Volume 1 Issue 2
A Little More Moore
Well, Michael Moore’s newest film, “Fahrenheit 9/11” has
landed distribution. Lions Gate, IFC and Fellowship Adventure Group (which
is a company set up by Miramax honchos for this movie), will share the
bill and release the film on June 25th, just as Moore wanted. It’s
good to see that some companies aren’t afraid to show opinionated
movies. If every company were as (unnecessarily?) cautious as Eisner
and Disney, we’d see far fewer documentaries than we already do.
How Much is that Studio in the Window?
Speaking of Miramax, Harvey and Bob Weinstein are possibly shopping the
company around after this recent fallout. They are looking to buy the
company from Disney and Eisner may sell it if they can meet the price:
An estimated $2 billion. Early speculation says that Miramax may go
to 20th Century Fox. I’m not sure if that’s really the
right move from them. They’d be going from a studio too afraid
to release anti-republican films to a studio whose “fair and
balanced“ news coverage has been widely considered to sway consistently
to the right. Miramax needs a studio that is willing to take chances
and needs a big boost. Paramount may be a good choice, because they’re
looking to take some risks on costly productions. Perhaps Miramax can
convince them to divide that up and spend big money on several unconventional
scripts. We haven’t been hearing much from Columbia lately, either.
Let the bidding war begin?
Drawing Their Way Out of a Paper Bag
Speaking of Disney, Michael Eisner wants to reopen negotiations with
Pixar Animation Studios in order to keep it with the faltering Disney.
Eisner on the state of animation: “The 2-D [hand-drawn] business
is coming to an end, just like black and white came to an end.” What
a shocker. Eisner knows that Miramax is on the outs and wants to try
to keep their other one-foot-out-the-door cash cow, Pixar. Personally,
I think Pixar would do just fine without Disney. They may not be as
big at first, but they’d build back up to normal strength. Their
reputation will carry them. Most people will still associate Pixar
with Disney, but more importantly, they’ll associate Pixar with
the same quality they’ve been providing for a decade now.
As for Eisner’s claim on 2-D animation being dead, I say he’s
full of it. I could guarantee you that “Shrek” would be just
as successful if it were hand-drawn rather than computer generated. The
same goes for any other profitable computer animated movie. The reason
people aren’t going to the hand-drawn stuff is because the people
in charge have this mentality that the medium is dead. As a result, they
put less time and effort into creating and developing worthwhile, interesting
or fun stories that people want to see. They pump the money into the
project, but treat it like a side dish rather than a main course. The
attitude they have towards the film comes across. The lack of effort
comes across. The lack of marketing is noticeable. The lack of interest
quickly develops. If you put quality stories on hand-drawn animation,
the audience will be there.
The real reason Eisner and Disney (the studio behind the 2003 Academy
Award Nominee and huge DVD seller, “Brother Bear” – “Lilo & Stitch” was
pretty huge, too if you remember two years ago) is saying that 2-D is
on the way out, is because it’s too expensive without the return.
Well, if you make more films like “The
Lion King” or “Beauty
and the Beast” rather than a “Home on the Range,” then
you’ll start seeing those returns. If they really want to increase
profit, then they should produce an animated feature using the software
Flash. Oh, by the way, Black and White hasn’t come to an end. It’s
still effectively used quite frequently (whether it’s just in a
select scenes – think flashbacks – or in stylized independent
features and shorts).
This Just In…Well, Duh
Speaking of grasping at straws, Anthony Lane, a critic for The New Yorker,
recently spoke out against “The Day After Tomorrow” for
prominently featuring Fox News and Sky News (also owned by News Corp – which
owns Fox if you didn’t know) in the film. Let me ask him what
exactly he would expect? Could you honestly believe that a major studio
or corporation wouldn’t promote its parent company’s other
holdings? If it were a Warner Brothers film, we’d be seeing CNN.
If it were Universal, it’d be MSNBC. If it were Disney/Miramax/Buena
Vista, it’d be an improv comedian in front of a green screen.
If this didn’t happen, then THAT would be newsworthy. Why would
any company purposefully endorse their competition? Use some common
sense next time, Mr. Lane.
Elevation of Standards
Speaking of lack of logic, Bono, political activist/rock star, has negated
rumors that a Live Aid 2 concert is in the works. He says that because
the event would not bring in enough revenue to make huge strides in
helping countries in need, it would be pointless. Bono: “We would
love to be talking about Live Aid 2, but the sums of money we are dealing
with are in the billions of euros, not the millions. It would help,
but not fix the problem.” Sooooo…let me get this straight.
Instead of putting on an über-concert that would actually make
a profit in the millions of dollars towards helping these people, you’re
saying no way, because you can’t solve the problem. Did the first
one and its $100 million solve the problem in Ethiopia? Something tells
me it didn’t. There’s gotta be something else at play here.
Bono has been a great humanitarian throughout his career. It’s
hard to believe that he wouldn’t want to make a dent in these
struggling lands if he could. Maybe other bands aren’t showing
enough interest or initiative. Maybe Bono is actually acting this way
legitimately. No matter what it is, the show should go on.
Cards R Us
Speaking of lack of proper solutions, in my home state of Illinois, GKC
Theatres started issuing things called “R-Cards.” After
paying a fee and filling out a form, the parents give their young teenagers
permission to see R-rated movies without the required guardian. It
sounds like a pretty good idea to start with. It gives the kids freedom
to see the movies they want to see without parents needing to “baby
sit” them. But as MPAA President Jack Valenti says, “All
R-rated films are not alike.” Parents could be unknowingly giving
their middle-schoolers permission to see some rather graphic violence
and sexual imagery. For example, a younger kid could see a movie like “Rules
of Attraction” and not recognize it as a satire. He or she could
possibly believe that’s how college age people behave and start
acting the same.
There are plenty of intelligent parents and teenagers out there that
could and would benefit from a system like this, but it’s not perfect.
Our current system needs to be modified and more strictly enforced. Give
kids photo IDs with their birth date on them. Add new age brackets like
in Europe and Asia to the rating system. Check/swipe the card to let
them purchase the ticket or deny them access. I know it sounds far-fetched,
but that’s really only because it would cost the industry money
that they aren’t willing to spend. Every once in a while, they’ll
pretend to enforce the rules if a movie catches the eye of some concerned
adults. Honestly, though the system is just a guideline and its rarely
put into place (from my experience and knowledge). Something needs to
change somewhere, and it requires something more than generic permission
“Groundbreaking Cinema” and “Soul Plane” in
the Same Sentence
Speaking of too little too late? Yes, that’s right. Film students
take note. “Soul Plane,” released by MGM, is the first film
to be released using a new method of sound storage. Eastman Kodak devised
a method that uses a thin layer of cyan dye within the film rather than
storing it on an optical or magnetic track. A cheap infrared light reader
is required in the projector (85% of theaters already have it) and it
mostly serves as a backup to the digital soundtracks that dominate theaters.
It doesn’t seem to serve much purpose. Soundtracks rarely have
problems. The only times I’ve noticed it in the theater is when
the film broke apart and lost a couple frames. The sound frames were
lost as well. This cyan layer would be lost in that situation as well.
Maybe I’m just not seeing something. It may not be “The Jazz
Singer,” (maybe in terms of being racially insulting…) but
it is a pioneering effort nonetheless.
Questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org