Archive for August, 2007
Ang Lee spoke up on the NC-17 rating attached to his new erotic thriller Lust, Caution (AP via L.A. Times) :
"In the past, NC-17 movies were equated with pornographic movies. Most movie theaters don't show them," Lee said after arriving to attend the Venice Film Festival, where "Lust, Caution" is competing for the top Golden Lion prize.
"We hope to send the message in the U.S. that NC-17 is a respectable category and that it's not pornography. It's just unsuitable for children," Lee said. The NC-17 rating bans viewers under 17.
A neat summing up of NATO's goal for NC-17. An effective and credible rating system needs to make use of all the ratings. For that to work, serious film-makers need to take NC-17 seriously. Let's hope Lee's forthright description of the rating will lead others to do the same. Then, perhaps, we won't have to read about movies being "slapped," 'hit," or "branded" with a particular rating. Nor will we have to read about "censors" who have deemed a movie "too hot" or "too sexy" or too anything for U.S. audiences.
It's just unsuitable for children.
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stayed on top of weekend box office for the second weekend and summer box office topped $4 billion for the first time ever. According to AP
Overall, Hollywood crossed the $4 billion mark for the summer season. The figure topped the $3.95 billion set in 2004, according to box office tracker Media By Numbers.
Movies will have grossed about $4.15 billion by the time the season ends on Labor Day, up 8 percent from last summer, estimated Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers.
That's an impressive feat by any measure, but must be tempered with the knowledge that part of that record haul is due to ticket price increases.
Factoring in higher admission prices, Media By Numbers estimated about 606 million movie tickets will have been sold this summer - a solid figure but only the sixth-best for modern Hollywood.
The best summer in recent times was in 2002, when 653.4 million tickets were sold.
Ticket prices do not account for the remarkable late summer surge, however. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the past weeks's box office - not including the weekend - total boxoffice amounted to $204.1 million, up 24.6% over the comparable week last year. As of Thursday, the year-to-date boxoffice stood at $6.76 billion, up 7.8% over last year's $6.27 billion.
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accepted an NC-17 rating for Oscar-winner Ang Lee's period drama Lust, Caution, according to The Hollywood Reporter
"Lust" follows a young Chinese woman in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during World War II who becomes the center of a plot to seduce and kill a married enemy collaborator. The trailer for the subtitled Chinese-language film shows lead actors Tony Leung and Tang Wei in various states of writhing passion.
The story goes on to speculate as to just what content merited the rating. It also goes on to repeat some long-standing myths about the NC-17: that certain content "violated the ratings board's unwritten rules (like the number of allowable pelvic thrusts, for example) to make an appeal possible" and "(s)ome newspapers and TV outlets won't carry ads for NC-17 films".
It is important to point out that the content described (or any content for that matter) does not "violate" anything. Movie ratings are not punishment meted out to offenders of some mysterious standard of morality. Rather, they are descriptions attached to films to give information to parents so that they can make judgements themselves as to what is appropriate for their children. The NC-17 goes a bit further and restricts the film to adults.
As far as newspapers and television outlets refusing to carry ads for NC-17 films, "some" is accurate as far as it goes. It would be more accurate to say "almost no" newspapers and TV outlets refuse to carry ads for NC-17 films - and they are in markets where such films would be unlikely to have much appeal.
Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by: Patrick Corcoran in Uncategorized
You'll no doubt remember the case of Jhannet Sejas, the young woman arrested for recording a portion of Transformers at Regal's Ballston Common multiplex in Arlington, Va. She entered a guilty plea. After one year, if she remains out of trouble, her record will be expunged. Threat Level at Wired Blogs has the story.
The many dire warnings of heavy-handed enforcement and young ruined lives for a "minor offence" that made their way through the blogosphere have proved, in this case, rather hysterical.
The issue here comes down to whether or not theaters have the right to prevent illegal recording of movies in their theaters. Clearly they do, and they will continue to do their jobs. It is the job of the police and prosecutors to exercise their discretion in whether to arrest and if and how to prosecute. That's what happened in this case.
With the recently reported use of a cell phone to illegally record The Simpsons Movie opening night in Australia, it becomes ever more unreasonable to expect theater employees to discriminate among what type of device is being used to record off the screen. Me, from Threat Level:
"One of the dilemmas that employees face is trying to decide who is copying for distribution and who's taking just a quick screenshot, which isn't as harmful but is against the law in most jurisdictions," Corcoran said in an interview.
