Thursday, 28 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1094: The Franchise That Won't Die

Happy Thanksgiving to my American readers, and Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers. I'm here to ruin your holidays with some annoying movie news.

Paramount has just announced that they will reboot the Friday The 13th franchise in 2015.

Now this is not a sequel to the 2009 reboot that New Line/Warner Bros. tried, which was actually a reboot of Friday The 13th Part 2. After some no doubt complex negotiations Paramount regained ownership of the franchise and are going to reboot the whole thing all over again.


The most obvious reason is that the 2009 reboot actually made money. $91 million worldwide to be exact.

But I don't think Paramount is asking themselves this question:

Why did Warner Bros./New Line not make a sequel?

Seriously, they went to all the trouble to buy the franchise from Paramount for New Line's Freddy VS Jason movie, they made the reboot, and it sold, so why didn't they flog the dead horse the way Paramount did in the 1980s?

Did they see something in the audience reaction, that it was seen as just a bit of nostalgia with 2000 era gloss, and that as a franchise it didn't have legs?

Look at the performance of the original franchise.

Riding the "slasher horror" wave begun by John Carpenter's Halloween the original Friday was a surprise smash, and the first sequel did well too.

But then things started to go south.

The studio quickly painted itself into a corner.

You see in Part 1, the killer was Pamela Voorhees, a maniacal mother out for revenge for what she thought was the death of her mentally handicapped son Jason.

Part 2 needed a new killer and since they had hinted that Jason may still be alive in the first film, why not have him him take up mad-momma's mantle. It didn't do as well as the first one, but it still made a profit.

But by the time they got to Part 3, which was boosted by the novelty of 3D, the makers saw they were pushing one thing a little too far. That one thing was Jason Voorhees, and his ability to endure horrible injuries and certain death to keep on killing.

Remember that in the 1980s there was still an expectation of at least some reality in non-supernatural horror films. The idea of the unstoppable-why-bother-even-running-because-there-is-nothing-you-can-do kind of killer can turn off all but the most ardent gore-hounds, and if they wanted to continue past a trilogy they needed to do something.

So the producers thought "Hey, let's have Jason die in the 4th movie, then introduce a new killer in the 5th movie" restoring the 'whodunnit' element of the first film.

They did that, but the decline continued, which convinced the studio that Jason was the selling point. Jason was brought back from the dead, and the first thing he did was slaughter any semblance of creating an interesting story.

The decline continued, Paramount sold the franchise to New Line, which tried to keep it going, resorting to sending him into space, and to hell, and finally into their own spent-force franchise of Nightmare On Elm Street, before the 2009 reboot.

Remember, the audience don't buy tickets at the local cineplex, they're buying the ability to be told a story. Stories have beginnings, middles, and ends, and have characters they can relate too.

With the Friday The 13th franchise they only offer beginnings and middles, no ends. Instalments only exist to segue for the next instalment, and no matter what happens at the ending of the instalment, it's going to be a fake-out, so why should the audience invest themselves emotionally in it?

I think Warner Bros. saw that 80s nostalgia and modern gloss could sell a beginning, but weren't going to sell a bunch of middles, which is why they traded it back to Paramount in exchange for their cut of Christopher Nolan's upcoming mega-epic Interstellar.

Maybe Paramount thinks they can run the whole "sell the beginning" scam all over again, but I fear they might think they can flog this dead horse back to life again.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1093: Snippets Of Stuff.

1. Dorothy Pomerantz At Forbes gives a round-up of some of the worst flops that came out so far in 2013, no doubt soon to be joined by many more.

2. The original prop Maltese Falcon, from the film of the same name starring Humphrey Bogart and directed by John Huston has sold at auction for over $4 million dollars.

In a related story, I really need to raise over $4 million because I made a joke bid at an auction and they took me seriously.

