Manifest: 5 other weird TV flights you’d be better off missing

September 26, 2018

Manifest: 5 other weird TV flights you’d be better off missing

Fly the freaky skies

Manifest debuted this week on NBC, to good ratings. The basic premise puts it solidly into the geeky TV realm, as passengers on a flight land years after it takes off, with a different sense of time passing.

While there was a time when even the concept of heavier-than-air flight was considered by many to be science fiction, air travelers in the TVerse face greater risks than simply losing your luggage.

Here are five pre-Manifest examples of when it would have been better to miss the flight altogether:

Lost (2004-2010)

Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 crash-landed…and that was just the beginning of a series that riveted audiences for years. A strong cast of characters, bizarre happenings, and a heavily-debated finale guarantees its gate space in the Fantastic Terminal.

The Friendly Skies episode of Miracles (2003)

The second episode of the short-lived series (which had a notable fan base) brings the paranormal investigation team into the case of an airplane that disappeared…and then reappeared. The episode clearly established the personal stakes of the weirdness, that people’s lives were affected emotionally by what Alva, Paul, and Evelyn would encounter throughout the series.

The Odyssey of Flight 33 episode of The Twilight Zone (1961)

Sure, we could have gone with Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, the William Shatner starring-episode with the gremlin on the wing, but that one doesn’t affect the entire passenger list the way that the others in this post do. This commercial flight accidentally time travels, putting everyone at risk.

Land of the Giants (1968-1970)

This Irwin Allen series was set in the then future year of 1983. Like the rest of these, it involves a flight for which anyone could have bought a ticket…yes, the Spindrift isn’t like a regular airplane, but it is a suborbital flight (not a flight to another planet). Encountering a mysterious phenomenon, they are stranded on a world where humans (and everything else) are more than ten times the size that they are on Earth.

Phantom Traveler episode of Supernatural (2005)

Sam and Dean investigate a mysterious plane crash (TransNational flight 2485), and end up eventually confronting an evil entity…mid-flight.

Those are just some examples of what we see on the departures board at LaGeekya Airport: there’s the Incredible Hulk on 747, The Thunderbirds in their very first mission to rescue the passengers of the nuclear-powered Fireflash (which has been sabotaged by The Hood), Laura Perkins going One Step Beyond with her premonition of a plane crash (and that’s not to mention the movies and other media)…supernatural Air Traffic Control is going to be busy!

Do you have a geeky plane flight episode/series you want to add to this list? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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The Oscars new unpopular popular film category

September 3, 2018

The Oscars new unpopular popular film category

Oh, my.

It’s rare that an organization makes a decision and I just have an immediate, visceral reaction that it’s wrong.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced in a

tweet

tweet post recently that it is going to give out a new award for “achievement in popular film”.

Creating a new category is rare for the Oscars…people have argued for new categories for years, such as one for stunts, but the last major addition was Best Animated Feature, first awarded in 2001.

With any carefully considered change (especially an institutional one), it is reasonable to ask this question: why?

The first obvious requirement is that the new category is comprised of something different from the old category (unless it contains entirely novel items, which is not the case here). After all, imagine this conversation:

You: “What’s in category A?”
Them: “Polka dots.”
You: “What in category B?”
Them: “Polka dots.”
You: “What are the differences between them?”
Them: “There aren’t any.”

At that point, you’d no doubt be left wondering why there were two categories.

So, what makes a popular movie different enough from other movies that it needs a separate category?

We can assume by “popular” they mean that more people went to see it in the theatres, and the easiest measurement of that is box office (probably specifically domestic box office, what I call “dogro” for domestic gross). We have a category on this blog for that

Box Office

and keep quite a close eye on it.

Let’s just arbitrarily set the dividing line at $100 million dogro. That or above and the movie falls into the “popular” category, below, and it stays in the main categories (unless they are going to create an “unpopular” category, which seems unlikely). 😉

If we look at last year’s Best Picture nominees and their dogros, we can perhaps discern a pattern:

  • The Shape of Water | $68.0m
  • Call Me by Your Name | $18.1m
  • Darkest Hour | $56.5m
  • Dunkirk | $188.0m
  • Get Out | $176.0m
  • Lady Bird | $49.0m
  • Phantom Thread | $21.1m
  • The Post | $81.9m
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | $54.5m

It’s obvious that the vast majority (80%) of the Best Picture nominees made under $100m, and some have suggested that has something to do with declining viewership of the Oscars telecast. Wouldn’t more people watch the Oscars if they were familiar with the movies in the category that gets the most coverage? They might want to see if one of their favorites wins…and it’s hard to have a personal favorite amongst movies you most likely haven’t seen.

