Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’

Fanboys (and Girls) Back Off

February 16, 2012

George Lucas, the man behind Star Wars, the co-creator of Indiana Jones and now the co-director of Red Tails, a World War II film that focuses on the pursuit squadron made up of African-Americans, known as the Tuskegee Airmen, has announced that he is retiring from making movies.

Yet, for someone who has created some of the most enduring characters in film and some of the most successful films in the history of cinema, Lucas seems to be more an object of scorn than praise. The comments section of the website where I learned of Lucas’ retirement had quite a few sarcastic and nasty comments about him. Of course, to be fair there were complimentary comments as well.  I feel that the negative comments directed at him are mean spirited and don’t add anything constructive to the conversation. So, this blog entry will be my answer to all the disgruntled Jedis out there.

First, a disclosure:
Yes, I am a fan of all the Star Wars films from the original trilogy to the prequels. I love the films because of the good versus evil/adventure story that they are. Yet, I must say that I feel that the Clone Wars animated film and subsequent series are unnecessary. As for the Ewok made-for-TV movies from the 1980’s, I’m neutral on them.  Now, here’s my two cents on the subject:

Temper Your Expectations
Get over the fact that the prequels weren’t what you expected them to be. Remember this is Star Wars, a series of movies that was made for entertainment purposes, they are not meant to be taken as philosophy or religion. Yes, it uses mythic arch-types such as hero’s quest and redemption, but many stories have those things, such as The Chronicles of Narina and Lord of the Rings. No one begrudges the filmmakers of these films for how they interpreted each story.

If You Think You Can Do A Better Job…
Make your own movie! That’s right. If you are going to shoot off your big mouth about how you didn’t like this or that aspect of the Star Wars prequels or would or would not do something a certain way, then go make your own movie where you decide how things should be done. Digital cameras make it much cheaper and, in many ways, easier to make a film now than it was in the mid 1970’s when Lucas was in Tunisia and England making Star Wars. In fact, independent director Lena Dunham shot the film Tiny Furniture on a Canon EOS 7D, a still camera that sells for $1500, and she got a nomination for Best Cinematography from the Independent Spirit Award. So, stop shooting off your mouth and start shooting a movie.

In The Words Of A Certain Starfleet Captain…
“Get a life!” Yes, I am mixing my pop culture metaphors, still it is apropos for those who feel the need to comment on how George Lucas sold out, could have done better or mention anything else that is less than complementary. Lucas has achieved what few people have done, namely he was able to take the ideas in his head and have them realized. Most people’s ideas, for whatever reason, stay exactly that—ideas that never see the light of day. Yet, Lucas was lucky enough to not only have the Star Wars films made, but to see them transcend just being movies to become a part of American culture.

So, how about showing a little admiration for what Lucas was able to accomplish and if you can’t show some admiration, then back off. The Star Wars films are Lucas’ baby. He created them, shared them with the world and millions were touched by them. How many people can say that about their creations?

Personally, I don’t think this retirement will last very long. He’ll get another idea that he just has to turn into a film. So, don’t expect Lucas to spend the rest of his days playing golf and lounging around the Skywalker Ranch.

Sources:
http://www.movieweb.com/news/george-lucas-set-to-retire-after-red-tails

http://www.tuskegeeairmen.org/explore/history.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/terry-keefe/the-slamdance-film-festiv_b_1217044.html

http://www.ebertpresents.com/episodes/episode-108/videos/88

Some Video Stars Aren’t Dead Yet

September 29, 2011

True confession time. I don’t subscribe to Netflix. (Gasp!) I don’t rent DVD’s from Redbox. (Shudder!)  I when I’m in the mood for a watching a movie at home, I go to my local library. The library near where I live has a great selection of movies, children’s DVD’s and old television shows. Blame it on Tower Records & Video (R.I.P.), which was also located near where I live. When I went to Tower for a video to rent, lots of times I didn’t know what I wanted to watch until looked around and found something that caught my eye. Memorable rentals from Tower include Logan’s Run, Batman Returns, The 6th Day, Family Man and even an episode of Nova that dealt with the restoration of the Sistine Chapel.

