Monday, April 25, 2016

Lancelot Link Monday: Are Spec Scripts Dead?

Lancelot Link Monday! After a bunch of articles claiming the spec script was dead (as far as sales go - that's still the way to get assignments), we suddenly had two big spec sales. Is this a chicken and egg situation? Do we need a bunch more articles about how dead the spec sales market is in order to get a bunch more spec sales? If so, can someone get on that? I've got a new script that needs a new home... While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Jungle Book..................... $60,803,000
2 Huntsman WW..................... $20,080,000
3 Barber Shop TNC................. $10,830,000
4 Zootopia......................... $6,611,000
5 The Boss......................... $6,080,000
6 BVSDOJ........................... $5,520,000
7 Criminal......................... $3,100,000
8 MBFGW2........................... $2,100,000
9 Compadres........................ $1,350,000
10 Eye Sky.......................... $1,214,963

Tom Hanks new movie opened at #11 with $1,206,850.

2) Indie & Specialty Film Box Office.

3) IT Is Coming! - This is to be the first in the Warner Bros "Stephen King Multi-Verse".

4) A Look At VERTIGO - What's With Those Colors?

5) Marvel Films - It's Inhuman!!!!

6) Jeremy Saulnier on THE GREEN ROOM.

7) Bidding War Spec Script Sale #1.

8) Spec Script Sale #2 (is this a trend?)

9) Vince Vaughn Cast In BRUTAL Prison Screenplay BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99.


11) BLADE RUNNER 2: ELECTRIC BUGALOO Changes Release Date.

12) Cannes Film Fest (and Market) Is Right Around The Corner!

And the Car Chase Of The Week:

From a movie I haven't seen in ages, that was the first time I saw Ed Harris on screen.


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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lancelot Link Monday: Jungle Out There!

Lancelot Link Monday! The first of *3* JUNGLE BOOK movies opened over the weekend... and made $291m in global ticket sales. That's just the weekend. That happens to include the #2 opening weekend for April in the USA, which beats movies like CAPTAIN AMERICA: WINTER SOLDIER and FAST 5. Okay, this version - like the other 2 that will open over the next year - is based on a *public domain* book published in 1894. You read that right - over 120 years ago. Though this version is a remake of the Disney cartoon from the 1960s, the other 2 movies are based on the PD book... and that book has been made into a huge stack of films over the years. Rudyard Kipling (the guy who wrote the book) has about 100 films based on his works over the years, many made over and over again. KIM? GUNGA DIN? MAN WHO WOULD BE KING? RIKKI TIKKI TAVI? Think about all of the great public domain stuff out there! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Jungle Book.................... $103,567,000
2 Barbershop: TNC................. $20,210,000
3 Boss............................ $10,170,000
4 Batman V Superman................ $9,010,000
5 ZooTop........................... $8,235,000
6 Criminal......................... $5,850,000
7 MBFGW2........................... $3,260,000
8 Miracles FH...................... $1,900,000
9 GND2............................. $1,700,644
10 EyeSky........................... $1,637,517

Box Office continues to grow - this is year looks like another record breaker, even without a STAR WARS movie. So far we are 8.3% ahead of last year, 14.6% ahead of 2014, 23.1% ahead of 2013, 8.6% ahead of 2012, and only 28.8% ahead of 2011. Yes - that's over a quarter more! People seem to be avoiding cinemas this year and would rather spend $50 to see a new movie at home... NOT!

2) The GHOST IN THE SHELL Kerfuffle And Max Landis (who once told em I'm funny - and I will keep repeating that forever).

3) To Text Or Not To Text - That Is AMC's Question.

4) Statham In New Rom-Com Titled MEG?

5) Behind The Scenes On THE TRUMAN SHOW.

6) All Star Cast In Aronofsky's Home Invasion Film.

7) Awesome Hong Kong Director Johnnie To's New Film THREE Trailer (ELECTION 3?)

8) Kubricks' THE SHINING Treatment.

9) How Much AVATAR Can You Take?

10) Would You Pay To See New Movies On Your TV? How Much?

11) From Writer's Imagination To TV Series.

12) 100 Years - 100 Shots!

And the Car Chase Of The Week:


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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Monsterpalooza 3

From 5 Years Ago... And Coming Next Weekend!

