Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #693: Random News

Welcome to the show folks....


Netflix, the online video rental/streaming service, is
diving head first into the realm of original programming by giving the green light to David Fincher and Kevin Spacey's adaptation of the British novel/miniseries trilogy House of Cards.

House of Cards trilogy centers on Francis Urquhart, a career politician who, after being denied the senior cabinet position he thinks is rightfully his engages in a ruthless campaign of deceit, treachery, and even murder to get power, keep it, and then use that power to go down in history as a great Prime Minister. Ian Richardson's performance in the role of Urquhart transformed him from a working character actor most famous for doing some dijon mustard ads in the 1980s into a UK TV star and top rank international character actor.

But enough about the original show, let's take a moment to talk about what this development is telling us, which is that Hollywood, specifically the major studios, are not doing their job. Most of the major studios are just small cogs in much larger media conglomerates. Many of these conglomerates also play home to broadcast networks as well as multiple cable channels, and home video divisions. In the name of corporate synergy, these many outlets rely mostly on their sister-studio divisions to produce content for them.

Most of the time these studio divisions fail to produce enough content for these outlets, because they're in a state of contraction when it comes to production. They're spending more money to create less product, because Hollywood's piss-poor business practices have given the industry an inflation rate somewhere between Zimbabwe and Weimar Germany.

When you're a content outlet like Netflix, and see less and less coming out to feed a growing global market that demands more and more, you're going to have to do something bold. That means creating your own content, in conjunction with independent producers, even it means making a 26 episode/2 season commitment, with a license fee of $4-6 million per episode.

For Netflix, this more than just a gamble, this is an essential step in the company's evolution, because the majors just don't cut it anymore.


Disney has canceled Robert Zemeckis' planned motion-capture digital remake of the Beatles inspired cartoon Yellow Submarine. Now there's talk that the failure of Zemeckis' last mo-cap dip into the Uncanny Valley called Mars Needs Moms sank the submarine, but others deny that, personally I don't really care why, just that it was canceled.

Seriously, does the world really need another piece of baby-boomer 60s nostalgia hokum-horseshit combo using computer animated characters that look like a convention of the soulless undead?

I don't care how well you render their pores, or the hairs on their eyebrows, the Uncanny Valley, that region where the attempt to create realistic looking life just leaves people uneasy, is just too damn deep. The technology maybe there, but the audience, and the artistry ain't.


  1. Dirty McDingus Sezs:
    Funny how games have now already entered that uncanny valley to some great results, compared to the $100+ million money pits of hollyweird~
    L.A. Noir will soon come out with some of the best works withing that valley. It captures so much in the faces of those digital faces that truly will be the turning point of Games. I hope the play part wasn't lost in this creation...
    Also props to Heavy Rain too!

  2. cont:
    Forgot to mention Red Dead Redemption as well!

  3. The Yellow Sub project sank because Mars Needs Moms bombed in guiness world records level and lets face the facts, Boomer nostalgia is not profitable for several reasons.

    The tween market is hot right now With the rise of Disney Stars, such as Selena, Demi and Miley and Nick with Victoria Justice and Miranda Cosgrove. HW is about youth right now not their boomer parents/grandparents.

    Boomer nostalgia just does not sell as Boomer do not have disposable income as their retirement funds are in peril.

    When studios try to sell boomer nostalgia to the younger generations it falls on it's ass.
    We already saw two Beatles related
    projects fall flat, one was the Jule Taylor ego piece Across the Universe and the 2nd was the Beatles Rockband that had did not meet expectations. Guess what the tweeners are not buying it.

    One of the failures of Mars Needs Moms is that in CG movies realistic people look creepy. Sure the same kids will accept it with a video game we expect humans to look fake in a game. In a VG you do not notice it because you attention is taken up by that terrorist shooting an AK at you while a Hind is firing rockets at your ass.

    With a CG film, you are watching it and are FORCED to notice the perfections.

    Films come with certain expectations, this is why CG films with Garden Gnomes and talking toys work better. Because CG makes everything look like plastic, when the characters are plastic it does not matter.

  4. VG's have far surpassed using CG to make realistic looking people way before HW. Games were already using the same mocap tech and releasing games before Cameron finished Avatar.

    Even then HW likes to act like they are the pioneers in this field.

    Look at Killzone 2 and 3. The people look far more realistic that Polar Express or even the recent Mars needs Moms.

    Even if the CG is not up to par in some games you do not notice it because your attention and concentration is focused on playing the game.

  5. In the Mars Needs Moms ads, I think I was more disturbed by the kid sounding like Seth Green (and then suddenly a real kid) than by the mo-cap. Seriously, who's idea was that?