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Monday, September 30, 2013


Unless you're a Cisterian monk or in a coma you are either a fan, observer, or have heard about 'Breaking Bad' the hit TV show which aired its final episode last night.

What this series has meant for the actors in the 'Bad' are major kudos and mega-offers for more TV and film roles.  Bryan Cranston, the star of  'Bad' is no stranger to TV (Malcolm in the Middle) or movies (Saving Private Ryan, Argo, Drive) but is now getting bigger and better role offers. He is rumored to be tapped as Lex Luthor in the upcoming "Man of Steel" (WB) film, but Cranston has denied these rumors.

Responding to reports that he had signed on for six films as Superman's nemesis, Cranston told the Boston Globe, "Six, this is all news to me.  I think that maybe my name is bandied about because I'm known to be bald. 'What bald guy can we get ?' The reality is they can take any actor and shave his head or put a bald cap on him."

Widely known as "Superman v Batman" after Warner Bros. stated that the two superheros would square off in the upcoming movie (schedule for release in 2015), Ben Affleck is rumored to play Batman while Henry Cavill will continue his role as Superman.  Former James Bond portrayer, Timothy Dalton, is being considered for the role of Alfred (Batman's butler). Dalton, who is 69, (time does fly by) would push out Michael Caine (80) who wants the role he as played in three previous Batman films.

On another 'Bad' topic. As the series comes to an end, fans had a chance to enjoy a piece of the show, literally.  ScreenBid.com auctioned off over 250 props used in the show yesterday. From a car (Walt's Aztec) to a teddy bear (starting bid was $1,500 for the pink teddy) fans gobbled up the mementos in short order.

Jim Lavorato

Friday, September 27, 2013

RoboCop: Metaphor for Detroit Rebirth

RoboCop - Old vs. New Version
A giant 10 foot bronze RoboCop is being fabricated after fans of the half-human/half-cyborg crimefighter raised funds through Kickstarter.  The statue is to be inaugurated next summer and reside at Wayne State University's TechTown campus.

The project, with the backing of Peter Weller (the star of the original RoboCop movie)
 and the Kickstarter crowdfunding raised the $67,000+ needed in just six days.

It all began when a supporter of the idea tweeted Detroit Mayor, Dave Bing, and suggested that his favorite movie hero be celebrated as one of Detroit's own.  The idea went viral on Facebook and a group was formed called "Build a Statue of RoboCop for Detroit."  Venus Bronze Works, Warren Ally Foundry, and Edgewise Forge, all of Detroit, will cast the statue.

The RoboCop statue coincides with the arrival of a new RoboCop movie scheduled for release in February.  Joel Kinnaman, plays RoboCop in this new version.  This time the 'Cop' is clad in an all black custom vs. the original steel suit. The recently released trailer of the film looks impressive and should do well at the box office.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Weekly Cinema BuzzFEED - 26 September 2013

Do Celebs Make Good Citizens ?

Celebrities, particularly big stars, by their very presence cause security and crowd problems.  Being present at a public forum, such as a courthouse, voting station, or charitable event usually makes for problems.
Sheen Self-photo Entering Courthouse

Case in point: jury duty.  Crazy but true. Last week Charlie Sheen appeared for jury duty - What!  Can you imagine Charlie in the jury box determining your fate.  Even he thought the scenario was way too nutty - as he snapped a photo of himself entering the courthouse.  Needless to say, Charlie was 'excused' before he make it to the jury box.

In another case, Steve Martin tweeted "REPORT FROM JURY DUTY: defendant looks like a murderer. GUILTY. Waiting for opening remarks"  In fact, having celebs as jurors is such a joke that celebrity news site TMZ has a "Celebrity Jurors: Reporting For Jury Duty" tag.

Tom Hanks appeared for jury duty last month and the case he was assigned to was declared a mistrial after a star-struck member of the LA City Prosecutor's Office cornered Hanks and began asking questions while admitting fanatic devotion to him, which lead to an allegation of jury tampering by the defendant.

Do celebs make good citizens - hell no! But it may not be all of their fault.

Building The Largest Film Studio Ever

Wang Jianlin, a Chinese property mogul, is in the process of building the largest and most expensive film studio complex ever constructed.  The Chinese government is hell bent on shaping an image of China as progressive and modern, but different then America - and media (particularly motion pictures) is an all important factor in developing that image.  So, last week, Wang, China's richest person, held a gala and broke ground, on what will be the largest film studio ever constructed.  At an estimated cost of $5+ billion the studio will be built in Qingdao, a quiet city (by Chinese standards) of three million people on the country's east coast.

The Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis is expected to open in 2017 and will cover over 2 square miles.  It will include: 20 sound stages, a studio for filming underwater scenes, a car show/museum, seven resort hotels, indoor amusement park, 300 slip yacht club, and a hospital among other facilities.

The 58 year old Wang, chairman of the Dalian Wanda Group, which purchased the AMC Theatre chain last year is the world's largest movie exhibitor.  Stated Wang, "The studio is the most expensive film industry investment of all time, an unprecedented project that will create history.  China's cinema audience is currently the world's second largest, I expect it to take the top spot from the US by 2018.  With the huge potential that comes with a population of 1.3 billion, the global film industry will recognize that the sooner you partner with China, the sooner you make more money."

Critics, however, say that no matter how much cash you throw at it, China will not be able to best Hollywood until its film industry and makers are given full creative freedom.  I tend to agree, but you never know.  Wang recently donated $20 million to the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in LA, which will name a new film library in his honor.

4k Will Eventually Rule

Ultra High Definition (UHD) known as 4k (which refers to the number of pixels that run across the screen) serves up four times as much information as today's High Definition TVs (1k) image and your local cinema's 2k on-screen image.

The UHD-TV or cinema 4k is eye-popping visually but comes with a high price.  For TV, sets must be large for viewers to appreciate the value of 4k; however, consumers will not buy a 4k set unless there is content available to watch on the larger screen.  Trouble is, content providers and studios don't want to invest in 4k content until there is a large consumer base of UDH-TVs in living rooms. 4k TVs nonetheless are creeping into living rooms.  Currently, 30% of all TVs sold are 50 inches or larger and falling prices will ensure this trend will continue.

Not to be left out, content streamers are entering the fray.  Recently, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings commented, "4k capable tablets and PCs will catch on before 4k TV and thus consumers will need broadband connections capable of streaming 4k video.  The Hollywood studios have been building up a large archive by scanning movies in 4k, meaning internet streamers, like Netflix, will eventually have a decent library of on-demand 4k to tap into."

Pixel Counts
Standard Definition = 720x576 pixel count
High Definition = 1280x720 - current HD-TV
Full HD = 1120x1080 - 1k
UHD = 3840x2160 - 4k

Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Star Wars Casting Call

Disney/LucasFilms Calls for 'Tall' Actors

Disney Studios (the new owner of LucasFilms) put out a casting call last week seeking seven-foot+ actors for "an untitled studio feature".   Speculation is that the actor(s) will portray 'wookiees' that will be making a return to the Star Wars space saga.

The casting call, issued by British casting service - Spotlight, called for "males 7ft. to 7ft. 3" tall with slim/thin builds and upright posture.  Not too worked out or too thick set especially in the shoulders.  Broad facial features would be a bonus". Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca (Han Solo's wookiee buddy) in the original Star Wars trilogy was 7ft.2" tall.

The new film, currently known as Episode VII Legacy Of The Sith (subject to change) will be one of a trilogy of new films planned by Disney/LucasFilms.  The film's director JJ Abrams stated that, "the new film will be as emotional and authentic and exciting as possible. We all know that  Star Wars creator George Lucas' dream has become almost a religion to some people. As much a fairytale as it was, it felt real.  And to me, that is exactly right".

As previously reported in CMG, Disney will release the Episode VII in 2015.  Original actors Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), and Harrison Ford (Han Solo), have all signed up for Episode VII, which will began filming in London early next year.

Good luck to all you tall and lanky actors.  Playing a wookiee would be a great payday, not to mention lots of fun.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Weekly Cinema BuzzFeed - 19 September 2013

Hollywood Ladies Love Pearls
Marilyn with favored pearls

Marilyn Monroe was not noted for her interest in bling, however, she did love the simple pearl necklace given to her by Joe DiMaggio on their honeymoon.  In fact she wore it at their divorce hearing in 1954, not in scorn but because she really adored that pearl necklace.

Liz Taylor however, was into bling in a big way.  Her famous comment, "Big girls need big diamonds" summed it all up.  Her collection included the La Peregrina pearl which was part of the 16th Century Spanish crown jewels.  La Peregrina has no literal translation in Spanish but many called it the 'pilgrim' or 'wanderer'. It has an estimated value of $2-3 million. 

Many celebrities favor pearls over diamonds believing they are less ostentatious.  Jackie always wore pearls.  However, the formation of pearls is so rare that a natural pearl forms in only one in every 2,000 oyster shells.  In some cases, one in 50,000 shells for some of the rarer colored pearls, making them rarer then many precious gems.

Irregardless, Hollywood female stars have always favored pearls.  Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Natalie Wood all favored pearls, today Keira Knightly and Lady Gaga, all have or had an affinity to pearls.

Metro Manila

If you get a chance, even if you have to travel a bit, do go and see the indie movie Metro Manila by Sean Ellis. Remortgaging his house to raise funding, Ellis got the additional $600,000 needed to make the $1 million character-based thriller.

The story centers around a farmer who is forced on to the streets of Manila after the price of rice drops, he finally gets a job as an armored truck driver, falls in with shady company, and the movie goes from there.

Metro Manila premiered at Sundance in January, taking the Audience Award for Best World Drama.  Its release, next month, in the Philippines has become a national event.

Asked what is in store after the success of Metro, Ellis commented that, "There are some great scripts being sent to me. But, what was it Michael Caine said? The kind without other people's coffee stains on them". That's good.

Jackie Chan 'World' Just Like Disney World?

Jackie Chan, the Chinese martial arts and film star, is opening his own theme park in Beijing, China. To be called JC World, the park will be almost a square mile in size, and have five sections each offering a different "cultural experience".  Entrance to the park will be free, although certain attractions will carry a charge that will be used to maintain the facility.

Chan told reporters, "I was very poor when I was a child, so when I had money later on, I bought all sorts of things and went around the world collecting them."  These collections will all be on display."  Chan has amassed collections of sandlewood houses, jewelry, furniture, and many other items.

China has been opening theme parks as of late. Disney will open an enormous resort in Shanghai in 2015 which has been 15 years in the making.  The world's first Angry Birds park recently opened and DreamWorks plans a resort titled Dream Center to open in 2016 also in Shanghai.

We wish Jackie all the best.

Nicole Knocked Down But Gets Up Fighting

Nicole Kidman says she will press charges against Carl Wu, the notorious biker paparazzo, after she was knocked to the ground when Wu hit her with his bike. See photos at right taken by other paparazzi on the scene.

Racing to get a photo of the celeb, Wu collided with Kidman outside the Carlyle Hotel in New York, where she was attending Fashion Week. Kidman was allegedly sent sprawling when Wu smacked into her, although she did not appear to be seriously injured.  Police issued a ticket to Wu for cycling on the pavement. Wu recently also had a run-in with Lady Gaga's security people in Boston as he tried to take an up close photo of the singer.

Paparazzi activities have drawn a lot of ire out of Hollywood celebs recently and several including Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner appeared before the California legislature to tout a new law against the taking of photos of children accompanying famous people.

Jim Lavorato

12 Best Movie Soundtracks

Best soundtracks.  Wow, preferences in music are quite diverse, nonetheless, the BBC recently polled its listeners to find out what they felt were the greatest movie soundtracks.  The results for the top 12 were as follows:

1. Diamonds Are Forever
2. Lord of the Rings
3. The Assassination of Jesse James
4. Natural Born Killers
5. The Pianist
6. A Clockwork Orange
7. The Last of the Mohicans
8. Goldfinger
9. Transformers: The Movie
10. Shaft
11. Once Upon a Time in the West
12. Schindler's List

Agree? Disagree?  I disagree, yes some of the above films have great soundtracks but what about: Star Wars, Fight Club, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apocalypse Now, Singin' In the Rain, Pulp Fiction, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, Saving Private Ryan, The Godfather. And these are just off the top.

Like I said at the start, it's all preferential. One thing we can agree on is that a great soundtrack is essential to a great movie.  Sound is one-half the movie presentation, and vital to a film's structure.  A great movie with a so-so soundtrack is equivalent to being served a great meal  with bad service - it just can't make up for it. 

Jim Lavorato

Friday, September 13, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 12 September 2013

Bond's Submarine Car Sells for Over $800,000

The white submersible Lotus Esprit, which was featured in The Spy Who Loved Me was sold at auction for over $800,000.  The sale came 24 years after the vehicle was found in a New York City storage container which sold for $100. 

The car is said to be fully functional in submarine mode but cannot be driven on land.
In the movie, Bond drives the Lotus off a pier into the ocean as he tries to evade a pursuing helicopter, which he eventually destroys. The Lotus then emerges from the sea on a beach and drives away.

The Lotus Submarine Car, although pricey, was not the most valuable Bond car, that goes to the 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldfinger and Thunderball, which sold for $4.6 million.

Cinema Posts Record Summer

Even with a few mega-flops the U.S. summer box office, which ended on Labor Day,  made a record $4.7 billion. The studios packed the summer with big-budget blockbusters that ranged from hugely successful films to major bombs.  In all, the summer box office saw a 10.2% increase over last year, with attendance up 6.6%.

Moviegoers had a line-up of one-after-the-other big budget films which meant faster turnover which may have actually hurt some films.  The biggest summer hit was Disney's Iron Man 3, which earned $409 million domestically and $1.2 billion worldwide. Despite successes, Disney lost big on The Lone Ranger which grossed only $88 million but cost $215 to produce.  Other bombs included: Turbo, After Earth, White House Down, The Wolverine, and The Hangover Part III.

Hollywood studios consider the summer months to be primetime, when the audiences are the widest.  Several low and medium budget comedy and horror films did very well, including The Conjuring and The Purge, as did the summer's top comedy film, The Heat.  It was interesting to note that the top six summer films were all sequels or part of existing franchises.

The high cost of marketing a movie, which can rival or surpass production costs, makes it likely that the studios will continue to increasingly depend on high-impact action movies and teen fare during the summertime.

The box office is as unpredictable as ever, where sure things - like Will Smith in After Earth or Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger - do not always spell success, while a low-budget movie, like The Heat, can make tens of millions.

R2D2 Spotted in Star Trek Movies

It was the final frontier, as far as die-hard Trekkies are concerned, as R2D2 the dome shaped robot of Star Wars films, was spotted in a second Star Trek movie.

First seen briefly in the 2009 movie Star Trek, R2 has now showed up in the latest film in the Star Trek saga, Star Trek Into Darkness, where the small droid can be seen being sucked into space (one hour and 17 minutes into the feature).  Trek bloggers and fans blasted Into Darkness and voted it the worst Star Trek movie ever at their annual Vegas convention held last month. One blogger wrote, "Star Trek is not Star Wars.  Trek and Wars come from two totally different places. One is thoughtful serious fiction, the other, a mash-up of Westerns, Asian action films, and '30s serials."   We can guess which one he thinks is a mash up.

Bedtime Stories Get 'Stressed Out'

A recent poll commissioned by Littlewoods, the clothing and houseware retailer, found that only 13% of parents read to their children each night.  What use to be the way a parent and child bonded at the end of each day is pretty much gone.  No more 'Cat in the Hat', Grimm tale, or Snow White  parents say they are too 'stressed out' and 'tired' to read to their kids.

Of the 2,000 mothers polled with children 0-7, only 64% said they had ever read bedtime stories, although 94% responded they were regularly read stories when they were young.  Further, only 13% of the respondents read a story every night, which was surprising since 87% believed that bedtime reading is 'vital' to children's education and development.

The poll discovered that 9% of parents feel "too stressed" to read bedtime stories and 13% admitted they did not have the time.  Nearly 50% of the mothers said their kids found television, computer games, and other toys more diverting, while 4% said their children do not own one book!

My take. Children lose imagination without stories.  They become lackluster thinkers.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fifty Shades of (Green)

Coming out of virtual obscurity four years ago, EL James, the author of the Fifty
Johnson and Hunnam get starring roles
Shades of Grey book trilogy, has become the highest earning author in the world.

Forbes Magazine has reported that James, 50 (whose real name is Erika Leonard) earned $95 million over the last 12 months, as the books sold over 32 million copies.

The first book, Fifty Shades of Grey, is to be made into a feature film which is now in production and is scheduled for release in August of 2014.  Currently big best sellers are more lucrative for authors with movie and TV rights, and other fee generators such as translation rights given the much more 'connected' world in which we live.

EL James
James's earnings stem from her erotic novels which are a combination of romance and sado-masochism and should translate well onto the silver screen.  Charlie Hunnam, 33, will star in the Fifty Shades film portraying billionaire Christian Grey.  Hunnam was last seen starring in two TV series, Sons of Anarchy and The Vikings.  Dakota Johnson will costar as Anastasia Steele, Grey's sex toy.  The movie will tone down the steamer sex of the novel as it will have an 'R' rating.

Fun fact.  Although earning mega $s for her novels, James's books topped the list of books most likely to be left at a Travelodge, which reported that of the over 22,000 books discarded at it lodging chain over the last 12 months, Fifty Shades Freed was number one.  Go figure.

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Cinema's Must Have 'WOW' Presentations

LG's Curved Screen
In discussing digital conversion with cinema owners, I must make absolutely sure they understand that the conversion offers them a great opportunity to enhance their presentation with a 'WOW' factor which can not be replicated in the home.

Why? Because the competition for movie viewer eyes is relentless.  Home entertainment A/V equipment is constantly improving and reaching new heights, on what seems to be, a daily basis.

For example, this week both LG and Samsung unveiled Ultra High Definition (UHD) TVs with curved screens.  LG introduced a 77 inch (6.4 ft.) curved screen UHD-TV which, Havis Kwon, LG Home Entertainment CEO, said "was proof that we will never stop pushing the boundaries and exploring new possibilities".

Meanwhile, Samsung showed off a 65 inch (5.4 ft.) curved screen UHD-TV, as well as, debuting a 98 inch (8.2 ft.) UHD flat screen, which is a companion to the 110 inch (9.2 ft.) it unveiled in January (see right).

LG's 77 incher is the world's largest curved screen UHD-TV and is touted as presenting an IMAX-like image that fills the viewer's field of vision.  Jay Vandenbree, LG Senior VP, said "This new 77 UHD exemplifies our commitment to leadership - the razor-thin TV has an unlimited contrast ratio and technology that quadruples the resolution - making this the pinnacle of home entertainment viewing."

So, when exhibitors tell me they want to purchase the smallest digital cinema projector to save what amounts to a few thousand dollars vs. purchasing a projection system which would provide a WOW on-screen image - I argue my case: presenting a movie using a small, under-sized projector will not provide the means to compete long-term against constantly improving competition.

When movie patrons walk into a cinema they need to say "this is the best picture I have ever seen".  Having this WOW factor is not optional, but required.  Exhibitors must ensure that their movie and alternative content presentations are stellar and head and shoulders above what consumers can achieve in their living rooms.  If exhibitors think they can squeak by with poor on-screen images and uninspiring sound they are woefully mistaken - they will be crushed by the competition.

Jim Lavorato

Saturday, September 07, 2013

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 7 September 2013

Going Out On Top

Rumors are that 76 year old, three time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson is retiring from acting due to memory loss as he can no longer remember script lines.

Nicholson was last seen in the 2010 romantic comedy How Do You Know which co-starred Reese Witherspoon and Paul Rudd.  Before that he starred in The Bucket List with Morgan Freeman which was released in 2007.  He currently has no film deals pending.  Nicholson won two Best Actor Oscars (in '75 for One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and in '98 for As Good As It Gets) and a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (in '84 for Terms of Endearment), and holds the record for the highest number of Oscar nominations for a male actor: 12.  He has also won six Golden Globe Awards.

According to sources close to the Nicholson, "He's not retiring from public life, at all. He just doesn't want a tribute. He's happy to tacitly join the retirees club, like Sean Connery".  Although the rumors are unconfirmed, Nicholson reportedly turned down the chance to play an alcoholic father travelling with his son to pick up a million-dollar lottery prize in the film Alexander Payne's Nebraska. That role won 77 year-old Bruce Dern the best actor prize at this year's Cannes film fest.   Nicholson was also due to star alongside Clint Eastwood and Warren Beatty as retired superheroes in Matthew Vaughn's The Golden Age; however, this project is currently on hold.

The Demise Of The 3D Movie

As time goes on the popularity of 3D movies seems to be waning. It appears that Hollywood's efforts to advance the 3D format may be dying, as popular demand for 3D is fading away.

The graph shows just how much the 3D format has dipped - with only 16 3D films scheduled for release in 2014.  After the release of Avatar, 3D took off and many films, which should never have been released in 3D, unfortunately, were.  I believe, that starting next year, the studios will only release their very biggest titles in 3D - and that is how it should be.

For awhile, the novelty of 3D got moviegoers to see movies they may otherwise have ignored, particularly after Avatar - which was so successful as a 3D feature - but everything gets old and routine and the enticement of 3D has now worn off.  The same can be said for 3D TVs, as their sales have steadily declined as well.

Don't expect to see 3D movies disappearing but the studios are going to be much more selective in how they use the 3D format in the future.

Jim Lavorato

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Movie theatres, whether or not they want to recognize it, are in the retail business. They deal directly with the public, and market/sell a product called a movie.  They have no control over the making or distribution of the products they sell but they do have control over how that product is delivered to the end-user and have the responsibility of selling 'ancillary' or 'accessory' products.  In the case of cinemas those ancillary products are popcorn, soda, and candy bolstered by other concession items.

These concession items are where cinemas make all of their profits, as the admission revenue - shared with the movie's distributor - only contributes to overhead costs.
However, this business model is not unlike what many retailers face - from car dealers to big-box stores - selling the big ticket items at or near cost and making large margins on the ancillary or accessory products that compliment the larger purchase.

In retail, the name of the game is to segment the market, in most cases by age and/or gender, and target your marketing and advertising programs toward that group.  All advertising is based on one of three components or a combination of the three, which are: sex, fear, or novelty. In addition to 'basing' your marketing, segmenting potential buyers (consumers), is essential.  Be it for a 'point-of-sale' lobby display or advertised coupon discount, cinemas should know the breakdown of their 'moviegoers' so as to stay relevant and meet the evolving social and product needs of Generations X, Y, and Z, as well as, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation.