Over the weekend I went to Monsterpalooza 3, and every year it is *more crowded* than the last. This year, I looked outside at about 3pm and there was still a line *around the building*!

So, I was supposed to meet my friend Rod there, and looked all over for him... bumping in to other friends and talking with them along the way. As the day went on, I hadn't seen him, and decided to call. Should have done that earlier, but I figured we were in the same very crowded building and eventually would spot each other. Rod picks up - he's just left the venue. He was there - but it was so crowded we never even saw each other!

I went to a couple of panels - the guy who played Godzilla (in the suit) was speaking - a little old Japanese man who told amusing stories about being dressed in rubber and hanging from wires and sometimes being injured in a fight with some other stuntman in a rubber monster suit, but not telling anyone because it took so long to get the suit on and get hooked up to the wires that it was easier to work injured.

As a kid, GODZILLA movies were weekend afternoon TV movie staples. They were silly fun, and I've always been a fan of the big guy. Also Mothra. And Mothra's caterpillars. And those two little girls in the bird cage. I had a Godzilla plastic model and some Godzilla toys and a Godzilla movie poster. Mostly as a goof. Later I had a movie poster for Larry Cohen's IT'S ALIVE, a goofy movie that was actually about something...

The next panel was for THE HOWLING, which is one of my favorite movies. I fell in love with Belinda Balaski in PIRANHA and she and John Sayles and Joe Dante all went on to make HOWLING together. Also on the panel - Dee Wallace (who is in my INVISIBLE MOM movie) and Robert Picardo (this was his first film), and one of Rob Bottin's FX make up team. They had some good stories - one day Bottin took 13 hours putting the werewolf make up on Picardo... and by the time he was done they had run out of time to shoot! Other stories about the difficulties of acting opposite FX to be added later, and the stop motion scenes that were cut out of the film. Dante talked a lot about John Sayles contributions, and the decision to add humor - because audiences can find unintentional humor in an overly serious horror flick, so if you mix a little humor in they laugh at that instead and aren't trying to make fun of the real scares. The whole EST thing was Sayles' contribution, too. I know all of this stuff from reading every article on the film when it came out, but cool to see the real people talk about it. Belinda still looks great.

The next panel was American Grindhouse, and featured a bunch of great film makers - Joe Dante stuck around, but the highlights for me were the amazing Larry Cohen (IT'S ALIVE - and dozens of others, plus *hundreds* of screenplays from DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING (1969) to PHONE BOOTH and CELLULAR (a few years ago), plus Jack Harris (FOXY BROWN and THE BIG DOLL HOUSE) and Bill Lustig (MANIAC COP and RELENTLESS). All of that talent onstage, and the moderator (director of the doc AMERICAN GRINDHOUSE, which is great and a free view on Hulu if you are in the USA) screwed it up by not having any prepared questions and then asking a bunch of silly questions about experiences in 42 Street cinemas in the 70s. Huh? No real questions about making the films (though in the doc Larry Cohen tells some greats tories about shooting the end of BLACK CAESAR on the streets of New York with no permits and just people walking down the street as accidental extras. Fred Williamson (in my CROOKED movie) gets shot and staggers down the street bleeding and eventually falls over and dies - all with real New Yorkers as unknowing extras! I would have loved to have Lustig talk about making movies for grindhouses & drive ins... and then make similar movies for Cinetel like HIT LIST and RELENTLESS (great low budget flick) and then do direct to video stuff like UNCLE SAM. Nobody asked.

After that I did a final loop through the event and then went to the hotel bar and had me some beers on an empty stomach. Darin Scott and many from the Thursday Night Gang were there, plus Tyger Torres (was his birthday), and a bunch of others. I hung out, talked to Don about his DIY feature, and eventually realized I'd better get on the bike and pedal home while I could still balance. In previous blog entries I've talked about what the event is all about, so I'm linking those entries below:

Monsterpalooza #1 - 2009.

Monsterpalooza #2 - 2010.

- Bill


TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Is Your Screenplay Ready? - a few ways to figure out.
Dinner: McD's chicken club while in transit on the bike.
Pages: No. Well, actually a page - but that wasn't enough. Trying to dive back into this script after working on 2 others for a week.
Bicycle: Yes. I've been doing medium rides every day. I've also thrown the bike on the front of the Orange Line "bullet bus" to ride in far off lands west of here.

