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Friday, January 27, 2017

2017 Academy Awards

This year, two things struck me as I reviewed the nominations for the Oscars. The first was that 'La La Land' got 14 nominations. Although I haven't seen the film, as yet, a number of people have asked if I did and when I queried them all stated they felt the film was "Ok" or "Pretty Good" . I got no "Wows", or "Greats", or "Best Movie I've Seen".  Which indicates that perhaps 'La La Land' was the best out of a number of so-so films.

With 14 nominations it tied the record with 'All About Eve' (1959 and 'Titanic' (1997). If it wins 12 Oscars it will beat the most Oscars received by a film. That record, of 11 wins, is held by three films: 'Ben Hur' (1959), 'Titanic' (1997), and 'Lord of the Rings: Return of the King' (2003).

The second thing that hit me in reviewing this year's nominations was that this was the first time that an internet streamer had a movie nominated for Best Picture. Amazon's 'Manchester by the Sea' scored six Oscar noms, one being Best Pic. This is historic in that the movie was not produced by a Hollywood production company.  Amazon Studios, like Netflix, has shoved its way into the ranks of Hollywood's elite and has become a formidable player in the movie industry.

Amazon paid an incredible $10m for the distribution rights to  'Manchester by the Sea' at last year's Sundance Film Festival and that decision has paid off big.

Best of luck to both 'La La Land' and Amazon's 'Manchester by the Sea'.  The Academy Awards are being held on February 26th.


Monday, January 23, 2017

Hollywood Not Well Liked By Consumers

H'wood is Losing Its Glitz and Customers
In a related topic to my recent post. 'Shut-Up Hollywood', I wanted to impart the fact that U.S. consumers are not loving Hollywood right now.  In addition to the political rants coming from Tinsel-town glitterati (which are a turn-off for most moviegoers) a recent survey taken by Irdeto, a provider of digital security, reported that 39% of U.S. consumers don't care that studios lose money from content piracy, even though they know it is illegal!

32% surveyed stated that they watch pirated movie content on a regular basis even though they are fully aware that it is detrimental to studios financially and lessens their ability to invest in new content.

This survey underscores the need for Hollywood to continue to educate consumers on the negative impact of piracy but which is hard to accomplish given the political and social rants that spew from the glitterati on a daily basis.  I believe consumers, and more importantly moviegoers, do not distinguish between the actors and the studios.  The studios and their owners (Comcast, Viacom, Sony, Disney) need to step-up and dial-down the political and social rants especially at broadcasted award events.

The Irdeto survey also found that consumers are interested in pirating movies, live sports, and music recordings - in that order.  Obviously piracy will exist with or without the rants of the Hollywood elites but it sure doesn't help the situation and it directly impacts admissions to the cinema - perhaps a survey to measure this trend is needed.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dark Vador Burger
Movie food promotions have been around since ever. Logo-laden soda cups, popcorn tubs, toy give-aways have been common place for decades, but as of late edible movie tie-ins have gone extreme.

A Harry Potter themed restaurant in NYC has a Hobbit Breakfast on its menu, as well as, Deadpool cocktails, and a James Bond ice-pops.  The crazy continues with  Potter pasta dishes and 'Dark Lord' smoothies.  A cafe in Singapore serves up flaming 'Goblets of Fire' drinks.

A French fast-food chain, called Quick, serves up Dark Vador Burgers, which are a double patty cheeseburger with a black bun. Quick also offers up Jedi Burgers with mozzarella cubes. Additionally, cans of ectoplasm (green slim) as seen in 'Ghostbusters' are available. Ecto-drinks can be had for the equivalent of $160 per can - and are available on Amazon.

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Also available, but only at McDonald's in China, is the Naughty Green Pork Burger, named after the 'Angry Birds Movie'. This movie inspired delight features a green bun, pork patty, egg, lettuce, and jalapeno sauce.

Not to be outdone, Denny's offers a 'Lord of the Rings' Hobbit Hole breakfast which consists of a fried egg-filed cheddar bun with extra melted cheese, bacon, and hash browns. They also have One Ring burgers and Elven Woodland Pies.

So. forget about the logo cup - go out and feast on food inspired by your favorite movie. Movie themed foods are available at more and more restaurants and the variety is endless.  

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Death of the TV

Wall-mounted LG - W7 TV 
4k High Definition resolution makes picture quality seem like you are looking out a window instead of at a monitor. To make it seem more real, TVs are getting thinner. LGs new prototype W7 monitor is only .1 inches thick (that's about one half the thickness of the thinnest cell phone). The W7 is just a screen without any ports or electronics - these are resident is the sound bar that comes with the W7. This development makes the TV essentially modular. You'll be able to change out a screen without the electronics or replace/upgrade the electronics while keeping the screen.

Another development is short-throw laser projectors which eliminate the TV altogether. These projectors can be placed just inches from a wall or screen and project an image of up to 140 inches wide.

In related news, it is now a reality that ownership of packaged video content is becoming passe'. Physical ownership of DVDs is being replaced by subscription streaming. This trend is a big downer for the major studios as movie DVD sales are a large cash generator for them.

Also trending is that hotel guests are no longer ordering pay-per-view adult movies. Only 1% of occupied hotel rooms order VOD porn while hotels which offer Netflix register a 40% room participation rate.

All of these trends point to the fact that traditional programming and the means to access content is changing very rapidly. Eventually the TV, as we know it, will be replaced by a wafer-thin monitor or laser projector with content cherry-picked by the user from a huge menu of choices.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Shut Up Hollywood !

Bad-mouthing the NFL....Meryl are you nuts?
Three cheers for Nicole Kidman for her saying that "she stays out of politics and comments related to politics". Meryl, Katie, Rosie by all that is holy - put a sock in it - for, unlike Nicole, you just don't get it.

Don't these mental giants know that every time they bad-mouth Trump they adversely impact cinema admissions. Admissions are down. It's only because of ticket price increases that grosses where up in 2016 - there is little need for pontification  by Hollywood leftists.

We are all fully aware of Meryl's left-leaning views as we have heard her for years - we don't need reminding every time she gets a mic in her hand. In her latest rant at the Golden Globes she went over the cliff but not regarding her comments of Trump but her un-American slander of the NFL and its fans. Meryl have you completely lost it. Bad mouthing the NFL. Football is a religion - Meryl should be arrested for hate-speech, after saying"Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners and if we kick them all out, you'll have nothing to watch but football and mixed martial arts, which are not the arts."

Meryl you are totally out of touch. According to Nielson 99m viewers watched last Sunday's NFL Championship playoff games (that is almost one-third of the entire U.S. population). Yesterday, 91.9m watched the two playoff games.  The top 12 broadcast/cable shows this past fall were all NFL games, with 26 of the top 27 programs all NFL games.

As far as mixed martial arts (MMA), it draws over 4.5m viewers per program. Its sponsors include all of the major auto makers, and companies like Nike, Microsoft, Instagram, YouTube, Coke, and Samsung. Meryl  when was the last time one of your films had 4.5m viewers for one showing - NEVER.

Tinsel-town glitterati think they know best how people should behave and what they should think and believe. Mention the McCarthy era and blacklists and they arch their backs and get on the social high-ground, but it is ok with them to blacklist companies, activities, and shows which do not adhere to their view of the world.

CMG wants, no begs,these myopic folks to think before they speak. They are hurting the cinema by turning consumers against going to the movies. I don't care if anyone ever goes to a Meryl  Streep movie again - in fact, that may be a good thing as she may finally get the message through the layers of small-mindedness, and bigotry she has developed over the years.

Just saying,

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Beckinsale as Selene in 'Underworld'
Finally! A sequel to my favorite super hero franchise. Yes, Selene, the vampire/hybrid hero portrayed by Kate Beckinsale in the 'Underworld' films.  The fifth installment of Selene's macabe world was released on Friday, 'Underworld - Blood Wars', and I am anticipating that the storyline, acting, and visual and sound effects will be over-the-top and equal to the prior films in this horror cum high-impact, action drama.

If you are looking for strong women roles, Beckinsale's Selene fills the bill. Battling vampires, werewolves, and humans in a skin-tight, black spandex one-piece and out-fitted with twin automatic pistols Selene out-fights and slays all comers. The characters are clad in what can be described as Gothic attire and utilize very conceivable hand weapon coupled with high-tech explosives.

Started in 2003 with a release of the same name, the 'Underworld' franchise has done very well at the box office in spite of its ultra-violence and graphic effects..  The five films in the series have grossed over $513m with 'Blood Wars' still in release, which compare against combined production budgets of $212m. A sixth film is in development and will star Beckinsale.

Great set design, costumes, and acting all add to 'Underworld's'  success. Not only Beckinsale but first-rate actors like Derrick Jacoby, Bill Nigly, Scott Speedman, Micheal Sheen, and Stephen Rea have played major roles. Critics have always been harsh but public opinion B+ or better for each episode.

At 43, Beckinsale is unique in Hollywood.  She attended Oxford University and has been in films since 1993. Starring roles in 'Pearl Harbor' and 'The Aviator' spring-boarded her to the action movie niche she now commands. In addition to 'Underworld' she starred in 'Van Helsing', 'Whiteout', 'Contraband', and 'Total Recall'.  

Friday, January 06, 2017

Hollywood's Affair with Guns

There has been a symbiotic relationship between firearms and movies since the beginning of the cinema industry.  D.W. Griffith said, "All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun." From the very first Western to the fantasy films of today the gun has been center stage and remains the leading star in virtually very blockbuster and franchise film.

There is a lot of hypocrisy in the entertainment business. The glitterati all rant about the need for stronger and more severe gun control laws while at the same time starring in movie after movie where guns and violence are center stage.  The Hollywood/gun affair is so well established that it is almost inconceivable that it can come to an end any time soon.

The gun is ubiquitous in Hollywood movies, no genre is spared: film noir, horror, drama, gangster, super hero, thrillers, war or western, take your pick. With 70% of Hollywood's revenue now generated overseas the gun has gone viral in films. Movies have become high-impact over drama, action over narrative, fantasy over realism.  With over 300 million guns in the U.S. - about one for every person, you would think real gun violence would be rampant. Yet, in comparison to other reasons for deaths, guns are way down the list. The major cause of non-medical related deaths are drug related - prescription and ill-legal drug overdoses. In fact, more deaths are caused by bath-tub accidents than mass gun related killings.

It is the rare film that does not have some form of gun or other weapons violence, but that is the way it has been throughout the cinema's history. Is there is a causal link between screen violence and actual violence? Who knows. It can't be proven or disproved either way.

What I do know is that action and violence, high-impact, hero on a quest films generate movie ticket sales - the same films that have been generating admissions since Hollywood began and there is no end in sight.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

TV on The Big Screen

TV Shows Screening on the Big Screen
Hit TV shows have sporadically been screened at cinemas in an effort to experiment with the public's taste for TV on the big screen.  This experiment will get a bigger testing in 2017 as more TV shows will be featured on cinema marquees. TV is currently enjoying a surge in content prestige. TV shows have major star power and production budgets that equal those of major motion pictures.

CMG has been an advocate of cinemas screening popular TV shows for some time. I believe it is a terrific way to get consumers out of their homes to view their favorite shows on the big screen. It also allows TV companies to build hype for new shows and stand-out against the multitude of content being aired or streamed on the small screen.

A perfect example of this trend is the deal recently struck between Imax Corp. and Marvel TV and ABC to screen the upcoming superhero series 'Inhumans' before it appears on TV. Imax, which essentially screens blockbusters from the major studios, often finds itself with gaps in its playlist which can be filled with quality made for TV productions.

Cinemas have been screening alternative content for years: opera, soccer, concerts, etc., it is now time to introduce TV shows. Episodes of 'Game of Thrones', 'Doctor Who', and 'Sherlock' have screened at cinemas to very good grosses.  The plus in all of this is that there is so much quality TV content available that every cinema can select shows that satisfy their audiences.

Many TV shows have rabid fan bases numbering in the millions which generate huge social media buzz - this translates into a big win for cinemas. Conversely, intro'ing a TV show at a cinema generates big buzz for the show before it airs or streams on the small screen.

All cinemas should be working on a TV strategy.  I believe this to be a big winner for cinemas and an easy way to get more patrons into theaters.