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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

IMAX's Biggest Hit: A Snooze in Space, Says Slate

Slate’s Brendan I. Koerner reports that IMAX’s biggest hit is the long running paeon to NASA entitled THE DREAM IS ALIVE, which has earned more than $150 million since its 1985 debut. It’s also kind of a snooze–despite some breathtaking shots of spacewalks and Earth views (yes, the astronauts really did lug an IMAX camera along on an early 1980s space shuttle mission). Writes Koerner, “these sublime moments are sandwiched between scenes of shuttle crews learning how to don their spacesuits and tedious footage of mission-control geeks with their endless rows of buttons. Every so often, narrator Walter Cronkite checks in with a corny declaration like, “Now that we know how to live and work in space, we stand at the threshold of a new age of discovery.'”
The NASA doc’s sustained popularity is due in part to the fact that IMAX theaters are attached to space-themed attractions, like the National Air and Space Museum and the Kennedy Space Center. For schoolchildren, these movies are often part of a field trip or family holiday. Another space exploration documentary, ROVING MARS–the first IMAX feature to use extensive animation to tell its story–got great reviews earlier this year, and it, too, is likely to have a long life as an educational film.

In 1992, IMAX theatres began showing regular features on their screens. As Koerner reports, some movies are being tailored specifically for the 70mm screen: SUPERMAN RETURNS had about 20 minutes of 3-D effects added during a remastering process.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon