Posts Tagged ‘2005’

Metropolis for Sale

March 22, 2012

Would you believe that a German 3 sheet of Metropolis, the classic 1927 silent sci-fi film by director Fritz Lang is up for auction? Yes, it is true. It is being sold at Movie Poster Exchange.Com. You can click on the website name to go to the page where the poster is being sold. How much is it being sold for? Would you believe $850,000?

Darn, these things always have to go on sale before the Powerball hits $75 million. Kidding aside, I know, this entry seems more than a bit ironic considering last week’s entry dealt with not falling for the hype that surrounds the news of pop culture items being auctioned off for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Metropolis auction shows another side of the issue. Namely, if you are going to buy a pop culture or movie related item with the hopes it will appreciate in value, you need to get something with a track record of increasing auction and sale prices.

Metropolis is a good example of this.  The last time a Metropolis poster when up for auction was 2005 and it sold for $690,000.  Before the 2005 auction, a Metropolis poster sold on eBay for $200,000. As you can see, Metropolis prices have gone up each time it sold. Yet, before you run off to buy a Metropolis movie poster, there are three important things you should know:

1)    These were original theatrical posters that were sold. Meaning that these were posters that hung in movie theaters and survived all these years.

2)    Metropolis is a very rare movie poster. There are only 4 known to exist.

3)    Don’t expect to find an original Metropolis movie poster at a flea market or in an older relative’s closet.

While Metropolis has a history of increasing sale prices, the only person who got this poster for a steal was the theater employee in 1927 who decided to take the poster home, instead of throwing it out, after the movie’s initial run. Think about, if a movie poster sells for $690,000 in 2005, wouldn’t it make sense that it would sell for more than that in 2012.  Yet, as great as it is that Metropolis has appreciated in value, it is important to note that movie posters that sell for six figures and up are out of reach of the average person.

“Well what about the movie posters from today’s films?” You must be asking. “They are available at a reasonable price. Won’t they sell for big bucks 20 years from now?” That’s hard to say. Case in point, the film Citizen Kane is considered one of the gems of American cinema and it is listed at number one on the American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 100 Movies list. When it was released in 1941, it bombed. Now imagine you are a teenage movie theater usher in 1941. The manager tells you to get rid of the movie poster for Citizen Kane because its run is over. You throw it out without thinking twice about it. Fast forward to 2006, a one-sheet movie poster (27 x 41 inches) for Citizen Kane sold at auction for $60,000. Who would have guessed in 1941 that a film that bombed would be so revered and its poster so valuable? The answer is few to none. So, don’t go picking up movie posters for Cowboys and Aliens thinking it will become the Citizen Kane of the 21st Century.

Still, if you like Cowboys and Aliens and get a movie poster from the film, don’t let the idea that you may not be able to trade it in for a mansion and a yacht take away from your enjoyment of the poster. After all, space and the American West are both frontiers, so it was only a matter of time before someone put them together. Too bad it didn’t do well in theaters. Also, Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig are kind of cool looking. (But not as cool as Matt Damon!)

Sources:
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/metropolis-poster-record-leonardo-dicaprio-298114

http://movieposterexchange.com/buy.php?mode=key_search&keyword=metropolis

http://www.afi.com/100Years/movies10.aspx

Heritage Magazine Fall 2008 “Remember When…1941” Pg. 8

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Lost and Found

January 26, 2012

Not too long ago, I learned that an animated version of The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolken’s prequel to Lord of the Ring was found. This version is over 11 minutes long and dates from 1966. It was designed by Czech illustrator Adolf Born and was written and directed by Tom and Jerry animator Gene Deitch and you can watch it here:

As you can guess, this discovery got me thinking about other lost and found films. There are many films, most from the early days of motion pictures that have become lost, either through neglect, accident or the nitrates ate away at the film and there is nothing left to watch. There are also many films that were, and still are, languishing in a closet somewhere, only to be found when someone knocks something over or lifts up a box.  So, I have put together a list of some films that are lost and some films that were found.

Lost
The Story of the Kelly Gang
(1906)
This film tells the tale of Australia’s most famous criminal or “bushranger” Ned Kelly. Directed by Melbourne native Charles Tait, the film was a popular and critical success and lead to a succession of bushranger films. Soon these type of films were banned in several Australian states because they romanticized crime and criminals. Unfortunately, at the turn of the 20th century, studios didn’t realize the historical significance of saving a film, like The Story of the Kelly Gang. So, there was no procedure put in place to preserve these films for future generations, hence it became lost. Still, the film has not entirely disappeared. Nine minutes of footage was found in a deserted house in 1979 and just before the film’s 100th anniversary, Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive contacted archives around the world in regards to the film. As it turned out, the British Film Institute had an incomplete film labeled “Kelly Gang,” and it contained more footage of the film. While, it is far from complete, there was enough footage to get a feel for the film and that was added to a DVD of the film.

Humorisk (or Humor Risk) (1920s)
Would you believe that the Marx Brothers made a silent film? Yes, it is true. In fact, it was their first film and they played different characters to the ones that they became famous for. Reports are that Groucho didn’t like this film, so he purchased it and destroyed all prints and negatives. Ouch! That’s taking the killing of your darlings to extremes.

Catch My Soul (1974)
Conventional wisdom states that most of the films that became lost were from the early years of the 20th century. For the most part that’s true, the exception is Catch My Soul. This is a rock opera based on Shakespeare’s Othello and has folk singer Richie Haven as the lead. The film was directed by Patrick McGoohan, who was the lead actor in the famous television show of the 1960’s The Prisoner. The film got poor reviews and one critic said that it was “pricelessly funny” without meaning to be, since it was dramatic film. Wait, it gets worse. According to McGoohan, one of the producers found religion and added 15 minutes of religious material to the film. McGoohan didn’t like that and tried to have his name removed from the credits. The next year it was re-titled as Santa Fe Satan and then it disappeared. So, check your closets and attics, keep an eye open at flea markets and while checking out stuff on eBay, because a print of this film might show up in those places.

Found
Cléopâtre
  (1899)
No, this is not the one with Liz and Dick. This is a French film and the earliest horror film made. This film deals with the re-animated mummy of Cleopatra and the havoc she creates. It was thought to be lost until 2005 when a print of the film was found. So, now the French film canon includes more than just chain smokers who discuss the meaning of life in sidewalk cafes.

Richard III (1912)
This is a film adaptation of the Shakespeare play of the same name and is considered the oldest American feature film in existence. It featured the, then, famous actress Sarah Bernhardt. This film was thought lost until 1996 when a high quality print was found.

Metropolis  (1927)
This film wasn’t lost like the other films mentioned. Rather, after it’s premiere in Berlin, the film was cut from its original 153 minutes to 90 minutes. Restoration was done in 2001 with combined footage from several archives and that brought the film up to 124 minutes. That version was considered to be the most complete version until 2008 when a 16 mm negative was found in, of all places, Buenos Aires. This negative contained 25 minutes of lost footage. This footage was integrated with the 2001 version in 2010 and now the film is as close to director Fritz Lang’s original version of the film as possible.

The lost and found films mentioned in this blog entry demonstrate the importance of archiving films. After all, whether a film becomes a classic or a flop, it is part of the historical record of the studio that made it, so it needs to be saved for future generations. It also demonstrates the importance of keeping track of your own stuff. After all, if you lose your stamp, coin or baseball card collection, do you think the Smithsonian Institute will help you find it?

Of course, it you have any information about the lost films mentioned in this blog entry, please contact the following film archives: 

Australia
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
McCoy Circuit, Acton ACT 2601
GPO Box 2002,Canberra ACT 2601
Email: enquiries@nfsa.gov.au
http://nfsa.gov.au

USA
National Film Preservation Board
Library of Congress (4690)
Motion Picture, Broadcasting & Recorded Sound Division
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington DC 20540
Attn: Steve Leggett, Staff Coordinator
Email: sleg@loc.gov
http://www.loc.gov/film/

The author would like to thank Gene Deitch for his assistance with this blog entry.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/the-hobbit-long-lost-animated-short-discovered

http://www.screenjunkies.com/movies/movie-lists/9-famous-lost-films-that-have-been-rediscovered/

http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/70351

http://www.kino.com/metropolis/restoration.html#rest

Other Cinemas

November 17, 2010

Yes, the movie offerings from Hollywood are fun to watch. The thing is what if you want to watch something different and I’m not talking about foreign or indie films.

Well, what else is there to watch? You ask. Old television shows? No, I’m talking about oddball films like educational films from the 1950’s or short documentaries about public parks, feature films that were made, then quickly forgotten or even employee training films.

Who wants to watch films like that? You ask. Believe it or not, loads of people. In this entry I will mention several organizations that specialize in preserving and most importantly, showcasing oddball films for public enjoyment.

Secret Cinema London
Just when you thought you could only see movies in a sterile multiplex or at home, Secret Cinema in London, brings spectacle and mystery to the moviegoing experience. Founded by Fabien Riggall, in 2005, Secret Cinema shows films in locations around London and the UK. To take part in the Secret Cinema, people have to sign up via a newsletter on the organization’s website and locations aren’t announced until the day of the screening. If that wasn’t mysterious enough, the title of the film isn’t announced until the credits start rolling. Yet, there are clues littered along the way to the viewing location, such as mock posters and actors wearing costumes related to that evening’s movie screening. One viewing featured an actual heavy metal band that entertained people before the film. To learn more, go to:  http://www.secretcinema.org

Secret Cinema Philadelphia
The “Secret” in Secret Cinema Philadelphia, isn’t the location. Organizers announce that on their website weeks ahead of time. Rather, it is the subject matter which ranges from, what founder Jay Schwartz calls “neglected films of all kinds… teen-exploitation, rock ‘n’ roll, psychedelia, oddball black comedies, ‘golden turkeys,’ ’70s nostalgia…” even rare movie shorts and educational films. What makes Secret Cinema unique is that they show original films on 16mm reels, not video or DVD. Viewings are in various locations in the Philadelphia area and the show’s been going on since 1992. To learn more, go to:  http://www.thesecretcinema.com

Found Footage Festival U.S.
What happens when two guys stumble upon a fast food training video?  They, being Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher, start collecting what they call “…strange, outrageous, and profoundly stupid videos on VHS.” In 2004, they had enough footage to start the Found Footage Festival.  The rules of Found Footage Festival are:

1) Footage must be found in a physical format, as in VHS tapes.  It can’t be floating around on YouTube.

2) Whatever the footage’s original intention, it has to be “unintentionally” funny. “Whatever it’s trying to do,” states the Found Footage website. “It has to fail miserably at that.”

The Found Footage Festival travels throughout the U.S., Canada and even the UK with Pickett’s and Prueher’s collection of VHS tapes ranging from instructional/informational videos to straight to video cartoons to employee training videos. The one thing they have in common is that these videos are, as the founder put it, “unintentionally” funny.

To learn more about the Found Footage Festival, go to: http://foundfootagefest.com/about

See, a person doesn’t have to live on multiplex, Netflix or YouTube movies alone. There are organizations that brings the oddball and unexpectedly humorous films to the masses.

Sources:
http://www.secretcinema.org/

http://www.thesecretcinema.com/

http://foundfootagefest.com/

Less Is More—Even With Movie Posters

August 18, 2010

In doing research for entries for this blog, I came across another blog, Escape Into Life and an entry that featured movie posters for recent movies by Brendon Schaefer, a graphics designer.  You can see the posters here:

http://www.escapeintolife.com/showcase/brandon-shaeffers-movie-posters/

Some of the posters have an art deco look to the them, while others look like propaganda posters from World War II, yet what caught my eye on each of them is how Schaefer is able to tell a lot about a movie with very little in the way of illustration.  These aren’t your run of the mill Photoshopped/designed by the marketing department movie posters. They invite introspection, as opposed to “Huh? What’s that movie about?” (See Movie Posters That Make You Ask ??? July 15, 2010)

Schaefer says about his work, “There’s something to be said about distilling a central theme or idea of a film down to its core and translating it into a simple, iconic image. It’s a nice exercise that shows just how limitation can breed possibility and eliminate distraction…”

What a great idea, creating a movie poster around a “simple, iconic image”.  Granted, it won’t work for all movies, yet it was done for the 1989 film Batman and for the 2005 film The 40 Year Old Virgin and, if done right, it can be done for other films, as well.  Movie posters aren’t just advertising vehicles. There is room to be artistic without confounding the moviegoer. An injection of artistry that leads to some little introspection, in the end, is a good thing. After all, the more someone thinks about a movie, the more likely that person is going to see it.

So, powers that be in Hollywood, contact Brendon Schaefer and others like him and commission them to do some movie posters. You and millions of other people will be glad that you did.

Note: To learn more about Brendon Schaefer, go to: http://www.seekandspeak.com/

Source:
http://www.escapeintolife.com/showcase/brandon-shaeffers-movie-posters/