3. Comic book writer Alan Moore emerged from his cave to declare that superhero fans are "emotionally subnormal." 

Which means that either Moore is yanking chains for publicity and his own amusement, or he actually believes Dr. Frederick Wertham was right all along despite what was discovered by researchers, which is sort of the whole premise of his masterpiece Watchmen.

4. MGM wants to do a remake of 80s cult film Road House, which starred the late Patrick Swayze.

First things first.






Now I'll do a little explaining.

The original Road House came out in 1989 and starred Patrick Swayze, hot from mega-hit Dirty Dancing, as a kung-fu super-bouncer out to save the titular tavern from a sinister Ben Gazzara.

When it came out the only nice things said about the film was that it well paced, but the loopy premise, inane dialogue, and general air of total nonsense kept people from calling it a good movie.

The film barely broke even at the box office, but enjoyed a second life on home video and cable television as the sort of film that people can enjoy while stoned or drunk.

This coupled with people ironically calling it "the greatest movie ever made" on social media appears to have convinced MGM that a big budget remake is due.

Oh, dear.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1092: Something's Up At Sony

Sony Entertainment, whose assets include Columbia Pictures and Tri-Star Pictures, is announcing quite a few changes. First Bain Capital was brought in to sort out the media-conglomerate's finances to save $100 million a year, then they announced that they were toning down their movie output and investing more in television.

Then I read this piece and I was shocked, SHOCKED!

If you're too lazy to click that drink I'll fill you in.

In 2001 Sony decided that primetime television wasn't the business for them and dropped out completely. They ended their deals with producers, stopped producing pilots, leaving only a handful of syndicated game shows, and daytime soap operas as their only TV productions.

That was beyond dumb… that was super-dumb.

Scripted television production is the meat and potatoes of the entertainment business.

Remember how it works.

A studio buys an option on a script, and a star, then takes that package to a network. If the network likes that package they'll commission the making of a pilot episode. (Sometimes the studio pays for the pilot, sometimes the network, it all depends on the specific deal)

If the studio sells a show to a network they're put on the money track. The broadcaster pays the studio a license fee for each episode which cover the costs of making those episodes, including the fees for the people involved. In exchange the network keeps all the advertising revenue.

If the show lasts long enough for the reruns to go into syndication, either on local stations, or on cable, the studio then keep ALL of that revenue.

Which means that rerun money is all gravy.

So why did Sony get out of TV in 2001?

Basically they were spending too much on TV deals with actors and comedians, and on pilots that didn't sell.

Remember in the early 2000s all of the major networks shared parent companies with Hollywood studios like Paramount, Universal, Warner Bros., and 20th Century Fox.

Sony was not one of them.

That meant they had to try extra hard just to have their pilots acknowledged, let alone bought, because those same networks were running under the myth of "synergy."

Synergy is a bit of nonsense that was all the rage back then where supposedly smart executives thought that 1 studio could supply all of a network's needs.

One studio can't. Networks need a wider reach, and that requires dealing with multiple suppliers of content.

Anyway, now Sony's television division is bringing in at least half of the company's total revenue. They did this following a smart strategy of filling the gaps the big studios left behind. Namely the cable channels that were screaming for original scripted. They were also frugal, and while they've hit some bumps it's been overall a success.

So why is Sony cutting back on theatrical features?

Because they've been making the same mistakes the TV division were making in the early 2000s.

They made huge money deals with stars and filmmakers who couldn't deliver as consistently as many would like you to believe. Their franchise pictures, like Spider-Man, and Men In Black, have budgets that could buy a 3rd World Country, and margins thinner than fashion model.

Even their smaller feature films cost way too much.

The average budget of Adam Sandler's movies is about $70 million, and this is the company that spent at least $120 million just to make a romantic comedy simply because the director, who hasn't had a big hit in a long time, won some Oscars back in the day.

Now the feature film division could learn from the TV division. I'm thinking that targeting gaps in the feature film market, alternative forms of reaching the audience, and a bit of fiscal responsibility could go a long way.

