Archive for June, 2005

Just in case you thought the movie was bad…

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

AMC theater chain offers: Enjoy ‘Cinderella Man’ or Get Money Back

In a marketing ploy the company hasn’t trotted out since 1988’s “Mystic Pizza,” AMC took out newspaper ads saying it would refund moviegoers’ money if they are unhappy with one of its features, “Cinderella Man.”
The gimmick is seen as a desperate move to resuscitate the $88 million Ron Howard-directed boxing flick which, as of Tuesday, had grossed a paltry $50.6 million after 26 days in release.

Of course, this will only work if people are staying away because they think it’s going to be a bad movie. If you’re a person who was having doubts as to whether the show would be enjoyable, this is good news for you.

I haven’t seen it because it’ll be on DVD in four months anyway. If Melinda and I go to this movie, we’ll do a matinee (we always attend “cheaper before 5PM” showings) for only $5 each…and we’ll STILL have spent $2 more than the cost of buying it used from Hollywood Video.

And we don’t even have a widescreen TV yet. Once a person has shelled out $1500 and up (way up) for a big screen, it makes even less sense to go to a theater.

Penciling and Inking DVDs are out!

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Tom Nguyen and Doug Mahnke’s new DVD series has debuted. “The Doug Mahnke Style of Comic Book Penciling” and “The Tom Nguyen Style of Comic Book Inking” guide the reader through the rendering of a comic page. I believe you’re seeing the same art in progress in both disks, so you’ll watch the piece go from blank page to ready-for-coloring.

Tom’s DVD features a bit of a storyline as well, as he struggles to meet a deadline and keep his job. It also features beautiful women!

Mark Steyn reviews Batman Begins

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Having pointed you to all of Mark’s past Batman movie reivews, I figured we all wanted to know his take on Batman Begins.

LIBERTAS Review: War of the Worlds

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Not great, not terrible seems to be the consensus.

Today is Ray Harryhausen’s birthday!

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Ray Harryhausen’s Birthday is being celebrated on Turner Classic Movies via the showing of some of the stop motion animator’s rarities.

Unfortunately, the only Classic Movie channel I get is American Movie Classics. (Someone recently told me that they’re changing their name to American Movie Channel because all they ever show are classics like “Turner and Hooch” and “My Boyfriend’s Back”.) I’ll have to comfort myself by watching one of the movies from my Ray Harryhausen box set!

Not wowwed about WoW

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

When a studio doesn’t allow critics to pre-screen a movie, that’s usually a terrific sign that it’s a dud. In the case of “War of the Worlds”, debuting today, critics were allowed to see it ahead of time but couldn’t publish their reviews until June 29th. Was that just a way to pique curiosity, or does it mean that the studio knows it’s a stinker?

Looks like the latter. Drudge Report has the following links:

VARIETY RAVE FOR ‘WAR OF THE WORLDS’…
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER: ALIENS IMPRESS, BUT LACKS HUMAN IDENTITY…
EBERT: ‘BIG, CLUNKY, CONTAINING SOME SENSATIONAL SIGHTS’…
SACRAMENTO BEE: DOESN’T SET ITSELF APART…
LA DAILY NEWS: THRILLING, BUT REMAKE EVENTUALLY RUNS OUT OF AMMO…
NEW YORK TIMES: ‘REASONABLY ENTERTAINING RENDERING’…
LA TIMES: ‘RIVETING AND RELEVANT’…
SAN JOSE MERC: ‘A PICTURE WITHOUT A THOUGHT IN ITS PRETTY HEAD; NOT END OF WORLD, JUST WISH IT WERE BY END OF MOVIE’…
AP: DISJOINTED AND EPISODIC, ALIENS LOOK ‘BEGGED, BORROWED AND STOLEN FROM EVERY RECENT MOVIE’…
ORLANDO SENTINEL: ‘GRIM, HEAVY AND PONDEROUS’…

Meanwhile, Ebert gives it two stars. He also says that the budget was only $130 million.

Miss Fear Factor last night?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

If, like me, you forgot to watch the King Kong trailer after Fear Factor, you can now watch it online.

My room keeps spinning

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Argh. Optical Illusions and Visual Phenomena and other timewasters, all courtesy of a tip from Jonah Goldberg.

Eye of Sauron is in space

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Hubble spies lord of the stellar rings

A recent image captured with the Hubble Space Telescope – which makes the system look uncannily like the Great Eye of Sauron from the blockbusting Lord of the Rings trilogy – confirms that Fomalhaut’s ring is curiously offset with respect to the star.

Day By Day tackles Supreme Court ruling

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Day By Day by Chris Muir is personalizing the Supreme Court’s recent appalling decision by having Damon lose his house.

If you click over to there after today, use the calendar navigation to find the strip for 6/28/05. I love the strip, but Muir has got to get his web guy to change the navigational structure for the site. Currently, there is no way to point people to a URL for a specific day. That’s why I often find people swiping the images and posting them, or pointing people to the specific image URL…neither of which helps his advertisers. It’s a pity when a major website like NRO’s The Corner wants to send people to your site but they can only link to a graphic.

Okay, enough from me. Like I’m one to criticize anyone else’s web site.

Beau knows marketing

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Ah, the wisdom of offering free handouts on the World Wide Web:

Beau Smith’s Guerilla Marketing 101

As part of his grassroots promotion efforts for his upcoming trade paperback from IDW Publishing, The Complete Wynonna Earp, Smith offered to send a postage paid, signed, Wynonna Earp black & white print at no cost to anyone in the world that emailed him with a request. Scoop readers were among those online to whom the offer was extended.

