Sunday, April 26, 2009

Movie Business Is Booming

From an AP story...

Studios head into summer on a box-office tear, with receipts running at a record pace. Revenues for the year are at $3.06 billion, up 17.4 percent over last year. Factoring in higher ticket prices, movie attendance is up 15.7 percent.

"We have never been in this strong a position heading into the summer season, ever," said Paul Dergarabedian, president of Media By Numbers.

And there was a fear that 2009 would be a bust due to the Writer's Strike and potential SAG strike creating a shortage of films... and then the economy going south. Instead, we are in a record year.

But movies aimed exclusively at an adult audience seem to be tanking - SOLOIST opened at #4 this weekend. There was an article in the Hollywood Reporter about this a week ago, and here's another with much of the same information but with an interesting solution to the problem...

Should Paul Walker be getting $20m a film and should Russell Crowe be paid $2m?

The 15-25 audience is driving the higher ticket sales and box office... or maybe it's just pure escapism. People are not seeing movies designed for "adults".

Screenwriters often complain that they don't make quality movies any more - but they *do* seem to be making quality movies... but very few people seem to want to see them. If you don't support quality movies, they will make fewer and fewer of them... until the only thing left with be 7FAST 7FURIOUS and OBSESSED 3.

- Bill

Classes On CD On Sale!


Yesterday’s Dinner: Teriyaki chicken.
Movies: I have seen a whole bunch of movies and am waaaay behind on my reportage of them... but I did see SOLOIST last night... and the new OSS 117 movie the night before.
DVDs: I've been watching a stack of horror movies for my class on Sunday, including...

SPLINTER (2008) - Really good low budget film, probably the only time I have ever been in suspense over a thermometer reading.

City couple are going on a camping trip. He's a complete nerd botanist, she's hot. For being a guy who knows *everything* about nature, he doesn't like being outside. As soon as he screws up pitching the tent, he begs his gf to go to a motel instead. While they are driving to the motel - she's driving, he doesn't know how to work a stick - they stop for a woman hitchhiker... who has an armed and wanted boyfriend. Now they're hostages in their own SUV... which hits something on the road. A porcupine or something, It punctures the tire. While wanted guy and our leading lady fix the tire, the slightly crazy bad girl and the nerd go to bury the porcupine... which is not a porcupine. And ain't quite dead. She shoots the thing, and they take off in the SUV in a panic.

The SUV overheats, and they pull into a gas station... which is deserted. Except for the dead guy in the bathroom who seems to be half service station attendant - half porcupine.... oh, and mangled up, so he's kind of like The Thing from the Carpenter movie. Once this thing attacks, the crazy bad girl seems to be dead, the other three are trapped in the gas station/mini mart. This thing - you can cut it up and it uses it's spikes to reconnect, not necessarily in the same way the human was. A parasite that just uses the host body to get around. Oh, and the hosts grow porcupine spikes. Go out and rescue the bad girl, see if she's okay?

The film milks being trapped really well, and the wanted guy is a double threat: a violent guy with a gun... and the first porcupine thing pricked his finger, so he's trying to keep his change a secret...

The effects are pretty good, there's an early crawling hand that is kind of silly and gross at the same time, which works because they don't take it as seriously as they should. A later arm is okay, but the really messed up thing-like creatures are the best. Arms and legs twisted around and heads hanging loose and just messed up looking and dribbling black-red blood. Builds some real suspense and manages to turn a gas station mini mart into a series of locations, from the counter to the beer cooler.

You see so many of these low budget movies that look like crap, or are just filler material for 60 minutes and then 20 minutes of chase/kills. This one at least keeps things happening all of the time - whether it's a criminal with a gun and a hostage situation or those things outside the gas station. And from the start it has good lighting and some nice dolly shots (moving camera).

Shot well, acted well, good creatures, good dramatic situations with a gun or two, good twists.... One of the better low budget things I've seen.

MURDER PARTY (2007) - Much less impressive. Technically okay, but kind of blandly shot. The story tries to rely on laughs to pad it out, but just isn't funny. On Halloween, New York parking enforcement guy finds invitation to a "Murder Party" on the street, so he makes a costume and goes... to an abandoned warehouse. Where a bunch of artists tie him to a chair and then talk for 60 minutes about the nature of art and other crap while they prepare to kill him. As an art project. The mildly amusing thing is that the artists die one-by-one in crazy accidents while waiting to kill our tied up victim. After an hour of talk, one artist goes crazy after his art has been insulted by the others and starts chasing and killing people for 20 minutes.

It was mildly amusing for those 60 minutes of talk - but often seemed kind of improvised: the things that were supposed to be funny were almost funny, like they needed a little more work or thought. But most of the first 60 is that guy in the silly costume chained to a chair while everyone gabs about art, and why their art is important enough for a grant. We had all of these weapons scattered around, and people get killed by allergic reactions! Kinda of amusing - but not laugh outloud funny and a boring way to die. Even the guy who gets drunk and accidentally sets himself of fire happens mostly off camera (probably couldn't afford the stunt). Then, at like 60 minutes, everybody else gets shot - bang, bang, bang... boring! But at least that sets the chase into motion, which was exciting.

The pacing thing kills a lot of low budget movies. I know a guy who has made two awful horror flicks, and when I read the scripts the first thing I told him is that you can't have 60-70 pages of people talking and then bunch up all of the action at the end. On both scripts, he ignored my notes... and it's hard to make it through the films. Hard to wait for 60 minutes for something to happen. You need that "regular heartbeat" of pacing. You need to keep things happening, not stall to kill time... before the killing time.

MURDER PARTY seemed like a hybrid horror and mumblecore film. Was trying to say something about art, but I didn't get it.

- Bill


The Moviequill said...

was Soloist good? I love Susannah's writing style

wcmartell said...

SOLOIST is okay... but not really good. Kind of plotless - it seems to meander all over the place and finally comes to the end. Good performances and the scenes are good - but there are times where you wonder if there *is* a story. The film has flashbacks to Foxx's youth that didn't work for me, and the director did some weird stuff that I didn't understand (but to talk about it would be s spoiler).

Racicot said...

Splinter is of that rarest of beasts - the horror film with good pace, great acting, and solid directing, combined.

I would also recommend Ruins for the same reasons, if you haven't seen that one yet.

Sam T. said...

I think the trend towards what the THR calls "youth dominated openings" is real. But I think the studios have also found a gold mine in these well known 1980's or later action movies that cover across the age boundaries. Adults who have seen the original Terminator in the days of our California governor will see it and 15-25 people will see it also. One thing that the studios seem to stay away like a plague is to produce an R rated action movie that limits the attendance by the 15-25 year age range. The R rating on the Watchmen movie definitely did not help it in the box office.

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