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Monday, June 20, 2016

Cinema Buzz

Another new on-line movie streaming service for home entertainment launched last week in the U.S. - FLIX Premiere.  This is the third home-oriented movie service in as many months.

Started in the U.K. in April, FLIX Premiere specializes in presenting independent movies gathered mainly from film festivals - those films that were not picked up by a major studio for theatrical distribution or by one of the bigger streamers like Netflix or Amazon.

FLIX Premiere charges $4.99 per film viewing. The scheme is to give indie films an opportunity to find an audience given their rejection from any cinema distribution.  Eight or nine films will be available each week - which indicates the huge volume of films (indie or otherwise) that don't make the distribution cut.  To be sure there is a lot of decent film product that never gets a screening either on the big or small screen, but are these the films that people are willing to pay for.

FLIX Premiere's management expects to have 2 million subscribers by year's end and be in seven countries withing the next year.  The strategy is to offer consumers alternative programming with first-to-be-seen indie movies.  CMG wishes FLIX Premiere the best but, like its failed predecessors, its road to success is very long and very steep.  The cinema stands alone as the venue to view the best in film entertainment. Home-based entertainment streamers, especially those that intend to charge a per view fee for second-tier content are doomed to fail.

Terrible Movies Do Exist (Gross Wise)

By all accounts, terrible isn't a strong enough word for the movie 'Misconduct' - from a box office perspective.  Last week it opened in the U.K. to a total gross box office of $141 over the three day weekend. Yes, that's $141!

What the hell happened?  With marquee headliners Al Pacino and Anthony Hopkins starring, gross admissions added to only one person per day per cinema over the three day release.

With a production cost of $11 million (marketing costs have not been disclosed) Lionsgate was non-to-happy with the film's gross, which opened  in the U.S. last February and took-in only $24,000 over it entire run. The story-line is about a lawyer who takes on a big pharmaceutical firm. Certainly not a new plot but nonetheless should provide for a good drama=thriller, but moviegoers would have none of it.

When a movie, like 'Misconduct', which isn't a bad movie but one which does not generate any box office chatter, the choices for the studio are limited.  More marketing, which costs more money, which may never be recouped or cut-and-run and try to redeem whatever you can on VOD or royalty from one of the major streamers.

Bad things happen even with the best talent and there will certainly be many more 'Misconducts'

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hollywood's Two-Faced Approach to Violence

Hollywood - Two-faced on Violence
In a recent article for Variety, Michael Showalter explored the role Hollywood plays in our "culture of violence" and if the entertainment industry should be more mindful of what appears in movies, TV shows, and video games.  Showalter suggests that stricter gun control laws and a dialing-down of the violence seen in many movies is warranted. Showalter, is wrong on both issues.

 Yes, I agree that Hollywood is very two-faced regarding violence.  Chock-full of politically correct folks that yet spew-out a non-stop stream of content that puts violence and social chaos center stage.

Gun control needs attention. To be sure, it sickens everyone, but the most jaded and irrational, to see innocents shot dead or wounded in both random and caused-based acts of violence, but are more gun control laws the fix. Last year, according to FBI stats, 372 people died due to mass shootings. For sure that is 372 too many but in relation to other death causes it is not even on the chart. For example, 450 people died from getting in and out of their bathtubs- begging the question: should bathtubs be ban?  What is needed for gun control is the strict enforcement of the existing laws.
High Impact/violent movies have the biggest audiences

Mass shootings, like plane crashes, get a lot of press but are rare. Texting while driving, which caused 3,154 deaths in the U.S. in 2014, got very little attention. Also, I don't believe Hollywood should censor itself with less violent action or gory horror movies. There are plenty of  straight comedies, rom-cons, dramas, children's fare and animation content being screened. There is a market (perhaps the biggest) for high-impact action films and TV shows - and that market appetite should be met.

