A little giddy thinking about Opening Day today, so if I’m a little scatter-brained, please forgive.
Score another win for 3-D — even if we here in Monroe County have to drive a half-hour or 45 minutes to see any movies in the new format. Clash of the Titans, which was converted to 3-D after it was shot, made $64.1 million this weekend. And about 52 percent of that gross came directly from 3-D screens even if only 28 percent of its screens were 3-D. The pressure is mounting for every movie theater in the country — and the world — to get a 3-D system at their cinema. That’s thousands of dollars every theater is missing out on by not having a 3-D system and there will be thousands more lost with every 3-D movie that comes out, especially Shrek Forever After and Toy Story 3 in the next two months. What makes 3-D movies even more attractive to theaters is the shelf life they seem to have. Theaters don’t make jack on a movie until about the third week of their release. Before that, just about all of the money goes back to the studio. As a movie stays in theaters for extended periods of time, the percentage of money that goes to the theater owner increases. Those are the only movies theater owners give a crap about. So when Avatar makes over $500 million after its 10th box office day, theater owners love it. Alice in Wonderland has made $100 million since its 10th day. Those movies had some extra societal appeal, but Clash screams “opening weekend draw” and seems poised to drop off more than 50 percent next weekend. If it doesn’t fall that much, then we know people are in love with 3-D.
The story behind the creation of Knight Rider has been playing over and over in my head this morning. The story goes that Brandon Tartikoff, the revolutionary head of NBC in the 80s, wanted a show where the hot, young star only said seven words. I forget what they were, other than the two “you’re” and ”welcome” when he got out of bed with whatever woman he was sexing that week. The show became Knight Rider, because the car could do all the talking and David Hasselhoff could just beat the bad guys and look hot. Sam Worthington probably isn’t as dense as The Hoff — but he’s had a couple months like few others have ever had and you barely even know who he is. He’s making a career out of being completely interchangeable, and I doubt that’s how we wants to be remembered. That’s for another time to worry about, right now all he has to worry about is cashing checks from opening huge movies.
It’s starting to get really serious for the slate of bubble TV shows — which ones will be back for another season, and which ones won’t? It used to be that the only concern in that discussion was ratings. Do people watch your show or not? If they did, you stayed on the air. If they didn’t, you were canceled. It was that easy. Now, with bottom lines hurting at every network, there are important business questions that need to be asked. Does your show cost too much? In the case of 24, it does, so it got canceled. Does your show make money in syndication? For Law & Order, TNT isn’t sure if it still does, so NBC doesn’t know if it can renew the venerable crime show for its record 21st season, with or without one of its biggest stars. Is your show close to getting a syndication deal? Til Death was last year, so Fox brought it back from certain death last year. Of the remaining bubble shows this year, there isn’t a thing on there that makes me want to write a letter if it got canceled. Human Target is the best of the bunch, but I barely watch that anymore because it conflicts with the ABC Wednesday comedy lineup.
Normally I’d be pretty pissed at this, a TV show blatantly trying to screw with the rulesjust so that it could win extra Emmys. But eff it, it’s Mad Men, so it gets a pass. The only way it’s going to stay on the air is if it keeps getting attention from Emmy voters. So if moving Elisabeth Moss to the supporting actress category — something that should have happened already anyway — is what keeps Mad Men on the air and extra year or two, fine, I’ll play along. Friday Night Lights did a similar thing with Connie Britton a couple years ago and it didn’t work, she didn’t get nominated in supporting actress either.
R-rated comedies aren’t completely a thing of the past, every now and then one comes around and people say, “See, the R-rated comedy isn’t dead!” But for all intents and purposes, it is. The Hangover, Knocked Up, Wedding Crashers — these are the exceptions to the rule Hollywood doesn’t want to make R-rated comedies, because you are eliminating anyone under 17 from your audience. Since Hollywood doesn’t want to exclude anyone that might pay for movies — unless you’re female, over 50 or any kind of minority — then it behooves them to take out a couple F-bombs and a couple boobs to make sure the movie gets a PG-13 rating. That’s why it’s always good to see raunchy comedy franchises, even if I have yet to understand the appeal of Harold and Kumar. American Pie still is one of the most true depictions of high school life I’ve ever seen on the big screen, even if it was a little overboard. The sequels? Not so much.
I was angry with the casting of Chris Evans as Captain America enough already. So why do I have to hear that a guy who’s already brought one huge comic book character to the screen and now will be bringing an even bigger one next year doesn’t even like comic books? I just don’t get this whole thing, and it’s becoming more and more curious as to why he got the part. And does anyone else think he sounds like a complete idiot in this story? Of course it’s a great story, Chris. This story has survived for more than 60 years and people are still interested in it, so yeah, it’s a great story. You know what they call comic books that aren’t great stories? Bird cage liner. The fact that he wasn’t prepared to answer questions about Captain America just goes to show you how little he knows about comic books. He didn’t think it was that big a deal. He better get prepared over the next couple years to answer questions about Captain America when he’s ordering a triple latte at Starbucks. Then he won’t say even dumber things like he doesn’t know whether Captain America is the boss of The Avengers or not. Can someone please get him a PR person?
Sometimes, you forget that really famous guys have directed some really awful music videos. I actually had the director of the Dancing in the Dark video director wrong in my head — I thought it was John Sayles, but it was really Brian DePalma. That helps explain why DePalma hasn’t made a very good moviesince directing Dancing in the Dark — the stink of this thing was impossible to escape. The one I take umbrage with is Cradle of Love, I always loved that video. And in 1990, it was a 15-year-old’s dream come true. Even more admirable is who it avoided using constant clips from The Adventures of Ford Fairlane as the video. This was the height of videos for soundtrack songs being commercials for movies, so the fact that Fincher used movie clips sparingly and differently — the girl in the video quickly watching the clips on TV — made it different from everything else.