Popular Posts

Monday, August 31, 2015

Pixar's Next and Pope Francis Woos H'wood

Death as Subject for new Pixar Movie

'Coco', is the title of Disney/Pixar's next animated movie of which several details were recently divulged.  Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a Mexican national holiday which celebrates and honors deceased relatives and friends and coincides with the Catholic holiday, 'All Saints Day'.

According to Disney, 'Coco' is the celebration of a life, where the discovery of a generation-old mystery is uncovered and leads to a most extraordinary and surprising family reunion. 'Coco' centers on the adventures of a young boy named Miguel, who discovers a mystery on the eve of Dia de los Muertos.  Rumors have it that 'Coco' will be an animated musical and Pixar hopes that the movie will have the emotional impact of 'Toy Story 3' - which dealt with the emotion concept of passing time and saying farewell to loved ones.  'Coco' will deal with the issue of death and its emotional impact on the living. Dia de los Muertos is a celebration of life with dancing and music but includes imagery of death with skills and skeletons interlaced with the honoring of dead loved ones.

'Coco' is scheduled for release in the Fall of 2017.

Pope Francis Courts Tinseltown
Pope with Angelina Jolie and her children

The Pope has invited a number of entertainment celebrities to the Vatican this Fall in a effort at improving the Catholic Church's influence in child education and gain insight into current trends. The list of invited celebs reads like a who's who of entertainment big wigs, and includes: Oprah Winfrey, Matt Damon, and movie executives such as David Geffen and Brian Grazer.  Also included are the heads of such firms as the William Morris talent agency.

The Church is seeking knowledge from a wide variety of Hollywood movers but you can also count on Pope Francis sticking it to them regarding on-screen violence and its lack of humanity.

The Vatican has been working with the Varkey Foundation, a nonprofit group who's goal is to improve child education on a worldwide basis.  They reportedly have been working with Papal representatives in developing the list of invitees. According to a Varkey spokesperson, "we have been in discussions with the Vatican regarding the role of media on the values of young people.  The planned meetings are not intended to discuss the reputation or image of the Catholic Church".

Discussing the impact and influence of the media, particularly movies, on young people is important to both Varkey and, apparently, Pope Francis.  There are no fixed dates set for the meetings nor as any formal invitee list be released.  But it's not every day one gets a personal invitation from the Pope to talk and be wined and dined - my guess is, at least, several of the glitterati will accept.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Could Star Wars Break The Bank

We are all fully aware that the December 18th release of the latest 'Star Wars' episode will make lots of dough - but some prognostications are getting a bit crazy.  Several blogs and entertainment rags are reporting that the movie is destined to make an absurd box office.  The off-the-wall amount being thrown-about is $625 million for the global opening weekend.

'Jurassic World' took in $524 million on its debut weekend and broke the record (its total take to date is $1.6 billion).  Can Star Wars top this?  Disney hopes so. We are talking about the greatest movie franchise of all time. With a fan base that spans 3 generations - the first teaser trailer for 'The Force Awakens' released on the internet amassed 100 million views

The Disney road-map for the Star Wars' saga includes six more movies. After this December's release we'll get three more episodes over the course of 18 months and three more from that point (one each year).

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' is anticipated to open on 10,000 screens, from IMAX to small-town cinemas.  So, maybe the $625 million opening isn't (like the movie) a fantasy.  If any movie can break the record it's this one.  Disney started its pre-release promotion two years ago and has kept the hype on a steady ramp-up since.  Hopefully the movie will live up to its' expectation and becomes the phenomenal success it's predicted to be.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cinema Arena by Seymore Flix

Arthouse Films - Not Audiences 'Cup of Tea' 

Although it has been a banner year for big H'wood movies, that success may have been to the detriment of the smaller, indie and art films.  There have been no indie breakouts, no low-budget out-performers, no Sundance or Tribecca winners that went on to the big screen in a big way.

This year, Sundance favorite 'Me and Earl and The Dying Girl'  which cost $8m to make has grossed only $6m to date. Other indie films that were expected to do well and had large release rollouts, didn't perform - 'Dope' and 'Diary of a Teenage Girl' were two examples.

It seems that indie movies for 2015 which were geared towards a youthful audience tanked, while those skewed towards an older clientele managed to get some audience traction. 'Mr. Holmes', and the Brian Wilson biopic 'Love and Mercy' did some solid business but no great-shakes.  Even Woody Allen's perennial summer flick (which normally do very well with the above 50 crowd) went bust, as they were no-shows for 'Irrational Man'.