“I thought I’d get requests for maybe 100 at best,” the writer and former IDW marketing chief told Scoop.

The final count came in at 1,754.

Aside from underestimating the count by 1600%, Beau’s a marketing genius.

Sad day for Winnie the Pooh fans

Monday, June 27th, 2005

Voices of Piglet and Tigger pass away within a day of each other:

John Fiedler, voice of Piglet, dies at 80

Paul Winchell, voice of Tigger, dies at 82

One thing Lex Luthor hasn’t tried

Monday, June 27th, 2005

We could solve our transportation problems with a Buttered Cat Array.

I don’t know why, but I proclaim this best web site

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

All Glory To The Hypnotoad!

Where movies and comics intersect

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

The writer of the article I just pointed you to also did a comic on the same subject: CulturePulp 028: ‘Serenity’ Now!

Firefly movie “Serenity” building anticipation

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

The Browncoats Rise Again

“Firefly went on the air two years ago … and was immediately hailed by critics as one of the most canceled shows of the year.”

A friend of mine has attended one of these Serenity pre-screenings, even though he’d never seen the show…and he was so entranced with the mini-movie that he ran out and bought the Firefly DVD box set. And this is a guy who doesn’t even have a habit of buying TV show box sets!

So… if he could get into the movie even though it isn’t complete and even though he’d never seen the show, I’m guessing Serenity is going to be a success.

Who was in Arkham?

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

No real spoilers here if you haven’t seen Batman Begins yet. (Why haven’t you?)

In a tracking shot in the movie, the camera dolleys past intense, furrow-browed patients glaring through the small windows in their cells, and we see a couple guys lying on their beds.

Here’s my question: are any of them supposed to be specific Batman references that I’m not picking up on? One of them is female and thus is probably Pamela Iseley, but aside from that I couldn’t detect any particulars.

Please use the comment form to reply. Thanks!

Christopher Priest underappreciates himself

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

Christopher Priest blogs that he invented the whole “Bruce Wayne goes to Tibet to learn martial arts” thing and he’s happy to see it in the movie even though he’s sure DC would never acknowledge this.

Little does he know that DC released a new Batman Begins Trade Paperback which contains Scott Beatty’s movie adaptation as well as several stories that appear to have shaped the screenplay. And one of them is exactly the story that Christopher Priest cites. Hopefully he’ll get this trackback ping and learn that he’s not so undervalued by DC. (Of course, he’s probably learned that by now when he got his check for the reprinting of his story.)

Shout out to my peeps

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

I’m still working on the redesign of Monitor Duty. The good news is that I just bought the Moveable Typbe Bible and it’s an extremely helpful book. It should make it much easier for me to figure out the best way to organize the site redesign. Until I feel I’ve read up enough about it, I’ll just stick to some basics like restoring a navbar so that you can find our Forum and the Fanzing Archives.

Until I get a blogroll going, I’d like to recognize a few sites. The Sock Drawer is a fun read and definitely a site of interest to Monitor Duty readers.

And you’ve got to love the design of Dial B For Blog, definitely one of the more visual comic feasts on the web. I’d also like to extend my condolences to the site’s owner, “Robby Reed,” upon the death of whatever crawled up his exit orifice when he was watching Batman Begins. Clearly, its death throes distracted him from the fine movie being shown on the screen.

War of the Worlds most expensive movie ever?

Friday, June 24th, 2005

According to spies for Fox411, War of the Worlds may be the most expensive movie yet.

I’ve got a solid new figure for the budget on “War of the Worlds.” Are you ready?

Not counting promotion: $182 million. With promotion, think more like $230 million.

This week I was watching my new Jaws DVD, in which Spielberg in 1974 says that it’s unnerving mounting a “multi-million dollar” movie. Jaws only cost about $12 million dollars and made it back in 2 weeks, going on to make almost half a billion dollars. I’m not sure if these figures are in today’s dollars or 1975 dollars, or mixed. (Oddly enough, the British documentary on the DVD which was made during the filming says that Jaws’ budget is 1.5 million pounds, which would only be 2-3 million dollars; I’m not sure why that figure is so off.)

In any case, the point is that Spielberg and Hollywood in general have gone way past the point where they would put out a movie that could generate returns that are a multiple of the expenditures. This movie could bomb and fall far short of recouping the money. It may make its money back and, if it’s really good, make half a billion dollars…which would only be 2x the money spent. If it is a phenomenonal success and generates a BILLION dollars in tickets, DVD sales and all other tie-ins, that would still be only 4.34 times the cost of the film.

Aren’t there simpler, less risky ways to earn a couple bucks for every dollar you spend?

A few movies can take those kinds of gambles, sure. Titanic and Terminator 2, for instance, both had seemingly-absurd expenses which only seem wise in retrospect. They had intense spectacles and compelling stars in addition to many other worthwhile qualities (acting, direction, script, art design, etc.). But here they’re hinging a $230 million movie on Tom Cruise (who’s had a string of mediocre films, is a fading star and his publicity campaign consists of Scientology nuttiness) and Spielberg (hasn’t had a colossal runaway hit since Saving Private Ryan in 1998, and since then has had expensive flubs like Minority Report and A.I. and a couple mildly interesting Tom Hanks films). The other big star of the movie is Dakota Fanning, and every time I see her I remember how M. Night Shyamalamalan mounted a War of the Worlds on a much smaller budget!