Archive | November, 2012
28 Nov

This post is very insightful post on some truly innovative films


There is no doubt that this is the era of the moving image. Since the 1860s, with the invention of the zoetrope, an unstoppable wave of innovation has taken this infant technology and built it into the definitive mode of communication for the twenty-first century. Now we are increasingly unlikely to go a single day without exposure to computer screens, televisions, smart-phones, cinema screens and no doubt many other examples that do not immediately spring to mind. In the modern era, when our reality is governed by the moving image, it is sometimes hard to recall just how incredible this change truly is.

So I’ve taken the liberty of almost arbitrarily selecting some examples of the moving image from history to remind us of the incredible shifts it has afforded.

Earliest surviving film and sound recordings (1888)

Here is some footage shot in Leeds, London on 14 October 1888, purported…

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My Collections

27 Nov

The person with the closed eyes is me, Tom Atkinson. I do consider myself both a box office nerd and movie nerd in general.  I love watching movies, going to the movies, and talking about movies. I feel like over the course of this blog I’ve explained my love for movies. I feel that I should now show you my love for movies by showing some movie items that are special to me.

Here is a ticket stub from the Steven Spielberg film I saw this weekend, Lincoln. Most people, once they get the ripped stub, throw it away. I do something different.

I collect them. In 2006 I had just seen Click, not a great movie but significant in my creation of the stub wall. After seeing the movie, I  put the  annoying to carry around ticket stub by  my window in my room.  After the ticket stub staying there awhile, the sun had degraded it. I found the look of the stub to be cool so I decided to just keep it.

At the time I wasn’t aware of the possible future sentimental reasons for keeping the stub. I realized that these stubs could have symbolic and sentimental meaning. These ticket stubs could become the equivalent of taking a picture. These ticket stubs could essentially freeze a moment in time: instead of it just being used to gain entrance into a theater, the stub could offer memories of an experience had while attending the movie.

I’ve seen a lot of movies including some I’m not proud of. If you can see, despite the bad picture quality, I have a Year One ticket stub. That was a horrendous movie that I saw with my brothers. When I went, the theater was packed and no one laughed except my brothers. Everyone began to stare at us because their laughing was distracting and shocking due to the terrible movie quality.

This a great example of me taking a memory along with me from just a ticket stub. In my opinion objects only gain importance when we give them a certain value. So it doesn’t matter what the object is–if it’s important to you, it’s valuable.

Not every ticket stub has a fun story, but it’s important that every movie I see I keep the stub. My thought process is that in the future I’ll likely forget seeing the more forgettable movies on the wall, but I still might take enjoyment out of remembering what the hell some of these movies were I went to see.

I’ve seen so many movies that I ended up running out of room and had to get another bulletin board. For some reason it’s only a half bulletin board and I’m going to need another bulletin board. If there’s anybody reading this who has a spare bulletin board, let me know.

This is my TV at home; it’s kind of hard to see, but there’s a blu ray player under my cable box. Next to my blu ray player are a pile of blu rays and DVDs. That leads me to my other collection of:

A lot of DVDs. My DVD collection contains different types of movies and TV shows. I used to always love buying a new movie, bringing it home and watching it once and then never watching the DVD again. Clearly watching a DVD only once after buying it at a store for $20 is a waste of money. That’s why my collection has failed to grow exponentially over the last year. I’ve slowly started to just watch a movie I want to see “on demand” instead of spending my money.However, if there’s a movie I feel I have to own and I will watch repeatedly, then I feel it’s worth joining my DVD collection.

I feel that I have shown you all my passion for movies with my collection of movie stubs and DVDs. I would like to hear now about anything of sentimental value that you collect.

Box Office History: The Big Parade *Post below this one is my informational post #5

19 Nov

(Again if you are in my Writing for Electronic Media class and are giving blog feedback my “There was never just one” post right below this one is my information post#5 I did this post on my free time which explains the worse than usual grammar.)

