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Friday, January 31, 2014

Celebs Push The Limits For Roles

It's common to hear, "I need to lose 10 lbs. or so", well if you require motivation to drop the poundage look no further than H'wood celebs.  When prepping for a role, sometimes make-up and wardrobe simply won't cut it, so actors will turn to body-imaging - crash diets, self-sacrifice, or even morbid indulgence.  It's all about the drive to be 'believable'. The photos that follow dramatize the limits actors will go to in depicting their on-screen characters.

Matthew McConaughey

In 'Fools Gold' (2008) 185lbs. and in the recent 'Dallas Buyers Club' (2013) 134lbs. To prepare he consumed only Diet Coke, egg whites, and chicken.

Jared Leto

In 'My So Called Life' (1995) 152lbs. and in 'Chapter 27' (2007) 220 lbs.,where he portrayed Mark Chapman, John Lennon's killer. Leto's diet: microwaved ice cream mixed with soy sauce and olive oil.

Charlize Theron

In 'Monster' (2003) 171lbs. and in 'The Italian Job' (2003) 120lbs. Filmed the same year. Not only weight but 'ugly' make-up for 'Monster' role gave Theron crazed look and an Oscar for her performance.

Robert DeNiro

In 'Taxi Driver' (1976) 145lbs. and in 'Raging Bull'
(1980) 211lbs.  Bob packed it on only after all of the
fight scenes of  "Raging Bull" were shot.

Christian Bale

'American Psycho' (2000) 171lbs. and in 'The Machinist' (2004) 110lbs. His diet consisted of one can of tuna and an apple each day plus taking up smoking cigarettes.

Renee Zellweger

Renee packed on the pounds for 'Bridget Jones' Diary' which was filmed in 2001. She was at 140lbs. In 1996 at 108lbs. she played in 'Jerry Maguire'. She quickly lost the weight after 'BJD' by working out and smoking Marlboros.

So, if you are looking for motivation just think how the stars have to sacrifice and change their physical images solely on the scripted character they are portraying.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Tarantino Sues Over Stolen Screenplay

A livid Quentin Tarantino has sued an entertainment website for publishing his latest screenplay, entitled the 'The Hateful Eight'.  Tarantino's films are known for being edgy, provocative, unnerving, and well written. Unfortunately, 'The Hateful Eight' (which was ready for production) has now been back-burnered by Tarantino.

The rumor is that someone close to the project leaked the screenplay to Gawker Media, which then posted the following to its website, "Here Is The Leaked Quentin Tarantino Hateful Eight Script". This notice was accompanied by a link to the 146 page screenplay.  Reports say that Tarantino was furious, saying, "I am very, very depressed" and quickly had a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against Gawker.  Although it is not known, at this time, who leaked the script, Tarantino hinted that it may have been the talent agent of either Mike Madsen or Bruce Dern - who were set for roles in the new movie.

The lawsuit, in part, reads "Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating peoples rights to make a buck,  This time they went too far.  Rather than merely publishing a news story, reporting that Plaintiff's screenplay may have been circulating in Hollywood, without his permission, Gawker Media crossed the journalistic line by resenting itself as the first source to read and disseminate the entire Screenplay illegally".  The premise of  'The Hateful Eight' centers around bounty hunters transporting prisoners through 19th century Wyoming.

Tarantino's movie repertoire is short but all of his films have become classic/cult features: 'Reservoir Dogs' (1993), 'Pulp Fiction' (1994), 'Jackie Brown' (1997), 'Kill Bill-1' (2004), 'Kill Bill-2' (2005), 'Death Proof' (2007), 'Inglorious Bastards' (2010), and 'Django Unchained' (2013).  It can be said that Tarantino is one of the best film makers of this generation - who, at 50, has a long way to go. I hope 'The Hateful Eight' makes it to the big screen.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Will Cinemas Ban Google Glass Wearers?

AMC Theaters, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently joined forces to nab an Ohio moviegoer who was wearing a pair of prescription Google Glasses while watching a movie.

Pulled out of his seat while the movie was playing, the stunned patron was detained and interrogated by DHS agents.  A spokesperson for AMC told the Hollywood Reporter that the theater Manager contacted the MPAA, which, in turn, contacted the DHS.  The victim told DHS agents that his Google Glass was off but he needed to wear them as they were prescription glasses.  After questioning the hapless moviegoer it was found that he had not been trying to pirate the movie.

A statement issued by the MPAA stated, "it seems that in this particular case no such activity was discovered".  Seems?  The DHS also issued a statement, "we briefly interviewed a man suspected of using an electronic recording device at the AMC Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It was confirmed that the suspected device was also a pair of prescription eye glasses in which the recording function had been inactive."  The moviegoer-victim (whose name was withheld) was given 4 AMC movie passes for his trouble.


AMC (Dumb), MPAA (Dumber), DHS (Dumbest).  What are these people doing?  This whole, three stooge farce must have set a new record as the fastest time a business, trade association, and government agency ever worked together.  Where they waiting around, with nothing to do, until they got a call that some mastermind was trying to record a movie using a pair of Google Glasses? Doesn't the DHS have anything better to do?  Anyone with an ounce of sense should know that downloading a first-run movie via YouTube would be tagged and automatically closed-down by Google.

NATO Says Movie Trailers Too Long

The National Association of Theater Owners released guidelines calling for movie trailers to be no longer than two minutes (or 30 seconds shorter than the current average trailer).  The guidelines also stipulate that a trailer can not be shown more than five months prior to the release of a movie and that marketing materials, such as movie posters, stand-ups, etc, will not be displayed inside a cinema more than four months prior to a film's release.  NATO wants these guidelines to be implemented starting October 1st of this year.

These new rules are NATO's effort to give cinema operators more control over how Hollywood markets movies. NATO has concluded that many exhibs believe trailers are too long and give away too much of the film's plot.  However, the studios believe that trailers are a major marketing tool for pitching movies and firmly think a two and a half minute trailer is not too long. While it is not uncommon for cinemas to run 5 to 8 pre-feature trailers or 15-20 minutes worth, in addition, to any in-house advertising, I believe, moviegoers like viewing trailers.


NATO has no power over the studios. Fact is, the trailer guidelines put forth are voluntary, in addition to being a really bad idea.  Movie exhibitors gain as much from the trailers as the studios and there is currently nothing to prevent an exhib from running trailers or not!  Shaving 30 seconds off trailer time for a movie which has potential for 'huge audience draw' would be self-destructive. In fact, in the post that follows, I detail the relevance of trailers to moviegoers.  Simply put - the NATO proposal has no merit.

In-Cinema Previews: Best Movie Promotion

Movie trailers for the upcoming summer blockbusters have already hit the Internet - and people view them in droves.  According to a study by YouGov, an internet website that follows trends in entertainment, 50% of American moviegoers indicated that movie trailers "probably" gave away too much plot; however, only 19% said trailers deterred them from wanting to see the movie, and a whopping 24% responded that in-theater trailers made them want to see the movie more!

The study further found that trailers remain very important to audiences - playing the largest role (48%) in motivating people to see a movie, followed closely by personal recommendations (46%).  There was no correlation found between length of trailer time and moviegoers decision to see a film.  Simply, moviegoers want to experience a good film.  77% want good plot or storyline, 45% rely on casting, 22% on genre, 20% on director, and 15% on book or play a movie is based on.

So there you have it.  Movie trailers are a big part of moviegoing and a significant tool for marketing a movie. Why the NATO group wants to mess with reducing a trailer time is all about the large cinema circuits wanting to have more time for pre-feature, non-movie related paid promotions and product advertising.  If that is the case they should say so and not feed us a bogus story about moviegoers wanting shorter trailers that reveal too much plot.

Jim Lavorato

Thursday, January 23, 2014

VFX Artists To Protest During Oscars

Hollywood celebs boast about their charitable and humanitarian good works - apparently that do-gooder feeling doesn't apply to fellow movie industry co-workers.

As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences readies for their annual 'big show' on March 2nd - preparing song and dance routines, guest appearances, award presenters' cue cards, banquets, pre and post parties, and mega-dollar swag bags, their fellow visual effects artists will be protesting within a stone's throw from the red carpet.

Over 500 visual effects artists (VFX) will be protesting against Hollywood's treatment of their members, and my guess is that any mention of this, if at all, by the press will be cursory and there certainly won't be one utterance from any of the attending glitterati. According to the Association of Digital Artists, Professionals, and Technicians (ADAPT) the VFX is "trying to bring attention and awareness and show support for our effort to levy duties against VFX subsidies by other countries".

As an example, last year  Rhythm & Hues, the VFX company that won the Oscar for best visual effects for the movie 'Life of Pi', was in bankruptcy at the time it won the award.  The problem is that non-U.S. VFX firms receive tax subsidies from their governments allowing them to price their services at a fraction of the cost of what a U.S. based VFX company must charge.  The U.K., Canada, and New Zealand are the worst offenders.  "We're trying to focus on the destructive impact of these subsidies", Dan Lay, spokeman for ADAPT told CMG. Adding, "It's great that there are Oscar parties going on, but a lot of us are being hurt by this and we get no support from Hollywood."

ADAPT wants a levy charged to movies that benefit from foreign country tax subsidies. According to Lay, "we don't want to be disruptive or disrespectful to the Oscars. We want and need our voice to be heard.  Basically, all of our jobs in LA have left, so that issue is moot, unless we can bring the industry back."

What the VFX artists need is for actors, directors, and others in the cinema industry to voice and show their support by stating they will not commit or be associated with movies made by studios in countries where heavy subsidies are the norm.


The studios will utilize special effects artists where they can get them at the least cost. The actors, I don't believe, care about their fellow movie co-workers so long as they get their paying roles. VFX artists - continue to fight the good fight but you are going to be fighting alone.

Jim Lavorato

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

37 Years Out

Harrison Ford & Mark Hamill rehearse lines for 'Star Wars;
Carrie Fisher jokes with her stunt double on set
Peter Mayhew, who played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy, recently released behind-the-scenes photos of the cast.  It is now 37 years since the first film in the Star Wars movie saga which is considered, by many, to be the greatest film franchise in the history of moviemaking.
Kenny Baker, R2D2 out of 'uniform;

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Update From The Living Room

3D-TV, like 3D movies is pretty much in a stall.. For the last three years the A/V industry tried, in vein, to sell 3D as the next coming in TV viewing.- but consumers wouldn't have it.  Now it's all about Ultra High Definition (UHD-TV) with 4k resolution.  However, the improved resolution of UHD-TV is only discernable on sets above 50 inches and up in size. 

4k has four times the resolution of current high definition TVs and as you have already figured requires more bandwidth to stream or download, but Google and Netflix have gone on record as stating that the bandwidth will not be a concern. In fact, the Consumer Electronics Association predicts that sales of UHD-4k Tvs will reach 8.7 million units worldwide this year - of which only 600,000 will be sold in the U.S., with U.S. sales reaching 2.6 million by 2017.

Another twist is that the new UHD-TVs will, in many cases, be curved instead of flat. A curved screen offers improved viewing - reducing glare and increasing the viewing angles providing a more immersive experience.

Samsung, LG, and Sony are all betting heavily on UHD-TV.  At the high end both Samsung and LG have introduced sets up to 105 inches.  On the low end, Sony (Vizio) is offering a 50 inch UHD-TV for only $999, with a 70 inch model at $2599.

Getting back to the lack of 4k content currently available, the TV manufacturers are working with both the internet streamers, like Google, Amazon, and Netflix, as well as, the movie studios (recently inking deals with Warner Bros., Lionsgate, and Fox).  Universal, owned by Comcast, is also on board and even has plans to broadcast coverage of the Sochi Winter Olympics in UHD-4k.


The newest UHD-4K TVs are capable of upconverting regular HD signals. Tests have shown that upconverted 1080p video (current HD resolution) on an UHD-4k set looks far superior than the same picture on a regular HD set.  So, upconverting provides a consumer an excuse to purchase an UHD-TV before a lot of 4k content is available.

Bend It Like LG & Samsung

Really pushing the envelope, both LG and Samsung will be offering TVs that bend at the touch of a remote button.  Details on the price or availability on these sets hasn't been released but both South Korean rivals want to make sure consumers have the option.  It seems that, as tests have shown, consumers can't resists the joy of watching a razor-thin TV curve inward for a 'more immersive viewing experience'.

CMG's Take

It's time for cinemas to realize and address the competition.The battle for viewers is only going to get fiercer. Those cinemas that heeded our warnings and prepared for the future by purchasing digital cinema projection systems that are currently producing twice the resolution of HD TVs and twice the brightness of their prior 35mm film projectors are going to stave off the relentless assault from in-the-home viewing.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hatchet Job Awards - Russia Goes Big On Home-grown Movies

A&E Awards Abound, and We Want One

The Arts & Entertainment arena has the distinction of doling-out all sorts of awards - from the Oscars to Sundance.  Needless to say, I'm envious.  Why should only the Hollywood hoi polloi and glitterati be recipients and take their strolls down red carpets - we all need that experience too.

So, I've decided that CMG will be going after a coveted 'Hatchet Job Award'.  Only in its third year, the Hatchet Job Award is given to critics who have written the best, most unflattering, most scathing entertainment critiques over the last year.  Awarded each January, I can only look on with unadulterated envy and vanity at this year's winners.

Being nasty about Hollywood celebs comes ...... well, naturally to me - it's fun.  Sometimes I do go a tad overboard but by-and-large the critiques are deserving.  To my credit, in proper bombastic form I use the rifle vs. shotgun approach and select my prey judiciously - it's not personal, it's business.

Now, it can be argued that the Hatchet Job Award encourages writers/bloggers to look for the bad in celebs; however, my feeling is that normal press coverage of celebs is beyond good and positive and borders on worship. In the world of star/celeb press coverage (both written and on TV) there isn't an apple that won't be polished nor a boot that won't be licked.

Terming it the Award for 'the lowest and noblest of writings' the Hatchet Job has taken its rightful place in the A&E arena.  It has as much right to be present as the Golden Globes, SAG, or Academy Awards.  So, it's three cheers for the Hatchet Job and wish me all the best for a win this next year.

Russia Get Rough With Hollywood

Vladimir Medinsky, Russia's Minister of Culture, indicated last week that he was considering putting a cap on the number of movies imported each year, stating that
"without a cap, it is impossible to help the Russian film sector".

Medinsky did not state what the quota would be in terms of numbers, but he has stated that the number of home grown films should be "20% of the total exhibited".  His statements come on the heels of Russia's growth in the cinema over the last 5 years. Currently, on a percentage basis, the Russian box office leads the world (it grew by 19% last year which even exceeded the growth of the Chinese box office). But no Russian made films were even close to the top box office earners, and the Russian government wants to change that.

In 2012, the government restructured the Russian Cinema Fund, the independent body that funds movies.  The Fund currently receives $170 million per year to promote films within and outside of Russia.  By 2017, the Cultural Ministry intends to double the amount given in state subsidies to film makers.  The government gets back a portion of the box office in fees which is reinvested into the film industry. The strategy is that Russian film makers will gravitate towards making the commercial films which dominate the current box office.

Jim Lavorato

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Improving Your Cinema's Operation & Profits

At the start of each year, CMG takes the opportunity to recommend a number of ways cinema operators can improve upon their patrons' moviegoing experience.  These recommendations also serve, in many cases, to increase revenues while enhancing a cinema's brand and helping cement their relationship with the local community.

Update & Rejuvenate Website

Make your cinema's website fun to use but also 'valuable' to the customer. Not only offering on-line admissions but on-line concession purchases.  It's a proven fact that on-line concession purchases are, on average, 60% higher than in-cinema food purchases.

Also offer coupons and special discounts through the website, which are unavailable at the box office. Doing this motivates your patrons to use the site and provides email addresses for future promotions and marketing.

Upgrade & Add New Concession Items

Come up with a new, but simple, concession item and private label it. For example, popcorn popped in duck fat.  Provide this item in a special container with the cinema's name on it - take ownership of this item.

We spoke of providing on-line concession coupons but also think of providing sample concession items while patrons are waiting in the concession line. Samples of a new candy now being sold, or pretzel nuggets this small gesture goes a long way to improving customer relations but also sales.

Improve Service Without Increasing Expense

If you take credit cards for admission and concession purchases great. If you don't or if you want to enhance the process use the new smart phone payment system - 'Square'.
Square simply uses a cell phone to process credit card sales and its charge is only 2% of each sales -  well below bank credit card transaction fees and Square accepts Visa, Master Card, and AMEX cards.

Offer WiFi in your cinema. It is an extremely inexpensive way of offering a service that will be appreciated by patrons. If nothing else they can use it to purchase tickets and concession on-line while at the cinema or, better still, at the cafe' area set up in the cinema's lobby to serve as a 'hang out' before and/or after a movie.

Have in-lobby and pre-feature entertainment. Go local. Advertise local up-coming events and news. Solicit local stores and restaurants to advertise at your cinema. In-theatre advertising is one of the best ways for them to advertise to the local community - it's a win/win.

Operational Improvements & Service

If you haven't already, purchase new bookkeeping software. This will improve and streamline you back-office operations and the new software packages for small/mid-sized businesses are very inexpensive but very capable. Look into software: Lemon, Expensify, and Shoeboxed, in additions to the old, reliable Quicken.

Think of having a Door Greeter.  This goes a long way to improving customer relations and perhaps incorporating it with the suggestion of offering food samples.

Advertise your cinema's sound system! Run pre-feature Dolby promo trailers. Keep reinforcing the fact that a cinema's sound cannot be replicated in the home.

Mix up your content. Don't run just the big, first run films. Exhibit art films on occasion or documentaries.  Investigate partnering with one or more of the non-Hollywood content distributors such as the Metropolitan Opera Company, National Geographic Society, or National Theatre Company for their programming.

Let it be known that an auditorium is available to any local community group desiring a place to meet.  Offer this during cinema 'off' nights of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Have appropriate concession available, like coffee, cookies, etc.

Upgrade the facility. Cosmetic changes/improvements like a fresh coat of paint, upgrading of restrooms, new signage, steam cleaning of seats, floors, and carpets, new concession lighting and signage, a lobby refresh, etc. all go a long way to improving service.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Meryl Streep Labels Late Walt Disney "Bigot and Sexist"

Calling Walt Disney a "gender bigot and anti-Semite" Meryl Streep got on a tirade and ruined what would otherwise have been a festive evening honoring Emma Thompson for her role in the recent movie 'Saving Mr. Banks'.

To the attendees' shock and awe, Streep, a guest speaker, used the gala occasion as a soapbox, to rant on Disney, who died in 1966. Calling Disney "a gender bigot and member of an anti-Semitic lobbying organization", Streep launched into a diatribe on the iconic Disney, who is considered one of the founding fathers of Hollywood.

 A note, which Streep contends was written by Disney and is the basis for her criticisms, states the following, "Women do not do any creative work in connection with preparing the cartoons for the screen, as that task is performed entirely by young men."  Even if this note was written by Disney, Streep didn't elaborate on when or in what context it was written.  As far as the anti-Semitic lobbying organization, no name was forthcoming.


Although Streep has had great screen success and is considered by many to be the best living actress her best performances are behind her.  Since Doubt, released in 2008, she seems to be playing the same character over and over only with different accents. Fact of the matter - her linguistics coach should receive an award.  Streep's outburst against Disney was planned and obviously ruined the moment for Emma Thompson and the other party attendees, demonstrating Streep's 'real life' persona which lacks taste and character.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

CMG: Scores Big As Worldwide Access Grows

Cinema Mucho Gusto has best year ever! 

+ Page-views  tripled on a year-over-year basis in 2013, as access to CMG expanded worldwide.

+ The top ten countries accessing CMG were: United States, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Ukraine, Canada, China, Latvia, and Singapore. 

+ The top five browsers accessing CMG were: Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.

+ Most Page-views by Operating System: Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iPad, iPhone, Android, iPod Touch

+ Most read Post: CINEMA BuzzFEED - 26 September 2013

+ Most read Article: 'Madonna Ban From Cinema', posted 14 October

+ Most commented on Post: 10 Best Summer Romance Movies, posted 21 July

Many thanks to our readers for there viewership and support.  We look forward to providing you with news, information, and commentary on the cinema from a unique perspective unavailable from any other news outlet or media source.

