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Friday, August 22, 2014

CMG Cinema Buzz - 21 August 2014

Wrst Thing Eva for Cinemas?
On-screen texting - a good idea?

U have just settled in to watch a pic at the local cine that u have been dying to see. U have u'r corn. U'r 44oz. carton of soda, and some candy for u'r teeth.  The movie starts. Ah, those explosive teaser trailers - all 8 of them - luring u with upcoming scenes of spectacular big-screen entertainment.

Then it happens! On the screen u see - 'OMG, I looooooove this movie!!!'  and then another, 'Not sure hwat's happening but it just blew up!'  and another, 'Lose the airplane.'  Texting on the screen. Am I in hell!  Yes, texting on screen while the movie is running is the latest crazy in China.  China Youth Daily reported that cinemas in Beijing and Shanghai are experimenting with 'bullet screens', where the audience can send texts commenting on the film as the movie is presented - "to cater for the permanently distracted, phone-addicted younger generation".

I'm told precautions are made to screen the texts before they appear on screen. Oh really, and who does the screening?  Is this a good idea?  Would u be happy to pay to attend a movie where texting is going on during the presentation?  Turning movie going into an even more communal and sharing experience.
Would having a real-time discussion during the movie be even more akin to in-home movie viewing? Or would it result in a few idiots playing around with proprietary content at your expense. Is this even legal?  Maybe in China, but I doubt that Hollywood would take kindly to texting about 'their' movie while it was being exhibited - or would they?  Is this just another step on the ladder of social media.

Does the very idea leave u speechless. OMG cn't we all be friends. LOL.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The 'Scene' by Seymore Flix

Expendables: Pirates vs Geezers

And the winner is ...... Gating only $16.2 million on its big-screen debut, Expendables 3 was a box office bummer. Ironically, the film's dismal admission figures were partly due to the over 5.2 million pirated viewings of the film. According to Excipio, the movie piracy tracking firm, a high-quality copy of the film hit torrent-sharing sites more than three weeks prior to its U.S. theatrical release.

Expendables 3, had a stellar cast.  Not only starring Sly Stallone, but featuring Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Wesley Snipes, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Antonio Banderas, Dolph Lundgren, Kelsey Grammer, and 27 less renowned actors. Because of the piracy issue it is impossible to know how the movie would have fared at the box office. However, a recent study by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University estimates that films subject to pre-release piracy generate a 20-25% lower box office take compared with those pirated after their theatrical release.

"There certainly are people who watched the pirated copies of Expendables who weren't going to see it anyway", Michael Smith, professor of information technology and marketing at CMU, told me. "But the real fans are the ones who rush out on opening weekend, and what's harmful is when it's available on pirate sites before there is a legal channel to see it. You're asking people to not only not see a pirated copy, but to wait a few weeks." And that, as they say in flixdom, 'don't work'.

Another factor was that the film got negative reviews because critics and viewers alike stated it was a watered-down version of the two previous 'Expendable' movies. There had been a decision by the producers to go with a milder version which hopefully would attract a larger audience - it did the opposite. The first two films were fast-paced, action-packed, graphic, 'R' rated films which were also humorously entertaining, and self-effacing.

Well, folks.  Chalk one up for the pirates and a dismal loss for the 'Expendable' geezers.

S. Flix  

Sunday, August 17, 2014

CINE BUZZ - August 17 2014


Last month, we reported that the Chinese cinema industry only censors films based principally upon political and social criteria - and has no age restrictions regarding movies.  If a film passes censorship, anyone, no matter age, can view it regardless of the amount of sex, violence, or adult language. China has no official film-rating system as the rest of the world uses. However, now several cinema owners/operators are taking matters into their own hands and have begun to institute their own unofficial age restrictions for film attendance.

Yao Lin, the manager of a multiplex in Guangzhou (once called Canton) and several other exhibitors began issuing ratings for films using Western criteria, and has been turning away younger filmgoers who do not meet  the age requirements. The state-operated China Film Group, which is responsible for censoring films has failed to introduce a rating system despite regular requests from movie producers and distributors (mainly U.S. based studios but also from Chinese film producers).

Both action and horror films are on the exhibitors list of restricted films, where PG-13 and R ratings have been given to certain films.  While these exhibitors have no legal capacity as a censor, they argue they are simply enforcing Chinese laws protecting minors from pornography, violence, and extreme terror. The exhibitors have reported that parents have been very supportive of their actions.

It appears that China will get an age restricted film rating system, like the MPAA's in the U.S., regardless of the Chinese government's official position - which will change over time.


It use to be that last August - early September was arguably the worst time for the box office. Coming off the summer blockbusters and entering the busy school year and back from vacation mode, folks weren't thinking about a trip to the local cinema. Only January and the 'after holiday blues' compared to the September b.o. doldrums.  These were the times when Hollywood slipped their stinkers into release.

This may be changing, however, as Hollywood's long-held release tactics are under attack. Experiencing a weak summer b.o. and looking at 2014 attendance figures, the two biggest grossers, thus far, 'Captain America' and 'The Lego Movie' opened in April and February respectively. Warner Bros. just announced that it was shifting the opening of its highly anticipated superhero match-up 'Batman v. Superman' from May to March.

Faced with today's digitally savvy audiences demanding to see what they want, when they want it. Hollywood must conform to the rapid changes taking place across the entertainment landscape. There will always be crappy movies and there will always to be a need to slot these films into each studio's release schedule. But as the old adage goes - 'There is never a bad time to release a good movie, and there is never a good time to release a bad one'.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Superheroes, Vampires, and Aliens

There's Money To Be Made With The Un-dead
Lugosi as Dracula

My counterpart at CMG, Seymore Flix, recently posted on the box office success of the Marvel superhero films and it appears that Disney has it all over the other studios in this regard.  Owning Marvel Entertainment, as well as, LucasFilms (with its upcoming three-bagger of 'Star Wars' sequels), not to mention Pixar Studios and its original animation production arm - it appears Disney is well positioned to take a dominate role in the cinema's box office future.