Last semester I took a silent film class. Going into it I was skeptical because I had a stereotype in mind about what a silent movie was like these kids do.  What I found instead was a beautiful and unique art form that was not primitive what so ever in fact the only thing radically different than movies now is no dialogue. That doesn’t mean that silent films were silent in fact most theaters used to have a live orchestra playing music so it was sort of a combination of theater going and a concert.

In fact there are many sequences of large grandeur including the legendary Babylonia sequences in the D.W Griffith silent film Intolerance  that come to mind.  One of the reasons silent films are so negatively perceived is that many silent films were destroyed once sound came along.

So when I decided to start a new post theme about significant movies in box office history either well known or not I decided to start with the often under appreciated silent era. The silent film I’m going to talk about is not well known and not as famous some others. When people think of silent films most look to Chaplin, Keaton, and the highly controversial Birth of a Nation as examples. When The 1925 silent film The Big Parade was released  Birth of a Nation was the highest grossing film of all time. A common unknown fact is that this little known film is actually the highest grossing film of the silent era.

The Big Parade is a two and a half hour war/romance epic about WWI. The movie is broken into two parts one part is a foreign romance that the main character  has with a French woman. The other part is the most extreme anti war movie that had been released up until that time. This part is often considered the influence for two of the greatest anti war movies of all time All quiet on the Western Front and Saving Private Ryan. 

The Big Parade has two famous scenes one is when the main character and the French woman share gum and the French woman doesn’t get the concept and swallows it and a devastating scene where soldiers get killed with a little ping musical noise every time a solider falls.

Another fascinating story about this movie is the star of the film Jon Gilbert had a fall similar to many stars from the silent era. At the time he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world, but When audiences first heard his voice when sound came along they felt it was not what they expected him to sound like. This happened to many stars including another actor Douglas Fairbanks. The fall of these two actors is the inspiration for the Oscar winning film from this year about the silent era The Artist. Imagine a star like George Clooney or Leonardo DiCaprio  falling from the top of the mountain overnight to complete irrelevance then you get the height of the fall of these two actors.

The movie grossed an outstanding for the time $14 million which surpassed the $10 million made by The Birth of a Nation. When released in 1925 the film was such a huge hit with audiences that the film would play in some theaters for over a year. Meaning attendance was so high that theater owners kept playing it continuously for a year before audience attendance finally waned.

One of the reasons this film hasn’t gotten the acknowledgement of some the other famous silent films is there isn’t a true owner of the film. MGM released the film but doesn’t own the rights anymore. There is a group called Kino Video which has been doing amazing film restoration work yet can’t get ownership of this film. VHS copies still exist which is how I saw the film last year but a DVD version is unlikely to come soon.

“There Was Never Just One”: The Current Franchise Era in Hollywood

19 Nov

“There was never just one”: this is the tagline to last summer’s remake of the Bourne franchise, which I believe is indicative of the current era of Hollywood big budget franchises. There can never be just one; in fact, the more the merrier. Remaking Bourne after a brilliant finale to the Matt Damon franchise–just to squeeze every last cent out of it–was not the only head scratcher of the year.

The Amazing Spiderman remade Spiderman five years after the last Tobey Maguire version and 10 years after the massively successful original that everyone has seen. The craziest part is that the movie made huge money ($260 million) at the box office. This feature of franchises leads to a large conflict in the things I value about being a box office nerd and moviegoer.

1. My appreciation for the business side of movie making


If I were a businessman in charge of a movie studio, why would I ever think I should just make one? If a movie makes $500 million with the first installment, then common knowledge of sequels tells us that while the next movie might not make as much, it will generate a higher opening weekend than the original. Now, foreign markets make sequels an even bigger no brainer.

Let’s say that of the $500 million made by the hypothetical movie, $160 million of it comes from domestic audiences and $340 million comes from foreign audiences. This is a 32%/68% ratio, which is now common. Then with the sequel that difference increases. If the sequel makes $700 million worldwide, the ratio is usually $200 million domestic and $500 million foreign–with every subsequent sequel that difference increases.

A great example is the Ice Age franchise. The first film’s domestic to foreign ratio was 46% domestic and 54% foreign. For the latest film, which was the fourth movie, the ratio is a mind-boggling 19% domestic and 81% foreign. What I appreciate about this business strategy is that the movie studio that owns the Ice Age franchise essentially has a cash crop on their hands.

Another business strategy I greatly admire is the Marvel cinematic universe. The Marvel cinematic universe is a collection of individual superhero movie franchises that combine to create a superhero team up film. There are four superheroes: Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America. Each super hero makes a movie that has loose ties to one another; then they come together as a team to make a movie.

What makes this such a genius strategy by Marvel is that each individual film makes around $400 million worldwide. Then the team up movie The Avengers makes at least $1 billion dollars. If you combine these movies, Marvel makes close to $3 billion and that doesn’t even include merchandising and DVD sales.

2. I’m obsessed with studying stats

I don’t know what it is about statistics, but studying numbers is so much fun to me. Then if you give me numbers for something that I love like movies, then you get why I love studying box office so much. For me the bigger the numbers, the better, and those usually come from the big franchise movies. If you look at the top opening weekends of all time they’re all sequels.

The reason sequels always have a higher opening weekend than original movies is their intense fan base. Original movies need a good reaction by audiences. Original movies tend to open more modestly, and if they have a strong enough audience reaction they get something called “legs.” Legs means they spend a longer time in theaters than franchise sequels, which tend to burn off audience demand quickly.

While seeing a movie with legs is fun (original films like Avatar and Inception are examples), the most fun comes from the freak openings that come from movie franchises.

3. I love movies as an art form


I honestly believe that movies can captivate us now more than ever. With the advances in modern technology and the large budgets, the opportunities for amazing out-of-body theater experiences are limitless. However all the money is going to franchises. While movie studios do care about the quality, they care more about protecting the brand than they do about creating the best movie possible.

The best movies come when directors are given a blank check and told to go make any movie they want. However there really are only a handful of directors who get that privilege. These directors, in my opinion, are Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese.

All of these directors needed to prove over a long period of time that they know how to make great movies that audiences want to see. The problem is that there are some great directors who know how to make blockbuster movies, but movie studios are forcing them into franchise hell. I’m thinking of directors like JJ Abrams, Brad Bird, and Joss Wheddon who are all stuck making franchise movies when they could be creating great unique films.

My point is that movie studios think they should never make just one, but maybe they should. Then we can get more risky and more creative movies then we are getting now.

Box Office Nerd Poll

19 Nov
16 Nov

an interesting look at the oscar race and all have box office potential.

15 Nov

A great review of the new James Bond.

A Constant Visual Feast

Has the James Bond franchise come full circle? Are we now at a point where there are no more secrets to the world’s most famous globe-trotting, womanizing, martini-guzzling spy? By the time Sam Mendes directs Skyfall, his entry in the half-a-century-old series, to its logical conclusion, we’ve actually experienced cinema of regression, watching as the film delves into the character’s roots before witnessing them burst forth to let their genre heritage flourish. Since Daniel Craig took over star duties in 2006’s excellent Casino Royale, we’ve seen him take Bond from a debonaire MI6 agent to a British cousin of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne; with Skyfall, we come to understand why, and also see Craig assume the traditional mantle we expect him to bear in the role.

The film literally starts with a bang– in fact, several of them. Mendes’ name isn’t one typically associated with high-end…

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Holiday Season Forecast

3 Nov

The Holiday Season: In the eyes of the movie business you all are already thinking about Christmas.  Forget that it’s only the second day of November and you haven’t even  eaten all of your Halloween candy yet. 

Just as summer starts in the weekend of May the holiday season for movie studios starts the first weekend of November. The holiday season which goes through New Year’s day is the second most lucrative time of the year for movies behind only the summer. As of late however movies released during the holiday season have started to become just as successful as summer.

Movies such as “Avatar”, “Harry Potter”, and “The Lord of the Rings Trilogy” have all been released during this time of the year. This year appears like it will continue this run with the release of “The Hobbit”, “Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn Part 2”, and “Skyfall”. The holiday season looks to start strong with a really interesting looking animated movie “Wreck it Ralph”.

