The Hot Blog Archive for April, 2009

BYOB – Travellin' North

Driving up to San Francisco today for the SF International, America’s eldest film fest with some of America’s smartest and ambitious fest programming.
You have the con’…

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DP/30 – Il Divo writer/director Paolo Sorrentino

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Paolo Sorrentino biopic about Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti is not like any bio-pic you’ve ever seen… part Scorsese, part Oliver Stone, and all Sorrentino. I had a chance to sit down with the writer/director (and his off-screen interpreter) in Los Angeles recently.
The video interview is after the jump… and the DP/30 home page is here and the podcast link can be found here.

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Review: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine is no The Dark Knight. Nor is it Batman Begins or Spider-Man or the first, groundbreaking X-Men or Burton

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Another Silly Stat From The Ticket Salesmen

Fandango - “WOLVERINE opens tomorrow night at midnight, and it appears that Hugh Jackman

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The Biggest Little Story In A While…

April 10Clearly the fringe operators are falling by the wayside, but the stalwarts like Village Roadshow, Spyglass, Legendary and Relativity are still very much in the game. Asked about one report that all was lost, the head of a production-financing entity said simply, “It’s true, but it’s not true. We’re raising money from a new banking source. We’re still players.”
Village Roadshow this year helped finance Clint Eastwood’s $40 million movie “Gran Torino,” which will do $260 million worldwide.
That’s the sort of result that keeps the money flowing. Or that finds new money.

April 16Village Roadshow Pictures, Warner Bros.’ longtime feature co-financing partner, was unable to deliver its share of funding on four titles last year, leaving the studio to cover the entire cost, Time Warner disclosed Wednesday.
Village Roadshow also may not be able to finance the 2009 films to which it has committed. The four pics from last year were “Get Smart,” “Gran Torino,” “Nights in Rodanthe” and “Yes Man.”

Hey… you… look at the agents putting all their suits in one closet… don’t pay any attention to THE MONEY THAT KEEPS THE BUSINESS GOING FALLING AWAY…
Hollywood’s studios have built a funding bubble around DVD bubble… not unlike Wall Street following the internet bubble with the real estate bubble. And the situation is just as bad… except that the infrastructure of a film studio is actually so much smaller than, say, the auto industry, that it can cruise along without acknowledging the RED ALERT for a couple of years.
If you want to know why the summer looks so much different than the last few summers, it is that responsible studio top execs put on the brakes over a year ago.
And what remains the biggest bullshit story in this industry right now? That the box office doing okay answers the questions that this industry has to face and face sharply.
What’s the second dumbest story? That the AMPTP behavior towards the unions/guilds was acceptable in the face of an economic downturn… when, in fact, the costs of non-star union talent is one of the smallest, already cut back budget lines on any movie or TV show…. and the stars are not an issue with these contracts since they essentially create their own rules via negotiation.
Anyway… Village Roadshow quietly not paying their bills is not a small story. (Financial Times did more than quote the earnings release and spoke to an unnamed source at Village Roadshow, who says that the company will eventually pony up what they owe.) And one of the least reported stories in town right now is the cash crunch being experienced at a few of the studios in particular. WB is fortunate that Harry Potter is here again. But those Friday night numbers are going to be sweatier this summer than any time in memory.

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Questions – Countdown To Summer

Wolverine launches tonight… what will May look like?

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Summer Movie Promo du Jour

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Not bad. Amusing for slightly longer than it takes to download the app, a period which counts as a long attention span these days. Find it here.

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DP/30 – Anvil: The Story of Anvil

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Producer Rebecca Yeldham and Director Sacha Gervasi talk about their documentary sensation.
The video interview is after the jump… and the DP/30 collection is available as a podcast here

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BYOB 42809

Sorry if I gave anyone whiplash with the problems loading the last entry… and sorry to the 99% of you who have no idea what I am talking about.
Does anyone care as little as I do about the agency merger?
Michael Speier writes in The Wrap, “The new company’s creation is, without a doubt, an industry-shifting jolt to the entertainment business at large. WME is now a company that will automatically rival CAA as the top agency in town both in terms of mojo and clients.”
But there is no real notion of why anyone who is not directly connected to this inside baseball story should be paying much attention. Will a greater consolidation of talent create better movies or just more shitty packages?
Agencies have too much power and are paid way too much money in packaging deals already… so is there some way that his deal changes that… aside from making it incrementally worse? I mean, agencies don’t MAKE anything… they are middle men.
And frankly, the one notable thing is the use of the word “Entertainment” in the new title, which scarily suggests that there may be an intention to assert more of a hand in developing movies and television… people whose jobs – with all due respect – are not to make anything of quality, but to sell something.
The real power remains with the studios and distribution channels, though the people in charge of these things often forget that they are The Money and that the agencies are not, giving too much to the agents and threatening the financial potential of projects.
What am I missing?

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Hard Summer Questions, Part 2

How do you solve a problem like The Wolfie?
We have now moved into the last few days before the X-Men Origins: Wolverine is released. Tracking is solid. The Mexican opening has been delayed, but the rest of North America seems to be good to go. The film has been seen by a lot of press now, particularly the junketeers. The illegal leak of the film is sure to be mentioned in a majority of features and reviews in the days to come. Whatever the box office number, it will be spun by different people in different ways.
Last Friday, I wrote about the anonymous story on AICN and others picking up on that story. My core notion was that the story

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Hard Summer Questions, Part 1

There are issues that face journalists and editors every day. Some are expected. Some are surprises.
Every summer, for instance, the issue of the cost of mega-movies comes up. Invariably, studios spin those numbers down. As a journalist, you hear all kinds of things and then have to parse it all, get enough sources to feel sure

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Uh, no…

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It’s fanmade trailer posted to YouTube on October 19, 2007… which you wouldn’t know if you just looked at the embed on The Wrap website. Internet 101, guys.
Oy.
Of course, compared to Bill Wyman catching one of Nikki Finke’s infamously self-serving overwrites… I guess dumb is better than malicious.

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A Pig of A Poll





Results after the jump…

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Who Should Buy Whom? – Episode One

On the sad, but inevitable occasion of the official end of Conde Nast

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Weekend Estimates by Klady – April 26

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The opening of Obsessed brings up another interesting anomaly of the niche era of studio distribution. Of the 7 films with a higher opening gross and the one just below it – within a million dollars on opening – 4 have hit $100 million… but only one of those (Blart!) didn’t open much bigger than the other 6 titles we’re talking about. (Fast, Monsters, and Watchmen all opened over $55m… the next biggest opening is $41m for Medea Redux.)
So – sorry this is getting too numbery – the sample we’re looking at comes down to 5 films. Blart is the outlier with better than 4.5x opening. Medea in Jail is the second best multiple… at about 2.25x opening. The other two are the Friday The 13th re-do and Hannah Montana 1-D. Friday is already out of theaters and did just over 2x its strong opening. Hannah has another $10m – $15m left in the tank… which looks to make it around 2.5x opening.
Go back just 4 years to 2005 and you see the openers in that $28m – $40m range:
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As you can see… nothing happening now is all that different than what was happening then… except that the Young Teen and Pre-Teen Girl money has shifted from horror to Hannah, The Jonases, and HSM.
And so the question of the weekend is, what niches are Obsessed working with? Is it an “Urban” hit or a Teen Girl thriller? Both niches are likely to lead to a low multiple. Did they find anyone outside of these “love it and leave it” niches? I don’t know. But the question of what next weekend’s drop and ultimately, it’s domestic total – will be is not so much about “is it good?” but about who the audience for the film is. My guess is a $65m domestic total… which is a great day for Screen Gems, though you must know they are trying to figure out how to make Obsessed 2 work following this natural one-off.
Fighting, The Soloist, and Earth are all in a similar opening boat, though there is a very good chance that the best opener of the trio, Fighting, will be the lowest domestic grosser. Why? Again, niche. Fighting will have some holdover, but 2.5x opening is the best it can expect. The Soloist defines An Adult Picture… so if they can keep screens in Boca, the over 60s will find the film and it could go as much as 3.5x opening, though it will take time. And Earth is a kids play from Disney and we’ll see how they support it. There’s nothing much new for the younger kids until Night At The Museum 2. Are parents going to indulge their 8-year-olds’ demands to see Wolverine… or will they be at Earth, looking at real wolverines?

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The Hot Blog

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DEADLINE: How does a visualist feel about people watching your films on a phone or VOD?
REFN: It depends on what kind of movie you make. We had great success with Only God Forgives on multiple platforms in the U.S. Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity. We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel, in terms of creativity because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone – I know this is the greatest thing ever made because it allows people to choose, watching what you do on this format or go into a theater and see it on a screen. That means more people than ever will see what I do, which is personally satisfying in terms of vanity. But you have to be able to adapt, to accept things in different order and length than we’re used to. We are in a very, very exciting time.
~ Nic Refn to Jen Yamato

DEADLINE: You mention Tarantino, who with Christopher Nolan and a few other giants, saved film stock from extinction. To him, showing a digital film in a theater is the equivalent of watching TV in public. Make an argument for why digital is a good film making canvas.
REFN: Costwise, it’s a very effective way for young people to start making movies. You can make your movie on an iPhone. It’s wonderful seeing how my own children use technology to enhance creativity. For me it’s a wonderful canvas. Sure, I love grain in film. I love celluloid. But I also like creativity. I like crayons, I like pencils, I like paint. It’s all relative. Technology is more inclusive. A hundred years ago when film was invented, it was an elitist club. Very few people got to make it, very few people controlled it and very few people owned it. A hundred years later, storytelling through images is everyone’s domain. It’s ultimate capitalism. There are no rules, and no barriers and no Hays Code. Where does this go in another hundred years? I don’t know but I would love to see it.
~ Nic Refn To Jen Yamato