Ah, but not to worry and fret to much for the other studios, my friends, for moviegoers, in addition to their addiction for superheros and talking animals also have an appetite for vampires, the un-dead, werewolves, oversized Godzilla-like monsters, wizards, and mythological beings.  Witness last week's purchase by Universal Studios of the rights (no amount was disclosed) to Anne Rice's 'Vampire Chronicles', a series of 13 novels, the first of which will be produced by the folks who brought you 'Transformers' and the 'Star Trek' movies.

Dunst, Pitt, and Cruise in 'Interview'
The Rice novels/films will follow in the footsteps of  Bella Lugosi's 'Dracula' and a long series of vampire inspired movies, the most recent being the huge success of the 'Twilight' series. Rice's first novel, 'Interview With the Vampire' was made into a film and release in 1994 - starring a very young cast of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Kirsten Dunst - it grossed over $225 million globally.

Recent photo of Rice 
Universal, like all of the other major studios, is investing heavily in the supernatural. It currently has plans to revive Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein.  The Mummy is up first, with a scheduled release date of April 2016.  And, of course, with their inking of the rights to Rice's 13 novel series Universal may be looking at a decade-plus long string of films that may become the industry's mega-franchise of all time.

Jim Lavorato  

Friday, August 08, 2014

The Scene by Seymore Flix

Marvelous Marvel Movies

Founded in 1939 as Timely Comics, Marvel Comics really hit its modern-day stride in the 1960s, when Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko began to develop the superhero characters so well known as today's cinema stars and box office movers.

Movie Stars of Today
Now owned by Disney, which acquired Marvel Entertainment in 2009, Marvel's main competitor in the comic world is DC Comics.  Each holds about 1/3 of the comics market; however, Marvel has it all over DC when it comes to the silver screen. Why? Because Marvel has always focused on its superhero characters as 'real' people. Although having super powers there are portrayed with frailties and flaws and given to human emotions - that is what makes them so appealing.  It was Marvel's depiction of  the flawed superhero which revolutionized the comic genre and brought forth the worldwide mega-success of  the superhero films of today. In fact, Marvel comic based movies represent the highest-grossing franchises in film history, generating over $15 billion globally to date and, I believe, we have just seen the tip of the dollar iceberg with these films.

 First Marvel Superhero Comic - 1939
The first successful Marvel comic based film was 'Blade', released in 1998. It was followed by 'X-Men' in 2000 and it has been non-stop box office blockbusters one after the other since. Sequels are prevalent but new heroes are introduced as well. This year, 'Captain America', 'Spider Man', 'X-Men', and 'Guardians of the Galaxy' have grossed over $2.2 billion worldwide and still counting.  Next year, Marvel films will include a second 'Avengers', another 'Fantastic Four'  and the introduction of new heroes in the films "Ant-Man', and 'Doctor Strange'.  Disney has already announced the future production of a third 'Captain America', a new 'X-Men', and sequels for the 'Sinister Six', 'Wolverine' 'Fantastic Four', 'Guardians of the Galaxy' and 'Spider Man'.

Add to this Disney's planned release of three new 'Star Wars' films and other films based upon DC Comic heroes, like Superman, not to mention the three 'Avatar' sequels in the works and you get a continued stream of films to quench the entertainment thirst of moviegoers for the high-impact, fantasy movies which drive today's box office.

'La Fin Du Topless Sur La Plage ?'
Bardot on the Riviera

Or, 'Is this the end of toplessness on the beach?'  Ever since movie starlets like Brigitte Bardot took off  their tops on the French Riviera in the 1960s, topless sunbathing has been common-place on most European beaches and resorts. However, Elle, the French fashion magazine, says the era of toplessness is over - fin!

Elle, says the reason is three-fold: an increased concern over health and dangers of sun on the skin, the "pornified" perception of topless women, and third the rise of breast-affiliated activism which use naked breasts as a means of attracting attention to various women's causes.  Now, very few women are opting to go topless on the beach, in fact only 2% of women under 35 said they now go topless.

I believe that social networks have played a huge role in this whole issue. Go topless - and you can bet your bikini your image will end up on Facebook or YouTube. Hey, what's a family photo album without Grandma topless.  Add sun damage to gravity to the mix and what have you got? The end of the topless era. What a shame.

Fox Lashes Out
Fox on set of 'Turtles'

Megan Fox told the press that moviegoers who criticize 'Transformers' and 'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' should "f -off".  At an L.A. press conference, Fox, who stars in both films, told reporters that fans should be lining up to see the "turtles" as they did for the 'Transformers'.  "These people complain but they go to the theatre. They're gonna love it - and if they don't love it, they can f-off, and that's the end of that."

This latest release will be the fifth in the TMNT franchise and has hit the silver screen with a massive upfront marketing blitz with TV ads, talk-show appearances, and on-line everything.  Fox has a point, 'Transformers' has grossed well over $1 billion globally despite very bad reviews and an 18% favorable viewer rating. It seems that any movie related to superheroes is cinema gold at the moment no matter the plot or character development - it's just what the public craves at this time. It appears to be a need to forget real-life issues and be brought into fantasy worlds dominated with super-powered people, talking  animals, robots, and futuristic worlds.

Seymore Flix