The Hot Blog Archive for October, 2007

BYOB – Halloween

I am out for most of the day today, though there is a new Hot Button going up sometime today, as well as Gurus 2.0 on MCN.
Let me also say that while her coverage is extremely narrow because of how it is being fed to her, Nikki Finke’s site is clearly worth reading in these early pre-strike days. She is getting propaganda from both sides and running it. She seems to have no idea when she is being played or not, but if you can parse it, there is some great stuff there and she is clearly working her ass off lately to be the one on top of this all. So credit to her… and let’s hope the fools are still letting their working members work this time next week instead of pretending to be heroes of the working class who are driving their Porsche SUVs to the rallys to bring down the system that they simply want a bigger piece of. (Strike when it’s right… not when expedient.)

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Noah's Frenzy Lands On Ridley

Some angry, angry mail came in on Noah’s column this week. I thought it would be good to open up the floor.
Personally, I find his feelings about this a bit 20something and short-sighted… really as simple as “he doesn’t get it.” But then again, he doesn’t “get” Kingdom of Heaven‘s director’s cut, so how can you argue with him. The heart wants what the heart wants.
After the jump, a particularly angry letter that has in its opening graph, “I felt COMPELLED to write this e-mail, to tell you in fact, what a jackass you are…
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Ridley Scott – Overrated?
I know that in some circles, I would be torn limb from limb for saying this: Ridley Scott is simply not that great.
There, I said it.
Alright, yes, he’s a competent filmmaker and is not exactly a blight on the cinematic landscape, but I don’t really see why Ridley Scott is deified while his brother Tony Scott is vilified considering their styles are remarkably similar. Let’s say you switched the material that each of them directed, do you think that Tony Scott would have ruined any of the films that Ridley has directed? Could Ridley have elevated D

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Yes

If the Teamsters are really going to honor WGA picket lines, as per this Variety story, the horror show strike will not happen. There may be weeks of negotiations to come, but the entire dynamic changes.
But here is my question… when has this ever actually happened when SAG wasn’t the striking union?
Anyone?
Add: The Teamsters in ’88
Teamsters in July
The Teamsters website

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Need To Know

This is an example of a letter being sent out to WGA members in an information gathering process that has raised some hackles. Names and projects have been redacted.
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Dear XXX,
As you know, we

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BYOB – October 29

A new week… lots to wonder about… I’ll be posting, but here is some space for you to Bring Your Own Blog…

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LWD – No Country For Bardem & Brolin

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Two goofy men on one serious film… the interview

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LWD – Patricia Clarkson & Emily Mortimer On Lars & The Real Girl

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Talking Lars, opportunities for women in film, what men want, etc…
The discussion
Earlier – Ryan Gosling & director Craig Gillespie

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Weekend Estimates by Klady – Oct 28

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Strike Coming?

I am not in town this week and not staying obsessively absorbed by the hour-to-hour non-news non-movement of the possible – and some say inevitable – WGA strike as of Wednesday night.
I say again… for clarity’s sake… that the huge mistake many of the writers keep making is that they believe, 1) they will bring the studios to their knees by striking mid-TV-season, and 2) that they studios don’t believe the strike will happen and therefore, that is why they aren’t giving up anything at the negotiating table already.
The reality is, 1) that millions will be lost, but hundreds of millions are at stake and the WGA is not the studios’ biggest problem and 2) that the studios will continue to hold out on anything with the WGA that will been seen as precedent when they seriously negotiate with SAG next spring/summer.
Everyone gets so caught up in the details that the big picture gets lost. WGA can strike. WGA can settle for a deal that doesn’t have rollbacks, but doesn’t force much progress either. But what they can not do is to win new, industry-changing concessions by striking while everyone else keeps working. In the end, it is always the people in the union who can least afford to be on strike who spend all the time on the picket lines and end up leaving town by the time things settle down while the well-paid writers cut back on travel and extravagances before making up for the downtime in a hurry when the strike ends, either juggling multiple high-profile projects pushing for start dates or selling that spec they wrote during the strike.
I am not against the unions taking an ax to the studios. But they must shut it down all at once and they must be willing to win a war of attrition. You can’t win a war of attrition one union at a time. And this crap about “don’t let the studios prepare themselves” is more crap… as though they hadn’t anticipated this coming… back to misconception #2. Smart business people consider all the possibilities and contingencies before they decide how to position themselves. It is not emotional and it is not reactive.
I wish I could say that I believe that a strike is a winning idea, but not only don’t I see it, but every time someone explains why it is a good idea, it seems to be based on the notion that the “other guys” are dumb or short-sighted or acting purely out of arrogance. “They” may be those things, but “they” are the buyers, not the sellers and they know it.

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Friday Estimates by Klady – 10/26

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Based on Klady

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Box Office Space…

Here on the east coast, they have these crazy times for sports… so I’m off to a college football game at 7am L.A. Time and will be back at the computer until about 3p. So keep an eye out for Len’s Friday estimates… or the other ones… and we’ll talk when I get back. All and all, it should be very uninteresting.

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20 Weeks/T-Minus 19 – Whning While Mining

Look

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BYOB – Oct 25

That last BYOB went back in time… sorry.
In New Jersey/New York… lots on the agenda for the next week, including 6 shows (no musicals… sorry). I should catch up with some actual thinking tonight for the blog.
Until then, it’s all yours. Be kind… if not to me, at least to each other.

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Another Early Screener Break

Word came through another web journalist that Universal’s American Gangster has already hit the internet.
In spite of perception out there, it is still fairly unusual for films to turn up weeks before theatrical release. Now and again, a copy of a film being distributed internally at a studio and shared with vendors working on the film will pop up, loaded with timecode and other frame-breaking images in order to discourage piracy or any other recreational viewing. But for the most part, the studios have kept pretty good hold of their films before prints are shipped. Once prints are out there, it is inevitably a matter of hours before the first off-screen bootleg appears on city streets for $5 or less.
The studio is already on the hunt in this case, but it does remind those of us who are in the business of seeing films before release that all those irritating and, for some, personally insulting security precautions in screening rooms and theaters with recruited audiences do have a purpose.
I always think that 10 of us – who the distributor knows and has invited into a room way too small for anyone to run a camera without others seeing and hearing it – being monitored by men with goggles is a bit much. But corporations infamously can only move at one speed and “secure” is the one that is responsible to shareholders these days. And really, the guys at SEM and other security firms hired to do these events have gotten to know those of us who attend regularly by sight and have a more relaxed attitude, I find, when we see them for the third time in a week. They know we are not the danger. (That was kind of like asking for a strip search the next time, huh?) But still, the problem continues.

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BYOB – Oct 14

Another travelling day…

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The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas