Monday, 29 December 2014

Sickness Alert.

I got some kind of stomach bug.

Blogging will be very unlikely for a few days.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas

The Yuletide Season is upon us and I'm going to be busy doing Christmas related stuff with the family so I'll probably be updating this blog again some time next week.

So until then I wish everyone here a Merry Christmas!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1206: The Curious Incident of the Hack in the Nighttime.

When it comes to deciding just who is behind the Sony hack I have a lot of trouble deciding. And not just between wearing my Phillip Marlowe private eye fedora, or my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker cap. I'm having a hard time deciding who did it.

Los Federales in Washington DC are getting more and more adamant that North Korea was behind the hacking and the threats and were doing it over the movie The Interview.

I'm having doubts that the North Korean government or one or more of their agents are the perpetrators.


Something about the types of material being released. If Kim Jong Un is anything like his father he's probably a movie fan, and if he was overseeing the leak the attacks would be to ruin the movies themselves. Bootlegs and spoilers should literally be EVERYWHERE, and yet they're not making the news. Nor is identity theft. The hackers, be they in North Korea, China, or Russia did not take an opportunity to pre-steal celebrity identities and go on massive shopping sprees before dumping that data in public and allowing the celebrities to take precautions? That's suspicious to me. Neither is the celebrity gossip that pops up, a little item or two may appear, but then would disappear just as fast because they're as consequential as a fart in a hurricane.

This is the curious incident of the dog in the night time if I ever saw one.

What's that? you ask, furrowing your brow in a feeble attempt to understand.

*puts on my Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat with 100+ year old SPOILER ALERT written on it*

It's from an Arthur Conan Doyle story starring Sherlock Holmes where Holmes identifies the killer because a guard dog that barks at everyone but a select few people did not bark at all on the night of the murder.

Despite a culture that's obsessed with celebrity to an unhealthy degree, ask yourself: What are the stories from the Sony hack that have "legs" or staying power in the public consciousness?

Everything that casts Sony Pictures upper management, and their handling of the company, in a bad light. Those are the stories that won't go away.

Sony's top management, Lynton and Pascal, aren't helping, exacerbating each story with ham-handed handling of everything. In their scrambling they have essentially given green-light and red-light powers to professional provocateur Al Sharpton and dictator Kim Jong Un.

When the hack first happened the first thing they should have done was issue a release declaring the hack, warning those with their data breached to take precautions, and that they cannot confirm or deny the veracity of anything that gets released, implying that a lot of fake shit will be coming out.

Instead, they pretty much confirmed EVERYTHING and ended up looking like they had their heads up their butts.

Not good.

Now this is my theory.

Where I think the hacker is hiding.
The content of the material and the timing was literally set to maximize damage to Sony's top management. That tells me that whoever is pulling the strings behind this is not in North Korea, but in the Greater Los Angeles area, and more likely than not has an office in Sony Pictures HQ in Culver City.

Now I'm calling this suspect a "string-puller" instead of a "hacker" because I don't think they did the hack themselves. They might have hired someone with the requisite computer skills to stage the hack  and make it look like it came from North Korea.

Then came the dumping of material, it took some insider knowledge, and sense of the current American socio-political climate to make sure that the right people saw the right material to make life worse for SPE's bosses. Those are things that I suspect Kim Jong Un's regime lacks.

That's my theory, I'm just putting it out there, in anticipation of being proven right all along.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1205: Sony, North Korea & The Interview

It's official.

Sony has cancelled the release of Seth Rogen & James Franco assassination farce The Interview, in response to theatres cancelling showings because of threats of "9/11 style attacks" on them. So far there are no plans to put it out on VOD or home video

Another film set in North Korea, a thriller directed by Gore Verbinski and starring Steve Carell has been cancelled, but I suspect that it may be because Verbinski costs too much and Carell earns too little as a live action lead. 

Naturally, Hollywood is outraged that a dictator who can't feed his own people now has green light power over their scripts, and I'm outraged too, if it's true.

You see, North Korea has a history of crazy behaviour. The country's agents regularly engage in terrorism, kidnapping, and political assassination with little or no regard for international norms. This is because the rulers assume that if anyone calls them on their bullshit that China will protect them. 