That's what I think, what do you think?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1091: Discretion And Context Matter

The recent fight over the movie Philomena starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan to get it's R-Rating changed to a PG-13 caused me to have a revelation.

You see the film got the rating because the word "Fuck" appears more than once in the film. This means MPAA is assuming that 13 year olds, drawn by their adoration of Dench, will flood the theatres and thus have their minds warped by hearing "Fuck" fewer times than they hear at the dinner table with their parents.

It shows a fundamental flaw in the ratings system.

There's no discretion allowed for context.

That's dumb.

Really dumb.

In fact, only a positively excremental intellect could deny the importance of discretion and context, especially when an R-Rating can negatively impact a film's release, marketing, and ultimately its box office performance.

Fewer theatres will screen R-Rated movies, because they don't sell as many tickets as movies for kids and teens, and many media outlets have restrictions when it comes to advertising R-Rated movies. 

This situation screams for discretion and context when it comes to assigning ratings.

However, the MPAA thinks they're being scientific when they assign set numbers for things like language, sex, and violence.

What they are being is stupid.

They should have looked at the film and thought: "Okay, there are two naughty f-bombs, but I don't think teens and kids will be flocking to see a movie about the aftermath of forced adoption in 1950s Ireland, and giving it an 'R-Rating' could hurt the movie, so let's just give it a PG-13."

You see that's being smart.

It also denies Harvey Weinstein a source of cheap publicity.

And denying Harvey a chance to yell about something is not only smart, but beautiful.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1090: Preacher Pros & Cons!

The AMC Network, home of Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men has commissioned a pilot for a new series based on the DC/Vertigo Comic series Preacher. (UPDATE: February 6, 2014: AMC has given the green light for a series)

For those not hep with the DC/Vertigo title created by Garth Ennis, it's about a preacher, natch, who lost his faith and ends up fused with a supernatural entity of infinite and often uncontrollable power.

This event causes God to go missing, and the titular preacher, his girlfriend and an Irish vampire go off to find, and hopefully kill, God. As they search across America they encounter a variety of grotesque characters including angels, demons, extreme redneck stereotypes, religious hypocrites, and a man called Arseface because a botched suicide attempt left his face mangled to resemble an anus.

Attempts have been made to bring the book to the screen, but it was often deemed too controversial to make, until AMC decided that now is the time.

So let's look at the PROS & CONS!!


1. ACCLAIM & FANDOM: During the comic's initial run in the late 1990s & early 2000s the series got heaps of critical praise, and those who liked it, really liked it a lot.


1. THAT FANDOM: is just a small percentage of an already small comics audience. That same audience would also balk at any TV adaptation that tones down the sex, violence, and blasphemy in any way, seeing it as the desecration of the comic's chief selling points. Those selling points will also affect the…

2. MAINSTREAM AUDIENCE: You must remember that the majority of the American audience would look at Preacher and their immediate reaction would be "What is this piece of shit?" You have to remember that the comic book Preacher is basically a portrayal of Christianity and fundamentalist American Christian Eschatology created by an UK atheist  who really doesn't like the existence of Christianity, Christians, or Americans.

It's like adapting Jack Chick's comics on atheism as a network TV show in a parallel universe where the network broadcasts in a majority atheist population. 

The parallel universe audience is not going to buy that, and I don't think the mainstream audience in this universe is going to buy this.

Audiences can accept anti-heroes, like Breaking Bad's Walter White, and graphic content can have a level of mainstream success, like The Walking Dead, but neither could be interpreted as a condemnation of the beliefs of a majority of the viewing audience.

My prediction, it will either fizzle out before the making of the pilot, or the pilot won't sell, because I just can't imagine making it as a TV series that doesn't offend a large segment of the audience and horrendously bore the rest.

(UPDATE: Now I'm going to tell you why I shouldn't make predictions. AMC is going ahead with the series, because they didn't weigh the pros and cons aside from having Seth Rogen's involvement, or consider the whole Offend/Bore Effect.)

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1089: A Legal War Ends, But A Mystery Lingers...