There may be some indie success this fall and winter with 'Carol' (a hit at the Cannes fest), 'The Danish Girl' , a movie about gender redo, 'Miles Ahead', a biopic on Miles Davis, and 'Brooklyn', a period piece about 19th century immigration.

So, its been a long, un-hot summer for the art-houses but things may pickup in the next several months. We sure hope so.

Warner Brothers Goes Native in China

It's no secret that the Hollywood studios all want to get a major piece of the Chinese box office, but with a Chinese import quota of 34 foreign films per year the name of the game for the studios is to set up shop locally.  The studio which has been most aggressive in establishing a local presence in China is Warner Bros. which is in final talks on a joint venture with China Media Capital (the state run investment company which funds the entertainment industry in China).

The Warner/China Media deal's intent is to locally produce films which will serve the growing Chinese box office. So far this year the Chinese box office is up 43% to $4.3 billion - with locally produced movies representing about 65% of the total.  Having locally produced films, Warner Bros. would end-run the quota on imported foreign films and also provide a larger slice of the box office which is capped on foreign films at 25% of ticket sales.

As with all joint ventures within China, Warner Bros. would be a minority shareholder but nonetheless has made the production of local-language movies in China a strategic priority.

Lawrence and Schumer - The Odd Couple
Schumer and Lawrence

If you like Jennifer Lawrence and/or Amy Schumer than you will be excited to hear that they are collaborating on an as yet untitled movie.  Arguably the hottest actor and comedienne in the business right now, the notion of Lawrence and Schumer working together on a comedy makes for a whole lot of  expectant speculation.

Lawrence let it slip (on purpose) the she and Schumer were in the process of writing the script. "We play sisters.  We're almost done writing. It just flowed out of us. We've got about 100 pages right now". said Lawrence.  Both will star and are co-writing the screenplay.  According to Lawrence, she started talking with Schumer  only a few months ago.  She emailed Schumer after she had seen 'Trainwreck' - that email turned into numerous text message exchanges, which turned into the proposed movie project.

Lawrence further said that, "creatively we are made for each other, we have very different flavors, which work great."  For her part, Schumer is also working on a separate mother/daughter comedy, while Lawrence is busy prepping  for the release of the final installment of the 'Hunger Games' saga. Very busy girls.

S. Flix

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Forbes Needs To Change Highest Paid Actors Listings

Yesterday, CMG posted an item which listed the highest paid female actors for the July 2014 to June 2015 timeframe.  Last week CMG reported on the highest compensated male actors.  It should be noted that this was the first time in which non-Hollywood actors were included on each list.

Problem is - why are there two separate lists?  Why not one non-gender based list? By my reckoning, if the lists were combined only two female actors (Jennifer Lawrence and Scarlett Johansson) would have made the combined top 10 list.

Forbes Magazine compiles and publishes the lists which are re-printed by hundreds of newspapers, magazines, blogs, and TV and radio stations worldwide.  Publishing a combined list would highlight (or not) the disparities female actors have been complaining about - it seems forever.  In its defense, Forbes says that it also complies and publishes a 'Global Celebrity 100 List' which is not gender-based and includes musicians and television stars, as well. "Only four female actors made north of $20m, while 21 male stars banked $20m plus.  In order to justly highlight the women who are at the top of their industry, we split the lists", otherwise the list would be too long." says Natalie Robehmed, a Forbes spokesperson. 

Well, isn't that the point, Natalie.  Having a list which exhibits the disparity in wages between male and female actors.  By my measure, women movie stars generate much more press for Hollywood then their male counterparts. The runways are all about women - not men. Product ads (especially for high-end goods and cosmetics) are all about female stars - not male. All if this adds value to Hollywood productions.

A combined list is the way forward. It would highlight the salary disparities between genders and be 'good press' for Forbes.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cinema Tidbits

Most Profitable Movie in Last 5 Years

No, it's not the movie you're thinking of.  No, not that one either. In fact you probably have never heard of this movie and if you saw it you'd probably say it was the worst movie you very viewed.

The movie is 'The Devil Inside' - it cost less than $1 million and  has grossed over $98 million, making it the most profitable movie on a cost to return basis, possibly ever.

'The Devil Inside' is bad. A terrible film. But upon release, Paramount (which distributed and marketed the movie) went with a wide release in over 2500 screens.  In fact, Paramount paid $4.9 million to market and distribute 'The Devil Inside' which was 5 times what the movie cost to produce. Many moviegoers left the auditorium during the movie or booed at its end. But Paramount's gamble paid off, at least for the first weekend before word got out that the film was seriously flawed.

