Where Were We?

Come In We're OpenIf the emails that have been coming in from some of our loyal readers are any indication, some of you may be wondering where we’ve been or why the posts on Celluloid Junkie have decreased over the past six months.

The explanation is quite simple really. Like all of those who blog about the industries within which they work, sometimes it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to write about certain topics for various reasons. The very jobs which allow us to be knowledgeable enough to write about our industry sometimes actually prevent us from doing so due to conflicts of interest or breaches of confidentiality. Since these positions are how we actually feed our families, they tend to be given priority.

So it is that over the past several months each of the contributors to Celluloid Junkie have been otherwise engaged. Patrick von Sychowski has been busy tending to his responsibilities at Reliance MediaWorks. J. Sperling Reich has been focused on a number of industry related projects. Anyone who has glanced a a trade publication over the past year knows how busy (and feted) Carolyn Giardina has been lately.

That said, we expect to pick up the pace here on Celluloid Junkie and try to make up for some lost time… or in our case, a lack of worthwhile posts.

Fancy Heading Up UK’s Digital Cinema Group?

cea-logoThe UK’s Cinema Exhibitors’ Association (CEA) had previously announced that they are setting up an organization to support small-to-medium sized exhibitors in the switch to digital, along the lines of the semi-hibernating Cinema Buying Group (CBG) of NATO. CEA’s CEO Phil Clapp commented at the time that:

many [cinemasl also recognise that they are extremely unlikely to be able to secure funding deals to allow them to convert on their own. We strongly believe that the proposed funding group may be the only option to achieve this for a significant majority of small and medium-sized cinema operators.

Now the time has come to appoint someone to head up this mission. From the announcement:

As detailed in an advert appearing in the next edition of Screen International, the CEA is looking to recruit – initially on a six month contract – an individual with the following qualities:

  • Experience of work in film distribution and/or exhibition at a senior level, with an understanding of the key industry issues and processes between the two sectors;
  • Experience of digital cinema contracts and/or deployment;
  • Knowledge of the major US studios and international distributors, including the key decision-makers on issues around digital cinema;
  • Proven negotiating skills; and
  • Experience of running an organisation at director or a similar senior level.

Key initial tasks for the successful candidate will be to: establish the necessary business, governance and financial structures for the group; undertake an analysis of the current market for digital cinema in relation to group members; and, through discussion with potential funding partners and others, to identify those approaches which might provide a ‘best fit’ for group members with regard to financial support.

It may be somewhat optimistic to think that this can be achieved in six months, but the contract does have an extension option. Expect whoever is appointed to be spending a lot of time on a plane somewhere between Heathrow and LAX.

Summer B.O. Blame Game Has Already Started

Apparently the stars are to blame for not delivering more hits this summer, which appropriately enough finished this past weekend with the star-less sci fi film District 9 taking the top spot. Not that it was a bad summer, since early reports indicate that there is a year-on-year increase for 2009 so far. It is just that the hits were not delivered by the actors with $20m pay packets, according to the New York Times:

The gradual trend away from big-star vehicles in the summer has been under way for years.

At the start of the decade, summer still belonged to names: Cruise (“Mission Impossible II”), Crowe (“Gladiator”) and Clooney (“The Perfect Storm”) were the top three in 2000. But the three biggest films of this summer season, a crucial period from May 1 to Labor Day that typically accounts for 40 percent of annual ticket sales, have been “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” “Up” and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

The fading ability of Hollywood stars to command box-office attention, and why that is happening, has been a perennial topic in Hollywood. And economists and academics have long argued that marquee names are not worth their expense.

The biggest names attached to those films: Shia LaBoeuf, Ed Asner and Daniel Radcliffe.

So are the studios going to stop using stars? No, they will simply ask them to take a pay cut as they always have. And further into the article the blame falls on social networking and Twitter – as discussed below.

Twitter’s Instant Reviews Has Hollywood Worried

A little bird told us that the Hollywood studios are starting to take note of the impact instant 140-character-or-less reviews can have on the box office prospects of a newly released films. Well, actually, it’s a Washington Post articles that examines what impact if any Twitter had on the mixed fortunes of film like  Brüno and G.I. Joe. From the article:

“I think Twitter can’t be stopped,” says Stephen Bruno, the Weinstein Co.’s senior director of marketing. “Now you have to see it as an addition to the campaign of any movie. People want real-time news, and suddenly a studio can give it to them in a first-person way.”

Eamonn Bowles, president of Magnolia Pictures, says studios are worrying about a time when “people will be Twittering during the opening credits — and leaving when they don’t like them.” But he also warns, “The next step [for the Twitter Effect] is for studio marketing to manipulate it.”

While Twitter is no doubt having some impact, Boxofficemojo.com‘s president injects a note of realism into the debate at the end of the article:

“Revolutionize moviegoing? No,” he said. “But all the tiny little bits together [Twitter, MySpace, Facebook and others] can add up to something meaningful.”

A sample of Tweets of Quantin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds from today:

Akilah_Zomg Inglourious Basterds was fantastic! Love love love love, go see it!

Thenatt Inglourious Basterds FANTASTIC!!! Go watch it!!! I clapped!! I never clap LMFAO….

RobertDonohue Inglourious Basterds. Not what I expected. Still very good. I must say I enjoyed District 9 more. I wish there were more basterds scenes.

aprilismissing So Inglourious Basterds is the best movie I’ve seen in quite a long time. Def. catching it again this weekend.

taylorisgreat inglourious basterds totally scalps district 9. read em n weep.

So it seems that early Twitts are greater fans of QT than critics.