed "Howl's Moving Castle", and  it appears he may be up for another Oscar nomination in 2014 for his "The Wind Rises" book and film.

Miyazaki's return to the genre is great news for Manga fans and if you have never read a Manga novel, do so! Like fiction novels, Manga has something to offer every taste.

Under The Radar


If you haven't seen the movie 'Layer Cake', do so - it is one of my favorite films. Released in 2001, it is based on a novel, by J.J. Connolly, which depicts the social strata of the British criminal underworld, and is so fast paced it's hard to keep up with the interplay of the actors and the plot. 'Layer Cake' has become a cult classic of sorts, and now a sequel - 'Viva La Madness' (also penned by J.J. Connolly) is in the works with the starring role to be played by Jason Statham.

Statham is what I term - 'an under-the-radar movie star'. Slowly, quietly he has built a solid reputation and body of work playing in both hard-edged and comedic films. From 'The Transporter' franchise, to the much acclaimed dark comedy/thriller 'Snatch', to the voice of Tybait in the children's animated classic 'Gnomes & Juliet'.  Statham (46) has had a pretty fair acting career and 'Viva La Madness' (published in 2011) will provide him an opportunity to play in a really good and gritty crime story that he is so good at. 

Statham, and his production partner, Steve Chasman bought the rights to Connolly's novel and are now in the process of Director selection.  Jason has completed 37 major movies, the latest, 'Homefront' co-starring James Franco will be released this month. He has 3 films in postproduction: 'Heat', 'Expendables 3', and the very anticipated comedy, 'Susan Cooper' which co-stars Melissa McCarthy, and one film currently in production: 'Fast & Furious 7'.  Good luck with 'Viva La Madness", Jason.

Best
Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Big Stars Square Off - The Last Rental - Scorsese's Horror

Clooney's Feuds w/ Crowe & DiCaprio 

Yeah-we all love celeb feuds
In an interview with Esquire Magazine, George Clooney broke the unwritten Hollywood code of silence and blasted fellow A-list actors Russell Crowe and Leo DiCaprio.

Clooney stated that Crowe had sent him a book of  his own poetry as a peace offering "to apologize for insulting the shit out of me, which he did."  According to Clooney, Crowe, "picked a fight with me. He started it for no reason at all."  In response, Clooney disparaged Crowe's band - '30 Odd Foot of Grunts' - which enraged Crowe further, claiming Clooney was nothing more than a "Sinatra wannabe".

DiCaprio, came into criticism by Clooney because of his entourage - known as the Pussy Posse.  According to George, "How important is it to have someone in your life to tell you what's what. I'm not sure if Leo has someone like that".  Clooney referred to a basketball game between George and Leo and their mutual set of friends.  Clooney said his team was, "all like 50 years old" (George is 52).  "The thing about playing Leo is you have all these guys talking shit. But they can't play at all.  We're all like 50 years old and we beat them three straight."

So, even in the Hollywood major leagues there is feudn' and fussn' - over, it appears, really trivial crap.  But than again, what else have these 'pussies' got to bitch about.

Blockbuster's Last Rental


The last movie rental by Blockbuster Video (the video and DVD rental chain) occurred last Saturday night at 11pm in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The movie rented was 'This Is The End' (figures) and right after, the store closed - for good. Dude in middle of photo was last customer.

Streaming videos, pay-per-view, and services like Hulu brought the demise of the once mighty Blockbuster empire - which accounted for over 70% of all video/DVD rentals at its peak.  The Dish Network, current owner of Blockbuster, is closing all of the remaining company-run 300+ stores leaving around 50 stores under license. The movie rental service ceased on Saturday night for all of The Dish owned stores.

In response to the news that 'This Is The End' was the last movie rented, Seth Rogen, the film's writer, director, and star, tweeted, "this is nuts and sad. In high school I would hang out at blockbuster every day."

Funny, I remember going to the local Blockbuster (which I was a member of) and waiting in line to get my rental after scanning the shelves for the latest films, or perusing for an old classic to re-watch, or for a film I had mentally footnoted to view when it came out on DVD - but I digress. Good or bad, technology change, in the digital domain, is relentless and unforgiving. Blockbuster couldn't make the transition to streaming fast enough and lost out to the likes of  TiVo, Ruku, Netflix, Redbox, and Amazon Prime to name several.

Scorsese's Favorite Horror 

Noted film director, Marty Scorsese was recently asked to list his favorite horror films - turns out Scorsese is a big horror fan. Following is a list of his favorites (in no particular order):

The Haunting - 1963               The Changeling - 1980
Isle of the Dead - 1945            The Exorcist - 1973
The Uninvited - 1944               Night of the Demon - 1957
The Entity - 1982                     The Innocents - 1961
Dead of Night - 1945               Psycho - 1960

A younger Scorsese behind the camera.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 10 November 2013

SUPERHERO 'BRO'MANCE

Shanghai's Bona Insun Cineplex has decided to use a 'Thor 2' movie poster depicting Thor and his sibling superhero brother, Loki, in a romantic embrace.  The image was Photoshopped from original images of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) protectively hugging Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and a picture of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) standing with eyes closed.

Why the image was Photoshopped is weird but even stranger is why it was used by a movie chain to advertise the film.

My take: People just have way too much time on their hands and besides Thor is a revengeful God and I wouldn't want his wrath visited upon me.

'HUNGER' THEME PARKS IN THE WORKS
 


'Hunger Games - Catching Fire', the second of a four-part film series is due to be released in the U.S. on November 22nd.  The first film, 'The Hunger Games' grossed over $700 million and the franchise is valued at over $2 billion.  Given this success, Lionsgate Entertainment, the owner of Hunger Games, wants to build theme parks based upon the HG's premise (a society where people watch children fight to the death for fun). 

Variety Magazine, reported last week that Lionsgate is considering setting up at least two theme parks following the very successful launch of merchandising and clothing lines.  Among other products, Lionsgate teamed with a Chinese manufacturer to produce China Glaze, a line of nail polish, while also introducing a line of clothing, Capitol Couture - which has been very well received by teenage girls.

Whether or not the parks will be realized is iffy given that there has already been claims that the themed parks encourage children to be violent.  CMG will keep you informed.

The last two sequels of the franchise, Mockingjay Part 1 & 2 are due out in the fall of 2014 and 2015.

DCDC IS ALL ABOUT 'YESTERNOW'


"Historic", "Groundbreaking", "The culmination of years of complex work", "Visionary".  These were the terms being used by Boxoffice Magazine and other media outlets to describe the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition (DCDC) - None of it is TRUE !

DCDC, a consortia composed of large U.S. cinema chains and major film studios, is charged with the distribution of films and other content via satellite. However, none of what is being said regarding DCDC's historic significance or groundbreaking work is valid.  The groundbreaking of satellite distribution of movies digitally took place in 2001.  Back then, the Boeing Company (yes, the airplane manufacturer) with assistance from  Entertainment Equipment Corp. (the company I then and still manage) did what DCDC is doing now - transmitting movies digitally via satellite to cinemas.

The Boeing/EEC project centered around the transmission of  'Star Wars - Attack of of the Clones' to six movie locations in the San Diego, CA area.  The results of that experiment were great. The transmission of the movie to the theatres and the on-screen presentation went without a hitch and the system worked flawlessly with movie after movie for weeks after without one glitch. Unfortunately, the studios, driven by paranoia, didn't trust Boeing with their content and would not participate with further development.  Now, 12 years later, the studios and large exhibitors are calling their satellite distribution system "historic" and "visionary" - this could not be further from the truth. What DCDC is doing has all been done before, but by touting their 'service' as new and incredibly historic it hopes to get as many exhibitors to subscribe to as possible.

