Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Too busy this week - here are the numbers, write your own snark.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Here, your numbers will magically appear.

Here's where summer gets interesting - blockbuster season still but no more holiday weekends. The pressure is off! That's why a studio can take a chance on Inception, the Chris Nolan low-concept mindf***.  No superheroes, but bankable stars. It came it at #1 with $63 million. I gotta see this too; its the only summer movie I've felt compelled to catch so far.

On the someone less energized end of the scale Disney/Bruckheimer joint The Sorcerer's Apprentice debuts at #3, making only $18 million. It follows in the footsteps of Prince of Persia as another presold concept spun into a full-length feature without any actual customer demand to support it. Next up: Old Spice Guy, the Movie! Look at him! Now look at me! Now look at him!

No weird little movie spotlight this week - nothing grabs me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Free Summer Movie Of The Week

I'm going to make this a regular feature if I can remember to. Today's free download: Zontar - Thing From Venus.

Starring John Agar, Zontar is a remake of an only slightly better movie called It Conquered the World. It's the product of Larry Buchanan's Azalea Films, an ultra-low-budget offshoot of AIP which apparently existed to remake black and white properties in color, because color TV was booming then. Other Azalea Films are Mars Needs Women, The Eye Creatures, and Creature of Destructions.

It's free because it was more money and trouble to renew the copywrite than maintain it. I won't tell you how (I can't) but you are welcome to download this movie, burn it on to a DVD and watch it. I think you can even try to sell it to someone else and the MPAA is okay with that.

As you might expect, it's hilarious.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Return On Investment

You know the record business - sometimes you throw money behind someone and it pays off in huge record sales, sometimes it doesn't. In the latter category:

The RIAA paid Holmes Roberts & Owen $9,364,901 in 2008, Jenner & Block more than $7,000,000, and Cravath Swain & Moore $1.25 million, to pursue its "copyright infringement" claims, in order to recover a mere $391,000. [ps there were many other law firms feeding at the trough too; these were just the ones listed among the top 5 independent contractors.]


If the average settlement were $3,900, that would mean 100 settlements for the entire year.

As bad as it was, I guess it was better than the numbers for 2007, in which more than $21 million was spent on legal fees, and $3.5 million on "investigative operations" ... presumably MediaSentry. And the amount recovered was $515,929.

And 2006 was similar: they spent more than $19,000,000 in legal fees and more than $3,600,000 in "investigative operations" expenses to recover $455,000.

So all in all, for a 3 year period, they spent around $64,000,000 in legal and investigative expenses to recover around $1,361,000.
But that's the wrong way to look at it. Because you know, piracy costs the recording industry $8.5 billion dollars every 12 minutes. So in fact, these lawsuits netted them over $900 TRILLION DOLLARS! They turned an immense profit on this. This is why the record companies are hugely profitable now, because of this virtual income stream of saved piracy money. (Source: The American Bar Association)

Well, SOMEONE must have come out ahead from these lawsuits.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Weekend Box Office

Numbers here- they're despicable!

Hollywood loves predictable blockbuster formulae. If they could, they'd dispense with creativity all-together and simply assmble the same elements every month for the same movie, over and over again. They'd reap the profits, draw up the budget for next year and sleep like babies.

This year the closest thing they've had to this situation is the digital animated 3D movie. You just can't go wrong with it. If Tommy Wiseau and Roman Polanski and Uwe Boll got together and made one, it would turn a profit in the first weekend. Which is not to take anything away for Despicable Me's #1 opening with $56 million, because I hear it's pretty good. But I'm just saying it would still make money even if it was bad.

Opening @ #3, Predators. Almost $25 million! Coulda been more if it had been in 3D I guess.

Twilight: Eclipse dropped 51% from opening weekend but don't worry about those guys... they've made over $250 mil to date.

Monday, July 12, 2010

"Leave your *stupid* comments in your pocket! "

This weekend's Netflix selection: Tommy Wiseau's The Room (2003). Written, produced, directed by and starring the heavy-lidded and slavic-accented Wiseau.

It's hard to convey the surreal flavor of this movie, because so much of its awsome awfulness (and it's probably the worst movie made in the last ten years at least) surfaces in little details that gradually accumulate. Most of the action takes place in a townhouse in San Francisco, and it involves the disintegrating relationship between Wiseau, as an improbably-muscled banker and his fiancee who is cheating on him with his best friend. It ends tragically.

I encourage you to watch it very, very closely. Every new viewing yields horribly wrong details, such as the weird obsession with football tossing, or the fact that the townhouse's TV, which they never turn on, is literally behind a couch. Why not just ditch the TV? Personally I'm inclined to enjoy any djalog written by a guy with an imperfect command of the English language - see the title of this post for a sample. EVERY character talks like that!

Even though the action is so confined, the movie reportedly cost $7 million to make and market. I'm guessing that money included prints for its limited theatrical run and the massive enigmatic billboard on Sunset. Still, it's hard to imagine from watching where the money went. It seems to me you could shoot the same movie with $500 and 4 days at the cinematographer's place.

Interesting side note - in an interview included on the DVD, Wiseau admits that he shot the film simultaneously in 35mm and HD, with both cameras on the same mount side by side. Why? He wasn't sure about the differences between the formats, so he BOUGHT BOTH CAMERAS and took his chances. Some people would have simply rented for the weekend about shot test footage. It takes a kind of commitment to genius to raise enough money to buy two cameras for a single feature film. The bad kind.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

As If They Weren't Creepy Enough

Once I was at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and I came across an octopus in a tank. It was huge, it pulsated, and somehow I got the impression that it was trying to read my mind. I got the hell outta there.

Reinforcing this bad impression, one comes across this in The Guardian:

Although he now resides at the Aquarium Sea Life Centre in Oberhausen, Germany, Paul was actually born in Weymouth and moved from the town's Sea Life Park in 2006.

Fiona Smith, from Weymouth Sea Life Park, told the Dorset Echo: “He never made any predictions while he was living here but maybe he was waiting for a big event like the World Cup until he revealed his abilities.”
Just so we're on the same page, this is Paul.

Paul has lately become famous for predicting World Cup winners. His handlers put food in two identical containers, along with flags of two countries who are slated for a match, and generally Paul picks the container with the winning flag.

Paul is probably able to pick from among ALL the teams but he's smart enough to dole out the information one mussel at a time. What's more, Paul knows the day that you're going to die; also the hour and the means. And he could tell you, if you dared come up with a treat that he judged satisfactory. Don't give it to him!

Man, I'm breakin' out in a cold sweat just writing about this! Meanwhile in Germany, a cephalopod is laughing.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Quote of the Day

"The internet's like MTV. At one time MTV was hip and suddenly it became outdated. Anyway, all these computers and digital gadgets are no good.

"They just fill your head with numbers and that can't be good for you."
-Prince (h/t Gizmodo)

Weekend Box Office

You want numbers, here they are, but they're not finished yet.

Since there was an extra day on the weekend (still not enough for me, pal!) the figures aren't all tallied yet, but at least I can give you the Fri-Suns and that'll give you a good idea of where the weekend went. Two new movies for the holiday, and bear in mind that it's likely all downhill from here. #1: Teen Vampires! The Twilight Saga: Eclipse takes a second bite of the, uh, apple with roughly $69 million. A little disappointing but it's a sequel with less than seven months of space between it and its predecessor, so one should expect it.

At #2, The Last Airbender drags in $46 million. Didn't see it, but I read that the cartoon that it's based on is more fun. I never saw that either. Besides, if M. Night Shyamalan can't put a twist ending on it, what's the point?

Taylor Hackleford's Love Ranch opens somewhere down the chart with $49,500 on 11 screens. At last, the dream casting of Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci! Netflix looks pretty good now, don't it?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Travel Broadens the Mind

Just a little over a year ago I was on vacation in London, and I blogged about this incredible low-tech, un-photogenic game show I saw on TV there. I didn't catch the name at the time but apparently it's called Countdown. It was the complete opposite of an American game show - deliberately unexciting, almost completely without gimmicks, and less compelling than a party game than you might put together yourself. It haunted my dreams that night. As I wrote at the time:
And with all that space, why keep the contestants so close together where they can see each other's word? Isn't there some better use of screen time during the thirty second countdown than shots of the players hunched over their index cards interspersed with shots of the research girl hunched over another index card and the presenter hunched over yet ANOTHER index card? And what the hell is he doing? What's on that card?
This show figures prominently in Friday's episode of The IT Crowd, the brilliant britcom that's coming to the US in August on the Independent Film Channel. When you see the episode, if you keep the above paragraph in mind, and it will be a LOT funnier for you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Zombie Choppers

My pal, right-wing blogger Warner Todd Huston brings up a troubling point about zombies.

If the rest of their bodies are falling apart how can they keep their teeth in their head long enough to tear human flesh apart? Wouldn’t their teeth be falling out and putrefying like the rest of their bodies?
Brain food, Warner! I'm just wondering - I hear this came to you while you were watching Zombieland. Woody Harrelson? Really? Just sayin'.