That 80% figure…how does that compare to the movies which were released?

According to

Box Office Mojo

33 movies released in 2017 dogroed more than $100m, out of 740 movies.

That’s about 4.5% meaning that $100m+ movies are disproportionately more often nominated for Best Picture…something like five times as much as would be expected.

However, that assumes that all movies released are intrinsically equally good…and that seems unlikely. Is it possible that movies which are equally as good as those which do get nominated do not get nominated because of a prejudice against popular movies?

For this, we’ll use the critical review scores from the

Movie Review Query Engine

We’ll look at the ten nominees, then the ten highest dogroing features:

  • The Shape of Water | 79
  • Call Me by Your Name | 85
  • Darkest Hour | 75
  • Dunkirk | 85
  • Get Out | 80
  • Lady Bird | 83
  • Phantom Thread | 79
  • The Post | 80
  • Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | 86

Average: 81.3

Highest dogro (may have been released in 2016, but was on this table for 2017):

  • Star Wars: the Last Jedi | 82
  • Beauty and the Beast | 68
  • Wonder Woman | 74
  • Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle | 64
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 | 70
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming | 72
  • It | 66
  • Thor: Ragnar | 71
  • Despicable Me 3 | 55
  • Justice League | 54

Average: 68

The average doesn’t suggest an anti-blockbuster bias. However, The Last Jedi does average out high enough to be a nominee…but there are obviously more factors than just what the critics think.

If such a prejudice did exist, that might be a reason to create a separate category. Arguably, that was the purpose of introducing the Best Animated Feature category…an animated movie might not be nominated for Best Picture, because of reluctance to recognize “a cartoon”. Only one (Beauty and the Beast) had been nominated prior to the introduction of the category (although there had been other special recognition).

Some people have suggested that the purpose of creating the Best Animated Feature category was to make it less likely that they would be nominated for Best Picture…and the same argument is being made for a possible “Popular Film” category.

It may be worth noting that two animated features (Up and Toy Story 3) have been nominated for Best Picture since the introduction of the Animated Feature category…twice as many. Certainly, arguments can be made that some others “should” have been nominated (notably WALL-E, which has an 88 at MRQE), but contrary to my initial gut feeling, I’m not seeing clear evidence of prejudice in my admittedly small sample.

I don’t think the pushback I’ve seen would all have come about because the category simply wasn’t needed, though.

There is also this:

It smacks of elitism, with the idea that the general populace doesn’t like the best movies…perhaps because they prefer less challenging movies?

That one is harder to analyze, but it seems like that would be flawed logic on the Academy’s part. Great movies can never be box office hits? The King’s Speech won a lot of Oscars, and eventually dogroed close to $140m. The two categories of “Best Picture” and blockbuster don’t appear to be self-exclusive.

I do think the point of creating a category like this would be more about increasing viewership (and other public acceptance) than genuinely recognizing value. It’s not like blockbusters are particularly unrewarded. I mean, gee, if there was only some way we could reward movies based on how many people see them. You know, like have each person who goes to see a movie could indicate that somehow…maybe by paying some money? I don’t know what we might call that, but that seems like that’s “the ticket”. 😉

Is there some advantage to the Academy in appearing to be the elite? Perhaps, yes…there are other awards more based on popularity, so it might remove some of the Oscars’ uniqueness if there was also a popular film Oscar.

The Oscars already expanded the possible number of Best Picture nominees from five to ten, starting with the awards given in 2009, again, presumably to increase viewership by providing more diversity in the titles.

Personally? I don’t think an “achievement in popular film” Oscar is a good idea…I also didn’t like the expansion of the number of nominees. It does seem to dilute the value of the award.

I would like to see some changes. I’d like to go back to five nominees for Best Picture. I’d like to see that Stunt category happen, which certainly might interest the general populace.