Does movie distribution via satellite work - YES. Is it the best way to distribute movies - NO.  The best way is via a secured internet feed - this is the cheapest, most effective and efficient way to distribute movies to theatres and in the future all movies will be distributed this way. 

Best
Jim

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The NEW Hollywood: Production Out / Tourism In

Buses packed with wide-eyed tourists on route to get a glimpse of celebrity mansions. Movie fans on their way to Mount Lee for an up-close of the 45ft. high 'Hollywood' sign. Worshipers kneeling on the pavement-embedded pink stars on the 'walk of fame' paying homage to favorite film stars.  Hollywood has become a shrine versus the movie making mecca it once was. 

Since the 1980s Hollywood has been losing out to less expensive production locations and now struggles economically, as U.S. states and other countries have increasing used aggressive tax incentives and other financial lures to gain the business of moviemaking.  "The tourists still come but what they're looking at is the past. It's an illusion" says two-time Oscar winning makeup artist Michele Burke, "The big films are not being made here. Everything has changed".

Movie and TV production is fleeing Los Angeles and California for other locales to save money. Termed 'runaway production' FilmLA, a non-profit organization that arranges filming permits, has called the flight "staggering".  Of the top 50 highest grossing films of 2012, only 4 were filmed in California.  Recent releases attest to this trend.  Iron Man 3 was shot in North Carolina, The Long Ranger in New Mexico, The Great Gatsby in Australia, Gravity in England.  All of the new episodes of Star Wars will be produced in England as well. 

Hollywood is full of abandoned sound stages and LA's new mayor, Eric Garcetti, has declared the situation a "Civic emergency. Entertainment is LA's signature industry, and we can't afford to lose it. It's about more than just Hollywood actors and stars - it's an industry of over 500,000 good paying jobs and I'm committed to doing everything I can to keep filming here in LA. California must offer better tax breaks and credits to compete with rivals including Canada and the UK."

For a big production, these incentives can add up to tens of millions of dollars. For example, Disney's Iron Man 3, which grossed over $1 billion, paid no tax to its host, North Carolina, because it was deemed a "temporary business entity".

Varese Sarabande, the world's largest producer of film scores, recorded just 20 scores in LA last year, compared with more than 100 five years ago. The lure is not just tax incentives but a willingness to forfeit secondary market residuals on future video sales and broadcasts on the part of many locales. "In London, you have a buyout option, select your rate and the recording is yours. There are no further tariffs.  In LA you have a never-ending payment stream," says Robert Townson, Sarabande's VP.

Hollywood's demise is invisible to movie fans. When LA based Rhythm & Hues won the best visual effects Oscar for Life of Pi last year, very few knew that it was in bankruptcy.  Outside the Oscar venue hundreds of visual-effects artists protested but they were kept away from the red carpet. Remember: Hollywood is all about glitz and glamor and it remains so to the millions of movie fans worldwide.

Best
Jim

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Beginning of The End?

Movies Get Released Day-and-Date Across All Media Outlets 

Ted Sarandos
Way back in 1999, I penned an article for the Film Journal International entitled, "Theatres Become Viewing Venues".  In that article, I proposed that eventually - given the digital domain's need for speed and efficiency - all content would be available to everyone, everywhere in a real time basis.  Therefore movies would be 'offered up' in a variety of media outlets on a day-and-date basis.  This scenario is beginning to play out and why I continually harp to cinema owners that they must have a 'wow' factor in their presentations (both image and sound) if they are to survive.

OK, having said that, it appears that Netflix will be the first company to try out this scenario, as it recently announced that with the success of the TV shows it has produced and made available to its over 40 million subscribers, it has plans to produce feature films which would appear in cinemas and on Netflix at the same time.

Last week, Ted Sarandos, Netflix Head of Content, told CMG that, "Netflix could start delivering new movies to its subscribers by doing the same that we did with our original TV shows and become a first-run distributor."  When we pressed Sarandos, he told us, "What we're trying to do for TV, the model should extend pretty nicely to movies. Meaning, why not premiere movies on Netflix, the same day they're opening in theatres?  And not little movies.  There's a lot of ways, and lots of people to do that already.  Why not major releases?  Why not follow the consumers' desire to watch things when they want?"

What Netflix wants to do is put pressure on Hollywood to change - it wants to end-run the present system of movie distribution. Problem is, the theatrical release is really the initial marketing for a movie with the more lucrative distribution of pay-per-view, DVDs, and TV (cable & broadcast) which follow - this is particularly true with blockbuster movies which generate a majority of the cinema box office.

Needless to say, the time when movies will release day-and-date is fast approaching and inevitable, there is just too much money involved for players like Netflix, Google, Amazon, and Apple to ignore.

Best,
Jim

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 29 October 2013

Bras In Space
Playtex seamstress at work on spacesuit


'Spacesuit' (Warner Bros) is an upcoming film about the development of the suit worn by the Apollo 11 astronauts on their historic flight and landing on the moon.  Now, think of the entire mission hinging on the use of your grandma's bra!  That's right, without the 'technology' behind the brassiere the moon landing would not have been possible. 

It turns out that the 21 layers of gossamer thin fabric in the Apollo spacesuits was created by the Playtex Company using undergarment materials. A little known historical fact is that the development of the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment (ie. moon suit) is one of the great American stories which up until now was never told.

Pitted against the military/industrial complex, Playtex created the 21 layer spacesuit, when the military contractors failed.  No firm could meet the mission requirements and create a functioning suit that would keep the astronauts alive.  The seamstresses at Playtex (all women) with their years of experience fashioning bras, could, and did.

'Spacesuit' depicts this incredible story - how it happened and the women who made it happen, this is a must see movie.  Look for it at your local cinema, and if they haven't booked it tell them to do so.

To Bob DeNiro: Please Stop Making Crappy Movies


Is Robert DeNiro trying to top the most movies made list? I swear, if DeNiro makes one more shitty movie I'm boycotting him for life ( not that this would matter much in the bigger scheme of things). But, really, can't this guy stay away from the camera.
DeNiro will be in eight movies this year alone and basically each one was worse then the last.

Making his rise to stardom in the '70s and '80s, DeNiro is one of the great actors in modern cinema and he still delivers but he does it in movies that don't deserve his talents - it seems like its all about volume as he does this over and over again.

Just this year, coming off his great 2012 performance in 'Silver Linings Playbook', came this year's 'The Big Wedding', ' Being Flynn', 'American Hustle', 'The Family', and two duds that went straight to DVD - 'Killing Season' and 'Freelancers'.  Next week 'Last Vegas' will be released - which appears to be an Expendables meets Grumpy Old Men - and on Christmas Day 'Grudge Match' (or Rocky meets Raging Bull) as Sly Stallone co-stars. In addition, he has another movie in production, 'Motel'.

Wow! Whatever happened to the actor of  'Taxi Driver', 'The Deer Hunter', and 'True Confessions' ? Bob, how about fewer but better films. You don't need the money and we don't need a DeNiro movie of the month.

ExpendaBelles: Totally Chick


In answer to the geezer action films known as 'The Expendables' (3rd one in production) Avi Lerner, their producer, is planning to sign Mila Jovovich, Cameron Diaz, and Meryl Streep in a female version entitled 'The ExpendaBelles' (no joke).

In a press release, Lerner reported that he was in negotiations with the three stars who all have worked in action movies before. Diaz in 'Charlie's Angels', Streep in 'The River Wild', and Jovovich in the 'Resident' Evil' series of films.  Lerner is also scouting for a female director for the film, which has already been scripted.

I like the premise - so hopefully Lerner can get those three and others to sign on.

Best
Jim Lavorato