The Hot Blog Archive for June, 2005

Sometimes, You Just Have To Break Your Own Rules



Chicken Little Has Become The New Emperor

If you don’t understand why I get so nuts about this stuff, take a look at the L.A. Times story today.
Horn and Abramowitz do more appropriate hedging on stupid stats than most


Box Office Evolution, Pt. 1

So you can comment…
The Slump Isn’t Real, But Change Is, Part 1


Hide & Go Seek Blockbuster Numbers

Well, at least we know what Sam Rubin thinks!
There is a minor skirmish in the Critics Wars this summer, as Steven Spielberg and Paramount has made the decision to go 2004 and to sit on War of The Worlds as though it was an egg in need of a lot of protection.
Well, kind of.
And that


It's Monday…

What do you folks want to talk about?


Early Box Office Analysis

The 3 Rings movies, the 3 new Star Wars movies, both Matrix sequels, both Jurassic sequels, the


Why Does It Make Me So Sad?

Tom Cruise is acting like a guy who walked into the casino, won huge, and is on a losing streak. The smaller the stack gets, the more desperate he is to play bigger and bigger amounts to get back the winnings he has “lost.”
Unlike a gambler, Tom Cruise is beyond the point where he will go home broke. But does he know that?
This is instructive about a guy like Tom Hanks as well. The heat has faded a little. And what does Hanks do? Whatever the hell he wants. You don’t see him making tabloid noise or co-starring in Superman Returns (or whatever it will be called) or seeking the most commercial things he can, even if The DiVinci Code might be very commercial.
Anne Thompson compared the publicity efforts on Cruise’s and Brad Pitt’s behalf. But there is nothing magical about the Pitt effort… just good, solid publicity management. But the biggest factor is not the publicist, but the actor. Pitt seems not to care very much. He’s not a gambler. He won the lottery (genetic and otherwise) and he seems to be enjoying the ride. He appears to have taken Troy as seriously as Snatch… and on he goes. He makes some clearly commercial choices, but in the end, choosing to play pocket pool with Angelina Jolie is not a hard decision…. well, insert pun… and insert pun on the word “insert.” See how easy it is to build a Pitt story?
A 40-year-old man marrying a 24-year-old less than two months after they met is desperate. There is no other appropriate word. It doesn’t matter if you are Tom Cruise or if you have a movie coming or whatever else.
Listening to a report of their engagement, at a press conference a reporter floated the question of whether they got engaged at the Eiffel Tower and they confirmed. Fuck! There is no way that was not a set up. The reporter was told and given the opportunity to ask the question, rather than Team Cruise sending out a press release. Double fuck! The reason so many people think it’s movie promotion is that it has all the hallmarks of something so obvious that it can only sustain for a few months, like a movie promotional scheme.
And now, they have to get married, stay together for at least 10 years, and probably have some kids or Cruise becomes nothing but a public joke. Think it would be cynical to suggest there is a contract? There is no way that Tom Cruise got engaged without a pre-nup… none. And Katie Holmes is no Lisa Marie Pressley. She will never talk or even hint. And sadly, Li’l Katie is not half the actress Nicole Kidman is… so as a career move (outside of the millions she will walk away with before the age of 35), it’s very Marion Davies/Susan Alexander Kane.
Anyway… I find it all very sad. This is, for me, completely analagous to “I love children… having them in my bed is an act of love.” Once you are this deep in the water, all you can do is fight to justify your behavior… and the water just keeps getting deeper.
And let this mark the day that MovieCityNews got out of the Tom & Katie business. Our writers will write whatever they like in their columns and features, but this story has crossed some horrible line and it is time for any news outlet that doesn’t want to be in league with something this cynical and ugly to get out. We will cover the movies and at some point, if there is a tangible shift in the story that matters, we will cover that. But until then, look for your “TomKat” headlines in the tabloids and Defamer, not on MCN. Cold turkey.


Bill Goldman Was So Right

If you have a little time and are interested, the good folks at Slate spent some column inches today touting an economic study of the film industry that defines the phrase “knowing everything and understanding nothing.”
Okay, I take it back. They don’t come close to knowing everything.
The study, “The Motion Picture Industry: Critical Issues in Practice, Current Research & New Research Directions,” is here as a pdf file.
And if you can hear A.O. Scott spinning in his desk chair, it’s not your imagination. Anyone who loves movies has to hate this absurd paper and anyone who wants to sell movies better be careful before they talk themselves into going this far into the “movies as product” hell zone… they might mock Pluto Nash, but it is the thinking that this paper suggests that actually does explain how that film got made.
What do you think?



The New York Times’ No-One Culpa Story
My Response
Your thoughts below…


How Can They Say Eisner Has No Sense Of Humor…

… after he called his book “Kampf”
Now, if he went for “Mein Kampf”… well, that would have been genius!


Change To Commenters

EDIT – Turns out, we are having some registration problems… so until then, this move will be delayed… post free or die!!!
EARLIER – I decided to allow comments from unregistered commenters, but they will have to be “approved” first.
It seems like a lot of work for me, so I hope people will register so their comments go through automatically… but we’ll see how it goes. At the least, it should stop the spam.


The Next Cog In The Trend Wheel

Let’s start figuring out how Old Media journos will rationalize the box office success or failure of Lindsay Lohan in Herbie: Fully Loaded.
It doesn’t matter whether the film does well or poorly when it opens in 10 days. Ms. Lohan is tabloid fodder and the prism that Old Media will choose to see it through is sure to be about her celebrity.
My Early Guesses –
If The Film Opens – There will be lots of features in “legitimate” papers about Ms. Lohan’s travails and whether children should be exposed to her.
The opening will be used as proof that Pitt/Jolie tabloid buzz really did drive the opening of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.
(Note: Many of us who actually pay attention to marketing noted that Fox turned the corner on the movie with advertising many weeks back. And we should not point out that the film didn’t open as well as, say, Scooby Doo and less than $6 million better than xXx.)
If The Film Flops – Out come the “parents fear Lindsay Lohan and her career is over” stories.
Lindsay’s father becomes a lynch pin in the “violence issue” that also allegedly chased Russell Crowe’s movie out of the marketplace.
(Note: Universal was very nervous about the numbers the movie opened to – days before the phone throwing incident – because they were under tracking… not because of the amount of money, but because of media perception.
Unfortunately for all of us, writers who don’t hear about tracking very often don’t understand how often it is wrong. It was low on Mr. & Mrs. Smith and high on Cinderella Man, which means… taa daa!!!… what we have always know… tracking is better at capturing info on older moviegoers than younger or ethnic moviegoers. But instead, it is being used to hype one and to attack the other. The idea that quoting tracking as a target when the number ends up a few million higher or lower is just plain stupid. And the greatest irony is that the people who are most irritated by the numbrs obsession of Hollywood jump on that numbers bandwagon whenever it serves their personal purposes.)



Is Batman Begins being so well reviewed before its release (with WB selectively setting embargo dates to allow Old Media to suck all the air out of the story) that a backlash is becoming inevitable?
(Note: I agree with the positive notices… but backlash is an emotional thing, not an intellectual one.)


Reader Mail

I got this about… well, you guess what movie…
“Not all movies have to be about the meaning of life.
Not all books have to be about the meaning of life.
Not all conversations have to be about the meaning of life.
Over-analysis is an unhappy person trying to understand the meaning of life.
Does a Lion know the meaning of life? No. He is too busy being the king of the jungle.
Does a Sequoia know the meaning of life? No. It is stretching its way to the stars while the rest of us have to use zillion dollar rockets to get there.
Is a good football game about the meaning of life? No. But when my team wins I see things more clearly.
Do I go to the local cineplex searching for the meaning of life? No. I go there to dream about things I’ve never seen. Eat some popcorn, kiss my girl, and then dream some more.
Why? Because the meaning of life is life itself. If you are alive you mean something, whatever it is, good or bad, smart or dumb, but something…
When we see something bad and think to ourselves that we could do so much better, isn’t that a wake up call? Maybe we just have to take the challenge…”


How Do I Put This Gently?

The Rent Trailer


The Hot Blog

Quote Unquotesee all »

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