Jim Lavorato

Saturday, January 04, 2014

CINEMA BuzzFEED - 4 January 2014

Hollywood vs. High Tech

Due to continuing structural changes in the entertainment/media industries content providers will set the pace for a banner year in mergers and acquisitions - that's according to KPMG, the global accounting and business consultancy. And I agree!

M&A activity between entertainment driven companies and internet/tech companies is the next logical step in the evolution of content creation and distribution.

David Elms, Head of M&A at KPMG says, "There is now a pent-up demand for M&A activity in this sector which is likely to trigger more and bigger deals in 2014.  The pace of change across all media is now so rapid that many businesses cannot adapt through a natural process of evolution.  Creating a market-leading position organically is becoming almost impossible."

CMG has taken the view, over many years now, that the large tech/internet firms such as Amazon, Apple, Google, Netflix, etc. would need first-rate content to fulfill their need to expand into the entertainment field in a big way.  That growth, for these tech firms, would either come internally (which is on-going) or through acquiring content providers such as the large Hollywood studios. And they certainly have the money to do just that.

Elms further stated, "Many of the tech companies are moving from offering 'secondary' content - movies and TV shows which have previously been exhibited or broadcasted - to offering 'primary' content to secure a competitive advantage.  This will result in these companies acquiring producers of content. This type of content focused convergence is driven by a desire to create sophisticated audiences, and technology is making this an increasingly achievable ambition." We could not have said it better David.

In a related story, last week, Disney Studios appointed tech guru Jack Dorsey to its Board of Directors. Yes, that Jack Dorsey, the former prime mover at Google, and founder of social-media company Twitter and online payments start-up Square.  Dorsey will join other tech-centric Disney Board members Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook and John Chen of BlackBerry.

Disney has been termed, "the faster-forward old media giant" vs. others in the Hollywood studios' club, but Bob Iger, Disney's CEO knows the writing is in the wall regarding the tech giants move into entertainment media.  Iger was interviewed by Kara Swisher, our friend at Re/Code, an internet media company.  Excerpts from that interview are in the next section of this CMG post.

Re/Code Talks to Disney's Iger

You have added high-profile Silicon Valley people to Disney's Board, why?

Iger: These are people that created or helped to create businesses that are incredibly disruptive, ones that change the order of the world. We need a disruptor's perspective. Our world is changing, it's hard in a big media company to have that perspective we need that wisdom at Disney.

Steve Job was on Disney's Board did he change Disney?

Iger: Yes, he came with the Pixar acquisition and I sit on the Apple Board. We were obviously influenced by his demand for excellence. Steve was very forward-thinking, especially about the emergence of the smart mobile devices.
The tech space is a lot about trial and error and that is something Disney needed to understand - that we should not give up when something did not work.

How did you pick Dorsey?

Iger: I and other Board members all agreed that he has a totally new perspective and one that Disney must have about sharing information.

How hard is it for a big media company, like Disney, not to be scared of the tech giants?

Iger: Well, it was a process that took place over time. We had to understand that businesses are challenged left and right and if we did not get on board and challenge ourselves, we were going to get swept away.

Golden Globes Blasts Oscars

The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which sponsors the Golden Globe Awards warned the movie studios to cease and desist in using the term 'winner' in describing a movie's nomination for a Globe award.

The HFPA, in a letter to the major studios, warned, "We have recently seen several instances in which the word 'winner' was used too prominently in publicity and advertising to describe nominees.  While earning a Golden Globe nomination is certainly a honor, it is not a 'win', and using that term  is likely to mislead the public and diminish the excitement around the Golden Globe award show."

Promotional ads for a number of Oscar contenders have used this tactic in large text above the number of Golden Globe nominations received. The promoters of the films '12 Years A Slave', 'Osage County', 'Philomena', and 'Long Walk to Freedom' were named the major offenders - three of these being, you guessed it, Weinstein Company products.   

It should be noted that this tactic, used to generate Oscar buzz about a film, is ban by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Jim Lavorato