The Hot Blog Archive for March, 2007

Friday Estimates by Klady

Not too many surprises here, though estimates of the TNMT flick were pretty high considering that it is an old phenom having to face two, count ’em, two strong pictures right in the same demo.
Blades of Glory at about $32 million is a nice piece of marketing. It

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My Card. My Life. My Oh My Those Tix Are Expensive

I was disgusted to read this morning – yes, disgusted – that The Tribeca Film Festival, which has just started to emerge from being anything more than a failure for anyone other than The Tribeca Film Festival, is kicking up ticket prices by about 50%, from $12 to $18.
This is just a jaw dropper for anyone who knows film festivals. For one thing, Tribeca started as the second highest capitalized film festival in America, just behind Sundance… from Day One. American Express and others have kicked in millions to a budget said to exceed $12 million a year. But oh, that hasn’t stopped the festival from whoring itself out in new and unique ways year after year. Last year seemed to be a low as a festival could go, with the Mission:Impossible III television program, funded in part by the festival.
But kicking up the ticket prices… it is so antithetical to what a film festival is meant to do… especially one dedicated to rebuilding the community of Manhattan’s 9/11 beaten Tribeca. (The festival is also expanding uptown this year, making a festival said by many attendees to be too spread out even more spread out… but that’s another drama.)
For one thing, none of the ticket money goes to the filmmakers who, as with all festivals, balance being exploited with the hope of exploiting the exposure. So there is no benefit to the many who contribute films – whether distributors or filmmakers – to the increase.
Second, anyone who has ever seen a festival budget knows that ticket sales are a small part of what pays for a festival, Toronto being somewhat of the exception. But if Tribeca actually sells 100,000 tickets this year – which would be a really high sales (not attendance) estimate – they have added $600,000 to their overall income or around 5% of their budget. It’s not chicken feed. But it is a relatively small amount of their budget that comes directly from the one group that can least afford the added expense.
Plus… it’s just so f-ing arrogant. The excuse given to indieWIRE in their excellent coverage was, in part, “”unique experience that cannot be re-created.” True… because most of their crap programming will never be seen again.
Tribeca needs a serious rethink of what the purpose of the festival’s existence is, because even though there are plenty of buyers in Manhattan, there are very few sales… which is inevitable, since there is no reason for any more festival markets than we already have… and as I have recently written, the need for them is getting lesser ever day.
So the purpose of Tribeca is now to gouge supportive, ambitious, daring filmgoers for an extra $6 a ticket to see product that is hit and miss (as at all fests) so that a few more TV ads and a few more rooms at the Soho Grand can be paid for? This is not DeNiro and Rosenthal’s vision. This is not the behavior of a serious film festival.
A celebration of film in Manhattan during the summer should be a thing of absolute beauty. Nothing would make me happier than to be a relentless supporter of this thing. But they were like a baby with a head two times too big to walk from the start and instead of getting better, it seems to get worse every year. They have the money. They have the attention of the media and the industry. Now it’s time for them to deliver something great. To have so much and to deliver so little… it hurts my heart.

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Box Office Hell – March 30, 2007

Updated – Friday @ 11a
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The Earlier Chart

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After The Wedding – Video Review

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QuickTime | iKlipz | YouTube

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Silent Nut

I try to keep away from C. Nikki Finke as best possible (and I can already hear her fingers typing the unpleasant e-mail about this entry), but I had to laugh (and share) when I looked at her site for the first time in weeks and her primary advertiser was the unrated DVD release of Black X-Mas, a movie that she squealed about regarding its earth-shattering Christmas release, single handedly generating the only promotion the film would ever have.
Not only are there three big ads on her page, but the film is being given away by L.A. Weekly as an event, so if you click on the ads, you get another L.A. Weekly page.
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Payback’s a Nikki.
Or is this buyback?

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La Vie Marion Cotillard

After seeing roughly the first two acts of La Vie en rose/La Mome/Edith Piaf- Ha-Haim B’Varod/Pariisin varpunen /The Passionate Life of Edith Piaf/Zoi san triantafyllo in New York a couple of weeks ago, I was convinced that Marion Cotillard had given a remarkable technical performance, but as far as it being as definitive a performance for 2007 as some were saying out of Berlin… I was unconvinced.
After seeing the whole film here at AFI Dallas last night, I finally understand what they are talking about.
A fairly accomplished video director and insignificant film director, Olivier Dahan structured the film (which he shares writing credit on with first-timer Isabelle Sobelman) in a way that almost challenges the audience to figure out what the hell he is after. He flops restlessly between young Edith and “old” Edith with plenty of middle-aged Edith (which was, sadly for La Mome, her mid 20s) while also maintaining some story order… an explanation which may well be as confusing as the structure of the film. Really, if you thought Pulp Fiction mixed it up, you’re gonna be looking for your protractor in this one.
BUT… the third act pays off like frickin’ gangbusters, in great part because the theme of this woman’s life starts to pay off. Remarquable!!!

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Summer Counting, Always A Blast…

Jeffrey Katzenberg is a brilliant guy… except when he shoots his mouth off in public. Since DreamWorks Animation has gone public, JK’s public statements have been dangerous stuff. And once again, Reuters reports, he is overreaching more than a little while addressing a Bank of America conference.
He starts…
“Everyone is going to see Shrek. Everyone is going to see Pirates. Everyone is going to see Spider-Man,” he said. “The difference is which one of those movies are going to get multiple viewings.”
Fair enough… though the use of the word “everyone” is one of those Hollywood headed usages. A $400 million domestic gross probably means fewer than 50 million Americans going to the box office. That is a massive number… but hardly “everyone.” This is also the Passion of the Christ lesson that no one seems to want to hand onto.
He continues…
While describing “Shrek the Third” as “good” and “a worthy successor” to its blockbuster forebears, Katzenberg suggested that his green ogre could have an advantage over Spidey and Pirate Jack Sparrow during the “unprecedented” month of blockbusters.
“We are the only family film, the only PG-rated movie and we are 81 minutes long. That pretty much means we are going to tend to get one-and-a-half to two shows for every one of theirs because they are longer films,” Katzenberg said.

Katzenberg is right that on the face of it, Shrek The Third has a big advantage in that it crosses over, but is also a very muscular kids film for kids of all ages. This held up for Shrek II and Finding Nemo in their summers… even Cars, which looked like it might underperform last summer.
However, Shrek The Third faces a much harsher fight for the family dollar this summer than Shrek II did in 2004. Two weeks after opening, Sony throws Surf’s Up at it… and three weeks later, Pixar’s Ratatouille… and that’s not to mention Nancy Drew or Fantastic Four or Evan Almighty. Shrek II faced only a Potter movie of any size, with Pixar holding for November with The Incredibles.
In addition, as far as I can tell, no four-day weekend has ever cracked $300 million. So why through out that $800 million number? And how can he say that there will not be screen count issues by mid-June? Will theaters be holding multiple screens or even full day screening schedules for the downslope of Shrek The Third with Ratatouille coming in? (Answer: No.)

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In Dallas…

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Fest Troubles

AJ Schank (Kurt Cobain:About A Boy) blogs about a story about an allegedly overdemanding festival guest at the recent Cleveland Film Festival. Interesting enough.
And here is my added perspective…
Every festival has some lemon guests. They may be the big names. They may be the nobodies. It is, however, a cliche that one of the least important invitees will be the most time consuming. And relative to the PR value, that is an absolutely true cliche.
Thing is, most festivals have organizational problems. I have never been to any fest at which people didn’t complain about transportation… sometimes more fairly than others. But especially at spread out fests, there just can’t be enough cars and vans for the start and end of every film, as well as special events, as well as people who want to get there early or late… etc. And of course, filmmakers are notoriously poor or cheap, so cabs (which is usually how I keep my blood pressure down) aren’t really a fair option.
The thing about a festival is that it is mostly volunteer and even as the fests are starting, staffers are exhausted. They are also overworked and, oddly, bored. Gossip is inevitable. And if you are one of the people who makes friends with festival staff, you will hear it all. I know who has been sexing whom, who was naked in the hallway, and who screamed at the wrong person by the end of most fests I attend. (Perhaps at the others, I am the prick.)
Anyway… your thoughts are welcome.

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A Scooter Ride In Bermuda

I took a nice scooter ride in Bermuda the other day with some friends… but it ended.
Here is the video…
QuickTime | iKlipz | YouTube
And here is a somewhat gross pop-up image of a small part of the aftermath… and yes, that is all blood coloring the shot.

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Out Bermuda-ing

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The Horror Of Ads…

ADD – 9:27p Tuesday – Ah… here is the horrible outdoor… and indeed, it is more offensive that the rest of the art… no?
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ADD – 2:55p Tues – I am told by a good source that these are not the actual outdoor ads under attack. I will adjust as I can as I find out more.
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So what do you think? Are these images too gruesome for the bus bench?

The MPAA thinks so…

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I must admit, I think the second one is rather brilliant, especially for a bus bench ad kiosk that has that metal frame look where you might actually feel like she is stuck in there. And it certainly could have been more gratuitous.

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Interesting…

In a move with equal or greater significance than the Google/Viacom suit that the journalism world can’t stop overhyping and misreading, Disney is launching a Pirates 3 trailer embed for blogs, websites, etc…
This is what you call owning the property and building a viral audience while making it easy for both the aggregators and the consumers. This is the future… studios doing what YouTube does and controlling how things are done as they wish. The consumer is getting an equally good product either way.
And that is the meaning of platform-agnostic, not as so many fools and their messengers keep screaming, that kids don’t care about which platform they experience something. They care about access and about the freedom to choose. And in the end, the difference between something being on the Disney website and something being on YouTube is non-existent, so long as there is marketing in place to get them to that other website with a similar ease.
(The one problem is that the offering was too big for a page with the design of The Hot Blog, so I have reduced the size in the coding and you may notice that some of the graphics have been reduced in quality as a result.)
I also think it is fascinating that POTC: At World’s End is trailer-debuting on the older-skewing Dancing With The Stars, the very rare case in which a movie trailer debut is placed to bring the audience that is missing to the TV show rather than the show being selected (Heroes/Spidey3) to maximize eyeballs in the target demographic.

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The Joy Of Directing

From Sharon Waxman’s NYT piece…
July 31, 2003: Candid Camera
The production has moved from the dried-up swamp to the set of the detectives’ office. It is hot and cramped, and the hour is getting late. To pass the time while a shot is set up, Mr. Russell treats the crew to a description of a baby passing through the birth canal.
And then Ms. Tomlin is berating Mr. Russell again.
This time, the director turns on her angrily, calling her the crudest word imaginable, in front of the actors and crew. He shrieks: ”I wrote this role for you! I fought for you!” Mr. Russell ends his tirade by sweeping his arm across a nearby table cluttered with production paraphernalia. He storms off the set and back on again, continually shouting. Then he locks himself in his office, refusing to return. After an uncomfortable, set-wide pause, Ms. Tomlin goes in to apologize, and Mr. Russell returns to the shoot.
Unbeknownst to both of them, a member of the crew has videotaped his tirade. The recording makes its way around the Hollywood talent agencies. Asked about the incident later, Mr. Russell says: ”Sure, I wish I hadn’t done that. But Lily and I are fine.” For her part, Ms. Tomlin admits that both she and Mr. Russell lost control. ”It’s not a practice on his part or my part,” she says. ”I’d rather have someone human and available and raw and open. Don’t give me someone cold, or cut off, or someone who considers themselves dignified.”
This must be the Zen part.

And now… the video
And the preview of that lovely moment…
July 24, 2003: The Car Trip
So far, the actors have been remarkably tolerant of Mr. Russell’s mischief. As Ms. Huppert later observed in a phone interview, the actors knew Mr. Russell was intentionally trying to destabilize them for the sake of their performances. ”He is fascinating, completely brilliant, intelligent and very annoying sometimes, too,” she said. They also know he has created superb films from chaotic-seeming sets before. Besides, he’s the director and the writer; now that they’ve cast their lot with him, they really don’t have a choice.
But on what is meant to be the last take of the day, Ms. Tomlin, who recently ended an exhausting run of her one-woman play, collapses into Mr. Hoffman’s arms crying and doesn’t stop. As he embraces her, the wails grow louder and louder, and finally it becomes clear that she is not in character. After long moments, Ms. Tomlin breaks the tension by shouting at Mr. Hoffman: ”You’re driving a hairpin into my head!” Everyone collapses in laughter and the take is trashed.
But the drama is not over. The car scene takes several more hours to shoot, and as the sun fades, the accumulated tension erupts. Ms. Tomlin begins shouting at Mr. Russell: she is unhappy with the way she looks. She wants to try the scene a different way. She taunts him with a few expletives and curses at the other actors too. Their patience worn, the other actors laugh at her outburst.
Later, unfolding himself from the back seat of the Chevrolet, Mark Wahlberg jokes that his next project will be a nice, easy action film.

Tuesday Update: New URL for clip

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Sorry, but…

The Pirates of The Caribbean: At World’s End trailer kicks ass… even in Russian. (And even if it isn’t there when you click on it…)

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The Hot Blog

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin