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TOPIC: Refections of the times.

Re: Refections of the times. 30 Dec 2005 20:00 #25005

  • BurneyFalls
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That's the New Year's spirit, Bob. I couldn't agree with you more.

I thought of a new name for Mr. Iger: I Gore--as in shedding blood.
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Re: Refections of the times. 30 Dec 2005 23:36 #25006

  • jacker5
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This is a bit about King Kong and also about the industry in whole this year!

A 'King' without a crown






'King Kong' looked like a sure box-office No. 1 but lost out to 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,' 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith' and 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,' among others.

While the box office remains steady for Peter Jackson's "King Kong," it's safe to say that "Titanic's" record is safe.
In fact, after all the hype, the critically acclaimed remake of the 1933 movie may not even break into the top 50 of all-time blockbusters.

"Kong" sold about $125 million in tickets during its first two weeks, and some analysts are projecting its final domestic gross at about $220. That would put it just ahead of "Mrs. Doubtfire" at No. 50.

Where did those of us predicting spectacular numbers for "Kong" go wrong?

Judging by the E-mails sent to me, Jackson may have simply crossed the line by remaking such a revered classic. Readers were angry with me for even praising the new movie, and some were really steamed at my characterization of Kong's face in the original film as a "fright mask."

I love that movie, too, but I'm sorry, folks - compared with the new gorilla's fully expressive kisser, the original Kong was a stiff. Jackson's movie is the original done state-of-the-art justice. It's the same, just better!

But there is another, deeper reason for "Kong's" relatively disappointing performance. As worried analysts have been saying all year, American moviegoers are breaking their habits. They're just not seeing as many movies in theaters as they used to.

Studios and exhibitors have been laying the blame on the poor quality of films, but the ratio of bad to good was probably no worse than in previous years. In fact, most critics found more films to praise at the end of this year than usual.

Granted, the studios would be doing themselves a huge favor by spreading their quality films over the whole year rather than back-loading them into the fall and holiday seasons, and they should listen to Hollywood Reporter film writer Anne Thompson, who has been pointing out for some time that teenage boys and young men are no longer the dominant movie audience.

That is evidenced by the top 10 earners this year. (See below.)

In any case, the studios have trained us not to expect many must-see movies before summer. The result: People are staying home with their fancy new widescreen, high-definition TVs and renting movies available on DVD three months after their theatrical release.

When you figure in rising ticket prices, plus scandalously inflated concession-stand prices, parking, baby-sitting, maybe a snack or a drink afterward, well, you can pay off that plasma-TV investment in about two years.

It's debatable just how much of a slump theaters have suffered in '05. The box-office gross is expected to be about 5% below last year's, and when you take into account two '04 blockbusters that weren't really movies - Mel Gibson's religious experience "The Passion of the Christ" and Michael Moore's anti-Bush rally "Fahrenheit 9/11" - the numbers aren't nearly as bleak.

Still, habits are clearly changing.

Movie stars aren't nearly as irresistible as they used to be, and are even less irresistible given the short wait between theatrical and DVD. But if you have any love for movies at all, you have to see "King Kong" in a theater, preferably one with a screen as big as the ape. There is just too much going on visually in the movie to be fully appreciated on even the widest of home TV screens.

Why in the world, though, would you pay $10 each to see Jennifer Aniston in a slight comedy like "Rumor Has It" when you can have it delivered in the mail - by Netflix or Blockbuster - in April? And the run-of-the-mill studio movies coming between January and May are pretty much the same movies released in that period last year.

Check 'em out, rent 'em, and save your money for "Kong."

The top 10 moneymakers of '05
(through yesterday)

1. "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" - $380.3 million. Primary audience: young men and women.

2. "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" - $262.4 million. Audience: Boys and girls, families.

3. "War of the Worlds" - $238.3 million. Audience: Adults, especially men.

4. "Wedding Crashers" - $209.2 million. Audience: Adults of both sexes.


5. "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" - $205.5 million. Audience: Families.


6. "Batman Begins" - $205.3 million. Audience: Young men.

7. "Madagascar" - $193.2 million. Audience: Families.

8. "Mr. & Mrs. Smith" - $186.3 million. Audience: Adults of both sexes.

9. "Hitch" - $179.5 million. Audience: Adult women.

10. "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" - $165.1 million. Audience: Young girls.





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Re: Refections of the times. 01 Jan 2006 23:27 #25007

By looking at the above list, that is looking at it objectively, it's really not all that hard to see why theater attendance has dropped off considerably. For each movie listed above falls short of putting across what really needs to be said right now. And said in a way that hits home in the way it needs to hit home. For should a theater be a place where someone goes to take their mind off the world? Or to get in closer touch with it? But please note, not get in touch with the world in a way that leaves us feeling helpless to do anything about it, but rather, awakens in us the ways that we can. For that seems to be what's totally missing from movies right now. It's far too much just superficial entertainment at this moment, a purely -- and quite insultingly -- bread & circuses type of thing. We're not being told what we need to be told and that will be beneficial for us to know. Such as what each and everyone of us is being stripped of -- in many instances irreversibly -- in exchange for the money we have or are currently making, or spending. In that sense, the movies currently coming out of Hollywood are doing a terrible job of preparing us for what awaits on the immediate road ahead. It isn't providing us with the answers we'll be needing. Not even figuratively speaking. During normal times this might not be such a huge crime. But this isn't normal times; far from it. And theaters, among other things, are a means of communication.
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Re: Refections of the times. 03 Jan 2006 09:59 #25008

  • lionheart
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First, let me say that the present times may not be "normal" times, but then again, when were times ever really normal? The world has always had its problems, whether or not any certain individual suffered from them on any certain day. There have always been wars, disasters, environmental issues, political issues, financial problems, joblessness, homelessness, poverty, disparity, and for some, downright misery. In the early years of the film industry, there were plenty of problems going on, but film-makers realized that not every picture had to have some higher purpose. A simple escape into a place that didn't remind people of their problems or the world's problems while presenting them an entertaining story was a noble enough purpose.

I agree that there is room in the industry for pictures that go beyond simple entertainment. For example, Hollywood rallied behind our nation, it's leadership, and our military during World War II. They produced plenty of films, shorts, documentaries, etc. that served a greater purpose than simple entertainment. Many of these pieces motivated people to action, whether it be enlisting in the military or simply collecting old tires for a rubber drive.

Perhaps the simplest example of how the theater communicated issues of the day were through the news reels. People didn't have TVs back then, so the local theater became the place to see the images of what was going on around the world. Today, that hardly seems necessary. We have numerous other outlets that perform this same purpose, even on a 24 hour basis in many cases.

I guess that brings me to my point. Steve, you seem to be suggesting that movies, not news reels, need to communicate issues and motivate actions toward solving them. I, on the other hand, would say that we don't really need another soap box to serve such a purpose. We already have access to myriad other sources who seek to do the same thing.

I'm open to the idea that someone can make a film to communicate an issue, motivate an action, or promote a viewpoint, even if I disagree with it. That's free speech. But, I personally don't feel we need more films with an "agenda" than we are already getting. There is probably a new one coming soon to a theater near you.

Besides, do they sell popcorn? Theaters are businesses, and every business must make money to survive.

I say leave the soap box out of the theater. What we need are more original storylines (and please key on the rootword story-- as in a bard enthralling a crowd gathered around the campfire). Forget about remaking old TV shows and movies that have been made before. Hollywood needs to read more books and watch less old re-runs.
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Re: Refections of the times. 03 Jan 2006 11:05 #25009

  • jimor
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Lionheart put the issue very well. We need fewer films as soapboaxes, and more as real entertainment such as was inspired by the writers of good books for generations. The art of telling a story is disappearing as studios --run by the accountants at the conglomerates-- seek to 'clone' each even minor success with more duplicate films with the same story line, and only a new face or two. And to say that special effects are taking over the screens is to point out the obvious. We are reaping the foul results of the 'youth culture' where children are running the industry where 99% of them could not quote even one Scripture from the Bible, the foundation of our society and literary history. When will adults again take over the studios and realize that even the tennyboppers do grow up and become jaded with the empty minor 'spectacles' where the on screen dazzle is greater than any script writing to be heard? Junk food will carry even a teen only so far; eventually it is 'meat and potatoes' that is needed and wanted, and that with artistry that does not include a heavy handed lecture.

[This message has been edited by jimor (edited January 03, 2006).]
Jim R. (new E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) member: www.HistoricTheatres.org
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Re: Refections of the times. 03 Jan 2006 11:27 #25010

  • John Pytlak
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The standards currently being written by the SMPTE DC28 committee are intended to allow interconnectability of digital cinema equipment and common digital file structure (compression, encryption, "packaging", etc.). If anything, the intent is to make presentation quality more uniform, with less ability of the theatre to deliberately change the presentation, and more ability of distributors to monitor the presentation history.

John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Cell: +1 585-781-4036 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
John P. Pytlak, Senior Technical Specialist
Customer Technical Services
Entertainment Imaging
Research Labs, Building 69, Room 7525A
Eastman Kodak Company
Rochester, NY 14650-1922
Telephone: +1 585-477-5325 Fax: +1 585-722-7243
E-Mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: http://www.kodak.com/go/motion
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Re: Refections of the times. 04 Jan 2006 22:49 #25011

As a general rule, if we call upon an employee to do this or that task, and the best we can get back from that employee is, "No can do, no can do," I believe it's perfectly fair to conclude that that employee is disabled in some capacity. And the disabled condition they hold could range anywhere from total incompetence on their part to physiological limitations they have which prohibit them from operating in our workplace under the way we currently have it set up.

So which is it in Hollywood's case?
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