In a statement, he added: "We hope that this case reinforces our efforts to educate the public that unauthorized recording, whether a clip or the whole film, in movie theaters is against the law."
Recording technology is only going to get better - smaller, clearer, easier to use - and movie thieves are going to get better at disguising their tools. If someone is using a recording device in a theater, they will be stopped. The police will be called.
Leave your cameras at home. Enjoy the movie. Why else would you be there?
, Movie Theft
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took top honors at the weekend box office, pulling in an estimated $31.2 million. That's better than the $30.6 million opening numbers for Judd Apatow's other summer sex comedy hit Knocked Up's
opening. Knocked Up
looks likely to finish up with around $150 million.
According to the L.A. Times, predictions for a $4 billion dollar summer look increasingly likely to come true. The surprising performance of July and August films in addition to the expected box office haul in May have pushed receipts to $3.83 billion - certainly within striking distance of 2004's record $3.95 billion.
Ticket price increases account for some of the gains:
Attendance is the strongest in three years but running behind the 2002-2004 period.
This summer will end up with about 600 million tickets sold, Media by Numbers projects, well shy of the record 650 million from summer 2002. That year the original "Spider-Man" and "Star Wars: Episode II" led the way.
Box office was up 17.3% this weekend over the same period last year, the sixth straight weekend box office has exceeded the previous year.
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The Cinema Buying Group (CBG), a semi-autonomous buying program under the NATO umbrella for small and medium-sized independent theaters, took a big step forward in making digital cinema equipment available for independent theater operators by issuing a request for proposals for digital cinema equipment and service providers.
CBG-NATO members (representing more than 4,000 screens) desire to acquire digital cinema equipment and service on favorable terms, funded in whole or part through "virtual print fee" (VPF) arrangements, that ensure their ability to provide high quality and reliable digital exhibition service to patrons in their markets. The purpose of this RFP is to solicit proposals from qualified vendors to provide digital cinema equipment and service to the members of the CBG, and to determine as promptly as possible thereafter which vendor's proposal best suits the needs and interests of the members of the CBG.
Simply put, the RFP announces the intention of small and medium independent theaters to be fully included in the accelerating rollout of digital cinema.
To be considered, all proposals must be received by the CBG not later than 12 noon (EDT), Friday, September 28, 2007. The CBG intends to make a selection of vendors before the end of 2007.
The press release is here.
The CBG is here.
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August continues the torrid pace established in July. Rush Hour 3 pulled in an estimated $50.2 million in its opening weekend. Box office is up almost 7% and admissions roughly 2% over 2006. Get the details here.
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Not content with simultaneous release of films in theaters, VOD and DVD, Mark Cuban's newest idea is to release films to VOD up to three weeks before making it available to theaters.
Who benefits? Cable operators, perhaps. Maybe subscribers to Cuban's own HDNet. Who else? Oh yes - Mark Cuban.
The importance of this strategy can't be overstated, he said. All of his clients, he continued, have stressed to him "that the ability to watch movies while they are in theaters is at the top of the requests in their research" from consumers. "Because we are the only studio to own a national theater," he added, "we are in a unique position to do this." Cuban owns Landmark Cinemas.
Cuban said his goal with Ultra HD is to "tilt the economics" so that each of the movies distributed by Magnolia Pictures makes about the same amount of money in each of the three platforms -- theaters, TV and DVD -- on which it's simultaneously released.
If history is any guide, just about the only theaters taking him up on the offer will be the ones he owns.
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Performance-capture studio Mova and Gentle Giant Studios unveiled a new "persistence of motion" 3D system at Sigggraph this week.
What that means is that the system allows 3D mdeling of images in the round - not just on a flat screen. Star Trek: TNG here we come. According to Mova founder Steve Perlman:
"(In time) we will be seeing something that is more like theater in the round, where you can either walk around the scene or move into the scene itself. One of the first things that you are going to see like that is what people are calling navigable cinema ... which will still give you a single point of view -- either flat or with glasses in stereo -- but you'll be able to navigate around it while the story progresses."
Perlman say that we'll be seeing such interactive 3D experiences "in our lifetime". I don't know how old Perlman is, but a lifetime can be a pretty long time. Don't rip out the stadium seating just yet.
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The Bourne Ultimatum
debuted to an August record $70.1 million this weekend, nearly beating the combined opening grosses of the first two installments of the franchis. The rest of the weekend box office is here.
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