Movies: YOUR HIGHNESS - It was better than I was lead to expect from the reviews, and I liked it more than PINEAPPLE... but have no idea how this will ever show on network TV. It's seriously R rated. I laughed, and thought the elements of parody were fun (from the mechanical bird to the endless shots of them marching on mountain tops like in LOTR). I also thought the hand villain guy was a cool idea. Some of the gags didn't work, but it had a story that made sense. I think the problem with a film like PINEAPPLE is that you have this shaggy dog nonsense story, so when gags don't work - nothing works. At least here we had a story to fall back on when a gag fell flat with a splat. Not a great movie (may use one of the big flaws in a script tip - dude starts out as a whinny worthless slacker... and ends up as one, too... I could not understand why he's a hero at the end) but no reason for the critics to trash it to this extreme. I think all of the reviews I read hated it because it was raunchy... and that's what it was supposed to be - a raunchy comedy. Well, it's seriously raunchy, but that's kind of the point.

What's interesting to me about this film: it tested *really* well and everyone thought it was going to be a big hit... but it wasn't. Is that because McBride isn't a star? Because they didn't want to see a raunchy comedy this week? Because there's a difference between test screenings and when a film opens?

Seeing a (secret) movie Tuesday and may see HANNA on Wednesday.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Lancelot Link Monday: No Matter Who Loses, The Boss Wins.

Lancelot Link Monday! BATMAN V SUPERMAN was beaten by THE BOSS after some severe drops in Box Office. I checked in on it on Wednesday, and in it's second Wednesday it had made only 2/3rds of what ZOOTOPIA made in it's *third* Wednesday. Word of mouth seemed to be killing the film. People were telling their friends to avoid it... so maybe the critics were right? Though the film has made 3/4 of a billion bucks, that's on a $400m budget (what was originally reported) and that means it needs to hit over $800m to break even, and it has already begun a pretty steep descent. It will probably make money, but not much. WB has moved WONDER WOMAN forward, but word is the story is just as dark... instead of being *fun*. We want to be entertained! Even a 70s style paranoid thriller like WINTER SOLDIER where everyone is Hailing Hydra at the end was *fun* and *entertaining*! DC needs to learn that audience's just want to have fun. You can explore dark territory, but you need some light. No light, we can't see anything. It's not DEADPOOL quips that we need, it's just fun. So, audiences would rather see THE BOSS (which also got terrible reviews, so don't expect it to spend much time in the #1 position). But - only 8 more months to ROGUE ONE! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Boss............................ $23,480,000
2 BvS............................. $23,435,000
3 Zootopia........................ $14,353,000
4 MBFGW2........................... $6,420,000
5 Hardcore Henry................... $5,096,000
6 Miracles From Heaven............. $4,844,000
7 GND2............................. $4,333,707
8 Allegiant........................ $3,600,000
9 10 Cloverfield................... $3,000,000
10 Eye In Sky....................... $2,829,375

THE BOSS wasn't loved by opening night audiences - only C+ on Cinemascore.

2) Hey, They're Making Another EDGE OF TOMORROW Movie... Or LIVE, DIE, REPEAT - if you saw it on DVD.

3) Hey, They're Making A New SPIDER-MAN... Do You Think He'll Be In Grade School This Time?

4) A Look At DePalma's BODY DOUBLE.

5) How Bette Davis Became A Star. (Her Birthday Was Last Week)

6) MTV Movie Award Winners... Yes, It's Still Awards Season!

7) Paul Greengrass Bitches The The Film Business Is Changing. Also - wants kids to get off his lawn.

8) And In Movies Shot On A Phone News....

9) Interview With LOUDER THAN BOMBS' Joachim Trier.

10) Guess What? They're Making Another Wolverine Movie! Will Deadpool Be Featured?

11) Theme Told Visually In CAROL.

12) Without A Box Vs Film Freeway (Film Fest Entries).

And the Car Chase Of The Week:


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Monday, April 04, 2016

Lancelot Link Monday: April Fuels?

Lancelot Link Monday! April Fools is over! We can now go back to believing everything we read on the internet! While you're thinking about that, here are this week's links to some great screenwriting and film articles, plus some fun stuff that may be of interest to you. Brought to you by that suave and sophisticated secret agent...