This Weekend:

  Wreck It Ralph

There’s two new interesting movies but the clear #1 movie this weekend will be Wreck it Ralph. The movie has a very fun premise a video game villain is sick of being the villain so he sets off to become a hero. The trailer is hilarious including a scene where he goes to a video game villain support group.

My Prediction: Any other weekend and I’d say this movie is a likely canidate for 50 million dollars. This weekend however due to hurricane Sandy some movie theaters in the biggest city in the US New York  will remain closed. This could hurt Wreck it Ralph’s box office for the weekend I don”t Think it will destroy it but it will feel an effect. You include great reviews and you’ve got a movie that might start slow but stay in theaters a long time. 

$40 million weekend/$160 million total

My Prediction vs the Experts:

Box Office Mojo: $51 million

Box $46 million

The Hollywood Reporter: 45 million

Entertainment Weekly: $38 million

My Overall Forecast:

Now I’m going to pick who will make the most overall money over the next two months.

1. The Hobbit  

“The lord of the Rings Trilogy” was one of the most beloved movies of this generation. The last film “Return of the King” went 11 for 11 at the Oscars so it appeared that making the film’s prequel book into a movie would be a no brainier.  I don’t want to go into it in detail but the best way to say it is that it took a little a while to actually begin shooting.

It’s a competitive year for “the Hobbit” to release itself in. Already there have been 3 $400 million dollar movies “The Avengers  (622 million), “The Dark Knight Rises” (447 million), and “The Hunger Games” (408 million) but I believe the film should at least surpass “The Hunger Games and become the #3 movie of they year. If not it will still be a billion dollar movie nonetheless. The budget is also enormous for these movies so the visuals will be fantastic even if the movie isn’t as good as the trilogy.

Forecast: $152 million/ $425 million

2. Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2   

I don’t want to rip on these movies I’m just forecasting how much money movies this holiday season will make. So I will just say this movie will make a  huge amount of money. How huge is the real question to me. Tickets are selling at a record breaking pace and the advance ticket website fandango says that 40% of all advanced tickets are for this movie. These factors combine in me making a bold prediction Twilight will not break “The Avenger’s” all time opening weekend record of $207 million but it will break the last “Harry Potter’s” opening day record of $91 million dollars. So I will say it will become the first movie to make $100 million dollars in one day

Here’s a list of all time opening days

Forecast: $175 million/$335 million

3. Skyfall 

The last film was a disappointment but audiences will forgive “Qauntam Of Solace” especially since Daniel Craig is the second best James Bond of all time. Plus The trailers have been fantastic as are the reviews so we have another no brainer this film will likely become the highest grossing James Bond movie of all time.

Forecast: $75 million/$200 million

Films to Watch For:


Silver Linings Playbook: Jennifer Lawrence “The Hunger Games” officially becomes the hottest actress on the planet. This movie will bring her Oscar nomination total to two already and she’s so young and she also has two high paying movie franchise jobs in the “X men” and “Hunger Games”. Bradley Cooper officially gets himself out of “The Hangover” shadow as well with talks of him maybe getting a nomination too. So box office is tricky to predict for this one because it’s an indie movie but also a strong Oscar contender Forecast: $100 million dollars. (Being released limited first so it’s harder to predict its opening weekend)

Django Unchained: Quentin Tarantino is one the few remaining directors who can do whatever he wants however he wants to do it. Thank god, because this movie looks insanley good.  He’s got Jaime Foxx as a freed slave and Leonardo DiCaprio as an evil plantation owner. Forecast: $40 million(six days released on Christmas which is a Tuesday)/ $130 million

Lincoln: Steven Spielberg is making a movie about Abraham Lincoln. That already has a ton of appeal add in Oscar talk for Daniel day Lewis and the film itself and you’ve got a potential blockbuster. Forecast: $120 million (limited opening)

Rise of the Guardians  Easily the most likely hit of these films but i must applaud the concept. Santa, the Easter Bunny, and The Tooth Fairy combing to make a lethal fighting group. If I were a kid I’d be freaking out and I sort of am already it is a cool concept. Forecast: $55 million (Five days released on Wednesday before Thanksgiving)/ $155 million