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Box Office Mojo


#1240

Bumping the back of my seat, and also being able to hear them if they talk.

The same applies on public transport - I’ve moved seats if there’s someone talking behind me and I can hear them over my music/podcasts. Whether they’re talking on the phone or speaking with someone, because of the alignment of the seats in a theatre or a train/bus they still tend to have their stupid face hole pointed at the back of my head.

If the socks and sandals didn’t give it away.

This isn’t new Box Office Business news, but this seems the most appropriate thread - Den of Geek’s little features on movie productions are usually pretty interesting:

The problem DreamWorks faced, then, was that it was founded in 1994, and yet by the start of 1996, its slate of live action pictures was still floundering. It didn’t have a single film, outside of its animation division, shooting, and it needed the pipeline to start filling up. Without films in cinemas, it was relying on its creditors, and the collateral its owners brought with it. Given the noise the trio of founders had made when launching DreamWorks, all of Hollywood was watching.

It was against this backdrop that a thriller called The Peacemaker found itself pushed to the front of the queue.

Clooney had at the time been circling the long-in-gestation movie of The Green Hornet, but again, the power of Spielberg got him free of that project. Bottom line: he was free to film The Peacemaker, a movie that Spielberg reportedly toyed with directing himself at one stage.

But it wasn’t a dream shoot for a first movie. The Russian setting for part of the movie meant that the production would primarily set up in Slovakia (saving the film a few quid by doing so).

There were still hoops to jump through, as new scenes would have to be faxed to Los Angeles – working on a different time zone – and be approved before they could be shot. What came back from L.A. wasn’t necessarily what was sent. All the while, filming had to keep going, as the clock kept ticking. There were even several days between shooting footage and being able to see it: the negatives had to be sent to a processing lab in Munich.


#1241

I’ve been a back-of-the-theater type, a middle-of-the-theater type, and what I currently am, a front-of-the-theater type. Which sounds crazy, to be front-of-the-theater. Deliberately. My first experience with this mode was 2001 with Fellowship of the Ring. And I didn’t repeat it. For years. Then in 2008 I caught Dark Knight in IMAX. Which is basically everyone front-of-the-theater. So I guess some of it is faking the IMAX experience, why I now fancy front-of-the-theater. It makes everything more dramatic.


#1242

Now that is crazy. If you skip the previews, how do you know what to watch next time? :thinking:


#1243

You read every single post on Millarworld, David.
Now, did you ever watch Arrival? Y’know, like we all recommended? :wink:


#1244

I’ll watch Arrival eventually…


#1245

Gosh, without previews I’d be even less inclined to go to the cinema.


#1246

@Jim:


#1247

MoviePass can’t show market impact if they’re the ones funding the market impact. It’s like Walmart paying for every customer to get a free Dr Pepper when they visit a store and then claiming the impact Dr Pepper sales.

Honestly it feels like MoviePass will crumble in six months and everyone involved will have lost out unless the studios see a way to rig the results.


#1248

Why Amazon, Netflix Ghosted Sundance Sales After Dominating Last Year

Amazon Studios and Netflix pretty much ghosted this year’s Sundance Film Festival — acquiring no films just one year after dominating the indie marketplace with big-dollar acquisitions films like “Mudbound” and “The Big Sick.”

—SNIP—

One factor was this year’s slate of films — which didn’t inspire the kind of bidding wars that prompted some to question whether the streaming giants had overspent last year. “The commercial viability of the lineup was as low as any in recent memory,” one festival veteran told TheWrap. “There were not many titles for anything beyond a festival audience.”

—SNIP—
https://www.thewrap.com/sundance-sales-market-amazon-and-netflix-ghost-film-festival/amp/

Streamers are adjusting their plans. They’re going be open to niche films but they arent built around that.

They’re as mainstream as any network, and they feel the need to bolster that segment of their content at the moment.

The story makes a good case that niche is still a business that’s in business, but that it’s staying with it’s more traditional, theatrical, distribution system.


#1249

They also spent significant money to start developing their own material from scratch last year. So they may be moving away from the go out and buy finished material model too.


#1250

They’re all definitely going to move forward with original content that they own outright, that’s a good plan, but they all attended the festival and they took meetings, they even bid on films,

But they’re not over spending on what they buy in. They’re willing to stick to their price limits.

Even if it means coming home empty handed.