Now, 'The Devil Inside' has become (sort of) a cult film - being that it is one of the worst films ever released on the big screen.  Con-job, scam, call it what you will, but turning $1 million into close to $100 million is no small feat.

You Have To Go Straight Outta Compton To See The Movie

Too bad, but no one in Compton, CA will ever see the movie, 'Straight Outta Compton' (the current hit movie about the start of rap music) at least not at a local cinema, because there are no movie theaters in Compton - not one!

The City of Compton (located in southern Los Angeles county) is divided by two street gangs, the Bloods and the Crips, and although the City has improved the quality of life over the last 20 years, it still has a steep up-hill climb.  Once, a predominately black community during the 1970s and '80s when rap started there, Compton has shifted to being a heavily populated Latino city.

Currently Compton isn't the town that is portrayed in the movie.  Violent crime is down over 70% from the gangsta years of 1990s, which witnessed gang feuds, civil strife, and a crack epidemic. Compton isn't the ideal place to live but it is much improved and it deserves to have its own cinema.

Real Battle in H'wood Is OFF Screen

Forget the high-impact, action films of 2015 the real battle this year is going on between the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and a gang of on-line pirates operating as MovieTube.

In July, the MPAA filed a legal complaint against the anonymous operators of MovieTube's websites, in an effort to prevent the streaming of pirated Hollywood movies.  To counter, MovieTube, via its Facebook page, informed the court that MovieTube was not a U.S. domiciled company and therefore not accountable under U.S. laws.

Then things got really ugly for the MPAA, which was sure it had an open and shut case against MovieTube.  First, lawmakers stopped short of fully embracing the MPAA sponsored 'Stop Online Piracy Act'.  Then came the worst - major pushback from internet giants: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and Twitter which forced the MPAA to withdraw its injunction against MovieTube.  The internet players felt that an injunction to block MovieTube's activities would create a dangerous legal precedent of what can or can not be viewed on the Internet.

For now, legal proceeding are at a stand-off but you can bet the war isn't over.

Highest Paid Female Actors
Lawrence Number One in $s

As promised, following is the list of the 10 best-paid actresses in movies.  When looking at the list you quickly notice that the amounts are smaller than their male counterparts.  Only the number one actress would have cracked into the top five male actors totals.

1. Jennifer Lawrence - $52m
2. Scarlett Johansson - $35.5m
3. Melissa McCarthy - $23m
4. Bingbing Fan - $21m (Chinese actress)
5. Jennifer Aniston - $16.5m
6. Julia Roberts - $16m
7. Angelina Jolie - $15m
8. Reese Witherspoon - $15m
9. Anne Hathaway - $12.5m
10. Kristen Stewart - $12m 


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Cinema Arena - by Seymore Flix

Pay for Your Security - NOT HARDLY

A recent poll taken by Variety indicated that 77% of moviegoers stated that they were not willing to pay an extra $2 for improved security at cinemas (with 52% saying they weren't willing to pay $1) - I totally agree with them.

What's all of this pay extra for services that should come free-of-charge.  Checked bags at airlines, 15-20% automatic gratuity at restaurants, extra per-day fees for use of hotel amenities, fee for this, that, and the other, up-charges for large screened cinema auditoriums - all in the name of higher profits.  I'm sick of it!

Now cinemas want an extra fee for having a safe place for moviegoers to visit. You've got to be kidding.  If cinemas don't get the security up-charge fees does that mean cinemas are now unsafe public venues?  This makes no logical sense for cinemas from a marketing standpoint and will deter moviegoers.

What's to say that an extra $1 or $2 will make patrons more secure?  Precisely what do I, as a patron, get for the extra charge?  A cinema staff that takes a security training course? Armed guards? Closed circuit cameras in all auditoriums monitored for suspicious characters?  Metal detectors and security entry checks?  Or perhaps nothing, and the cinema pockets the up-charge.
Cash pickup by armored truck at cinema

When I go to a public place, be it a cinema, shopping mall, arena, etc. I automatically assume that security is provided.  That a trained staff is on tap to help in situations ranging from lost car keys to a lost child.  God knows that huge amounts are spent preventing shoplifting and pilferage and that includes cinemas.  So, I expect to receive security when I go to a cinema without having to be charged a fee for my safety.  Cinema exhibitors currently spend lots on securing their property - box offices with bullet-proof glass, armored truck cash pickups or bank safe-deposit drops several times per day, key-coded locks on projection rooms, etc. all for the protection and security of the cinema but none for the moviegoer!

The idea of moviegoers paying for their own security is a very bad one - period. 77% of the folks know it and don't like the idea.  Cinemas should be providing security for their patrons -NOW!  I believe that if several more cinema shooting incidents occur people will seriously think twice about going to the movies - I know I will.