I’d like to see the elimination of gender separation in the acting categories (which MTV has done). It doesn’t really make sense to me. Is the argument that Gal Gadot’s lauded (but not nominated) performance as Wonder Woman is more comparable to, say, Katharine Hepburn in On Golden Pond because they have a similar chromosome structure than it is to Chris Evans’ performance as Captain America, another principled, fish out of water superhero? If the thought there is that prejudice (again) would keep women from being nominated for Best Actor, why aren’t there separate acting categories for other protected employment groups? People would definitely not be happy if those were introduced! That’s a topic for another time, though…

What do you think? Would it be a good thing for the Academy to recognize achievement in popular films? Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Prime Original Series

  • The Man in the High Castle (2 ten episode seasons with teasers for #3, 2015-): alternative history loosely based on Philip K. Dick
  • Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (1 ten episode season, 2018): because you can never have too much PKD
  • Lore (1 season, 6 episodes, 2017)
  • The Tick (1 season, 12 episodes, 2017): 3rd series based on the comics (also available: the Patrick Warburton version)

Exclusive to Prime (they say…they are clearly only counting streaming on demand, for one thing)

  • Doctor Who (parts are exclusive to Prime…at time (and relative dimensions in space), Eccleston-Capaldi): may I recommend The Girl Who Waited, season 601, episode 10? One of my favorites
  • Orphan Black (season 1-5)
  • Batman: The Animated Series: did you think Christopher Nolan revived Batman? Tim Burton? Try this…
  • SpongeBob SquarePants (season 1-11)
  • Humans (3 seasons)
  • Grimm (6 seasons)
  • Under the Dome (3 seasons: recent adaptation of Stephen King, a lot of buzz when it started)
  • Defiance (3 seasons)
  • Just Add Magic (season 1, 201, 202)
  • Teen Wolf (originally MTV: season 101-602)
  • Wallace & Gromit (also available: Shaun the Sheep)
  • True Blood
  • Annedroids
  • Carnivale

Catch Up

  • American Horror Story (seasons 1-7)

Remember When?

  • Monsters (3 seasons, starting in 1988)
  • Tales of the Unexpected (8 seasons, starting in 1979)
  • The Veil (1 season starting in 1958)
  • The Hunger (hosted by David Bowie) (2 seasons, starting in 1998)
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun (6 seasons)
  • Medium (7 seasons)
  • Flash Gordon (2007 series)
  • Robin Cook’s Invasion (1997)
  • PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1998)

Superheroes (although not always that super or that heroic)

  • Todd McFarlane’s Spawn (3 seasons, animated)
  • Sapphire and Steel (not superheroes? I’m open to arguments for and against)

Remakes, Reboots, Sequel Series

  • 13 Nights of Elvira (1 season with the horror host)
  • Hammer House of Horror (2014)

Oh, the Fandomity!

  • Eureka (5 seasons)
  • Babylon 5 (5 seasons)
  • The Expanse (3 seasons)
  • Andromeda (from Gene Roddenberry, starring Kevin Sorbo…and you’ll see Rey’s hairstyle before the Star Wars’ revivals, pretty much)
  • Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict
  • Star Trek (the original series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise,
  • Twilight Zone (the original series…5 seasons)
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004)…4 seasons
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the 1981 version)
  • Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff…and one of my favorite series) (also available: Class, The Sarah Jane Adventures)
  • The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan’s can’t miss series)
  • Dark Shadows (various parts of it…it was on a lot!)
  • Primeval
  • Charlie Jade
  • Captain Scarlett (also available: Space Precinct 2040)
  • Jeremiah

Some more…

  • Tin Man
  • Space Debris
  • Teddy Go!

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Prime Geek (movies): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (movies): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches movies, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of geek-friendly movies included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Playing catchup (theatrical releases from the last two years)

  • Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017) (also available: The Nut Job…so you can watch from the beginning)
  • Nine Lives (Kevin Spacey becomes a cat)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
  • The Witch (2016)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  • Equals (2016): Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult resist in a repressed future
  • Tear Me Apart (2016)
  • Muse (2016)
  • Vamps (2016)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts (2017) (Glenn Close…and sort of zombies. BAFTA-nominated)

Mid-terms (not in the past two years, but in the past two decades)

  • Zathura (sequel to Jumanji)
  • Star Trek (the first of the Chris Pine movies) (2009)
  • Beastly (2011)
  • Twilight (2008): the first of the blockbuster series (also available: New Moon, Eclipse)
  • Paranormal Activity (2009)
  • The Woman in Black (2012): Daniel Radcliffe
  • Them (2006): not the giant ant movie
  • Watchmen (2002): The Ultimate Cut (24 extra minutes)

Genre-busters/Award Nominees (popular with non-geeks, too)

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939…the Judy Garland movie)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Arrival (2016)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
  • Jaws (1975) (also available: Jaws 2, Jaws 3, Jaws the Revenge))

Nostalgeek (remember when?)

  • The Care Bears Movie (1985)
  • Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
  • Galaxy of Terror (1981)
  • Carrie (1976) (also available: The Rage – Carrie 2)
  • The Crow (1994)
  • Highlander (1986) (“There can be only one”) (also available: Highlander II: The Quickening)
  • Leprechaun (1993) (also available: Leprechaun 2; Leprechaun 3; Leprechaun 4: In Space; Leprechaun 5 AKA Leprechaun in the Hood)
  • Barbarian Queen (1985)
  • Prancer (1989)
  • Trilogy of Terror (1975): I recently re-watched this…even more disturbing than I remembered. If you remember anything about it, it’s likely to be Karen Black (who plays three parts in this) being chased around by a small exotic “doll”
  • Nosferatu (1922): unauthorized silent adaptation of Dracula in 1922, Bram Stoker’s widow one a case and all the prints were supposed to be destroyed…an undead movie in more than one way
  • House on Haunted Hill (1958) colorized
  • Stargate (1994)
  • Piranha (1978)
  • Vampire in Brooklyn (1995): Eddie Murphy
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • The Final Countdown (1980): More than the memorable theme song, this was time travel with a heavy dose of admiration for the military
  • The Running Man (1987): Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in a Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) adaptation. Falsely accused and put on a suicide mission Death Race 2000-esque game show, when Arnold says, “I’ll be back” it’s an existential threat to Richard Dawson’s game show character…and the status quo
  • Universal Soldier (1992): Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (also available: Cyborg with JVD)
  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980): gory, exploitative monster movie from Roger Corman (uncredited EP), starring Doug McClure
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964): my favorite version of I Am Legend (although this version is colorized…that may not be an improvement over the original black and white)
  • Invaders from Mars (1953): deliberately dream-like, many of us are still haunted by the image of what happens in the sand (also available: the 1986 Karen Black remake)
  • Missile to the Moon (1958) (colorized)
  • Mazes and Monsters (1982) (Tom Hanks)
  • Galaxina (1980)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1960) the original, not the musical…colorized
  • The Monster Club (1981)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
  • Behemoth The Sea Monster (1958)
  • The Angry Red Planet (1959)
  • The Addams Family (1991) (the first of the big-screen reboot series)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1976) (based on a Harlan Ellison story…not surprisingly, Ellison wasn’t satisfied with the adaptation)
  • The Last Unicorn (1982)
  • The Company of Wolves (1985): David Warner, Angela Lansbury, directed by Neil Jordan
  • Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)
  • Cool World (1992)
  • The Day of the Triffids (1962): “And I really got hot, when I watched Janette Scott…”
  • Chapping Mall (1986)
  • Invasion U.S.A (1952): Eddie G. Robinson…and two TV Lois Lanes
  • Giant from the Unknown (1958)
  • The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)

Fauxstalgia (movies made to look as though they were from a previous era)

  • The Late Night Double Feature (2014): faking the Fifties

Remakes, Revivals, and Reboots

  • Top Cat Begins (2017)
  • The Invisible Man (2018)
  • SpaceDisco One (2007)…a crossover for 1984 and Logan’s Run

Theme: Dorsal fins!

  • Jaws through Jaws: The Revenge
  • Ice Sharks
  • 2 Headed Shark Attack
  • 5 Headed Shark Attack
  • Empire of the Sharks
  • SharkMan
  • Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark

Thinkers

  • Coherence (2014): $50,000 budget dogroed close to $70m…
  • The Frame (2014): From Jamin Winans…
  • (Jerome Bixby’s) The Man from Earth (2007)
  • The Penitent Man (2013)
  • Shuffle (2011)

You Might Not Have Seen…

  • Evolution: Ivan Reitman-directed 2001 comedy with David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott…some really interesting aliens. $80m budget, dogro (domestic gross) under $40m
  • Event Horizon (1997): Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill for director Paul W.S. Anderson: $60m budget, under $30m dogro
  • Radio Free Albemuth (2014): a Philip K. Dick adaptation
  • Princess of Mars (2009): definitely not the recent Disney John Carter movie, this one has Traci Lords and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Need I Say More?

  • 5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)
  • The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu (2011)
  • Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)
  • Zombeavers (2015)

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

August 4, 2018

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

While I recently started pointing out geeky movies available to Prime Members

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

and I do intend to update that, I planned to do one for Prime geeky TV series this weekend (I hope to eventually to do books, too).

In doing so, I was very pleased to see that they now have 1967’s

The Prisoner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

available!

While it never pays to oversell anything, I’ll say that I’m a fan of the series…one of our dogs is actually named after it. 😉 I have a boxed set. One time, when our now adult kid had another adult friend visiting our home from across the country, we ended up spending a day just watching it (what would now be called “binge watching”). It’s over forty years old and British, but I can safely that it works for an American born decades after it first aired.

I don’t want to say too much about it; I think it’s best to go into it largely unprepared if you’ve never seen it before. It’s not a spoiler to say that a major theme of it is remaining an individual in the face of overwhelming conformity.

Was it a success at the time?

In England, it was like Lost: people were really wrapped up in the mystery of it. The series finale (it is only one season) was highly controversial…which was intentional.

It was different in the USA: it did play on CBS, but really became much more of a geek touchstone later.

Since there are only 17 one-hour episodes, you can watch it in a day.

One note: the best order in which to watch it is highly debated. Part of that has to do with the fact that it was originally conceived as a much shorter series, but was expanded for marketing reasons. There is also a US and a UK order, and clues internal to the episodes suggest yet more possibilities. I think this article covers that issue nicely:

Home Theater Forum

It’s probably simplest to just let Prime autoplay the next episode in the order they have, but up to you.

I’m going to give you one outside-the-universe bit of information which British viewers would have known before watching it. I’ll give it a Spoiler Alert, in case you don’t want that context, but it has nothing to do with surprise plot elements of the series.

SPOILER ALERT

Prior to The Prisoner, McGoohan was already well-known. He had been considered for the role of James Bond for Dr. No and for The Saint, but had been doing a successful TV series called Danger Man (or Secret Agent in the USA…the Johnny Rivers version of the theme song, Secret Agent Man, was popular), when he decided to quit. That, in a way, parallels what happens with The Prisoner’s main character…and there are reasons to think that The Prisoner’s main character is the main character from Danger Man). 

END SPOILER ALERT

If you’ve never seen it before, I think you’ll find it interesting.

If you have…be seeing you. 😉


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Box office 2018: A Year of No Flops?

July 19, 2018

Box office 2018: A Year of No Flops?

There have been some really big movie hits so far this year! We track the “most profitable” movies in this IMDb list:

2018 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies

That’s based on dogro (domestic gross) versus the production budget.

The most profitable movies by percentage don’t tend to be the most expensive to make…but this year, certainly, some expensive movies have been worth the investment.

  • Black Panther has an estimated production budget of $200 million…and has received our “Golden” award, for dogroing at least three times that. That’s not at all common for movies which cost over $100m to make, although it does happen (especially for Disney/Marvel movies)
  • Avengers: Infinity War, with an estimated production budget of $300 million, has profited over $300 million

Another category in the past few years has been relatively low budget movies which go on to break $100 million dogro. This year, A Quiet Place has a reported budget of $17 million, and has received our “Triple Golden” award (its dogro is more than 900 percent of its production budget).

However, something which has particularly stood out to me this year is the absence of what we call “Underperformers”: movies which dogro less than 50% of their production budgets.

After the Fourth of July weekend, there weren’t any.

While you might have guessed that A Wrinkle in Time, Rampage, or Ready Player One might have been on that list, they’ve all dogroed more than 50%.

Let’s compare that to other recent years.

2017: 2018 is continuing the trend of 2017, which had no underperformers at the end of the year.

2016:

Underperformer Sub-40s (budget at least $40.0m):

Gods of Egypt $31.1m (reported budget: $140.0m) | USA release date: 02/26/16 The Finest Hours $27.6m (reported budget: $80.0m) | USA release date 01/29/16 Ben-Hur $26.4m (reported budget: $100.0m) | USA release date 08/19/16 Free State of Jones $20.8m (reported budget: $50.0m) | USA release date 06/24/16 Keeping Up with the Joneses $14.9m (reported budget: $40.0m) | USA release date 10/21/16

2015:

Underachiever Sub-40s (prodbud at least $40.0m)

Seventh Son: $17.2m (reported budget: $95.0m) Blackhat: $7.9m (reported budget: $70.0m) Mortdecai: $7.7m (reported budget: $60.0m) The Last Witch Hunter $27.1m (reported budget: $90.0m) Pan $34.8m (reported budget: $150.0m) In the Heart of the Sea: $25.0m (reported budget: $100.0m) Point Break: $28.7m (reported budget: $105m)

2014:

Underachiever Sub-40s (budget at least $40.0m):

The Legend of Hercules: $18.8m= (reported budget: $70.0m) 27% I, Frankenstein: $19.1m (reported budget: $65.0m) 29% Transcendence: $23.0m (reported budget: $100.0m) 23% Pompeii $23.2m (reported budget: $100.0m) 23% Winter’s Tale $12.6m (reported budget: $60.0m) 21% Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return $8.5m (reported budget: $70.0m) 12%

2013:

We hadn’t by this point made the listing quite so easy to copy and paste, but there were severaL

  • Jack the Giant Slayer (34%)
  • After Earth (47%)
  • White House Down (49% when we last updated it….so it might have made it)
  • The Lone Ranger (42%)

It looks like 2018 proves that 2017 wasn’t a fluke…a flopless fluke, I suppose. 😉

What’s the reason?

My guess is that there are a few factors:

  • Movie studios may have become more cautious about what they release…there is a lot of competition now, and a lot of post-release value in movies. You want something that people want to stream later: a middling box office movie likely will be seen as a reasonable choice to watch at home, but a giant flop might not be
  • There are more data available to use to predict success…and it wouldn’t surprise me if algorithms are part of the prediction process
  • The studios have started to expand the audience, in part by elevating the prominence of the portrayal and production participation of various minority groups (not just ethnic)

I think it’s unlikely that we’ll see years in the near future with very many underperformers.

One other factor to note: the power of the international box office for American releases has been growing. In 2017, we added a “Road Winner” award, for movies that have at least 67% of their box office (according to BoxOfficeMojo) from “foreign” box office. That doesn’t change the Underperformer award, which is based just on dogro…but similar to the post-release value I mentioned above, a movie may do better in foreign markets if it did reasonably well in the domestic market.

I don’t think the strategy of going for “in the ballpark base hits” rather than swinging for the home run and increasing your strikeout risk has reduced innovation. The success of those low budget horror movies is based solidly on innovation…Get Out and A Quiet Place are well-made, original stories.

It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. Oh, and of course, knock virtual wood! 😉

See you in the movies!


 

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Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

July 1, 2018

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches movies, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of geek-friendly movies included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Playing catchup (theatrical releases from the last two years)

  • Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017) (also available: The Nut Job…so you can watch from the beginning)
  • Nine Lives (Kevin Spacey becomes a cat)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
  • The Witch (2016)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  • Equals (2016): Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult resist in a repressed future
  • Tear Me Apart (2016)
  • Muse (2016)
  • Vamps (2016)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts (2017 (Glenn Close…and sort of zombies. BAFTA-nominated)

Mid-terms (not in the past two years, but in the past two decades)

  • Scooby-Doo: The Movie (live action series starter with Sarah Michelle Gellar) (also available: LEGO Scooby Doo: Knight Time Terror)
  • Zathura (sequel to Jumanji)
  • The Golden Compass (2007)
  • Star Trek (the first of the Chris Pine movies) (2009)
  • Beastly (2011)
  • Twilight (2008): the first of the blockbuster series (also available: New Moon)
  • Paranormal Activity (2009)
  • The Woman in Black (2012): Daniel Radcliffe
  • Them (2006): not the giant ant movie

Genre-busters/Award Nominees (popular with non-geeks, too)

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939…the Judy Garland movie)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Arrival (2016)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Nostalgeek (remember when?)