That’s very disciplined.


#1251

It says they have seven months of financing on the current model.

They are challenging AMC who are bigger than some might think, not just the largest in the US but their parent group owns Odeon/UCI in the UK, several European chains and a Chinese cinema group and has total assets of US$86bn.

If the deal doesn’t suit them they can take the temporary hit to get rid of them.


#1252

Scott Ross in Beijing: “China is Making Big Mistakes”

Last time I interviewed Digital Domain co-founder and visual effects pioneer Scott Ross in 2014, he was ebullient about the potential for China’s burgeoning movie industry, but spoke in no uncertain terms about the pitfalls of investing in Hollywood studios. His warnings went unheeded. Two years on, China is careering headlong down that perilous road.

–SNIP–

CC: When we spoke in 2014, you were enthusiastic about the potential for China’s film industry, and had ideas about making a film here. In your SIGGRAPH Asia (Shenzhen) keynote you warned that China should not do as other countries have done and invest in the big Hollywood studios. As it happens, that is what China has been doing very –

SR: Aggressively.

Chris: Aggressively. Has that put you off China as an environment in which to pursue projects? Do you despair about how things have happened so far?

SR: I think they’re making big mistakes. I’m shocked that the powers that be within China have the cash that they have, and are spending it the same way as I’ve seen the Germans, the Saudis, the Japanese and the Koreans do – in all the wrong ways. Personally, I don’t understand why one would pay a billion dollars to buy Dick Clark Productions. I don’t understand what their business strategy is. For the life of me, I cannot figure it out. Maybe just because I don’t have the insight, I don’t get to sit in the Wanda boardrooms. There’s the old adage of “you don’t know what you don’t know”. So I don’t know. But from the outside looking in, I think they’re going about it in totally the wrong way. I hope I’m wrong.

CC: The official line is that the purchases are all about collaboration, working together with Hollywood to develop China’s ability to tell stories with global appeal. So far we’ve not seen that happening at all. Even “The Great Wall”, a US-China co-production set in China, largely in Mandarin, directed by Zhang Yimou, still feels like a US-driven project.

SR: The first question that the Chinese filmmaking community has to get their heads around is, what is it that they want? Do they want to be a global media player, or do they not? If they don’t want to be a global media player, and their goal is filmmaking for a Chinese audience – because Lord knows there are enough people in China to build a giant business – then that is one direction. If the goal is to be a global media player, that’s another direction. Then the question is, “Well, why do you want to be a global media player?”

My experiences have been that, oftentimes, the powers that be don’t necessarily look at film in the same way that the west looks at it. Do they want to propagandize the Chinese way of life? In conversations that I’ve had it always gets down to, “The reason America has had a pervasive culture around the world is because of Hollywood. We want to build something to make Chinese culture pervasive around the world.” I think that’s a very long road to go down and the question is, are western audiences going to be accepting of the Chinese storytelling sensibility? If I were a betting man, I’d say “no”. Take “Lost in Thailand.” I’ve tried to watch that five times. I can’t get through it, it makes absolutely no sense to me. But to the Chinese audiences, it’s stupendous, right? Similarly, we look at the great Japanese animator Miyazaki. He makes, “Howl’s Moving Castle” and it does, I don’t know, $250 million in Japan and Asia. Meanwhile it opens in the United States, it’s promoted by the Walt Disney Company, and it does no business. Are there cultural walls that just can’t be addressed? If the Chinese filmmaking community wants to make films that elevate the Chinese lifestyle around the world, will the rest of the world be open to or accepting of those kinds of stories, or do you have to invigorate or dilute it with a western sensibility? Name a Chinese film that’s done really, really well in a global marketplace. “Kung Fu Panda”? It’s Kung Fu, the names are Chinese, but it’s a DreamWorks movie. There’s nothing Chinese about it. How about “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”? It’s sort of a Chinese film but it’s really developed in a way that is more of a Hong Kong film, and a Hong Kong film is not necessarily a Chinese film.

–SNIP–

CC: Why is there so much focus on technology vs. story in China’s film industry?