MGM and Danjaq/EON Productions, the partnership that controls James Bond's screen rights, have finally settled the 50 year long legal fight with the estate of Irish screenwriter Kevin McClory over the rights to Thunderball, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and his organization SPECTRE. It also marks the potential return of Blofeld and his minions after almost 40 years in franchise oblivion.

About damn time.

If you don't know the story, back in the late 1950s Ian Fleming wanted to write his own James Bond movie script. He formed an informal partnership with McClory and playwright and screenwriter named Jack Whittingham to write their own original James Bond script.

That script was titled Longitude 78 West. However, at some stage the project hit a wall, the partnership dissolved, and Fleming later used the material they created for the novel Thunderball.

That sparked the first lawsuit, and Fleming had to acknowledge McClory and Whittingham in the book.

When United Artists and EON Productions went to make a movie version in 1965 they made a deal with McClory and Whittingham, giving them cash, story credit, and McClory got a producer credit. In exchange UA/EON got the rights to all included in Thunderball, including Blofeld, SPECTRE, and the plot for 10 years, after that they revert to McClory.

McClory, Cinematic Man of Mystery
That's where the mystery begins for me.

As soon as McClory got the rights in the 1970s he immediately set to work selling the concept of remaking Thunderball to any and every studio willing to pay him.  

Most of the time these remakes usually fizzled in the development stage because while he may owned Thunderball, he didn't own James Bond, and the people who did weren't going to let any other studio have him without a fight.

However, McClory was able to license 1 remake of Thunderball, called Never Say Never Again for  TaliaFilm/PSO/Warner Bros, which marked Sean Connery's brief return to the role of 007 after a 12 year absence.

Then McClory tried to do it all over again.

And again.

And again.

And again.

Just about every studio and major independent producer took a  crack at getting a piece of the 007 box office magic, using working titles like Warhead, Warhead 8, Warhead 2000 AD.

These attempts more lawsuits over the use of Bond, and more lawyers making money instead of artists making movies.

Eventually Columbia Pictures bought the rights from McClory and announced they were going to make their own Bond films.  MGM/Danjaq said "No way So-nay," and eventually won a case that any film based on the elements of Thunderball that McClory owned couldn't use Bond because his ass was theirs.

Columbia gave up, but over time the situation evolved. MGM ended up owning the rights to Never Say Never Again, and Columbia became a major shareholder and distributor for MGM. I'm pretty sure those events led to the recent settlement.

Now you're probably wondering what mystery seems to be bothering me.

Well, it's a question.

Why didn't McClory didn't make anything else?

In 1965 he was a former crewman turned filmmaker who had 1 pre-Thunderball credit that most people don't remember. After Thunderball he had story and producing credits on one of the biggest money-makers of the decade.

I'd like to know if he tried to use that success to sell anything that wasn't Thunderball derivative. I did some research of his life, and really couldn't find anything post-Thunderball that wasn't in some way a regurgitation of Thunderball under another title and the legal fights they'd always cause.

Did he try to sell something else, but was rebuffed for not being a Bond picture?

That's kind of hard to imagine. In the 1960s every studio wanted to put out Bond style action movies and make Bond level money, and most were willing to toss buckets of money to anyone remotely connected to the franchise.

Yet, I can't find any evidence of McClory getting involved in any of these other projects. 

Why did he repeatedly get involved in a legal quagmire with his attempted remakes instead of using the cachet he got from 007 to sell something that wouldn't put him in court?

If anyone has any real answers, please leave them in the comments.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1088: Remakes Coming Out Of Hollywood's Collective Ass!

Look at this partial list of remakes, rehashes, reboots, re-imaginings and regurgitations that are in development….

All I can say is: Why?

Are people just too overwhelmed with fond memories of Hook and clamouring for more?

I'm going to predict exactly how it will go.

It'll start with bitching scary pilot episode that will attract a lot of interest from writers and filmmakers looking to experiment in short-form horror. 