Now there are three kinds of terrorist attack that North Korea could engage in.

1. INTERNATIONAL OPERATION: This is the most likely operation North Korea would engage in. However, it's the easiest operation to beat because since 9/11/2001 western intelligence agencies have become masters of what's known as "chatter." When people in one country plots an operation against people in another country it creates noticeable changes in the flow and forms of data moving between nations. This comes in the form of e-mails, phone calls, social media, money transfers, and things you couldn't even imagine. Now they don't need to read the content of this data to raise an alarm, all it has to do is follow one of the many suspicious patterns on their database.

The Department of Homeland Security says there's no credible threat against American theatres, at least in this way.

2. LONE WOLF: This is where one guy, his passions inflamed by ideology, religion, or the voices in his head decides to kill a bunch of innocent people.

It is next to impossible to predict or stop a lone wolf terrorist, but far more unlikely in the context of North Korea. This is because no one outside of North Korea is that much of an ardent communist to want the rest of the world to be like North Korea. Something about wanting to eat food.

3. KITCHEN TABLE CONSPIRACY: This is a variation of the Lone Wolf, where a small group of closely knit people join together to engage in mass murder. They are harder to stop since most are not already on the intel community's radar when they start conspiring, and don't engage in multinational communications since they're literally meeting around the kitchen table. However, there's always the chance that someone in, or around the conspiracy might have an attack of nerves, or conscience, and talk to the authorities. Like the Lone Wolf, this sort of attack would require multiple locals who are ardent believers in the North Korean regime.

Now let's get to just how wrong it is to cancel the movie.

Hollywood has a bad history of rewriting stories to avoid offending anyone they think might retaliate. That's how this:
A novel about Palestinian terrorists and exiled East German communists conspiring to nuke the Super Bowl to derail an actually working peace process in the Middle East became this:
A movie about Teutonic neo-Nazi billionaires plotting to start a nuclear war between the USA and Russia so they can somehow turn the radioactive ashes of a totally destroyed Europe into a white supremacist state.

They did that because Teutonic neo-Nazi billionaires don't really exist, and if they did, they or their followers were extremely unlikely to show up at Paramount's headquarters with a bomb strapped to their chest, or worse, accuse the studio of racism.

North Korea used to be the safe target in films like Team America: World Police, and the remake of Red Dawn, because it was seen as unlikely to punish the studio either financially or physically.

Now we have a theatre chains and a major studio folding in the wake of a threat connected to a massive hacking.

That's bad.


Because it tells crazy people that making terrorist threats work.

That will make every crackpot wannabe start lobbing threats at anyone and everyone that they either don't like or think they could get something out of.

That's not healthy.

Now many are running scenarios through their head about how the American religious right was going to terrorize Hollywood, but if they didn't do that when the Law & Order franchise used signs of Christianity  or political conservatism to cue the audience to who the guilty guy was in almost EVERY DAMN EPISODE, turning one of America's best TV shows into a sickly parody of itself, I doubt they'd start now.

If North Korea really is behind threats against the lives and property of American citizens the US government should go to its protector, China, and say that it's time to wash their hands of the Hermit Kingdom. China's business community is too integrated with the US market to withstand any disruption caused by a piss-ant dictatorship like North Korea, and they might decide that now is the time to let Un get some comeuppance because he's just a leech on their backside.

That is IF North Korea is really behind all this.

There's still a very good chance that a disgruntled current or former Sony Pictures employee with computer skills pulled this off.

If that's the case, then the dysfunction at Sony Pictures runs very deeply, and goes beyond relationships between studio and talent, to fundamental management philosophy.

It also makes the cancelling of The Interview and Sony Pictures' top decision makers look even more ridiculous.

That's not healthy either.

Which is why the people at Sony's head office should read my letter to them. Since this whole situation is crazy, it might just need a crazy man to fix it for them.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1204: Dear Sony

Dear Sony Pictures.

I have to say that I've tried really hard to avoid reading your e-mails that were recently stolen and released by hackers. But sometimes I've been asked to comment on them, and they've become so ever present, they're just plain hard to avoid without cutting myself off entirely from the outside world.

I admire the gumption of studio CEO Michael Lynton in declaring that the hack won't take you down. That's very sweet. Also I noticed that the MPAA, the movie business's drunk uncle, has also expressed their support for you. That's also sweeter than honey dipped in sugar, but it's not stopping those same studio-related media outlets CNN (Warner Bros.), Fox News (Fox/Newscorp), ABC News (Disney), MSNBC/NBC News (Universal/Comcast), and CBS News (Viacom) from feasting on the fat and gristle of your corporate humiliation no matter how loudly you ask them to stop.

The one unescapable truth is that Sony Pictures and its subsidiaries, Columbia, Tri-Star, etc… are in a state of profound dysfunction.

The grey eminences at Sony's head office in Japan might accept Hollywood dysfunction when it's a  part of being in the movie business spoken only in whispers only by the people in the movie business. However, when it's very public and very embarrassing, then it's not acceptable at all, because it makes them look bad.

Which is why I'd like to offer a suggestion for a replacement to run Sony Pictures:

Hey, you've tried the best, why not try the rest.

I even have a plan.


Why? Well, there are good reasons. The Spider-Man movies released by Sony/Columbia have been suffering from rising costs and diminishing returns. Sure the box office scores look good, but they cost so damn much you end up losing in the long run. 

Plus you're ideas to keep the franchise out of Marvel's hands are getting kind of embarrassing.

Let Marvel have Spider-Man. Take a token payment, or some percentage of the first two Marvel Spider-Man projects and you'll be fine.

And then don't panic over losing it when you…


That's right, you don't need Spider-Man because you have:
James Bond is literally the grand-daddy of the action-adventure movie franchise. On the plus side he's hotter than ever, with both hard-core fans and casual movie-goers literally excited to see the next one.

You don't need anyone else right now. So ditch Spider-Man, Men In Black, and all the other properties that are more hassle than they're worth.


I know, I sound like I'm contradicting myself, but stick with me.

Bond is a great tent-pole picture franchise that you release every two to three years, and having one is nice, but it makes you ask yourself: What do you in the meantime?

Well, Universal turned out to have a real whopper of a year profit-wise by foregoing blockbusters in favour of smaller films with wider margins and reduced risk. Something I'd been preaching about on this blog for years.


The days of the star system is over. It's been over for a very long time. So called "stars" don't sell tickets and home-viewings the way they used to. They are a hell of a way to kill off what could have been a decent profit margin and turn it into a loss.

Audiences want stories featuring characters that are worth their money and time. They don't have to be likeable, but they absolutely must be interesting.

And the beauty of it all is that story isn't expensive.


Hollywood lives in a conundrum.

Technology has made the physical process of making professional looking films cheaper than ever before. However, Hollywood's production costs have an inflation rate not seen outside of Zimbabwe.

There's a reason for this, and it's because everyone expects to be screwed. 

This means that everyone tries to get as much as they can up front, and those that have the tiniest smidgen of clout within the industry, go hog wild. So you get romantic comedies that cost over $150 million. Seriously, ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS FOR A ROMANTIC COMEDY.

That should be an impossibility.

If a studio set a new practice of not screwing people, they might actually see costs go down. Then it might spread to the rest of the industry.

Sure, hiring an inexperienced unknown is a crazy idea, but at least I know enough to NOT put embarrassing stuff in a business e-mail.

Furious D.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1203: Universal Just Proved Me Right.

If you're a regular reader of this blog you'll know that I'm not a big fan of the Hollywood Blockbuster as a business model.

If you're not a regular reader I will explain.

The Blockbuster Model is where studios cut back on the number of films they make and release to bet almost all of their money on a small number of big budget productions that will break all the world's box office records and leave them rolling in cash. 

Or if you want an even simpler explanation:
There's just one flaw with this program.

It doesn't work.

It reminds me of a story about 20th Century Fox in the 1960s. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy. They had to shut their doors and send their employees home because they didn't have the cash to make payroll. The reason they were in this jam was because the studio's management had spent way too much on what they hoped would be hit movies, but for every profitable hit they had, they had two mega-turkeys that nearly sucked the company dry.

That regime was ousted by the board and new one put in place. The new regime though was in for a shock when they announced their own business plan: "From now on we only make hit movies."

Oy gevalt!

No one sets out to make a flop. The previous regime at Fox didn't choose to make money-losers, they just made too big bets on too few movies. In fact, the films had become so expensive, like today's blockbusters, they had to break box office records just to break even.

The model I've suggested for studios is to offer a more diverse slate of films, made for smaller budgets, that way your risk is smaller, and the potential for profit greater.

Guess who proved me right.


I know, I'm shocked too.

For years they were the epitome of the Blockbuster Model. They spent hundreds of millions of dollars making and releasing dozens of movies they thought were going to be massive franchises. Some did succeed, like the later Fast & Furious films, and Despicable Me, did become successful franchises. 

But, and this is a brontosaurus sized but, for every one of them were more than one money losing turkeys like Will Ferrell's Land of the Lost rehash.

This put the company in deep dino-doo-doo. The new owners Comcast didn't like losing money, so they cleaned out some key positions and brought in new people.

Those new people brought in a new philosophy. They'd stick with the franchises that made money, like Fast & Furious, but instead of trying to make every film a home run, they went for my plan of smaller scale singles and doubles.

And guess what.

Universal Pictures had its most profitable year in like ever, without a single mega-budget tentpole blockbuster.

Even the films that tanked, and flops are inevitable, didn't do any real damage to their profit margins because they didn't cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now you're probably wondering why Universal did such a major about-face when the other struggling studios don't.

As I mentioned earlier the company had recently been purchased by cable giant Comcast. Comcast hadn't owned a studio before, and hadn't been completely taken in by the glamour of Hollywood. When they bought NBC-Universal, they bought it because they WANTED TO MAKE MONEY. 
They didn't care about trends, Oscars, or getting so-called "A-Listers" to remember their names at industry parties. What they cared about what making money in a fiscally responsible way. That meant more variety of movies made cheaper, so that when they have a hit like Lucy the profits are huge, and a flop like A Million Ways To Die In The West, can't erase those profits the way a Land of the Lost can.

Since I now have concrete proof that I'm right, I'm going to become incredibly huge headed.

Even more so...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1202: YOU ASKED FOR IT!

I asked for questions, and you hath delivered.  So let's can the palaver and get right down to business!

Anonymous, AKA Dirty Dingus MacGee asked:
Indulge my comic book nerdery by answering the following pressing questions:
1) Of the announced comic book movies, which one (not involving the word Avengers) seems like the biggest hit? The biggest flop?

I won't say if any specific movie will flop, but I do have some concerns, specifically with how DC/Warner Bros. is handling their movie franchises.

DC is having some success on television. The Flash and Arrow are doing great business on the CW, Gotham has taken off at Fox, and even the weakest player Constantine is a cult hit that's growing in popularity in a manner reminiscent of The X-Files back in the 1990s. There's also some good buzz about the upcoming Supergirl and Krypton shows.

So you have to ask: Why are they treating television as if it doesn't count?

They have a successful Flash TV series with a star the audience has taken a shine to, but then DC/WB went out of their way to try to steal that show's thunder by announcing that the movies will feature a different Flash, a different storyline, and much bigger budgets.

That sounds like a recipe for trouble. Franchise fans are loyal, but usually to the franchise that brung them. They don't want the hassle of conflicting visions, casts, and story lines cluttering up an already cluttered and confusing milieu.

Which might hurt some of the DC movies at the box since many fans might just want to stick with the guy they know best.
2) Speaking of flops: 
A) precisely how bad is the Fantastic Four reboot gonna suck? 
B) What possessed Fox to maul this property so utterly?
A) The reboot is probably going to suck bad, going by the fact that the two previous Fantastic Four movies left fans extremely dissatisfied in the story and character department with their constant attempts to make them somehow relevant.

B) Spite. Marvel wants them back and is hoping to force Fox's hand by cancelling the comic, and Fox is probably trying to do a version of the same thing back to Marvel, by giving them a movie franchise that repels audiences.
3) Of the significant comic book properties NOT in the pipeline (there may be one or two), which one should be getting much more attention from Hollywood?
That's hard to say, since so many are getting attention, including ones that probably shouldn't. (I'm looking at you Lobo)
4) DC is rolling out its Cinematic Universe pretty much all at once in Batman v. Superman. You feeling that approach, or is it a recipe for disaster?
DC's mismanagement has put it in a situation where they have to play catch up with Marvel. That reeks of desperation, and desperation can turn off audiences. However, I won't attempt to predict any specific outcomes.

 ILDC asked...
If any of you readers are too lazy to click the link I'll give you a sum up.

Someone, possibly the North Koreans, hacked the computer systems of Sony Entertainment, reportedly in revenge for the upcoming comedy The Interview, that has offended leader Kim Jong Un.

Among the death threats and leaked celebrity SSNs are a bunch of internal Sony communications expressing a lot of dissatisfaction with how the company is being run. Chiefly how they're missing out on developing new and lucrative properties like Lionsgate's The Hunger Games, to keep peddling stars and properties the corporation thinks are safe, but are a world of diminishing, if not crumbling returns, like the Adam Sandler movies.

What these grumbles reveal is that Sony/Columbia is a lot like the other studios, only more so. They're too scared to take a comparatively small risk on a best-selling YA series, but will confidently dump hundreds of millions of dollars on franchises and stars who are well past their "Best Before" date because past track records declare them "safe."

Even when they do sell a lot of tickets, the budgets are so huge, and the "dollar 1" deals so draining, many of the films still lose a fortune that not even home video and TV sales can cover the losses.

That ain't healthy.

But there is a solution. Just put someone in charge of Sony/Columbia with enough power to reform everything from the top down. 
2. What did you think of the new Star Wars trailer? Does the movie look like it could be yet another major disappointment?
The trailer looks slick, is loaded with lots of fan-service, and that's the problem I have with it.

New style stormtrooper helmets, the Millennium Falcon, the Swiss Army Lightsaber, etc…etc… but no hints about the story going into any new and creative direction.

So far we've had a lot of rumours about the story, and since it's a JJ Abrams production, the ones they deny will be true, and they don't bode well with me. The biggest being that Palpatine the Big Bad of the last two trilogies will return. Hence making the entire saga of Anakin/Vader's rise, fall, and redemption completely meaningless emotionally.

It's like bringing back Khan in Star Trek: Into Darkness. At first fans pissed themselves with glee at how cool that would be, especially with him being played by geek-hunk Benedict Cumberbatch.

Then they saw the movie and had a moment to think about it, and realized how all the movie did was pull their strings with what sounded like cool premises, but those premises had the life sucked out of them by the nature of the new franchise. In the original Kirk and Khan had such an intense relationship that it made Wrath of Khan dramatic, even though they had no scenes together. Into Darkness gave them lots of scenes together, but none of the intensity in the relationship.

That left everyone deeply unsatisfied, and while the box office was strong, the production/marketing budgets were huge, and the profits thin, if not non-existent. Which is probably why they're flailing around just trying to find someone to direct the 3rd film.

I just fear that Abrams will do the same thing to Star Wars.
3. Why does Bill Cosby right now seem more unredeemable than Roman Polanski and Woody Allen? I would say it's due to the shock factor alone, but the allegations aren't exactly anything new; they just became common knowledge.
Shock factor, hypocrisy on Cosby's part since he's been lecturing many in the black community on education and sexual responsibility. Things Polanski and Allen never did.
4. Have you been aware of the wage-fixing scandal seemingly every major feature animation and visual effects studio is involved with? Does it sound like something they will keep getting away with?
Hollywood history is littered with the corpses of schemes designed to keep money out of the hands of the people who earned it. It's why Hollywood has unions, and deals where anyone with the slightest amount of clout tries to screw as much money as they can up front because they know they're going to get screwed later.

The problem is that while the costs of the technological means of production have more or less collapsed, the cost of actually making a Hollywood movie have an inflation rate not seen outside of Weimar Germany. 

So in the short run they will get away with it, but in the long run, they're only making their own financial problems get worse and worse.
5. Creatively speaking, is Pixar still a Hollywood savior?
No one company can or will save an industry and Pixar's insistence on making sequels and spinoffs to Cars shows years before even thinking of one for The Incredibles that even they are not perfect.
6. What are the chances of DreamWorks Animation getting sold at this time, and under Katzenberg's demands?

DWA has had hits, and misses, but even their hits, by trying to be hip, become very dated very quickly. That means their library, their biggest asset, is probably not worth as much as Katzenberg thinks, especially in this economy.
7. Can you give a detailed history of why Canadian companies like DHX Media are able to make acquisitions at such a fast pace?
For those of you who don't know Decode Halifax Media or DHX Media is a big and growing company that's coming to dominate animated television. In fact the odds are pretty good that if the cartoon you're watching isn't made by Disney or Warner Bros. it was made by one of DHX's subsidiaries.

DHX's founders Michael Donovan and Charles Bishop were the biggest names in TV production in Nova Scotia in the 1980s and 1990s. Donovan and his brother Paul founded Salter Street Films and while they struggled in feature films, they enjoyed great success in TV. The sci-fi series The Lexx became a huge cult hit in Europe and Asia and the political comedy series This Hour Has 22 Minutes became a Canadian TV institution. 

This led to them getting the license for IFC Canada, which attracted the attention of Canuck media-giant Alliance-Atlantis who bought out Salter Street for big money.

Alliance-Atlantis then promptly gutted the Salter Street operation, because all they wanted was the IFC Canada license. (Ironically this all happened the day after I was offered a job at IFC Canada doing video-commentaries about the film business, an offer that was rescinded since the guy who made it was fired)

Alliance-Atlantis then went on to gut themselves, but Michael Donovan and produce Charles Bishop went on to found Halifax Film that took over producing 22 Minutes, and they merged with kids-show producer Decode Entertainment to become DHX.

DHX's biggest early win was Cinar. Cinar had a string of wildly lucrative kid's shows like Caillou, but had self-destructed when the management sank themselves in a financial scandal. That meant that very valuable properties were available cheap to whoever was willing and able to sort out the mess.

They pulled it off and became a powerhouse in global animation. After that they started absorbing other small companies, adding their properties to their own, and I believe they even own a chunk of the Teletubbies now, as well as buying several family oriented TV channels from the then struggling Astral Media.

So I guess their secret is to look for good properties with weak or overwhelmed management and use their growing bulk to bring them into the fold. Plus they are producing content, which all those channels and other outlets are literally starving for.
8. Do you think Ridley Scott could have actually had a non-whitewashed cast in Exodus: Gods and Kings?
Hollywood loves to preach diversity, but when it comes to practicing diversity they are still deeply mired in tokenism. That means that the gesture or the appearance of diversity is more important than actually telling really diverse stories with diverse characters.

As for the controversy over the racial make-up of Exodus, it reminds me of a debate in the late 1980s and early 1990s about whether or not Cleopatra was black because Egypt is in Africa.

Turns out Cleopatra wasn't even Egyptian, the Ptolemaic family being Macedonian Greeks who adopted the Egyptian royal practise of extreme inbreeding.

But people have their attitudes, prejudices, and agendas over what the ancient world looked like, and will not truck any difference. Rupert Murdoch got a lot of shit for offering an opinion and he is old enough to have been there.
9. Are sequels indeed inevitable in today's Hollywood, both cash grabs and passion projects?
They always have been, always will be.
10. Are you sick of Frozen?
Not really, but then again, I don't live in a house with any pre-teen girls, so I'm not bombarded with Idina Menzel's Adele Dazzeem's rendition of Let it go. Though I can understand how one can get sick of a kid's franchise. I was once forced to endure an hour of Caillou while babysitting and by the end of it I was ready to commit murder, so I can sympathize.
11. Any movies you're personally looking forward to?
Not really.

Nothing's giving me that precious chill down the back of my neck that I used to get when I was kid that pretty much told me that a beloved blockbuster was coming.

 Nate Winchester asked...
Ok, my question is: Why does Hollywood seem to HATE its audience? 
I don't mean just the general loathing that maybe some usual artists feel, I mean outright hatred. 
The most common example I can think of and see is where fans really want something (DVD release of a show/movie for example, or maybe rights to make something like new episodes), and the holder of whatever property could make money, but they will not let the fans have it, even while the the person/studio/whatever is getting NO money off just sitting on whatever the fans want. 
Is there any better example that you can think of how little Hollywood cares about money?

I see what you're getting at.

That's because in many cases in Hollywood they value control over profit. It doesn't matter if some newcomer could turn a moribund property and turn it into a cash-cow, the owner is more likely to say no simply because they don't want to relinquish control because someone else might take credit for a success.

Then there's the dog's breakfast of rights holders which pop up in independently financed productions, and even some studio productions. That means that everyone who has a stake in a property has to give the thumbs up unanimously. If there's the slightest unpleasantness between stakeholders, you can forget about it. People have turned out big payoffs if it meant that someone they hated lost money too.

Spite is mighty.

I hope I answered everyone's questions, and if you have more, ask away.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Hollywood Babble On & On #1201: Villains, Super-villains, and Superstars

Lots of big villain news this week, so let's jump in headfirst…


Here's a video revealing the title for the next Bond movie

The film will be shot in London, Rome, Mexico City, Tangier, Erfoud and the Austrian Alps, but that's not the big news.

The big news is confirmation that 2 time Oscar winning German character actor Christoph Waltz will be playing "Franz Oberhauser," who turns out to be notorious Bond baddie Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

You may recall that the Bond franchise had to give up using Blofeld because of a legal fight with the mysterious Kevin McClory that had been recently settled.

Personally, I hope they follow the great story arc the Bond/Blofeld relationship followed in the Bond novels. Starting out as a standard hero vs villain and becoming more violent and way more personal as it goes along, leaving both men physical and emotional wrecks. Only a handful of actors can pull off Blofeld, and Waltz is on the top of the list.


DC/Warner Brothers have announced the cast list for the Suicide Squad movie, and it only took them five years to pull it together. If you live in a cave and don't know who the Suicide Squad is, I'll give you a rough summary.

In the DC Comics Universe the Suicide Squad or Task Force X is where the government drafts super villains for certain death missions where at least one of them will not survive, in exchange for time off their sentences.

So, it's The Dirty Dozen in tights.

The cast is:

Tom Hardy as Rick Flagg the non-villain military man who leads the team.

Will Smith as Deadshot, a master sniper/assassin who has taken on Batman, the Green Arrow, and other DC heroes.

Jared Leto as The Joker.

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn, Joker's former psychiatrist turned psychotic lover and partner in crime.

Cara Delevigne as The Enchantress, an artist turned sorceress who started out as a hero, but either a lust for power, or a split personality caused her turn to villainy.

Jai Courtney as Captain Boomerang, a Flash rogue and boomerang tossing hitman.

And they're looking for a middle-aged African-American woman to play Amanda Waller, the bureaucrat who sends the team on their missions. One rumour said Oprah was taking the part, but I doubt she'd want to play a character whose callousness creeps out even professional killers.

Now I have an iffy feeling about this cast or the movie making it all the way to the premier in the originally intended form.

That iffiness lies with Will Smith.

Remember Smith passed on Django Unchained because he didn't want to be upstaged by Christoph Waltz.

I don't see him willingly be upstaged by the heroics of Flagg, or the psychotic scene-stealing of Joker and Harley, unless…he's pulling a Janet Leigh.

That means he's signed on to get killed off and shock the audience into realizing that this franchise is unlike the others, and will kill off major characters with the mad glee of The Walking Dead.

But that's a slim chance for someone who passed on a hit movie with some of the best people in the business to make After Earth.

Then again, maybe he's learned his lesson and realized that in order to stay a viable movie star he'll have to learn to share the spotlight without having to upstage everyone.

We'll have to see where this ends up.