Unfortunately, the video store is an endangered species. In 2001, there were 25,000 video stores in the U.S. By 2010, the number of video stores went down to 9,900. Still, there are a few hold outs and here are some notable ones:

Video Connections
Just when I thought that all the Mom and Pop video stores were eaten by Blockbuster and other chains, I read about this one store in Vancouver, Washington, that is alive, well and has a vigorous client base. Why? Simple, as the chains have fallen, independent like Video Connections have filled the niche of those who want to rent a DVD today but aren’t exactly looking for the latest release. It also helps the independents that they aren’t restricted by the 28-day waiting period that movie production companies have imposed on Netflix and Redbox for new-release rentals. So, they can get titles in sooner than the current DVD rental behemoths. Let’s forget that helpful staff members and free popcorn helps to bring people in, as well.

Twilight Video
No this store isn’t dedicated to all things Twilight. It is another independent video rental store in Washington state. (Why does Washington state have all these independent video stores?)  The store has over 3000 titles in stock and rents games, as well as DVD’s. If you want to own a DVD, Twilight also sells new and used titles. There are also snacks for sale, so you can watch your favorite film without having to starve.

TLA Video
TLA stands for Theater of the Living Arts and this started out as an experimental theater group in Philadelphia in the 1960’s, then evolved into a movie theater that played art house films and classics like Metropolis and Black Orpheus. In the 1980’s as VCR’s (that stands for videocassette recorders in case you are not a member of Generation X or older) became more popular, they branched out into the video rental business. While TLA had popular films, like Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, it didn’t forget its roots, since it had a great selection of foreign films and independent films. In fact, the business was so successful that the movie theater closed and management turned its focus to video. In its heyday, there were six stores in the Philadelphia and one in New York City.

Yet, unlike Video Connections and Twilight Video, the bricks and mortar part of TLA’s business is closing and it video library will soon be available online, both as physical DVD’s and as streaming. Call me an old fashioned rube, but I felt sad when I heard TLA’s stores were closing. I often visited a TLA store in Bryn Mawr, PA (a Philadelphia suburb) and found the selection to be better than Tower Records & Video and the staff to be very friendly and knowledgeable. So, I wish the staff of all TLA’s stores well, wherever life takes them.

So, there are some physical locations were you can rent a DVD from real live people. If only there were more of them. Oh well, there’s always the library.

Sources:
http://www.columbian.com/news/2011/aug/27/people-still-like-to-rent-video-by-hand-people-sti/

http://www.twilightvideorentals.com/

http://www.tlavideo.com/company/aboutus.cfm?v=1&sn=3809&g=0

http://articles.philly.com/2011-08-11/news/29876641_1_tla-video-video-stores-movie

I Don’t Like Horror Films

September 1, 2011

This past weekend, while Hurricane Irene was creating havoc up and down the east coast of the United States, a remake of the made-for-television horror film Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark was released. The film starred Katie Holmes and was directed by none other than Guillermo del Toro. Yet, no matter who’s directing or starring in the film, I must admit that I was never a fan of horror films. Yes, that’s right, while the people I grew up with saw Friday the 13th Part Whatever, I either saw E.T., the latest Star Wars re-release or was working on my book that was destined to become the Great American Novel. Now that Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is in movie theaters, I thought take the opportunity to highlight the reasons why I don’t like horror films.

All that Blood and Gore
The old time horror films such as Dracula with Bela Lugosi and Frankenstein with Boris Karloff were built upon good acting and suspense. The violence happened off screen. Since the 1970’s, the unofficial motto of horror films is “We give you BLOOD!” All that slicing and dicing does nothing for me. I don’t think it is thrilling or even funny. It just seems like a big waste of acting, special effects and film. A car chase, as implausible as it is in a horror film, would be a much better use of all those things.

Too Many Damsels in Distress
Why is it that the chicks in the film are always the ones who are being chased and killed by the villain? If you are going to portray someone who kills indiscriminately, why discriminate against guys? Don’t guys get in the villain’s way?  So how about having a few guys sliced and diced, just to even out the body count? After all, it’s only fair.

Eddie Murphy Was Right
If you are of a certain age, you will remember when Eddie Murphy hosted Saturday Night Live in December 1982. He did a stand up routine in place of a monologue and during the routine he talked about the horror film plot device of the haunted/possessed house. The routine goes like this:

“Wow, baby, this is beautiful. We got chandelier hangin’ up here, kids outside playin’, it’s a beautiful neighborhood, I really love – this is beaut–”

[demonic whisper] “Get out!”

“Too bad we can’t stay.”

Exactly. Horror movies that utilize the haunted/possessed house plot device beg the question of “Why don’t the characters just leave?” The obvious answer is that it would end the movie without much of a dénouement. Still, lots of times in these films the characters heard the stories about said house or place, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise when things start go wrong. Dudes, they put a “Keep Out” sign for a reason. Don’t you think it would have been a good idea to stay away.

Of course, even with these “corrections” I still won’t like horror films. So, if you are in the mood for Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street don’t bother inviting me because I’ll either be working on another blog entry or watching Star Wars on DVD.

Sources:
http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/don-t-afraid-katie-holmes-182915204.html

http://snltranscripts.jt.org/82/82imono.phtml

Successful Movie Franchises Part 1

July 21, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the last film in the Harry Potter series opened on July 15, 2011 and made $168.5 million in the U.S. its opening weekend.  This film means the end of the Harry Potter movie franchise. The series made over $6 billion worldwide, made stars of Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and it made book series author,  J.K. Rowling a very happy (and rich) camper. Not bad for an idea Rowling thought of while riding the train.

Of course, Harry Potter isn’t the only movie franchise. There are others, so let’s explore the world of movie franchises and let’s see what we will find.

James Bond
“Bond. James Bond.” The smoothness. The gadgets. The women. The double entondres. There only one Bond, M6 spy and lady (and bad guy) killer extraordinaire. Actually no, there have been nine actors, Barry Nelson, David Niven, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Bronson and Daniel Craig, who played James Bond and 22 official Bond films made by Eon Productions. In case you are wondering, they are:

Dr. No (1962-Sean Connery)
From Russia With Love
(1963-Sean Connery)
Goldfinger
(1964-Sean Connery)
Thunderball
(1965-Sean Connery)
You Only Live Twice
(1967-Sean Connery)
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
(1969-George Lazenby)
Diamonds Are Forever
(1971-Sean Connery)
Live and Let Die
(1973-Roger Moore)
The Man with the Golden Gun
(1974-Roger Moore)
The Spy Who Loved Me
(1977-Roger Moore)
Moonraker
(1979-Roger Moore)
For Your Eyes Only
(1981-Roger Moore)
Octopussy
(1983-Roger Moore)
A View to a Kill
(1985-Roger Moore)
The Living Daylights
(1987-Timothy Dalton)
Licence to Kill
(1989-Timothy Dalton)
GoldenEye
(1995-Pierce Brosnan)
Tomorrow Never Dies
(1997-Pierce Brosnan)
The World is Not Enough
(1999-Pierce Brosnan)
Die Another Day
(2002-Pierce Brosnan)
Casino Royale
(2006-Daniel Craig)
Quantum of Solace
(2008-Daniel Craig)

Three films were not made by Eon Productions and they not considered part of the Bond canon. These unofficial films are:

Casino Royale (1954-Barry Nelson)
Casino Royale
(1967-David Niven & Peter Sellers)
Never Say Never Again
(1983-Sean Connery)

What is it about the Bond movies that keep people coming back for more? Is it the smoothness, the gadgets, the women and the double entondres? I’m sure that’s part of it. I say it is the fact that there will always be bad guys, whether communist spies, billionaires obsessed with world domination or other malcontents run amok that need disciplining. So, who’s going to take out the garbage?

