A couple of years ago, I posited that some day we’d be able to buy the DVD version of a movie that we’d just seen in the theatre:
I wondered out loud Ã¢â‚¬Å“why donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t they just sell DVDs in the cinemas, so that you can buy them as you leave the theatre?Ã¢â‚¬Â That idea is probably heretical to the industry, but I wonder if it might not prove more profitable in the end?
LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s assume there are two kinds of DVD buyersÃ¢â‚¬â€œthose who see the movies in the cinema, and those who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. The people who donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t watch the movie arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t going to be affectedÃ¢â‚¬â€œtheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll just get their DVD sooner. Those who do see the movie probably wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be too cannibalizedÃ¢â‚¬â€œtheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re coming for the experience of attending a cinema. Plus, the industry would enjoy a boon of impulse purchases from people leaving the show.
The twist is that Mr. Snyder, known for turning the Spartan comic book series Ã¢â‚¬Å“300Ã¢â‚¬Â into a global hit movie, is also directing a separate-but-related picture that Warner plans to distribute exclusively on DVD.
The second film, tentatively called Ã¢â‚¬Å“Tales of the Black Freighter,Ã¢â‚¬Â follows a side Ã¢â‚¬Å“WatchmenÃ¢â‚¬Â storyline about a shipwreck and will arrive in stores five days after the main movie rolls out in theaters. The DVD will also include a documentary-style film called Ã¢â‚¬Å“Under the HoodÃ¢â‚¬Â that will delve into the charactersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ backstories.
Of course, I can’t imagine that you’ll be able to buy this movie from the cinema itself. Even though that’s when you’re likeliest to buy, distributors would never let that happen.
I really enjoyed “The Bourne Identity” when I first saw it in the theatre (here’s an early, rambling blog post on the film). I also really wanted Matt Damon’s sweater. He wears this kick-ass black, military-style sweater in the film. Of course, he looks way better than I would in it, but that’s also true of togas, house coats and djellabas.
At the time, I imagined a website which tracked what actors wore in movies, and sold real-world equivalents which you could buy. This was back in 2002, and I remember searching for a website that filled that role. I couldn’t find much. I did a few quick searches today, and still didn’t find anything super promising. SeenOn.com looks like the right fit, but it lists all of three movies thus far.
CoolSpotters has the potential to become such a resource, though it seems more targeted at off-screen It Girl bollocks. I read about it today on TechCrunch:
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an eye-candy celebrity-focused site that shows users the products celebrities are wearing in various photos. Users can then talk about and, of course, purchase those items.
Users can track celebrities, products, brands, shows (TV, Movies, etc.), places, events, and more. The idea is to show connections between people and stuff. These connections are called Ã¢â‚¬Å“spotsÃ¢â‚¬Â (as in, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I spotted thatÃ¢â‚¬Â), and show details on the item. If something is incorrect, users can change or remove it, and add new people and things.
They kind of combine the crowd-sourcing of Wikipedia and Facebook tags (or Flickr notes, if you like) with the smarmy photos of gossip blogs. It’s a smart approach.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I” will hit theaters in November 2010, followed by “Part II” in May 2011, a decision that is being met around the world with fans’ cheers but also plenty of cynical smirks. The publishing industry is learning to live without new “Potter” releases, but Hollywood just pulled off a trick that will keep its profitable hero on his broom into the next decade.
Can I get a kerching? Sure, that last book is pretty thick, but book five is actually longer, so I’m confident in chalking this one up to the studio’s desire for an extra $300 million.
The films have gotten better (the childrens’ acting is no longer atrocious). The movies have become entertaining if unremarkable fantasy romps. I do, however, object to the tedious structure that each films follow. It goes something like:
Harry is miserable in London.
Harry has madcap adventures on the way to school.
Harry cheats death, battles nefarious forces and struggles to maintain a B average over the course of the school year.
Harry bids everybody farewell for another summer of misery.
Revise the Story Arc
After seeing the third movie, I decided that the studios should have reached higher.
The movies didn’t have to map exactly to the books. The producers could have taken Harry’s entire story arc and divided it up in a different, more exciting way. There could have been five movies, or nine or twelve. This would have freed screenplay writers from the bonds of the novels’ formal structure. The result probably would have been a far more diverse set of movies.
The natural comparison here is how The Empire Strikes Back is a considerably darker film (thanks largely to its plot) than the other two (well, five) Star Wars movies. The same goes for Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
Of course, such a move would have come with considerable risk, and might have alienated the films’ core audience. And studios are famous for being risk-averse.
Here’s an idea for a massive fan project. Re-edit the eight movies so that they start and end in different spots. Move some scenes around so that you end with a richer, more diverse set of movies.
I don’t follow the movie industry that closely, but I do tend to pay attention to major film festival buzz. The films that get talked about at Cannes, Sundance et al tend to be the films I want to see.
This is one of those rare times when I really want to look at an ad for a product, and I can’t. To use some marketingese, I’m ready to begin a relationship with this movie, but I can’t. More importantly, I’d be happy to post it to this website, favourite it on YouTube and so forth, but I can’t.
I assume there are some baroque politics around distribution deals and marketing control that prevents the trailer from debuting when the movie does, but it’s pretty silly. Movie marketers may think they’re creating desire by delaying the trailer, but I find I just forget about these movies. A trailer would, I think, help me remember. I can certainly picture moments from the Teeth trailer which I watched when it eventually came out).
It’s basically a zombie movie. One thing I noticed was that a year with very little film and television watching has re-sensitized somewhat to horror. I was more nervous and tense than I usually would be watching this film. I would, however, attribute some of that tension to Will Smith’s excellent performance.
Once you see them, the Legend zombies pale in comparison to, say, 28 Days Later. They’re pasty, hairless and mostly CGI. They looked like distant, uh, noseful cousins of He Who Shall Not Be, Under Any Circumstances, Named.
You know, Lord Heathcliff Montgomery Voldemort (to apply his rarely-used family name). And both Voldemort and the zombies bear a resemblance to that other Lord, the Prince of Darkness, in The Passion of the Christ (who, to many people’s surprise, was played by a woman):
Like scary, dirty water and big-eyed pale children, is this a movie trend? Can you think of other movies where people are pasty and hairless?
Last night I had the privilege to watch Brad Bird’s latest triumph, Ratatouille. It’s probably the best American animated film I’ve ever seen, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to any human. It scored a 96% on Metacritic and a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes. Here are a few choice quotes from some of my favourite critics:
Roger Ebert: This is clearly one of the best of the year’s films. Every time an animated film is successful, you have to read all over again about how animation isn’t “just for children” but “for the whole family,” and “even for adults going on their own.” No kidding!
New York Magazine: Brad Bird wrote and directed Ratatouille and tops his previous work. Since his work includes The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, this puts him somewhere between Chuck Jones and Michelangelo. He uses dimensionality the way Spielberg does: His characters seize the foreground, making you sit up like a rat catching a whiff of cheeseÃ¢â‚¬â€maybe Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved lightly over truffle-scented Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ sorry.
David Denby: They create each movie afresh, and some of their productions, especially this one and Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Incredibles,Ã¢â‚¬Â both written and directed by Brad Bird, have reached heights of invention, speed, and wit not seen in animation since the work done by Chuck Jones at Warner Bros. in the nineteen-forties. In Ã¢â‚¬Å“Ratatouille,Ã¢â‚¬Â the level of moment-by-moment craftsmanship is a wonder. Keeping the space clear and coherent may seem an odd thing to praise in an animated film, but one of the marvellous things about Ã¢â‚¬Å“RatatouilleÃ¢â‚¬Â is how well we come to understand the geography of the kitchen in which much of the movie takes place.
It’s just movie craftsmanship at its finest. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favour and rent it.
It bears a striking resemblance to a half-decent Canadian film called “The Last Casino”. Here’s the plot summary from IMDB:
One deadbeat teacher discovers that three of his students are great math wizzes and decides to teach them how to count cards and make lots of money. As they learn how to play the casinos, things get tricky when the debt owing teacher informs them that their front man wants restitution for loses (of supposed $500,000 Canadian) in about a weeks time. The three students decide to hit all the major casinos in Ontario and Quebec until discovered.
Sound familiar? I couldn’t find a trailer online, but here’s a clip from early in the film:
Much like “Munich” and “Sword of Gideon”, it always bums me out a little when big budget movies replicate the stories of smaller and independent films. Most viewers never know that the apparent original work they’re watching is, in fact, highly derivative. And it’s a safer bet for the artists involved in the remake, because the creators of the original made many of their mistakes for them.