The CW network will balk at allowing such independent thinking types any independence, or pay their rates, and will pass on them and hire the usual hacks who were fired from last season's failed sitcoms, and it'll be cancelled by mid-season.

Please let that Ghost rest in peace. Even fans of the movie probably wouldn't want to see a version sans the late Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

Even the BBC is getting into the remake biz, commissioning a series based on Dangerous Liaisons, but are hiring Christopher Hampton, who first adapted the novel into first a Tony nominated play, and then an Oscar winning film, to do it. Which tells me that there are things to the source material that he thinks he can expand on.

That's what I think. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1087: PG-13 Means Plenty Gunplay For 13 Year Olds

A new study says that gun violence in PG-13 movies has tripled since the creation of the rating in 1985, and folks are predicting the end of civilization because of it.

Now I'm not going to discuss how cinematic violence affects children, since juvenile violent crime, gun crime, and violent crime overall is in the decline, because then it rapidly becomes a political argument, and this isn't a political blog.

What I will do is explain why there is more gun violence in PG-13 movies.

That means it's time to step into the Wayback Machine and go back to the era of big hair, shoulder pads, and Reaganomics, the 1980s.

Back in those olden days, when dragons and unicorns frolicked in the forests, the Soviet Union still existed, and everyone was fully expecting to be nuked at any moment.

It was also an era when filmmakers wanted to push the edges of what could get their films a PG Rating. One of the most famous examples was Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which featured magical heart removals, shootouts, and the eating of monkey-brains. Another film was Gremlins which took the rating to the edge with those homicidal Mogwai.

Both those films involved Stephen Spielberg, as director and/or executive producer, and in the 1980s Spielberg ruled Hollywood. Three major studios, Paramount, Warner Brothers, and Universal, depended on him and his cronies heavily for their blockbusters.

What Spielberg wanted Spielberg got, and Spielberg wanted a rating that lay between the more family friendly PG and the "no kids allowed" R rating.

PG-13 was the compromise, telling parents that the content probably required some parental supervision for kids under 13 years of age.

Now that we have the origin story done, let's look at why all the guns are a popping.

Back in the 1980s R-Rated action movies like The Terminator, Lethal Weapon, and Robocop ruled the roost. They made big money for the 80s, and had a certain edgy street-cred.

But there was a problem.

The costs of making those kinds of movies were going up. There were two reasons for this inflation:

1. Star Salaries. The cost of hiring stars went up and up, as they demanded and got more up front, and bigger and better enforced "dollar one" deals.

2. Keeping Up With The Joneses. Those first big 80s action movies started a trend for a constant escalation in quality and especially quantity in stunts, explosions, and gunfights. Those things cost money, and lots of it.

Then the studios started noticing that the novelty of the R-Rating, which took hold in the early 1970s was fading fast.

The promise of nudity and hyper-graphic violence was no longer the selling point with mainstream audiences that it used to be. If they wanted those elements many would just rent the video and watch them in the comfort of their own home.

That combination of factors could easy kill the modern mega-action movie.

But there was a way out.

That way was PG-13.

Drop the nudity, tone down the blood, and the  fucking offensive language, and you could still have your action cake and eat it too.

Let's recap.

Action movies were in a figurative arms race with each other in terms of shoot-outs and explosions. This caused a spike in bullets fired and the budgets to pay for them. (Then add star salaries.)

However, the returns on R-Rated movies were declining overall, meaning that they could no longer support the bigger budget extravaganzas.

So the studios adjusted their movies to fit the PG-13 rating, while still maintaining the already mentioned arms race.

Kids see the shootouts, get desensitized, and then refuse to give the experts the civilization dooming and censorship justifying spike in violent behaviour the very same experts are demanding of them.

See, it's simple really.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1086: That's Where The Money Is...

Epix is a cable/satellite network owned by a partnership between Viacom/Paramount, MGM, and Lionsgate that was founded in 2009. Epix specializes in showing movies, boxing, and stand-up comedy specials. 