Minions Used For Drug Smuggling

New York City police busted a massive drug ring that was using 'Minions' and 'Frozen' toys to smuggle huge quantities of cocaine into Manhattan.

Minion toys were stuffed with cocaine
After lengthy surveillance and wiretappings a slew of high-level drug smugglers/dealers were arrested.  The drug dealers were mailing boxes of cocaine from Puerto Rico to Harlem, hidden in gift boxes which contained 'Minion' and 'Frozen' toys stuffed with drugs.

NYC police intercepted numerous packages containing pounds of cocaine valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  The packages were addressed to people with fake names and were wrapped to look like birthday presents.  In addition to the toys there were wireless internet router boxes full of drugs.

Like straight out of a movie script, police worked backwards using wiretaps, surveillance, and various undercover drug buys.  The investigation moved from low-level operators through the ranks, until the masterminds of the scheme were reached.  71 total charges were issued against the seven major perpetrators - all have pleaded not guilty.  All are being held without bail pending trial.

The poor Minions.  Why pick on them?  They are jolly, fun-loving characters that shouldn't be used for nefarious deeds. Using them, in itself, should be a criminal offence.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Can 3D Make A Comeback?

If you haven't noticed, the movie studios are trying to make another run at moviegoers into accepting 3D (and of course their premium pricing).

This year has seen a number of blockbusters that were released in 3D format - the biggest grosser being 'Jurassic World'.  This fall/winter however a big push rests on a cadre of 3D films being released which are geared toward the adult moviegoer.  Many studio executives see potential for more business if they can get mature audiences to view more sophisticated 'event' films.

In the quarter ended June 30th, the average price of a movie ticket was $8.61, up 6% over the 1st quarter of the year.  This increase was partly due to premium pricing of ticket sales of 3D films.

3D viewing peaked in 2011 for both younger and older audiences and has been in decline since. 2015 maybe the pivotal year that gets 3D back on track - at least that's what the studios are hoping for.

IMAX has been urging the studios to create 'event' films for adults and release them in the September/October timeframe which is normally a release dead-spot baring the odd fantasy, action blockbuster.  To accommodate IMAX and because there maybe validity in their notion, Universal is releasing an IMAX-only 3D version of 'Everest' on September 18th - a week before wide-release at regular cinemas.  The same will be true of 'The Walk' which Sony will early release in 3D to IMAX theatres on September 30th. Also to be released in 3D will be 'In the Heart of the Sea', a 19th century sea adventure by Warners Bros. and 'The Revenant', a frontier action-thriller from Fox.

So, it appears that the studios are on-board with the idea that adult oriented movies released in 3D will have older audiences paying for the 3D up-charge.  In addition, 'The Hunger Games:Mockingjay 2' (Lionsgate) and 'Star Wars-The Force Awakens' (Disney) will also be available in 3D.  Added to these are other big-screen up-comers: the new Bond movie, 'Spectre' (Sony/MGM), Peter Pan fantasy, 'Pan' (Warners), 'Crimson Peak' (Universal) and the reboot, 'Point Break' (Warners).

The studios want to make films that are targeted to an older, more thoughtful audience but which are also action-packed and thrilling and oriented to a large screen with 3D effects - movies good enough to warrant an Oscar nod but still be appealing to a mass audience.

I'm hard pressed to see 3D come back in a big way.  I think it holds that good films beget big audiences whether they be young, middle, or older aged, male or female.  3D doesn't add to the goodness of a movie that's why moviegoers decided to shy away from 3D flix in the first place- there were a lot of bad 3D films released which didn't deserve a premium price.  Let's see how this falls' 3D movies perform at the box office.


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cinema Arena by Seymore Flix

Ronda Rousey Moving Up In The Ranks
Rousey on cover of Maxim

You have to love Ronda Rousey.  If you haven't heard of her - you will.  Ronda is the current Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) mixed martial arts Bantamweight champ.  Last week she dispatched her latest rival and main contender, a Brazilian fighter, in 38 seconds of the first round with a knockout.  That win is the 12th in her undefeated professional fight career and the 11th in which she won in the first round.  Ronda is a fighting machine with a record unmatched by any other UFC fighter - male of female.

Ms. Rousey now wants to be a movie star and she has thrown her hat into the ring (no pun intended) for the role of superhero Captain Marvel (or Ms. Marvel) in a movie to be released in 2018.  When asked about the role, Rousey said, "Well .... a lot of the good ones have been taken, but I'd like to vie for Ms. Marvel. "  Quite frankly, she would be a great fit for the role, as she could certainly perform all of her own fight scenes - she recently won the 2015 ESPY Best Fighter Award.
Add caption
No stranger to the world of fandom she has millions of fans worldwide, both female and male,  Rousey has appeared in three films to date: 'Expendables 3', 'Fast and Furious 7', and 'Entourage' and although other actors have expressed interest in the Marvel role, including: Emily Blunt, Katheryn Winnick, and Jessica Chastain my bet is on Ronda to land the part.  She has badass attitude, which the part requires, and hey she could easily best any one (or two) of them in a cage match.

So, look for the 28 year old Rousey at a cinema near you is the near future.  She has the looks and demeanor now she needs to show some acting talent.

Disney Puts Kibosh on Selfie-sticks (poles)
Out-of-control selfie poles

Disney officially banned the use of selfie sticks at all of their theme parks.  Cited were the sticks (or poles as they should be called) annoyance and safety issues for park guests. The top nut on the fruitcake was when a park patron was taking selfies while riding on a roller coaster - endangering other riders. Ranging in length of up to 5ft. with a price of $7 to $75 the poles are affixed to cell phones and allows a person to take a selfie photo from high-on. This cell phone accessory is now ban at all Disney theme parks worldwide, They are detected through bag checks which are a standard security measure at all Disney park locations.

I expect to see other entertainment venues banning selfie poles.  They are dangerous to others and, as always, people get foolish with their use. They should be used only in private settings, where people can only hurt themselves or loved ones.  I've even seen the poles used in cinemas and that is a real no-no - but idiots will be idiots no matter where you go.

Millennials Big Moviegoers

According to Nielsen Ratings, more than 215 million U.S. adults aged 18-34 (termed Millennials) have attended a movie at a cinema through May of this year - a 30% increase over last year!  And, it took only 31 movies to reach this level of viewership.

Question: Why have 2015's movies struck such a cord with the Millennial group?  The answer is balance - lot of good films that attracted both audience genders.  This year's big blockbusters had wide audience appeal.  The high-impact, action films, as well as, comedies and even the animated movies brought in male and female moviegoers alike.

The research data confirms what I think is reflective of other demographic segments - that Millennials want to see and will go to the cinema to see good movies.  For 2015, H'wood lined by a cadre of well-known franchise sequels that needed little advertising to get social media buzz going and jump-start advanced ticket sales.  The moviegoing experience now goes full circle and ends with the Millennials texting on social media platforms about the movie they have just seen.

Looking at the release schedule for the remaining of this year, the Millennial' buzz is high and bodes will for cinema attendance. 


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Improving The Oscars, Also: 12 Most Expensive Movies of all Time

In Need of a Revamp

If you read CMG with any regularity you know how much I believe that the Oscar TV-fiasco needs a revamp.  Apparently, I'm not the only one.

Recently Edward Norton, himself a three-time nominee for the Oscar came out with some very bold ideas on how to improve the Academy's Oscar giving system and show. Norton has criticized the "monetization" of the pre-awards season, whereby very major Guide having it own televised awards show.  He says, "The Academy, which is a private organization, could easily say that, its own award and any film putting out paid solicitation ads of any kind, would disqualify that film from receiving an Oscar."

The chase for an Oscar is not a cottage industry.  The run-up to the award show costs mega-millions and support a cadre of Hollywood minions.  I guess the real question about the Oscars is "Does anyone outside of Hollywood and a handful of film-geeks, really care?  None of the big box office bruisers ever get nominated and the audience for the Oscars (never mind the Guide shows) drop every year.  That's not saying much for an industry that will be breaking box office records this year.

For sure, the Oscars needs a revamp.  It has to become more than a black-tie, backslap affair or runway show for H'wood insiders.  It has to be reflective of what is happening at the box office and which movies people actually go to see at their local cinema.

Most Expensive Movies Ever Made

These days, really good movies cost a lot to produce. You know, the good movies - the ones people flock to the cinema to see.  Ever wonder what they cost and how much of a crap-shoot H'wood films really are?  Here is a list of the top 12 most expensive movies ever made (to date) and what they earned.

The Amazing Spider Man (2012) Columbia/Marvel   $230m cost  $758m earned
The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Warner Bros.  $231m cost  $1.1b earned
Avatar (2009) Fox  $237m cost  $2.78b earned
Harry Potter & The Half  Blood Prince (2009) Warner Bros.  $250m cost  $934m earned
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies (2014)  MGM/New Line  $250m cost  $965 earned
Amazing Spider Man 2 (2014)  Columbia  $255m cost  $709m earned
Spider-Man 3 (2007) Columbia  $258m cost  $891m earned
Tangled (2010) Disney  $260m cost  $592m earned
John Carter (2012) Disney  $263m cost  $284m earned
Avengers: Age of Ultron Disney  $280m cost  $1.4b earned
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End  Disney  $300m cost  $963m earned
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides  Disney  $378m cost  $1.5b earned

So, it appears that spending money begets more money.  None of the top 12 most pricey pics lost money. Some fared much better then others, but none were total busted, box office bombs.  Disney takes the most risks and is willing to gamble the most and the most often.  The results are consistent with the notion that movie-folks crave the high-impact fantasy and action films with the odd animated or comedy thrown in.  Happy movie going.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Power of the Cinema


Orca Whale, Tilikum aka 'Blackfish'
'Blackfish' is a documentary that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 and detailed, in stark terms, the dark-side of the goings-on at Sea World.  It is an expose on how the animals at Sea World are treated (or better put, mistreated).

The film features interviews of former Sea World employees and graphically displays the treatment of the animals and centers on a captive orca whale, called Tilikum - who eventually killed three people at Sea World resulting in a account of how Tilikum was treated in captivity.

Impact of 'Blackfish'

If you watch any television, you have probably noticed a lot of ads for Sea World as of late.  The ads put on a 'happy face' and explain  how well-treated their captive animals are and how happy they must be. There is good reason for the ads, as Sea World Entertainment, Inc. published its latest financial data and it's grim. For the first six months of this year its profits are down 84% with attendance off by over 100,000 visitors!  

The performance shortfalls can be directly linked to the viewing of 'Blackfish' and its impact on Sea World and other aquatic parks. In fact, several new laws are being written that would outlaw the captivity and public display of orca whales and credits 'Blackfish' as a main source for the legislation.  However, at the rate things are going, public opinion is way ahead of the law. Changing attitudes are working faster in closing down Sea World for good and the releasing of all its captive animals.

'Blackfish' is solid proof of the immense impact a movie (one movie) can have on society and be used as a catalyst for change.  Three cheers for the creator and director of 'Blackfish'
Garbriela Cowperthwaite,

Friday, August 07, 2015

Cinema Arena by Seymore Flix


It's common knowledge that some celebs that are just plain jerks.  Egotistic, self-absorbed slubs that put on a great camera-face but off camera are rude, crude, and not nice people.  Here are a few:
Ray: Not the 'goodie, girl friend' she portrays 

-Kevin James - according to James, 'the help' is anyone he has contact with outside of his very small circle of fellow jerks.  He routinely has his staff people go into restaurants and shops prior to his arrival to request that other diners and shoppers not look at him directly and vehemently shuns any attempts by fans for autographs or small-talk.

-Rihanna - widely known for being a 'bully' on Facebook and Twitter. She berates fans left and right and thinks nothing of it. Not ladylike at all. 'Whatever'.

-Christian Bale - Berating film crew members is commonplace for this celeb-jerk, and so he is with fans. Rarely recognizes fans and never, ever gives autographs.

-Rachael Ray - with her homey, best-friend facade Ray is the epitome of  'good girl-friend'.  However when asked, audience members of her cook shows say that off-camera she is "an angry, cold, and poor host" who never reaches out to fans and is very difficult to deal with.

-Jerry Seinfeld - viewed throughout Hollywood as one of the biggest celeb-jerks. Seinfeld berates his staff, fans, and very one else left and right. I guess he's consistent in his jerkiness.

Who's Related to Whom (did I get that right?)
Roker and Kravitz, second cousins

 - Comedian Amy Schumer and New York Senator Chuck Schumer are second cousins.
 - Jenny McCarthy and Melissa McCarthy are first cousins.
 - Nickolas Cage and Sofia Coppola are first cousins.
 - Al Roker and Kenny Kravitz are second cousins.
 - Shirley McLaine and Warren Beatty are sister/brother.
 - Tom Cruise and William Mapother are first cousins.

Universal Can't Be Caught

There is no way another studio will catch-up to Universal's record breaking box office tally of $5.53 billion thru July.  Even with five months left in the year, it's closest rival, Disney (with about $3 billion thru July) will not be able to exceed Universal's gate - with or without the upcoming Star Wars sequel.

Powered by mega-hits 'Jerassic World', 'Minions' and 'Fast and Furious 7' Universal was on a tear through the first seven months of the year and shattered the previous 'annual' record of $5.52 billion which Fox registered in 2013. With five months to go and 10 more releases Universal is poised to top $6 billion for the year.
Donna Langley, Head of Universal Pictures

Donna Langley, Head of Universal Pictures, told CMG "With five months remaining, and 10 films to go, we look forward to celebrating even more record-breaking milestones."  Several big releases still to come for Universal: 'Everest', 'Crimson Peak', 'Sisters', 'The Visit', 'Legend'.

As CMG predicted early-on, 2015 is going to demolish all box office records both globally and domestically.  The question, now - can this level of moviegoing be sustained?  My answer - it all depends upon the content.  The folks like certain movies the rest are just fodder or marquee fillers. The high-impact, action films and animated (but clever) movies, and the occasional comedy are it - nothing else on the big screen really matters. I think Hollywood gets that and so we should see more of the same of what drives the worldwide box office.

Stop The Nonsense!

Sony Pictures has green lit a reboot of the 1995 box office hit 'Jumanji',  which starred Robin Williams.  Now, a few misguided souls have started a social media campaign to arm-twist Sony into scrapping the project.  With protestations like, "too soon", "a travesty", "is nothing sacred"  these folks need to get a life - GET OFF IT!  The movie was screened 20 years ago. A reboot is long overdue, and,  I might add, should be viewed as a tribute to Williams.
Williams with co-stars of 'Jumanji' - 1995

In 1995, 'Jumanji' was considered a new standard for state-of-the-art special effects and I'm sure Sony will go all out in the reboot.

Social media comments scorning the remake are from people who know nothing about what makes Hollywood tick.  I'm in full support of Sony's efforts on a 'Jumanji' reboot and those that deride the effort are misplacing their emotions.  Their views on social correctness are totally incorrect.

Just saying,
Seymore Flix

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Big Paydays Go Global For Movie Stars

Those trips to rehab may have been more beneficial than originally thought for Robert Downey Jr.  for all of the drugs and alcohol he abused in years past certainly didn't affect his business acumen. Downey was the highest paid male actor in 2015, and the highest paid for the third year running.
Downey - Top Earner 3 Years Running

Who would have guessed that donning an iron suit would be worth $80 million. Ah, but Downey is very savvy when it comes to Hollywood deal making.  Last year's $80 million payday was largely due to his signing unique and favorable profit-sharing deals that ensure he is well compensated for his Iron Man roles.  Last year receiving over $40 million for the super successful movie 'Avergers-Age of Ultron' and a reported $40 million for the upcoming Disney/Marvel 'Captain America-Civil War'.

Downey beat out his nearest competitor as the top earner by $30 million - and that would be Jackie Chan, the stalwart, Hong Kong-based star of numerous, tongue-and-cheek martial arts films. The 61 year old Chan is a mega-star in the Asian movie market and earned over $50 million last year.

This year, along with Chan were three other foreign market earners that made it into the elite top ten - which demonstrates the changing landscape of the movie industry.  Once dominated by Hollywood stars, the scales are shifting to the East.  Bollywood (the name use for the Indian movie industry) saw its stars rise into the mega-earners.  Amitalh Bachchan, Salman Khan, and Akshay Kumar all finished ahead of U.S. stars Wahlberg, DiCaprio, and Depp.

Vin Diesel, took third place earning $47 million, largely for the success of  the 'Fast and Furious' franchise.  Bradley Cooper came in 4th at $41.5 million due to his roles in 'American Sniper' and 'Guardian of the Galaxy'. Adam Sandler, although featured in a string of box office bombs still managed 5th place at $40 million, mainly due to a lucrative deal to screen his next four films exclusively with Netflix.  6th place went to Tom Cruise with slightly under $40 million due to his 'Mission Impossible' films - which he also produces.

The next three spots went to Bollywood stars. At 72 years, Amitabh Bachchan, who has starred in over 200 films, took 7th place, with earnings of  $33.5 million  He was closely followed by Indian mega-stars Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar - both earned over $32 million. Mark Wahlberg rounded out the top 10, earning $32 million, principally from his 'Transformers' staring role.

Surprisingly, Johnny Depp and Leo DiCaprio (both top 10 stalwarts) were pushed out of the elite and finished in 12th and 13th places, with earnings of $30 million and $29 million respectively.

So, it appears that the sands are shifting as four non-Hollywood male actors made it into the top 10. All three Indian stars are cinema legends and although Bollywood movies gross far less at the box office then their Hollywood counterparts, top Indian actors continue to earn a cut of each film's ticket sales - a practice unheard of in the U.S. film industry.

For his part, Jackie Chan is very business astute. He has built an empire on his branded products and East-West movie co-productions, which are assisted by his special relationship with the Chinese Government.

Below is the listing of the World's Highest Paid Male Actors - 2015.  A listing of the top female actors will be posted shortly.

Robert Downey, Jr.  - $80m
Jackie Chan - $50m
Vin Diesel - $47m
Bradley Cooper - $41.5m
Adam Sandler - $41m
Tom Cruise - $40m
Amitabh Bachchan - $33.5m
Salman Khan - $33m
Akshay Kumar - $32.5m
Mark Wahlberg - $32m
Dwayne Johnson  - $31.5m
Johnny Depp - $30m
Leo DeCaprio - $29m
Channing Tatum - $29m
Chris Hemsworth - $27m
Daniel Craig - $27m


Monday, August 03, 2015

The Cinema Arena by Seymore Flix

Actors Take On New Faces

I really like it when an actor, especially a very recognizable one, plays a role where their 'look' and persona morph.
Tilda as normal and as in 'Trainwreck'

A perfect example, in a recent movie, is Tilda Swinton in 'Trainwreck'.  Normally we see her with very short hair and playing very solemn, almost unisex, characters.  In 'Trainwreck' she has great make-up, long blond hair which makes you say, "Yes, I know I've seen this actor before, but where? She plays a very funny part as Diana, editor of a men's magazine called, S'nuff and the lead character's boss - a great role and very well played by Swinton.

Depp as Bulger
Depp as normal
An even better transformation will be Johnny Depp in the up-coming film, 'Black Mass' - a movie about the life of James 'Whitey' Bulger the notorious Boston mobster, which Depp portrays.

Actors that are strong and versatile enough to change, not only their look, but their persona and stretch the limits of their craft and are the best actors.

Both Tilda Swinton, and Johnny Depp are recent examples of that and can be enjoyed by a trip to your local cinema.

Shortening the Theatrical Window
Will the other studios join Paramount?

As previously posted in CMG, Paramount Studios (owned by Viacom) and AMC Theaters (the 2nd largest cinema circuit in the U.S.) have begun experimenting with the use of a much shorter window between theatrical and video-on-demand (VOD) releases.  This is an obvious threat to the exclusive theatrical release window which has been in practice for decades.

However, now Regal Cinemas (the largest U.S. chain) is speaking out against this attempt to change the current movie release practices.  Regal's CEO, Amy Miles, told CMG, "The parameters of the current proposal (by Paramount and AMC) both economically and structurally, do not make sense for us given the potential risks to the long-term health of our business.  As has been the case historically, we will utilize our screens to exhibit films distributed using a traditional distribution model that respects the existing theatrical window."

 Let's fact it, Shortening the theatrical window hurts cinemas as VOD releases do not offer multiple admission opportunities even if the cinema shares in the VOD proceeds - so this is kind of a slap in the face to exhibitors.  On the other hand, for certain movies, that are not intended to be blockbusters,the model of sharing VOD proceeds could be more lucrative for cinemas if it limits the number of films being screened with very small audiences.  The same is true for movies that 'bomb' at the box office, the VOD option could bring in extra revenue from a movie that would otherwise be dropped or buried in a small auditorium.

I have always believed that movies would eventually be releases across all viewing platforms day-and-date.  That belief still holds. The problem with the Paramount/AMC deal is that it benefits just one segment of the viewing options people use to watch movies, so in my option that model will not be successful.

Cinema Security - Is It Necessary and To What Degree
Off-duty cops a good solution for cinemas

In the aftermath of the tragic shootings at several cinemas over the last few years, many moviegoers are wondering if stricter security measures are needed. Some,are specifically calling for the use of metal detectors(MDs).  But are MDs really an option? There may be better measures that can be taken.

First, implementing MDs on a large scale is not feasible.  One issue is cost. About $5-10,000 for one detector and $250,000/year to man and properly operate the detector.  In many cases, multiple detectors would have to be installed at larger and busier cinemas, escalating the cost to over $1 million/year.

Second, the process of using MDs is slow, necessitating moviegoers to come to the cinema at least 30 minutes in advance to wait in a security line.  I believe, this would greatly impede attendance - especially parents in bring their children to the local cinema.  So far, the shootings have not had an adverse impact on movie attendance, so such an extreme measure as installing MDs is not warranted.

What all cinema operators need to do is provide security training for their staff, and perhaps, in addition, having some staff armed and thoroughly trained in firearms use.  Larger circuits have begun the practice of hiring off-duty police for security. This practice can be used by even the smallest of cinemas as the cost is not prohibitive.

The public and media sometimes over-react to the moment but the idea of using metal detectors in cinemas is a bad one.

Just saying,
Seymore Flix