Generation Z  Born: 2001 - present, Age: 13 or less
Generation Y  Born:1980 - 2000, Age: 13-33 (referred to as Millennials)
Generation X  Born: 1965 - 1979, Age: 34-48
Baby Boomers Born: 1946 -1964, Age: 49-67
Silent Generation Born: 1925 - 1945, Age: 68 - 88

So, determining the make up of a cinema's customer base provides great insight into their buying needs and desires, and presents the foundation for your cinema's marketing and promotion.

Start today,
Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Ant-Man: The Newest Superhero

Ant-Man: Next Big Super Box Office Hero
In my last post I spoke to the issue of the marriage between Hollywood and the Comic Book Companies: Marvel and DC Comics.  That marriage has become the most lucrative in the history of the cinema and is continuing with no end in sight.  Adding to the roster of superheroes to hit the silver screen will be Wonder Woman, The Flash and the rather obscure Ant-Man, who will hit the screen on 2015.

Comic-book aficionados know of Ant-Man's troublesome creation and his disrespect by creative movie teams. Ant-Man or Henry Pym (who is married to Janet van Dyne - The Wasp) got a bad rap in the '80s when he was expelled from the Avengers for attacking an enemy from behind when the enemy had stopped fighting.  Additionally, he manhandled Janet and had planned to build a robot which would attack his hero comrades.  That is all in the past however, and Ant-Man is about to make a return to his rightful place along side his super friends.

The upcoming movie will offer up a new and improved Ant-Man, who will stand alone, and not meet with other heroes just yet.  Says, Edgar Wright, Ant-Man creator and the film's director, "I think, the first movie's, just doing its own thing is the accepted history, but it's still part of the other superhero movies and always was. I like to make it stand-alone because I think the premise of it needs time. I want to put the crazy premise of it into a real world, which is why I think Iron Man really works, because it's a relatively simple universe."

Ant-Man has the super ability to morph from the size of an insect to that of an elephant and beyond.  This should offer ripe material to deliver a movie in which Ant-Man is able to shed his dubious past - but does allow the option for him to fall back on his villainous ways.  I look forward to the Ant-Man movie and we should be prepared for a hair-raising cinema experience.

Jim Lavorato

Monday, September 02, 2013

Hollywood + Marvel Comics = Mega $$$$

Marvel and DC Comics have brought the superhero genre of movies to new heights. Currently, moviegoers are enthralled by superheroes - each  gifted with superpowers but also burdened with personal and social issues which give them a more human character. Hollywood took the superhero from comic book fanboy fantasy to international mega-stardom and there appears to be no end in sight.

Lots more superhero movies are on Hollywood's agenda and new heroes are being added all the time - look for Wonder Woman and Ant-Man to join the already large roster.  And it's not just films that bring in the super-dollars, but T-shirts, toys, costumes, video games, books/comics, even exhibitions - like, the Marvel Super Heroes 4D experience at Madame Tussauds.

Why are these films so popular? Because they make us believe in the hero, they make us believe a man can fly. Due to spectacular special effects, fantastic make up and costumes, live action superheroes are made to be believed. Starting on TV in the '50s with George Reeves's Superman the superhero has evolved into a mega $$$ phenomena.  Problem was the superhero didn't quite look the part and special effects were subpar and couldn't compete with their comic counterpart, but that all changed with the big-budget grand, computer generated, special effects that started to appear with X-Men in 2000. Coupled with great costuming, A-list actors, and seasoned directors, the genre has taken off to the point where the action was realistic and, more importantly, believable.

Film technology has reached a point where it can do what comic books were always able to do - have a superhero storyline that is enhanced by fantastic imagery.  In fact, the current superhero films are better than their comic equivalent.  What they do for the moviegoer is to satisfy the need for the spectacular which can only be experienced at a well equipped (picture and sound) cinema. 

If the Oscars were awarded based upon global box office grosses, merchandising sales, and fan appeal and approval, the superhero movies would win every category.