Now just a few years ago people who claimed to be in the know said that "reality TV" was going to be the future. All shows were going to be about celebrities, skanky debutantes, pawn shops, car restoration, and a hundred other topics.

So why is everyone rushing toward scripted programming?

First, experience has proven that while about 5% of reality shows can be whopper hits, like Duck Dynasty, 95% of reality shows are just filler. Even the modestly successful ones are usually watched simply because they're on, and the competition in the 1000 channel universe is pretty thin.

Now add competition.

"Al A Carte" packaging in cable/satellite providers is probably inevitable, and streaming services like Netflix and Amazon means that you need something that will attract subscribers and/or viewers.

Reality programming is not a selling point, quality storytelling is.

Think about it, what's the first thing a child asks for that doesn't involve food or a diaper change?

The little bastards look up at you and say: "Tell me a story."

People love stories, they crave stories, and while interactive material like games are all well and good, there's nothing like a good story well told.

People will pay for good stories, reality TV, not so much.

"But what about movies?" you ask, furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand. "Movies have stories."

True, but there are too many channels and not enough movies those channels are willing to air. Most channels balk at airing black and white movies, because they don't think kids will watch them. So there goes hundreds, if not thousands, of movies that can't get aired outside of Turner Classic Movies.

Then there's the fact that these channels are owned by studios, and they want the films in their libraries being given precedent. Then comes all the other factors that go into scheduling, and most of it is the sort of internal corporate politics & penny-pinching bullshit that ends up putting some less than stellar films on a perpetual loop.

People won't subscribe to movie channels that only show the same cluster of movies into infinity. Especially since so much of Hollywood's recent output can be described as lacklustre at best.

Another case for original scripted programming.

So let's all wish Epix luck. More scripted programming means more work for writers, actors, and directors, and if the shows are good, it's a win for the audience as well.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Hollywood Babble On & On #1085: Two TV Tidbits

Today we're going to take a look at two television tidbits. One is an adaptation, the other is a remake. Let's start with the adaptation.


The CW Network is looking at bringing Golden Age DC Comics hero Hourman to the small screen in a new television series.

For those unfamiliar with the character the original Hourman was Rex Tyler a pharmaceutical scientist who invents a concoction of vitamins and hormones called Miraclo.  

One dose of Miraclo gives him superhuman strength and reflexes, but only for 1 hour at a time.

That's right, he's got the deadline for his powers in his name. So all villains need to defeat him is a good watch.

And by the way Miraclo is addictive, and ultimately destroys him.

I can't really see Hourman as the star of his own series. I see him really as a supporting player in a Justice League/Justice Society type team situation. But maybe that's just me.

I do have a suggestion for DC and the CW network.

Let me have The Question to develop for a TV series.

Think about it, he's perfect for television. He's a street level crime fighter, dealing with gangsters, crooked politicians, and shady businesspeople, so it won't break the bank in the special effects department. Also, some interpretations of the original character of Randian journalistic turned vigilante Vic Sage, also taps into our current obsessions with surveillance and paranoia.

Action, drama, and some black humour. Who could ask for anything more?

Plus, he doesn't have his weakness in his name.


The History Channel, flush from the mega-success of The Hatfields & McCoys miniseries have announced that they're going to do a remake of Roots.

For those who may be too young, Roots was based on the novel by Alex Haley that dramatized his family's history. The first nine & a half hour miniseries in 1977 covered the taking of family founder Kunta Kinte from Africa into slavery in America in the 1700s and the lives of his descendants through to the end of the civil war and their liberation.

A fourteen hour sequel series Roots: The Next Generations came in 1979 and covered the family's saga from the post Civil War period, through to the life of Alex Haley himself in the 1960s.

Roots was a massive ratings smash, and helped solidify the miniseries, or "novel for television" as a television staple through to the early 1990s.

Which makes me ask a question.

Why not just rerun the original?