Bond. James Bond.

Star Wars
Love him or hate him, you have to hand it to director and creator George Lucas. He took the ancient story of the vision quest/reluctant hero/redemption of the villain and milked it for all it was worth. How much did the Star Wars films make? How does $4 billion worldwide sound to you? Sounds very good to me and that’s just the money made at the box office. That total does not include the books, toys and other items in the Star Wars product universe. So, if you would like to put Star Wars films in your Netflix queue here are the titles:

Star Wars (aka Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope) (1977)
Star Wars Episode V The Empire Strikes Back (1980)
Star Wars Episode VI Return of the Jedi (1983)
Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (1999)
Star Wars Episode II Attack of the Clones (2002)
Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith (2005)

Star Trek
Another space opera that did very well for its creator, Gene Roddenbury. Whereas Star Wars is steeped in myth, Star Trek is steeped in science. What started out as a failed television series gained new life in syndication, then in the movies, as resurrected television series, with three spinoffs, and more movies. How many movies? Would you believe 11? Yes, and again, if you want to know what they are:

Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979)
Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan
(1982)
Star Trek III: The Search For Spock
(1984)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
(1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
(1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
(1991)
Star Trek: Generations
(1994)
Star Trek: First Contact
(1996)
Star Trek: Insurrection
(1998)
Star Trek: Nemesis
(2002)
Star Trek
(2009) This is the reboot/prequel directed by J.J. Abrams.

(As Star Wars goes, so does Star Trek.)

What keeps people coming back for Star Trek? For all its science, Star Trek is a message of hope. In the Star Trek universe, the people of Earth got their act together, made peace with each other and endeavor to help others to do the same. Yeah, the Enterprise is armed, but you have to remember that the Federation has its enemies and a starship has to have the ability to defend itself.

Toy Story
The movie that put Pixar on the map and changed the face of animation. The story of the secret life of Andy’s toys won the hearts of moviegoers made Steve Jobs, John Lasseter and others at Pixar lots of money. It also lead to other Pixar films such as Finding Nemo, Cars, Monsters—just to name a few. There were three Toy Story films that featured the voices of Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Don Rickles. Each film was a critical and commercial success and collectively they made over $883 million in the U.S., alone. Not bad for toys that keep getting misplaced and lost. Thankfully, the folks at Pixar have giving the toys a rest and it looks like there won’t be anymore Toy Story films made. Yippee. Someone at a studio knows when to stop. Anyway, the movies are:

Toy Story 1995
Toy Story 2
1999
Toy Story 3
2010

Wait a minute! You must be saying now. There are more successful movie franchisees that just the ones mentioned here. Well, of course there are. What do you think?  That I’m stupid or something? (Don’t answer that.) Anyway, a successful movie franchise keeps the audience wanting more. So, in that spirit, I’ll ask you to stay tuned for another of my thrilling blog entries where I will dazzle you, the reader, with tales of successful movie franchisees.

Okay, so my blog entries aren’t thrilling, but they are good reads.

Sources:

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/alltime/world/

http://www.klast.net/bond/filmlist.html

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/50418

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?id=toystory.htm

http://blastr.com/2009/05/the-10-star-trek-movies-s.php

http://www.movieweb.com/news/box-office-beat-down-harry-potter-and-the-deathly-hallows-part-2-earns-168-5-million

“Filmed” with Whatever

March 31, 2011

Do wonders never cease? Not only can the iPhone™ let you surf the web, take photos and has loads of cool apps that lets you do anything from find the nearest coffeeshop to listen to your favorite radio station, you can also make a movie with it.

I’m not talking about something high school kids make in a few minutes and upload to YouTube to so that others can laugh at their sophomoric hijinx (i.e. burp and fart jokes). What I am talking about is South Korean director, Park Chan-wook who was given $130,000 by a South Korean cell phone company to make a movie with an iPhone™. While this has the feel of a promotional venture, Park isn’t the first director to use tools that weren’t exactly high end in order to make a movie.

