Wednesday, 24 June 2015

A Personal Note And Then It's Answer Time!!

Sorry for the long delays between posts. Had some family business to take care of in the form of taking my parents, both in the seventies for a trip. The plan was to visit my mother's sister in Ontario, then go visit my brother's family in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan.

The trip itself went well. Even saw the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, which I would recommend to anyone visiting the area, but the voyage back was another story.

We booked our return tickets to Canada on an airline based in the USA that shall remain nameless, because it looked like a good deal.

Looked like.

Our first two flights on last Tuesday were cancelled. One was due to bad weather, but I'm not sure why the second one was cancelled.

We had already checked out of our hotel by then, and had to book new rooms at an airport hotel to make our new 6:00 AM Wednesday flight to New Jersey to make our connection to Halifax. (This required being at the security checkpoint by 4:00AM)

Our 6:00 AM flight didn't take off until around 7:30 AM because they didn't have the right weather paperwork from the right government agency.

By the time we arrived in Newark our flight was half-way across New England.

We were put on a new flight, but that flight had been oversold by one ticket.

They decided that my mother, who needs a wheelchair to go long distances, was the passenger to get bumped, and wait 8 hours until the next flight.

My Dad and I couldn't abandon my Mother in New Jersey, nor could I trade my seat to her and leave them stranded in the Halifax airport until the wee hours of the night waiting for me, so we all had to stay.

The 8 hour wait turned into a 9 hour wait, but then we finally got on an airplane to Nova Scotia and checked into another hotel at 1:30 AM Thursday.

When we landed in Halifax, we discovered that the airline lost our luggage.

It literally took us 3 days to accomplish 3.5 hours of flying, and then we had to wait until Saturday to get our luggage.

That was then followed by a stream of hassles and problems both petty and major, that had to be dealt with before I can deliver the answers you crave like the salivating dogs that you are.

Rainforest Giant asked... 
Howdy Furiousness,
With all the new superhero themed shows out this would seem to be a golden age. Especially, since most of the show runners have shown respect to the original material.  
Are we entering a true golden age like the Westerns did for nearly fifty years or is this a passing fad? Is fantasy on TV going to get bigger than GoT or will it fade on the vine? Is there a family friendly fantasy out there now that Merlin is gone?  
Finally, do you think TV sci fi is in an upward trend or just the superhero stuff?
I think sci-fi TV is in an upward trend both in regards to superheroes and with more traditional science fiction material. It's caught in that rising tide that's affecting all of television.

The TV market is hyper-competitive with every outlet not only competing for market share with each other, but with big screen movies, and the internet. That means you have to bring your "A-Game" or you might as well not play at all.

Also, the ability to make a show that looks like a big budget A-List movie has never been cheaper, which means TV is freer to do more both visually and narratively.

As for family friendly fantasy, something will come up. If there's a profitable niche someone will fill it.

How long will this last?

I don't know.

In the 1950s and 1960s the TV Western looked unassailable, now they're rarer then hen's teeth, but I think it will be a while barring some sort of dramatic crash and burn.

Next question...

Nate Winchester asked... 
Hmm... how best to put this... 
Ok, what, in your opinion, is the best way to handle product placement in a movie? 
I mean I don't entirely object to product placement. In fact I've always found it a bit hypocritical how on some sites you'll see people complaining about how characters are drinking BEER (a bottle with the super generic label) in one review of a movie, then complain about "Bud Lite" products in another movie (then some will end up complaining about knock-off products some movies/tv/etc will make too). One gets the feeling people are never happy. So in instances like Man of Steel the complaints make no sense to me. I don't mind it quite as much because I know that if Superman was having a fight in my hometown (which is about the size of Smallville) and was filmed, one would see hundreds of businesses being trashed. It strikes me as less product placement and more realism. But some folks complain about that in movies. 
(and although it sometimes can bug me in TV shows, I'm willing to let it slide more because I know the show has to pay bills)
Product placement works best if it's done subtly.

However, among the Mad Men of Marketing, subtlety is seen as a vice, and they feel they have to beat the audience's head with their stitched on sales pitches.

Filmmakers and advertisers must find that happy medium where the film looks realistic, labels can be seen, but where things don't look like a badly made commercial.

By the way I had heard a possible urban legend that the Alex Cox movie Repo Man became famous, incorrectly, as statement against product placement for its use of generic products. The twist is that the generic products were from a product placement deal with a grocery store to use their in-house  brand as free props in exchange for giving it a lot of screen time. 

ILDC said... 
Right now, Disney's film slate doesn't have much going for it besides Marvel, Pixar, live-action cartoon remakes, etc. Is having an increasingly narrow film focus something that's going to someday bite them in the ass? While I'm not saying they have to go back to making R-rated movies, there's something thoughtlessly cynical about saying you only produce tentpoles and "brand deposits".
It will bite them in the ass.

Maybe not today.

Maybe not tomorrow.

But someday.

That's because when a studio starts narrowing its focus to only certain kinds of movies, then they are putting themselves on a path that's only going to get narrower.

Because if they only make Marvel and Pixar movies, then, if some films don't all succeed 100% they're going to limit themselves to certain kinds of Marvel and Pixar movies.

Then they'll limit themselves even further to sequels and reboots of previously successful movies.

And then nothing.
Anonymous said... 
In your opinion, is the lack of original projects, as opposed to sequels, remakes et al , a function of the copyright laws? Just think, if the original 28 year copyright law was in effect, Star Wars, Mad Max and a host of other properties would be public domain and would not be profitable for media companies to continue to turn out unoriginal material. The whole idea of copyright was to boost and stimulate creativity. Now it's strangling it.
I don't think it's the fault of copyright law.

If the old 28 year law was still in effect the studios would be much more militant in renewing their copyrights like they were before the laws were expanded. 

The main cause of unoriginality is fear.

New material is an unknown quantity, and that's terrifying to someone whose job and expense account are dependent on how the company's next quarter is going to go.

Better to stick with things that are known, and those things are franchises and filmmakers with a track record.
ILDC said... 
Do you agree with Ennio Morricone saying film music has gotten less memorable? 
I love Ennio Morricone's music, and I do agree that he has a point. A lot of the movie music is forgettable.

But memorable movie music is a double edged sword.

A memorable movie soundtrack needs to be part of an extremely memorable movie, or it could overwhelm the movie and become the only thing people can remember.

Maestro Morricone has consistently done great and groundbreaking work for decades, but more than a few of the over 500 films he's provided music for have been truly worthy of his work.

If a lot of modern movie music comes across as bland, it's because in many cases it kind of has to be bland.
maurice asked... 
What's your view of the future of the integration of the most popular YouTube and other Internet stars (formerly known as "user-generated content") into the mainstream entertainment business? Disney just bought an aggregation of YouTube-stars (a new-media "studio"?) for $500m. This seems to be a chip on the table, maybe nothing more. Tastes for that kind of content change rapidly and barriers to entry are low, and so it doesn't seem to jibe with Disney/Iger's current hyper-monetization of big intellectual property brands and tentpoles. Jeff Zucker's jibe of a few years back, that it doesn't make sense to trade analog dollars for digital pennies, is relevant as well. So, perhaps, is the BuzzFeed model of clickbait garbage masquerading as journalism (although the best YouTube performers are definitely good entertainers). Will big data analytics and targeted advertising even out the differences and help the two worlds converge in a structural way? Or, despite some obvious opporunities for synergy, are the two worlds simply too different to merge?
I think it will all hinge on one thing: the star quality of the specific project or person.

I don't see YouTube or another form of social media completely taking over entertainment. It's too anarchic, too splintered, and outside of periodic fads like Gangnam Style, incapable of getting a project to stand above all the static and reach the sort of wide audience that the major professional media outlets can.

However, if the big media companies are smart, they'll look beyond the flash-in-the-pan YouTube "stars" to look for real talent, they way they used to hunt for talent on theatrical and nightclub stages and radio.

But that takes effort, and I don't see the big studios doing that unless they're really desperate.
Gary Burnaska said… 
What is your take on hollywood pairing up 20 year old femaies with leading men in their 40s. We've seen this many times with Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. Is this some sort of Hollywood mid-life crisis.  
I do have to admit they also work well together.

I did recently write about this phenomenon, so click here, and thanks for giving me an excuse to post a picture of Jennifer Lawrence with whom I am somewhat smitten.
I hope I answered your questions in this edition that managed to be both rushed and late at the same time.

Feel free to ask me anything in the comments.


  1. Rainforest Giant24/6/15 8:49 pm

    I saw the premier of Repo man at the Seattle secret festival a million years ago. It was favorite of the viewers. At least we made more noise than usual and we were a noisy bunch. We all thought the generic stuff was a comment on the generic quality of the life we were all living regardless of what brand of cigarette we smoked (yes some people actually smoked outside the theater) or what we did with our interchangeable lives.

    What's your take on the new 'Ant-man' any thoughts? And what's with Marvel's fascination with hyphens?

    And what about 'reality' TV? I'm asking because my grandson just went to see a 'star' at a CoC meeting in town. Will horrific garbage like the Kardashians and staged 'contests' finally see the end or will no one go broke underestimating the American public?

  2. Thanks for your answer D! Hope everything went well with your hiatus.

    "The main cause of unoriginality is fear."

    Ah, but necessity overcomes fear. The origin of that fear is investors having to risk their money to make huge blockbusters. Take the copyrights away and no more investors. What we would get would be much cheaper movies and a hell of a lot more originality.

    Anyway, glad you're back! Are you going to SDCC this year?