I remember seeing it as a kid, and remembering that it was pretty solidly made, with good production values and a top flight cast that would be hard to replicate today. Maybe all they really need to do is a top flight High-Definition remaster, with a little digital polish added to the special effects.

They might also want to digitally recast OJ Simpson's cameo role with another actor, and possibly correct some of the historical inaccuracies that some historians thought hurt the miniseries as a teaching tool.

It would be cheaper and probably easier than starting all over from scratch.

Monday, 4 November 2013


You had questions and I will pretend to have answers.

Let's get the ball rolling…
Arthur Brandoch Darwin Petersen said... 
Mr. Furious, 
Could you be a futurist for a moment? What do you imagine to be the future of storytelling mediums. 
In the 19th century there were basically two: plays and the printed word. We've added tv and film to that. And finally, the internet. 
Do you see anything like a crossover or combination between ebooks and film/tv ? What else might happen?
Games will be huge, becoming more realistic, more immersive, and be bigger than movies and TV combined.

Then the game industry will collapse due to stupidity of the people running it.

I'm no expert on the gaming industry. In fact, I don't really play many games because I don't really have much time to spare, and I'm really bad at it, but I do pay attention to the news.

Right now the big name games can make huge money, Grand Theft Auto V made the gross national product of a European country in its first day sales. But it did cost over $200 million to make, tens of millions more to market, and other costs, so while the profits were huge, they weren't as monstrous as they like you to think they are. People are pointing at that and saying: "We are entering the age of games."

They're right, we are, for a while, but then things will turn around and bite it on the ass.

They are:

1. Narrow Field. The big name games make big money. But for every huge blockbuster, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of games that don't make those levels of sales. Remember, the audience for games are much smaller than movies, so while a game can outstrip movies in revenue, the unit price is about 5X the price of a movie ticket. Even franchises that made money in the past can fall out of fashion and into oblivion with fans. This can be really damaging to video game companies because of…

2. Exploding Costs. To stay on top you need to up your game constantly in just about every facet of game-making. Better graphics, bigger action, and so on and so forth. Soon the top tier franchises will have budgets that make Hollywood blockbusters look positively frugal. The higher the costs, the higher the risks, and risk terrifies companies. That fear creates…

3. Managerial Stupidity. Video game companies are not immune to stupidity, and I just said, fear breeds the dumb. Thus you get things that are allegedly "anti-piracy" measures but are really just schemes to suck more money out of gamers, while hindering the gaming experience. I fear that they will soon reach a breaking point where it will be so bad, so egregiously greedy, it will turn off all the casual gamers who aren't willing to dedicate their lives to navigating a whole lot of technical nonsense just to run around blasting zombies and aliens.
In 2015 Grand Theft Auto VI's special controls & levels ultimately killed the franchise.

As for e-books and TV. We're already seeing apps for tablet computers that allow people to access special features associated with their favourite shows, and other features, but I'm not expert enough to see it go much beyond that.

I do see an opportunity in e-book readers for genre fiction. Specifically that it can become the new pulp. Essentially selling individual or bundles of short genre fiction for the easy enjoyment of commuters and vacationers.

Next question, or to be more exact, a bundle of questions:

Rainforest Giant asked: 
What kind of candy did the Furious lair hand out? 
This Halloween I handed out mini-Hershey bars, Aero bars, and candy-coated chocolates called Smarties in Canada. As well as those little bags of chips, and Jolly Rancher flavoured lollipops. Our drill is that each kid gets 1 bar, 1 lollipop, and 1 bag of chips. Since my house is on a hill and requires a little effort to reach it's family tradition to be extra-generous with the candy. We had about 115+ kids at the door, which is a little above average.

This generosity helped avoid the egging my house got with last year's plan.

Second, any news on the next Hobbit abomination? Not that I am passing judgement on the cynical, repetative, money grubbing Jackson. I might never get the chance to exploit anything, but if I do I'll think of him. 
I just saw an ad for The Hobbit: Part 1: The Saga Begins Extended Edition DVD.