Christopher Nolan, of Batman and Inception fame, made his first film, Following with limited equipment and a ‘crew’ of people who had day jobs. While it didn’t become a blockbuster, it is respected among the cult film aficionados. Independent director Lena Dunham shot Tiny Furniture on a Canon EOS 7D, a still camera that sells for $1500 and she got a nomination for Best Cinematography from the Independent Spirit Award.  Robert Rodriguez’s budget for El Mariachi was only $7,000 and the movie was financially and critically successful.

So, will the next Scorsese, Lucas or Cameron use off-the-shelf equipment and work with a budget of thousands, maybe tens of thousands of he or she is lucky enough to get that much money. Most likely yes. Still, it is important to remember that in the end it isn’t so much the equipment that makes a good movie, rather it is good storytelling. After all films like Star Wars, Love Story, Avatar, Gone With The Wind, and When Harry Met Sally captured the popular imagination the way that they did because films had a good story to tell and each of them told it well. Pyrotechnics, animation and 3D will have the audience saying “Wow”, but without a good story, it is just an exercise in visuals.

So, who knows what the tech heads will dream up. It could be something that you hold in the palm of your hand, use to order pizza on a Friday night and inspire a future Oscar winning director. Something to think about the next time you make a phone call on your smart phone or happen upon a bunch of teenagers filming fart jokes on an iPhone™.

Sources:
http://www.ebertpresents.com/episodes/episode-108/videos/88

http://blog.koldcast.tv/2010/koldcast-news/the-15-cheapest-movies-that-went-on-to-become-cult-classics/

Movie Memories

November 24, 2010

Since this is my blog, occasionally I like to write about things from my life related to the blog’s focus. This will be one of those entries. Specifically, this entry will be about memorable movie watching experiences.  What made them so memorable? Read this entry and find out.

Snow White
I saw this in a movie theater on Christmas with my older brother when I was six. We went to church, opened the presents, ate dinner and there was nothing else to do. So, my brother and I went to see a movie. The movie theater wasn’t far so, we walked and Mom would pick us up afterwards. Mom being a good Italian Mom, packed a bag of pizzelles (waffle cookies) for us to eat during the movie. Me, the bratty younger sister, ate them all, much to the displeasure of my brother. (i.e. “You ate all the pizzelles and you didn’t give me one!”) As for the movie, I liked it.

Return of the Jedi
This movie opened in May 1983, on a Wednesday, and I along with a friend saw it that Saturday. Since this was the “last” film in the Star Wars trilogy, lines were around the movie theater at every movie theater in the country that showed this film. The theater we attended was no exception. I had seen the Star Wars films many, many times. (If you must know 8 for Star Wars, 6 for the Empire Strikes Back and 3 for Return of the Jedi and those are the number for the theatrical release of those films before George Lucas released updated versions in the late 1990’s.) My friend didn’t, so I brought her up to speed on the story while we waited for the movie. Then the movie started and I enjoyed the show, especially toward the end when the emperor was zapping Luke Skywalker and Luke cried out to Darth Vader “Father!”  I said aloud in the movie theater, “Do something!” At which point, Darth Vader picked up the emperor and threw him over a ledge. The whole theater cheered when that happened. That wasn’t just a movie I saw. It was a movie I experienced.

Lion King
This animated Disney movie came out in the summer of 1994. The movie got a lot of press for various reasons. One, it was a Disney animated film and that alone guaranteed it press. Two, it was part of the Disney animation renaissance of the 1990’s. Three, there was talk that the movie was a racist/imperialistic fantasy, since Simba was being groomed to be a King and the hyenas (the bad guys in the story) lived on the fringes of the grassland. All of this piqued my interest and I decided to see the movie to learn if any of the controversy was true. Once the movie started I was amazed. The animation was beautiful and I found the story of Simba, the happy go lucky lion who learned what it meant to be responsible adult, very touching. When the movie finished, the glow from the animation and story overshadowed the controversy. Of course, that’s why Disney is synonymous with animated movie.

While these are just my memories, these vignettes show that going to see a movie isn’t always a passive one-way experience. The viewer brings with him or her all sorts of expectations and life experiences when seeing a film. So, in the end, the viewer gives just as much as he or she receives.

Darth Vader’s Costume & Other Ephemera

November 4, 2010

Christie’s Auctions in London will be selling a complete Darth Vader costume from the Empire Strikes Back at a sale on November 25, 2010 of pop culture items. The costume is expected to sell for between $250,000 and $365,000. The previous owner is identified as an American collector and no reason was given as to why the collector wanted to sell this item.

Wait there’s more the Syfy Channel will be airing a new reality show called Hollywood Treasure.  The show deals with the work of Joe Maddalena, the owner of Profiles in History, a dealer of autographs, documents, photographs and Hollywood memorabilia.  Maddelena appeared on NBC’s Today Show and he talked about a few items that will appear in the show. These items include a golden ticket from the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory that came from one of the actors in the film, a sketch by Tim Burton for the Nightmare Before Christmas and the Holy Grail of pop culture collectibles, an Action Comic #1, the comic book that introduced the world to Superman.

Yet, the crank in me says “Wait a minute, don’t we have too much junk in our lives?” Shows like Hollywood Treasure encourage people to think that their ephemera is worth something, when chances are the do-dads are only worth what the person paid for them in 1990. As for the Darth Vader costume, other than using it as a Halloween costume, what will the winner of the auction do with it? A costume of one of the most famous villains in film history isn’t exactly an item you display in your living room. That is, unless your home is a shrine to all things Star Wars, then having it in your living room might work.

Then the pop culture aficionado in me says “Shut up crank!” Superman and Star Wars are as much a part of our culture as Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gadsby.  They aren’t just kids stuff. Items of pop culture are both a snapshot of their time and they look forward to the future. They deal with dreams, dealing with loss and finding your place in the world. So, is any wonder that there are people who are willing to spend lots of money to get their hands on an Action Comic #1 or a Darth Vader costume.

Take that crank!

Note: Any mention of auction houses or dealers of collectibles are mentioned for informational purposes only. They are not to be taken as an endorsement.

Sources:
http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/39867573/ns/today-entertainment/?gt1=43001

http://www.ology.com/screen/hollywood-treasure-review

http://www.profilesinhistory.com/profiles-in-history.html

It Came From The Stacks

August 25, 2010

Recently, the movie Eat, Pray, Love starring Julia Roberts opened in theaters. The movie is based on the book of the same name by Elizabeth Gilbert and it deals with one woman’s post divorce soul search via travel. This is not the first time a book was the source material for a movie. In fact, many, many movies were based on books. So much so, someone could do a blog on all the movies that were based on books.  (ha-ha)

Well, if you think that I’m going to do a blog entry about books that have been made into movies, I have this to say:

You’re right.

While I can’t write about all the books that have been made into movies, I will feature some notable examples.

The Bible
Yes, the best selling book of all time has spawned quite a few movies.  They include:

The Ten Commandments
Released in 1923 and a remake came out in 1956. The 1956 version starred Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner. Based on the book of Exodus and regarding the 1956 version, in a nutshell, Moses (Heston) is raised in Pharaoh’s household and is loved by all, except by his brother Rameses (Brynner). Moses discovers he is not Egyptian is banished from Egypt, he later returns and declares “Let my people GO!” Oh and Brynner does a lot of scowling. The 1923 and 1956 films were directed by none other than Cecil B. DeMille. So, stop being mad at George Lucas for wanting to revisit Star Wars. Lucas was just following DeMille’s footsteps.

The Bible…In the Beginning
Released in 1966. Based on the book of Genesis, which means it starts with Creation and ends with Abraham being told not sacrifice his son, Isaac. This film also features director John Huston as Noah and George C. Scott as Abraham.

The Passion of the Christ
Released in 2004. Based on the last 12 hours of the life of Jesus, by way of the Gospels according to Sts. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The film starred James Caviezel as Jesus and was directed by Mel Gibson. At the time it was released, there was a lot of controversy. Some said film was anti-semitic in tone. Others took issue with the violence in the film. When the film’s theatrical release ended, the controversy died down and life went on, the same as it always did.

Gone With The Wind
Released in 1939, this is the movie most people think of when the phrase “Based on the best selling book” comes to mind. Based on the book by the same name by Margaret Mitchell, the movie deals with two people, Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, and how they lived and loved during the time period before, during and after the American Civil War. The movie also features one of the most quoted lines in the history of American films. If I have tell you what that line is, I have this to say:

Frankly my dear, have you been living under a rock?

Wuthering Heights
Released the same year as Gone With The Wind and is overshadowed by that film. Based on the book of the same name by Emily Brontë, it deals with the love of Heathcliff, an orphan brought to Wuthering Heights and Catherine Earnshaw, the daughter of the owner of Wuthering Heights. Circumstances force them apart but their love for each other never dies. None other than Sir Laurence Olivier is Heathcliff and Merle Oberon is Catherine in this movie. The book has gone through many film and television adaptations, yet Olivier/Oberon version is considered by many to be the definitive film version. FYI: Timothy Dalton (James Bond of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s) was cast as Heathcliff in the 1970 film.

The Bridges Of Madison County
Moving up a couple of decades, this film came out in 1995. Based on the book of the same name by Robert James Waller, this deals with a four-day affair between Francesca Johnson, Iowa housewife/World War II bride from Italy and Robert Kincaid, a National Geographic photographer. Meryl Streep with a very convincing Italian accent, played Francesca (of course), Clint Eastwood played Robert and was the director of this film. Yet, for some strange reason, this film did not receive any Academy Awards. Bummer.

There you have it, several examples of books that were made into films. Of course, nowadays, many writers are interested in writing the Great American Blog, as opposed to  book. Here’s an idea for you. A movie based on a blog! Oh wait, that’s been done with Julie & Julia.

What about a movie based on a blog that deals with collecting, movie posters and pop culture as it relates to the movie industry?  Now, that would make a great movie! Don’t you think?

Sources:

http://www.amazon.com/Ten-Commandments-50th-Anniversary-Collection/dp/B000CNESNA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282176115&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Greatest-Story-Ever-Told-Movie/dp/B0002BO05S/ref=sr_1_4?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282176496&sr=1-4

http://www.amazon.com/Bible-Beginning-Michael-Parks/dp/B00005NKT6/ref=sr_1_14?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282176915&sr=1-14

http://www.amazon.com/Passion-Christ-Full-Screen/dp/B00028HBKC/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282178185&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Gone-Wind-Two-Disc-70th-Anniversary/dp/B002M2Z3BA/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282180096&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Wuthering-Heights-Merle-Oberon/dp/B00028HCEW/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282332941&sr=1-1

http://www.amazon.com/Wuthering-Heights-Anna-Calder-Marshall/dp/B00005R5GB/ref=pd_sim_d_5

http://www.amazon.com/Julie-Julia-Meryl-Streep/dp/B002RSDW80/ref=sr_1_1?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1282337444&sr=1-1

Never Too Early To Promote A Movie Or Is It?

August 4, 2010

The character posters for upcoming Green Lantern movie were released recently at the San Diego Comic Con. You can see the images here: http://screenrant.com/green-lantern-character-posters-sandy-70401/

The movie is scheduled for release on June 17, 2011. Yes, that is almost a year from now.  That leads to this question: Why promote a film so early? One reason is the cost associated with making a movie. According to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the average cost of making a movie in 2006 was $65.8 million. That figure takes into account movies ranging from blockbusters to little independent films. As for the blockbusters, the cost for Avatar has been reported to be anywhere from $230 million to $500 million, Iron Man 2 costs about $170 million and those are just two recent films.  Since the studios are spending this much money on a film, they obviously want a return on their investment.

