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Sunday, November 30, 2014

The 'SCENE" by Seymore Flix

In this 'SCENE'

- Uncle Vlad Goes To H'wood
- Burt Reynolds Goes Broke
- Dolby Takes It Home
- Chicago Parks Group Sues Over Star Wars Museum

Vlad Putin Rescues Hollywood

3 Cheers for Uncle Vlad
Uncle Vlad put the kibosh on the Russian Parliament's effort to curb the number of Hollywood movies allowed into Russian cinemas.   Putin asked government bigwigs (nicely) to cancel debate on a bill that would have introduced quotas on foreign films. He stated, "It would be wrong to deny our consumers those goods they would like to have. It is applicable to the motion picture industry too. It would be unwise to turn down what is profitable. The Americans are talented and successful people and there is a lot we can learn from them."

Uncle Vlad's comments were warmly received by the Motion Picture Association of America, the representative body of the studios, as a spokesperson for the MPAA noted, "We welcome the remarks by President Putin. We have long enjoyed close relations with Russian film makers and have a shared interest in a healthy local market in Russia."

Hollywood films are very popular in Russia. Only two of the top 20 grossing films exhibited in Russia this year have been non-Hollywood productions, and the proposed cap of 50% on foreign films would have cost the Hollywood studios hundreds of millions.

In contract, China currently has a quota of allowing only 34 foreign films to be exhibited each year. In addition, there are delays for debuts of blockbuster in order to favor locally produced features. So, we have to give credit where credit is due and Uncle Vlad deserves lots of credit.  Three cheers for Vlad.

Reynolds Goes Bust
Recent photo of Reynolds

Burt Reynolds, the once biggest star in Hollywood, is auctioning off over 600 personal items to raise money to stave off foreclosure on his home.  On December 11 and 12 Reynolds will be selling his life-long stash of personal memorabilia at The Palms Hotel in Las Vegas. Born in 1936, Reynolds had a very successful movie and TV career and was considered a very good actor who also did live performances.

The items to be auctioned include: two Golden Globes, cowboy boots he wore in the film Striptease, signed items from Muhammad Ali, Wayne Gretsky, Jack Nicklaus, gifts from Elizabeth Taylor, Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, James Cagney and hundreds of other movie related items.

Divorces, failed business ventures, and bad investment decisions have taken their toll on Reynolds' fortune, and the Bank of America is foreclosing on his Florida home for back mortgage payments - he hasn't made any payments since 2010.

Burt is putting a positive spin on the auction saying, "I've collected so many things that I truly adore but at this stage in my life I find it very difficult to manage them all.  The fact of the matter is that it truly is the time to downsize and for these items that I have loved over the years find new homes where they can be cared for and appreciated."

So, here's your chance to pick up a bit of real Hollywood.  A quick trip to Vegas and you never know what a couple of hundred bucks might bring you.  A Golden Globe, you say, hmmm. that empty spot on the mantle?

Dolby Takes Atmos Home
Atmos home speaker

The Atmos sound system, Dolby's latest fully immersive sound system for cinemas will now be available for home use.  Using Dolby Atmos endowed home AV receivers which will provide the 'height' effect without overhead-positioned speakers (as are used in cinemas), Dolby claims the effect will be near to the cinema sound experience.

5.1 channel home systems need only to have two additional speakers placed at front left and front right to gain the Atmos experience. AV product manufacturers which have already announced sign-on to Atmos include: Denon, Marantz, Pioneer, and Yamaha to name several.

To date there have been 150 films mixed in Dolby Atmos for cinemas and Atmos enhanced Blu-rays are appearing in stores for the holiday season.  Although the going is slow for cinemas to convert to Atmos given its cost, the home invasion by Dolby appears to be a wise move and gets Atmos exposure to the consumer - it's all a matter of educating the public.  

Lucas Star Wars Museum is Sued
Proposed Lucas Museum

A parks preservation group has sued the City of Chicago from moving ahead with the proposed construction of a Star War Museum stating that the site is on a lakefront spot that cannot be handed over to a private entity.  The Friends of the Park said, in a federal lawsuit, that the proposed, "Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, violated the law". 

The Lucas Museum's proposed location is on the same lakefront area as the Chicago Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium.  Answering the suit, city spokesperson Adam Collins stated that, "The museum will be treated like others on the lakefront museum campus and comply with all laws. This museum is a generous gift that will expand the rich cultural and educational opportunities for children and families in every neighborhood, and visitors from around the world."

The museum will feature George Lucas' collection of painting, illustrations, and digital art, including works by Norman Rockwell, John Tenniel, and Maxfield Parrish. Lucas first wanted the museum to be built in San Francisco, but then opted for Chicago where is wife, Mellody is from.

The museum site was selected to be near Chicago's Soldiers Field because of its accessibility to public transportation and its central location. A white, fluid, modernistic design is proposed for the building.

Best Seymore

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hasbro Goes H'wood ...... Godfather Mansion for $$$

It's All About The Kids
Several of Hasbro's Toy Lines

Hasbro, the second largest toy company in the U.S. after Mattel, is set to ink a deal with the Dreamworks.  The deal calls for a merger between Hasbro Studios (the toy company's entertainment division) with Dreamworks Animation - the folks that produced the Shrek, Madagascar, and How to Train Your Dragon franchises.

Hasbro is no newcomer to the H'wood scene, having already collaborated on several movie projects including: GI Joe and The Transformers movies (the last Transformers film grossed over one billion dollars globally). Plus the company has licenses to produce toys based upon film superheroes, such as Spiderman, The Avengers, and The Hunger Games.  Hasbro has the perfect storm for making earnings from merchandising products that come from movies and from the movies themselves, and they have a huge repertorie of products (toys and games) to draw from.

Toy-inspired movies are going to take the same path that comic-inspired movies have - only this sub-genre of films has an already proven and highly profitable track record.  We spoke, last week of the My Little Pony movie, which is in the works. Other projects include a movie based on the game Candyland  with Sony Pictures and possibly a film based upon Monopoly. Toys and games into films - works better than one might think. The Lego Movie is a prime example of this strange, off-beat, but profitable concept.

Film makers will use up every toy, game, and comic character if need be until we are left with nothing to cherish but our youthful (and sadly) perhaps our best memories, and in the process, stripping future generations' of their imaginations and dreams.  But, than again - it's all about the kids - right?

It's Not Personal ... It's Only Business
Godfather House on the Block

Got a spare $3 million. If so the Staten Island, NY mansion, where the Godfather movies were shot, can be yours. The home of the Corleones, in Godfather I and II, has gone on the block. Described in the real estate ad as an "enchanting English tudor" on a 24,000 sq. ft. lot the interior of the house was never in the movies, but provided a backdrop to a number of great scenes, most notably the wedding of Connie Corleone to Carlo Rizzi (later killed by Michael) for his betrayal of Sonnie.

Built in 1930 the house was the home of the Norton family. Completely renovated in 2012 it has five bedrooms and seven bathrooms, plus a gym, four car garage, two offices, saltwater pool, and a basement level pub and game room.

So, for those wanting a piece of movie history in their day-to-day life, this is it.  The Don would approve but don't go in with too low a bid or you may windup swimming with the fish.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

'CINEMA SCENE' by Seymore Flix

'The Force Awakens'

That's the new title to the 7th episode in the Star Wars movie franchise. So, we're back in business against the 'dark side'.  Do you feel a disturbance in the Force?

Disney quietly announced the title of the latest Star Wars saga on Twitter this week. Begs question: Why use Twitter to announce what is expected to be one of the most anticipated sequels of all time?
To me, it sounds like a Star Wars type movie name and Disney has stated that filming has wrapped - now it's off to post-production.  The movie is scheduled for release in mid-December of next year.

Episodes VII and IX are in the works (no titles on these yet) and it appears that 'The Force Awakens' will take off where the last episode ended.  The old cast is back and we're anxious to see how the trio makes out.

Google Must Reveal Pirated Trailer Source

Marvel Studios, a sub. of Disney, was granted a subpoena against Google which forces the search firm to reveal details about a YouTube user named 'John Gazelle'.  That user is believed to have uploaded a trailer of 'Age of Ultron', the blockbuster Avengers movie, one week before the carefully planned launch of the trailer - which was to appear during an ad break on the Marvel TV show Agents of SHIELD.

Marvel execs were livid about the leak and were determined to get the culprit.  To that end, they requested and were granted, by a U.S. Federal Judge, a subpoena instructing Google to devulge all of the information they have on a 'John Gazelle'.  Google must now bring "all identifying information for the user 'John Gazelle'" to a San Francisco court on November 18th, including, "the IP address from which the file named 'ap-tlr-1_int_360p.mp4' and containing content known as: Avengers:Age of Ultron and when that data was uploaded to the Google Drive Site".  The IP address will greatly assist in locating where the file was uploaded from.

In what is being viewed as 'an inside job', the video in question was illegally accessed from Marvel's data files and then posted to YouTube. In a similar law suit, Lionsgate successfully subpoenaed Google for information regarding sites hosting illegal downloads of The Expendables 3.

Harry Potter Folks: Pics - 1st vs. Last Episode

Yes, the Potter actors had big changes over the course of the 8 Potter films, see for yourself:
Daniel Radcliff

Emma Watson

Bonnie Wright
Rupert Grint

Friday, November 07, 2014

Welles' Infamous Lost Movie Gets To The Silver Screen

Orson Welles'  legendary final lost and unfinished movie is being resurrected from its grave and will hit movie theaters sometime next year if all goes according to plan.
Welles, with Huston and Bagdanovich

The movie will be completed by well-known and accomplished director Peter Bogdanovich and will be screened to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Welles' birthday next year.  Entitled the 'The Other Side of the Wind ', Welles shot the movie between 1969 and 1976 and stars the famous actor-director John Huston. The films centers around a veteran film-maker struggling to complete his final movie despite the collapse of the Hollywood studio system and the rise of a new wave of younger directors.

Welles, who died in 1985 at the age of 70, never completed the film but he did leave behind a 45 minute edited work print.  For over three decades, a reported 1,000 reels of film languished in a Paris warehouse as legal battles over the rights to the film ensued.  Welles' daughter, Beatrice, the sole heir to the estate, finally won control but then stashed the film in a warehouse.

Ironically, Bogdanovich was asked by Welles to complete the movie in the event of his death. "He just turned to me rather casually during lunch and said, "I want you to promise that you will finish the picture if anything happens to me". I was shocked", Bogdanovich says, "Nothing is going to happen to you, I told him".  Bogdanovich adds, "He did some very complicated editing before it was taken away from him. I don't even know if I can approximate that kind of cutting because it is very fragmented and idiosyncratic. All we can do is the best we can, using the script, his notes and what he has left."

'The Other Side of the Wind' is both the title of the movie and the film-within-a-film. The legend surrounding the movie is that it was shot using a variety of film stock, from 8 to 35mm, is in both color and black and white, as well as, having still photography shots.  Welles had hoped to use the varying styles of film-making to simulate video footage taken by students, critics, and lesser known directors who had brought cameras to the movie's character, played by Huston, 70th birthday party, and which forms the centerpiece of the movie.

"This is like finding the Land of Oz or some lost tomb", has Joe Karp, who wrote a book about  Welles' lost movie. "This film is art imitating life and life imitating art.  It's become so mythical because of what happened with all the failures to finish it and the players involved."

The negative reels were controlled by Beatrice Welles under French law protecting artists' rights, and she had previously refused to allow them to be removed from storage. The 45 minute work print, however, was at her home in Primosten,Croatia, where Welles had placed it in 1975.  Beatrice, last year finally give permission, and released the work print (which is now in California) and the negative reels so the movie could be completed. The catalyst was the hundred-year anniversary and Beatrice said she was inspired to release the rights because of that. "Until now, this movie has been under lock and key under French law. I had the good fortune to be able to protect it all these years", says Beatrice Welles.

'The Other Side of the Wind' will be released via Royal Road (with distribution by one of the large studios, as yet unannounced) to coincide with Welles' 100th birthday on May 6, 2015.

This is a must see movie, from the maker of what many say is the best film ever made, Citizen Kane.


Moviegoers in Superhero Fatigue

Enough is Enough. How many Superheros can Hollywood throw at us before we cry, "Uncle". It seems not enough as the studios are gaga over superhero inspired movies and there is no end in sight.

Superhero flix bring in the big bucks, provide franchise opportunities, and provide lucrative paydays for actors and directors.  Over the next five years, at minimum, 30 superheros movies are scheduled for release and that number could easily swell to 50. Disney, Warners, Fox and Sony are all poised to take full advantage of the superhero trend. For example, Marvel Studios (part of the Disney conglom)
has reported that it has a planning map of films out to 2028!

New heroes Black Panther and Captain Marvel are being added to the Marvel roster and would good reason. Since buying Marvel in 2008 for $4 billion, Disney has earned over $7 billion in return from movies and add-on products from the Marvel-based superheros.  Disney is not alone in the craze. Warners has Batman and Superman, Flash, the Fantastic Four and X-Men. Sony has Spiderman, and is adding Black Cat, Silver Sable, Spider-girl, and Silk to its super-line.

But can the trend be sustained.  Hollywood has a history of going overboard with movie concepts. Beating a trend until its dead and it could be (based on the dismal summer box office in the U.S.) that there may be an amount of superhero box office fatigue building.  But the studios are adamant, and don't see the reign of superhero movies ending any time soon, so long as they maintain their quality in special effects and character building.  Long live the superhero! And watch for the Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Dr. Strange, Glass Ceiling, Antman, and a host of other new supers joining the already bloated roster of supers at a cinema near you.
Black Panther

Oh, and least we forget. The other studios are betting on zombies, vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural beings. If you can't have superheros then go with the undead theme which hopefully comes with a series of novels each good for at least one movie in the hopes of building that most lucrative of movie trends - 'the franchise'.

All things come to an end and the superhero genre is no different.  It looks like its demise will be slow in coming but it will come none the less, hopefully in the meantime we'll be entertained with outstanding action-packed, high-impact movies.