Yes, Hollywood is two-faced when it comes to violence. A big-name film director or A-list actor thinks nothing of lobbying for more gun control while at the same time directing or staring in a violent film. In this age of un-reason, one needs to have a high tolerance for ambiguity on many social issues - Hollywood is no exception.

Just saying,

Friday, June 17, 2016

What's UP At The Movies - by Seymour Flxi

Watch A Movie On Father's Day

A recent survey conducted by Fandango, Dads (of all ages) were asked which modern classic movies they would love to share viewing with their children.  To be considered a 'modern classic', the movie had to have been released between 1975 - 2010 and had to be an original film (not a sequel or reboot).  The movie also had to have a 'G', 'PG', or 'PG-13' rating.

Listed are the top 20 movies which the Dads would like best to view with their children this Father's Day"

Star Wars
Jurassic Park
Forrest Gump
Toy Story
Lion King
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Finding Nemo
Back to the Future
The Karate Kid
Home Alone
The Incredibles
The Goonies
Field of Dreams
Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Movies need to be shared - that's the great thing about film as an art form.  Such is the case with parents and children, as they share the experience of watching a movie they may have seen together 20 years prior.  The list has some of the most iconic and popular films of all time and many have themes about children and parent relationships.  Additionally, many of these movies are still going-strong with sequels and several have become mega-franchises, ie Star Wars, Avatar, Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and Ghostbusters.

So, if you can, share one of these classics with Dad this Father's Day - age makes no difference. Better still, go to the cinema and watch a movie that may become 'your' classic that you will remember you shared with your Dad.

Ben-Hur Chariot Race - The Real Deal

No CGI effects here, the chariot race in the upcoming movie, 'Ben-Hur' was completely shot in real-time, with real horses and riders (in many scenes the film's actors and not stunt doubles).

Trucks, outfitted with cameras attached to sliding rails, sped around the specially constructed race arena along with the chariots, to ensure a real depiction of what would have occurred centuries before. No airbags or braking mechanisms were incorporated on the chariots.

The result: a very, very realistic chariot race that highlights the movie and is better than the original 1956 'Ben-Hur' that was also filmed in real-time (there wasn't too much CGI back then).

The new 'Ben-Hur' is scheduled for release this August. If nothing else, it will be worth a visit to your local cinema just to view the chariot race in large format and sound.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

What Everyone Makes On a $200 Million Blockbuster

Ever watch a blockbuster film and wonder how much everyone got paid for their efforts? I have, and so has Vanity Fair, which took the time to breakdown what everyone gets working on a hypothetical $200 million mega-budget movie.

Like most businesses, the people at the top make most of the money, but the scale of difference in movie-making is, well, a bit much.  For example, a Lead Actor will earn $12 million, while a bit actor with one or two lines will get $1,900, and an uncredited extra $148.

Here's a sampling of what folks make:

- Director - $4 million  Asst. to Director - $118,000
- Exec. Producers - $1.1 million (normally, at least two)
- Producers - $1 million (normally, at least 3)
- Writers - $250,000 - $3.2 million (normally 2 or 3)
- Director of Photography - $900,000
- Production Designer - $780,000
- Editor - $925,000 (normally 2)
- Costume Designer - $315,000
- Music Composer - $900,000 (Original Score, extra $800,000)

- Lead Actor #1 - $12 million
- Lead #2 - $4.5 million
- Lead #3 - $1.5 million
- Lead #4 - $500,000

- Supporting Actor #1 - $400,000
- Supporting #2 - $75,000
- Supporting #3 - $19,000
- Academy Award Winner in Cameo role - $75,000
- Animal in Scene - $13,000

- Stunt Coordinator - $280,000
- Stunt Double for Lead Actor - $116,000
- Stunt Person - $17,000
- Stunt Person on Fire - extra $7,500
- Stunt Person Going Through Window - extra $3,700

- Camera Man - $125 - 175,000
- Film Loader - $58,000
- VFX Supervisor - $600,000
- Property Master - $296,000
- Casting Director - $233,000

For a full detail view the video below.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Teen Blames Movie For Murders

Between May 12-15th Jonathan Cruz committed several vicious crimes in the Indianapolis, Indiana area.  The 19 year-old confessed to going on a four-day "purge", which included rape and murder.  His comment was that he was influenced by the movie 'The Purge'. Cruz stated that he was constantly watching 'The Purge' and its sequel 'The Purge Anarchy' and referenced the films in text messages to friends and family.