Another reason, is that there is so much in the way of entertainment choices, namely cable, DVD’s and the Internet, that the powers that be at movie studios want their film to be top of mind when it comes to answering the question “What do you want to do tonight?” After all, one would hope that the more someone is reminded that a particular movie is coming out, the more likely he or she will go out to see it.

The trouble with promoting a film so early is people will ignore the hype and move on to something else. Some film franchises, like Star Wars, and Star Trek have huge fan bases, so just the mere mention of one of these films being in a pre-production phase will get the blogosphere and fanboys buzzing. Of course, not every film has such a fan base to draw on. When I first learned that a Green Lantern movie was going to be made, I had to look up who the Green Lantern is.[1] Since not all moviegoers write a blog, I wouldn’t be surprised if others didn’t bother to do research on the character.

Will this advanced publicity help or hurt the Green Lantern?  That question will be answered in the summer of 2011. Of course, if it were up to me, I would start promoting a film six months before it is to be released.  I feel that six months is just enough time to build up demand without people tuning out the publicity.  Then again, I don’t run a studio, so my ideas don’t count.


[1] The Green Lantern is a superhero in the DC Comics universe.  The origin story of the Green Lantern goes like this:  A construction engineer, named Alan Scott, was the only survivor of a train accident. The reason he survived was because he was holding a magical lantern. He makes a ring out of part of the lantern and uses the power of the lantern to fight crime.

Sources:

http://www.comic-con.org/cci/

http://screenrant.com/green-lantern-character-posters-sandy-70401/

http://www.cinematical.com/2007/03/08/mpaa-in-2006-an-average-movie-cost-65-8m-to-produce/

http://www.vanityfair.com/online/oscars/2009/12/how-much-did-avatar-really-cost.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/10/movies/10box.html

451 “All American Comics” #16, The Green Lantern Origin and First Appearance, Very Rare 1940. Mastronet Americana Catalog, October 2001, pg. 153

Movie Collectibles—Are They Worth Anything?

July 9, 2010

Eclipse, the third movie in the Twilight saga is playing in movie theaters and in case you haven’t noticed there are loads on Twilight items being sold, ranging from posters to jewelry to games and everything else in between.  I went to eBay and entered the word “Twilight” and there were over 15,000 items for sale in the Entertainment Memorabilia category and over 11,000 items for sale in the Collectibles category. So, many, many people are milking the Twilight cash cow.

Still, Twilight is not the first movie to have an army of merchandise ready to be sold to adoring fans. Those of a certain age will remember all the do-dads that came along when the first three Star Wars movies were released. Of course, these items, whether new or old, cost money. After a while, people start asking, “Are these things worth anything?”

That question was asked in an article in the July 2 issue of The Guardian and the answer is it depends. The article states that according to Adrian Roose, director at Paul Fraser Collectibles, items like buttons, pens, t-shirts, etc, that were made specifically for to cash in on movie’s popularity, aren’t worth much. Roose goes on to say that signed copies of the Twilight books and movie posters that hung in movie theaters are items that are actually worth something because of their rarity.

I would add that if you want to buy that Twilight or Star Wars item, go right ahead. Just don’t expect it to appreciate in value to such a degree that you can sell it, retire early and move to Florida. No one knows what will be considered a classic 20 or 30 years from now and what will be considered junk.  As I have stated previously, if you are going to spend your money on something and you have taken care of the needs part of your life, you should spend it on something that gives you some joy.  If Twilight or Star Wars items give you some joy, great. Just realize that the return on your investment is just that—the joy that you feel from having such items.

Note: The mention of Paul Fraser Collectibles and eBay was done for informational purposes.  It was done not an endorsement of either company

eBay search of July 4, 2010 http://shop.ebay.com/i.html?_nkw=twilight&_fln=1&_mlcat=45100&_trksid=p3286.c0.m282

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2010/jul/02/twilight-saga-collectibles-cost-value