Holy shit. The entire trilogy is a goddamn extended edition. 

I hope Jackson makes a fortune from these films because he's certainly not going to be living on any respect.
How about your guess on torture porn like 'Saw'? Going to go away like 3D or will it just get worse? 
I think it's fallen out of fashion. It'll pop up again, but it won't be the 'all horror must be like' phenomenon is was just a short time ago. The $200 million+ worldwide box office of the $20 million haunted house thriller The Conjuring probably put the last nail in the coffin. Traditional ghost stories and suspense seems to be trading better than gore and disgust these days and I like that.
What is the future of horror and sci fi on tv? Cable, regular networks, more crappy ScyFy movies anything like Battlestar Galactica on the horizon?
I think cable will start getting more into science fiction and fantasy since new technology shows that it can be made inexpensively and the success of The Walking Dead shows that genre television, even horror can sell big if it connects well to the audience.

SyFy will continue to pump out the shitty movies with premises made by taking random words and putting them together with other words. Sure the ratings will be lousy, but the attention people give their little steaming piles online make SyFy think they're succeeding.

A smart cable network could start making what I call "story-first" science-fiction and fantasy stories that are based more on ideas over effects. But that's wishful thinking on my part.
ILDC asked... 
Disney literally releasing only Marvel, Pixar, and Star Wars movies: will it happen?
If the traditional Disney characters stop moving the merchandise, it's a possibility. They're already phasing out their relationships with mega-producers like Jerry Bruckheimer, so Dreamworks should watch their back.

You see Disney got really, really huge. Too huge really, and is contracting to survive in a crowded marketplace, and there's a very real chance that it may contract too far and do more harm to itself than good.

Maurice asked... 
How, if at all, is the Netflix model going to disrupt the massive bundling of channels that is at the core of cable/telco(FiOS/UVerse) profitability? They have been fighting a la carte choice for cable consumers in DC's regulatory swamps for decades, and along has come an OTT technology that delivers much of what consumers say they want. Tehcnically cable can fight back with technical means, which net neutrality would seem to forbid, or through refusal to license content to the new entrants, which would seem to be anticompetitive (though if the FTC can give Google a clean pass for its style of bundling and leverage of its monopoly power, I don't see that happening).

Where do you see that headed? The question is important over the long term for production, because these huge comsumer cable bills and bundles call into being entire channels, entire new shows, content, dstriobution and franchisign fees, that noboy really watches or will ever watch. In that sense it's a FDR-style makework jobs program for production comapnies, execs, crews, talent, etc. If the bundle were ever to be seriously undercut it could have much wider reprecussions.

In Canada they're slowly phasing in a la carte channel choices, which means that I can finally dump all those sports channels that I never watch but had to subscribe to in order to get Turner Classic Movies.

This means a lot of the sub-par channels will not survive as viewers who don't care for seeing the same episode of Small Wonder run six times a day drop them.

So what we'll probably see is a big consolidation of channels as it contracts from the hundreds to the dozens. While this will cause contractions in big media profits, it may not hurt the non-reality-TV scripted programming as much as you think, because the channels that provide the quality scripted programs will be the ones to survive.

But I hesitate to say that traditional television and television channels are on the way out.

Subscription style services like Netflix can offer lots of movies and TV shows that can be seen at any time, but there are catches. You can only see what the subscription service has available. To see everything you want to see, you probably have to subscribe to multiple services. Which is sort of like subscribing to cable channels with a good DVR.

Plus, to fully enjoy such services you have know what you're looking for. Too many people don't know what they're looking for.

One thing I don't like is that subscription VOD services take away the "accidental discoveries" that you get from traditional television, and activities like good old fashioned channel surfing and replace them with digitally determined preferences. I probably wouldn't have discovered the Hammer Films productions I love if I hadn't been exposed to them in my multi-channel/VOD deprived childhood. 

I hope I answered your questions and feel free to ask more.