SR: Oftentimes people that are uncomfortable with creativity or intellectual property glom onto technique and technology. It’s much easier to talk about technology than it is to talk about creativity. Creativity is so ephemeral. What is a good movie? What is a good actor? What is a good script? That’s a very difficult conversation to have, whereas talking about process, technique or software applications, the time taken to be able to do things, it’s a lot easier. My concern is that – and it’s happened over and over and over again in the industry – if we continue to just look at technology as leading the effort, we’re missing the point. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Really, creativity is what charges technology. There have been times in the last 35 or 40 years where a new technology ushers in a whole new way of filmmaking – let’s say analog to digital – but most of the time it’s the creative people that drive the need for technology, not the technology people driving the need for creative.

–SNIP–

http://chinafilminsider.com/scott-ross-beijing-china-making-big-mistakes/

Lots more at the link (including plenty on VR).


#1253

This is a fascinating goal. It’s not about commercial success, it’s instead about cultural influence. I find this to be a bizarre objective. And I also think Chinese culture is already pretty widespread.

However, they also mention the Chinese storytelling sensibility and I don’t know what they mean by that. Anyone have any insight?


#1254

Well I’m guessing it means how every country/region has their own traditional way of storytelling… I guess it’s easier to visualize with Bollywood as an exemple… They love those kind of movies in India, but for most of the rest of the world, eh… they’re corny and stupid :smile:**

**I’m joking of course, but the Bollywood style is really not easy to swallow, like AT ALL.


#1255

I’ve been considering getting Ken Liu’s translation of Cixin Lin’s SF trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past, so was looking reviews of the work as a whole. This one might be of use for this question:

The last major difference is harder for me to articulate. Simply put: characters don’t argue with each other. And that’s weird to me.

This statement captures the sense of it but it requires more explanation—characters disagree with each other throughout the novels, and there’s plenty of interpersonal conflict, but they hardly ever argue.

A character will state their position or belief about something, and another character will state a position or belief which disagrees… and that’s it. They each make their statement, and there may be one or two more sentences exchanged, but there’s rarely any argument beyond that, few attempts to persuade or convince the other to change their mind. Characters seem to just accept that they disagree with each other and move on.

Every time I expect characters to go at it with each other, they don’t. It’s weird. Liu includes some American characters in the story and this is the one thing that makes them less believable to me than the Chinese characters: Americans would argue more. It rings false when they don’t.

It’s tempting to account for this as another example in how Liu’s storytelling tradition handles character development and psychology differently than mine, and it may reflect cultural differences between Americans and Chinese: perhaps Chinese people are less argumentative than Americans.


#1256

It makes sense - cultural imperialism greatly contributed to the USA’s success as a world power. Military might alone can be enough to gain power, but not to hold it. It needn’t be anything as insidious as the deals tied in with Top Gun and Pitch Perfect 3.


#1257

Yeah that’s ridiculous. Anyone who’s ever been to Chinatown anywhere knows that Chinese people are plenty argumentative. A better bet is that it reflects the author itself, rather than the whole country. I read the first of that trilogy, by the way. Cixin Lou was a government engineer, in sure that has a big effect on the way his characters talk about problems.

Edit: and since I’ve started, I guess I’ll also add that Chinese storytelling sensibilities, whatever they may be, are to some extent constrained by the adherence to classics and their forms. To some extent though, this is likely attributable to state involvement, as there are a growing number of quite modern Chinese authors, while the film industry is too tied up with the state.

As for soft power influence, it’s a decades-old idea, and one that South Korea has harnessed quite well. The difference there is that mostly the government has just tossed money into an independent film industry which is still allowed to make whatever they want, with very little censorship.


#1258

I just don’t see Chinese culture having a chance. You don’t sell the world on a culture with a strict government regime. It’s like they don’t understand the mechanics of why the US is as popular and dominant as it is.


#1259

That is an interesting point. You can see a great deal of difference inside Chinese films as inside Korean Films or Japanese films or German films (and television shows), but there is a similarity that grows up when you look at the films on the whole. Just as many American movies are very similar when taken on the whole.

Certainly, there does seem to be a greater difference in emphasis on the place of the individual in relation to the society and family. Watching a lot of Korean movies, it is kind of scary how often the family is pitted against an individual member and against the larger social order.

The thing is, though, I don’t know if the American cultural sensibility is really as influential as it seems in anything more than a superficial sense. We don’t watch Chinese films the same way that Chinese audiences do. We don’t see them with the same context, and I imagine foreign audiences see American movies from their own perspectives as well. The things we don’t even notice in a movie may be the very element that another audience finds most fascinating.