Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

Hollywood Playbook: Tuesday's Top 5 News Items

‘Colbert Report’: Leftist Comic to Replace Leftist Comic Leaving to Replace Leftist Comic

The cultural and political conformity at Comedy Central and CBS lives on now that the rotation is complete. Left-wing Stephen Colbert is leaving Comedy Central to replace the left-wing David Letterman at CBS. Taking left-wing Colbert’s place is the left-wing Larry Wilmore who has been the “Senior Black Correspondent” on the left-wing “Daily Show” with the left-wing Jon Stewart since 2006.

Man, imagine what this would look like if left-wingers DIDN’T believe in diversity and free and open debate.  


‘Godzilla’: Reviewers Complain About ‘Hide the Monster’

Variety, The Wrap,  and others seem to like director Gareth Edwards’ “Godzilla,” but there is some complaining about the fact that you apparently don’t see the star of the movie for a full hour. Edwards has said in interviews that this was intentional. Like Spielberg did in “Jaws” and “Jurassic Park,” and Ridley Scott did in “Alien,” Edwards wanted to milk the anticipation before revealing the creature.

The thing about those examples, though (cited I believe by Edwards himself in an interview) is that while you were enjoying the hell out of the movie, you didn’t much notice you had not yet seen the creature. Those movies are so good and so well crafted, you didn’t get antsy. With “Jaws” the reveal is a total and unexpected shock. With “Jurassic Park,” you share the wonder and awe of the protagonists. In “Alien,” you kind of don’t want to see the thing.

 If the audience gets antsy and annoyed waiting to see Godzilla — if the audience notices they are not seeing Godzilla — that is not a good thing.

Overall, the complaint appears to be a small one. “Godzilla” is so far earning an 89% fresh rating with critics, which is phenomenal for a summer monster movie; right up there with the “Captain America” sequel.

I know I want to see it.


Ugh: Welcome to the Summer of Gross-Out Gags

Variety agrees with what I wrote yesterday, that the success of “Neighbors” can only mean Hollywood will be further encouraged to produce more “gross-out,” R-rated comedies. This summer alone, Variety says, “22 Jump Street,” “Tammy,” “Sex Tape, “and “A Million Ways to Die In the West” will “rip the envelope of good taste to shreds.”

Who would have ever thought that things would go so far that you could still love films like “Animal House,” “Caddyshack,” and “American Pie” but still be considered a fuddy-duddy.

This too shall pass.

Are Feature Films Losing Their Prestige Mojo To Television?

Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr. and Variety’s Peter Bart discuss the state of movies and whether or not films are dealing with a brain drain as talented writers and producers head over to television in the hopes of grabbing their own piece of this new Golden Age.

Bart thinks it is all cyclical. Fleming is edging towards despair.

Fleming: Working on the Deadline/Awardsline Emmy issues prompted me to binge my way through cable series like True Detective and House Of Cards. It really got me depressed about the movie business.

Bart: Why?

Fleming: Because those series and 10 more like them are better than anything I see on a movie screen. For the 25 years I’ve covered it, film has always been the sexiest, most prestigious part of the business. … But now, it feels like the ecosystem has been damaged. The creative vision on the big films comes from executives who give creativity-stifling one-step screenwriter deals, with emphasis on reaching four quadrant audiences. Producers have been marginalized. Should the authorship of a picture belong to the studio exec? By contrast, some of the best series are generated by feature writers who couldn’t get hired after studios turned away from smart mid-budget dramas in favor of no-budget genre and high-priced tent poles. I remember Tony Gilroy telling me a couple years ago that movies like his superb Michael Clayton would go extinct, but there should be no funeral because all those writers who made them were flocking to TV and wait and see what happens. Man, was he right. Will the next generation growing up in this creative blight be inspired by mediocrity to dream about having the authority to reboot The Hangover?

First off, “Michael Clayton” sucked. And I don’t think the idea of a “Hangover” reboot will wait for another generation. In five years, “The Hangover” will return with the characters as dads, or something.

Basically, what has happened is pretty much what many predicted would happen 30 years ago when the first big screen televisions and VCRs made the home theatre an affordable reality for the hoi polloi. There will always be masturbatory film festivals so industry types can feel like beautiful people, but everyday movie theatres are more and more reserved for teenagers who want to get out of the house. It is all about the movies they like – horror, R-rated comedy, and the kind of sci-fi/comic book/actions spectacle no 55-inch plasma can deliver.

Sure, there will always be exceptions (like Oscar bait).  As we can see, though, the drama has mostly migrated to where it belongs: on television. That’s a good thing, though, isn’t it?  It isn’t just television that has never been better — dramas have never been better.

More on this conversation between Fleming and Bart below…


‘Godzilla’ In Theatres Today – Available On VOD in Three Weeks?

Fleming also believes that movies are

…hobbled compared to TV because of an inability to compromise with theater owners to close the gap between theatrical and DVD/VOD release. …

Kevin Spacey, who tested the feature multi-platform feature release model on Margin Call and then the groundbreaking Netflix series House Of Cards, told me recently that his mantra has become, if you give the people what they want when they want it, they won’t steal it. Why can’t exhibitors and studios get together and stop fighting the inevitable?

Theatre owners have actually threatened to refuse to exhibit films if the home video release window is  further compressed.

That can’t last.

Promotion is such a growing part of any film’s budget that it seems nuts to continue to pay for two advertising campaigns (theatrical and home video) when releasing the film on home video just a few weeks after the theatrical release would likely save millions in promotional costs.  

There is already something like this happening. If you go to WalMart this weekend, chances are you will find empty “Godzilla” DVDs and Bluray cases being heavily promoted along with a discount if you pre-order. This is one way for the studios to try and use the heavy theatrical advertising campaign to boost DVD sales.  

What effect would releasing “Godzilla” on VOD three or four weeks after the theatrical release have on its theatrical take?

I don’t think much.

As I’ve said before, for the most part, people aren’t going to the movies for the movies anymore. They are going to the movies for the same reason they go out to eat when there’s still food at home or to the mall when there’s Amazon at home. People want to get out of the house, do something, hang out,  hold hands with their girl, enjoy some air conditioning…

And Spacey might be right about the piracy issue. How much of that is driven by people who want to see the movie when everyone else is seeing it but want to avoid the theatre? Is the success of piracy based mainly on pricing or convenience? Is an illegal transaction for a pirated $5 DVD that might look like crap worth saving $10 or $15 if a legitimate copy is available?


Quick Hits

Could Disney finally give us the remastered, unedited Star Wars we want?

Michael Jackson Hit With New Sex Abuse Claim

Dead or Alive, theMusical  Hits Keep Coming

They were just happy pop tunes, until these films got a hold of them

Official Trailer: Fox’s ‘Last Man on Earth



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Follow  John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC              



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