Here are a dozen links plus this week's car chase...

1) Weekend Box Office Estimates:
1 Batman V Superman............... $52,385,000
2 Zootopia........................ $20,000,000
3 My B F Greek 2.................. $11,130,000
4 God's N Dead 2................... $8,104,321
5 Miracles F Heaven................ $7,550,000
6 Allegiant........................ $5,725,000
7 10 C Lane........................ $4,750,000
8 Meet T Blacks.................... $4,086,000
9 Eye I T Sky...................... $4,055,000
10 Deadpool.......................... $3,500,000

Second weekend for BvS and the audience has spoken -0 the film fell 68.4% from last week, when the studio predicted about a 58% fall. That B grade from Cinemascore was a good predictor of what the audience thought of the film - and a hyped fan audience predisposed to like the film thought it was okay, but not great. Though the critics can't make or break a big studio tentpole movie, they often give an indication of what word of mouth by the audience might be (the critics have seen the film, the audience hasn't seen it when they pay for their ticket... but afterwards?). When a film gets a critical drumming studios are quick to jump in and say that critics don't matter, but more often than not the film's second and third and subsequent weekends seem to point out that the critics might be right. You can "buy" an opening weekend, but after that it's up to the quality of the film - and, as we've seen in the past, some movies take a huge nosedive in their second weekend. Though 68.4% isn't terrible, it isn't what the studio needs to keep the film earning money with repeat viewings so that they can make back that massive budget. The film has also ran into some problems overseas in second weekend, specifically in China - where it may have already run its course! This does not bode well for WB's DC plans. The time has come not just to replace Snyder, but to show him to the Hollywood City Limits and tell him not to come back.

2) The Bizarre Story Of How SUPERMAN Got Made... The 1978 Version.

3) Pay To Play Acting - Is Screenwriting Next?

4) Brian De Palma Interviews Francis Ford Coppola About THE CONVERSATION. Holy Sh!t!!!

5) Ben Wheatley's HIGH RISE From Sketchbook To Movie.

6) John Carpenter's "Lost Themes 2"... And Rescoring THE THING.

7) STARMAN Remake I Thought Was April Fools Joke Appears To Be For Real... Maybe They'll Hire Carpenter To Score it?

8) Jim Parsons To Star In Movie About Women Scientists At NASA... because the women don't really matter in Hollywood?

9) Filmmaking Is All About Point Of View.

10) An EX MACHINA Reunion Movie?

11) SHARKNADO 4 News... and title.

12) If Strangers Talked To Everyone The Way They Talk To Writers.

And the Car Chase Of The Week:



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Friday, April 01, 2016

50 Amazing But True Facts!

I found this seven year old list of amazing but true facts, so I'm using it as a filler post today.

Fifty Amazing-but-True Facts!

* The Mongolian pony is the only animal other than an elephant capable of fending off an attack by a healthy adult tiger.

* Because of their unusual shape, Hershey's Kisses contain more calories per ounce than the same amount of chocolate in other forms.

* The French language has seventeen different words for "surrender."

* The average person can fit exactly one half of their pinky finger in one of their nostrils. However, if an attempt is made to put a pinky finger in EACH nostril, only one quarter of each will fit.

* Showing off at a party one evening, Chopin played the entire "Minute Waltz" in under 10 seconds.

* If the air in your car's tires is not completely replaced every two years, it can turn to liquid and cause severe damage.

* If you tar and feather a 2x4 and place it in your yard, it will ward off bats.

* The largest home in the United States, North Carolina's Biltmore House, was originally intended to be the official residence of a new monarchy to be established when the South rose again.

* The Toltec calendar was based on a 360-day year, with each day being about 24 hours and 20 minutes long.

* The universal size of the credit card is based entirely on the size of the 1960s US Communist Party membership card. Credit cards were designed so that they wouldn't cause the Communist Party card to stand out.

* Nobody born in Kentucky has ever been elected to Congress.

* In an effort to improve the nutritional value of its "Shamrock shakes," McDonald's colors them with broccoli extract.

* Winston Churchill was born with a third nipple, which he removed himself with nail-clippers at the age of 14.

* Only a single dissenting vote prevented the death penalty in Texas from being carried out by immersing the convicted person in a nest of fire ants.