This is certainly not the first time a movie or song (re: Helter Skelter in the Manson murders) have been used as an excuse for demented activities by unstable individuals.  However, I must say, that the world we live in is getting more violent as witnessed by the crowd-riots surrounding the U.S. Presidential campaign.

Although not in any way responsible, Hollywood should take pause and evaluate what type of product to produce given the current social mindset we currently find ourselves - for eventually the thoughts of critics and the citizenry may turn to just how 'responsible' is it to create this type of movie or TV show.

Universal, the distributor of the 'Purge' films, is set to release the third film in the series, on July 1st, 'The Purge: Election Year', and must be just a wee bit anxious.  This, particularly in light of what is occurring at every political gathering and the huge protests which are going to surround this summer's upcoming Party Presidential Conventions. Will Universal postpone the release of 'The Purge: Election Year' ?  This maybe a good idea in light of the Cruz case, but the July 1st release is still set.
For those unfamiliar with the premise of 'The Purge', it is that for one night each year the government would allow citizens to commit any crime without fear of prosecution.

Cruz is obviously a demented individual but the question remains: if a movie can put one crazed soul over the tipping point to commit random acts of the worst type of violence is there responsibility on the part of the film-makers?  Heretofore, that question resulted in a 'No' but the times they are a changing.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Diary of a Drive-In Theater: Installment #3

It's all about concession for any cinema, but for Drive-Ins (which in many cases are only opened for 5 months or less) concessions are the real-life blood of survival.
Typical drive-in concession building

Drive-In theaters normally screen a double-feature each evening and start the presentation at dusk, which in summer is about 9pm. Patrons normally arrive early to get the best parking spots and to settle in for their 5-7 hour stay.

Many drive-ins have play-grounds for children, miniature golf, and other pre-show activities and events, such as fireworks, to bring the crowd in early and give ample opportunity for concession purchases. Additionally, there is always an intermission between features, at least, 15 minutes.  This provides a great opportunity to sell concession and of course during the movie people will walk to the concession stand to purchase items and will not miss much, if any, of the presentation.  Drive-ins pipe-in the film's soundtrack into the concession stand and many have table/seating areas just outside the concession area so patrons can eat and enjoy their snacks outside their vehicles and not miss any of the presentation.
Concession stands are large w/checkout at end

Drive-in concession menus offer a much wider food selection than in-door cinemas.  Although in-door cinemas sell other food items besides popcorn, soda, and candy, drive-ins are food meccas. Hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, sub-sandwiches, fried items including french fries, shrimp, onion rings, mushrooms, and chicken wings. Corn-dogs, barbecue pork and beef ribs, sausage are also big sellers.
Cotton candy, a variety of ice cream treats, and caramel corn are also very common concession items.

Lots of items to choose 
It is not unusual for the per-cap tally for concession to be $20 and more if the right combination of food items are sold and marketed.  Combo meals are very popular as are large family-style items like large pizza and wing combos.

If managed properly, drive-ins will not only bring in large numbers of admissions but huge concession sales and large profits.  Drive-ins attract a certain type of moviegoer: families looking for a relatively inexpensive night of entertainment, couples on dates, and older folks seeking nostalgia and remembrance of youthful good-times.

Drive-ins are an entertainment bargain.  Where else can you get 6 hours of entertainment for a $10 (or in many cases less) admission, with fireworks thrown in. And, unlike in-door cinemas where patrons are strictly forbidden to bring in food and drinks at drive-ins you can bring whatever you like -  and most moviegoer do, but they also buy a lot of concession.