* If you place a fresh Viagra tablet in a houseplant's soil every six months, the plant will not wilt.

* The ancient Arabic word "jorgbushii" translates roughly to "evil one who comes disguised in peace to drink Earth's black blood."

* In Finland, "Sintter Klaas" brings bad children a small bag of old toenail clippings.

* The practice of putting a letter "e" in front of words to mean "web-based" (e.g., eBusiness, eLearning, etc.) was patented byMicrosoft in 1992. They are waiting until their anti-trust trial has been officially completed to begin enforcing it.

* The noun "sled" originates from the name of a 18th-century mountaineer from Finland, Schletz Linden, whose body was used by his climbing partner to slide down a mountain during a winter storm after he froze to death.

* If a cricket were the size of Mount Rushmore, it could jump to the moon.

* The increase in the amount of metals mined and brought to the surface of the earth in order to manufacture SUVs has caused higher tides in the Northern Hemisphere.

* Children conceived on airplanes never suffer from motion sickness.

* The life span of dogs allowed to dine in cat litter boxes is on average 18 percent longer than that of dogs restricted to commercial diets.

* Charles Darwin once attempted to breed flying monkeys by crossing chimpanzees with vultures.

* The steady, rhythmic sound produced by dripping water increases the capacity for sleeping males to experience lucid sexual dreams.

* Blue water in a toilet bowl causes males to urinate 7 percent more.

* Women who use chewing tobacco are three times LESS likely to accidentally swallow it while they are pregnant.

* The melody of the classic hymn "Amazing Grace" originated from a 12th-century pagan song celebrating masturbation.

* The Federal Department of Online Commerce has been compiling a list of US-based e-mail addresses. Once 100 million addresses have been collected, the list will be sold to online marketers as part of President Bush's plan to reduce the deficit.

* A 9-volt battery contains roughly the same amount of kinetic energy as a bowl of Lucky Charms.

* The Yanomami tribesmen of the Amazon basin can track game birds by the slight difference in warmth their shadows create on the forest floor as they fly by, for up to an hour after the birds have departed.

* Contrary to the popular saying, 99 percent of the time you lead a horse to water, it'll drink on its own.

* The first Ford Excursion was actually designed and built in 1951. It was never marketed because the then-current braking technology required a drum 3 feet wide on each wheel.

* Rapid deforestation has decreased the friction of the surface of the Earth, causing it to spin infinitesimally faster and thereby cool the air, combating global warming.

* The flush toilet was invented in Flushing, NY.

* The inner core of most standard golf balls is made of nougat, which helps the balls remain aloft longer.

* On occasions when the sun is shining brightly on falling snowflakes, they contain enough ionic charge to stun insects. Observation of this phenomenon inspired the invention of the bug zapper.

* Over the last two decades, more Americans died of heart attacks while watching horror movies in movie theaters than died while sky-diving.

* A common misconception is that the term "salsa dancing" derives from the food condiment called salsa. Actually, the dance was invented in the 1930s by a dance teacher named Frankie Salsa.

* Every common food product, with the exception of fish and veal, contains some traces of peanut enzymes.

* The number of words in the Bible divided by the number of verses equals exactly 666.

* An 18th-century law still on the books in Vermont makes it illegal for a woman to lick a stamp in a public place.

* Anthropologists have discovered a tribe of South American monkeys with a rudimentary system of government analogous to our own three-branch form of government.

* Constipation kills nearly twice as many people as diarrhea, mainly because the former mostly afflicts the old and weak while the latter mostly affects young, strong children.

* It is physically impossible to urinate and give blood at the same time.

* If you fill a standard 750ml wine bottle with live hornets, their angry buzzing will resonate at precisely the right frequency to shatter the glass.

* During his famous "Blue Period," Pablo Picasso invented the substance that eventually became known as Play-Doh.

* Every year in the fall, Niagara Falls is shut down for maintenance for 24 hours. The flow is diverted using a massive series of pipes and spigots built for this purpose in 1837.

* The rare Chilean hummingbird has been known to suck blood from animals like a giant mosquito.

* Tap dancers frequently forget to breathe normally during difficult routines, resulting in an average of 200 tap dancing-related tragedies per year.

- Bill

Okay it's Friday, how about a link to some Hitchcock stuff?
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