  • The Care Bears Movie (1985)
  • The Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
  • Galaxy of Terror (1981)
  • Carrie (1976) (also available: The Rage – Carrie 2)
  • The Crow (1994)
  • Highlander (1986) (“There can be only one”) (also available: Highlander II: The Quickening)
  • Troll (1986)
  • Leprechaun (1993) (also available: Leprechaun 2; Leprechaun 3; Leprechaun 4: In Space; Leprechaun 5 AKA Leprechaun in the Hood)
  • Barbarian Queen (1985)
  • Prancer (1989)
  • Trilogy of Terror (1975): I recently re-watched this…even more disturbing than I remembered. If you remember anything about it, it’s likely to be Karen Black (who plays three parts in this) being chased around by a small exotic “doll”
  • Nosferatu (1922): unauthorized silent adaptation of Dracula in 1922, Bram Stoker’s widow one a case and all the prints were supposed to be destroyed…an undead movie in more than one way
  • House on Haunted Hill (1958) colorized
  • Stargate (1994),
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • The Final Countdown (1980): More than the memorable theme song, this was time travel with a heavy dose of admiration for the military
  • The Running Man (1987): Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in a Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) adaptation. Falsely accused and put on a suicide mission Death Race 2000-esque game show, when Arnold says, “I’ll be back” it’s an existential threat to Richard Dawson’s game show character…and the status quo
  • Universal Soldier (1992): Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (also available: Cyborg with JVD)
  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980): gory, exploitative monster movie from Roger Corman (uncredited EP), starring Doug McClure
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964): my favorite version of I Am Legend (although this version is colorized…that may not be an improvement over the original black and white)
  • Invaders from Mars (1953): deliberately dream-like, many of us are still haunted by the image of what happens in the sand
  • Missile to the Moon (1958) (colorized)
  • Mazes and Monsters (1982) (Tom Hanks)
  • Galaxina (1980)
  • The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) (also available: Creature from Black Lake from 1976)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1960) the original, not the musical…colorized
  • The Monster Club (1981)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
  • Behemoth The Sea Monster (1958)
  • The Angry Red Planet (1959)
  • The Addams Family (1991) (the first of the big-screen reboot series)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1976) (based on a Harlan Ellison story…not surprisingly, Ellison wasn’t satisfied with the adaptation)

Remakes, Revivals, and Reboots

  • Top Cat (2017)
  • The Invisible Man (2018)

Theme: You Bug Me!

  • The Ant Bully
  • Miniscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants

Thinkers

  • Coherence (2014): $50,000 budget dogroed close to $70m…
  • The Frame (2014): From Jamin Winans…
  • (Jerome Bixby’s) The Man from Earth (2007)
  • The Penitent Man (2013)
  • Shuffle (2011)

You Might Not Have Seen…

  • Evolution: Ivan Reitman-directed 2001 comedy with David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott…some really interesting aliens. $80m budget, dogro (domestic gross) under $40m
  • Event Horizon (1997): Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill for director Paul W.S. Anderson: $60m budget, under $30m dogro
  • Radio Free Albemuth (2014): a Philip K. Dick adaptation
  • Princess of Mars (2009): definitely not the recent Disney John Carter movie, this one has Traci Lords and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Need I Say More?

  • 5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)
  • The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu (2011)
  • Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


 

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Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

June 24, 2018

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

(sung to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

It was many years* ago today
Kenneth Arnold taught the world to say
“There’s a flying saucer in the air”
And it gave the people quite a scare
Now here’s another term you know
Today we just say U.F.O

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Ma-an!

What’s in the sky,
Lighted up, flying by?
Could it be a real alien craft?
Perhaps it’s a star or lights from a car
Or maybe I’m just going daft…

Oh, it’s giving me the ontological bends
Oh, I hate it when a paradigm ends

Could it beeee a delusion?
I just know there’s something there
Or an optical illusion?
I’m getting to the point I don’t care

Oh, this is one of those long-lasting trends
Mm, I don’t know just what message it sends
Message it sennnnnds!


* I think I first published this in 1994…a version I found said, “It was was forty-seven years ago…” I’ve updated it for today, the 70th anniversary of the Kenneth Arnold sighting that established the term “flying saucer” by changing it to “many years”, which will enable me to keep using it for future anniversaries. 🙂 Update for this year: yep, using it again! 😉

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When Titans Merge: Disney and Comcast are after (the) Fox

June 20, 2018

When Titans Merge: Disney and Comcast are after (the) Fox*

Comics fans are familiar with the title “When Titans Clash”! Most people associate it with Marvel in the 1960s (where it was used several times), although I believe it originated with a Superman comic in the 1940s. In that case, it was Superman versus Lex Luthor.

Well, nowadays Lex Luthor would probably stage a hostile takeover of the bottle city of Kandor, giving him control of a lot of Kryptonians to battle Supes. 😉

There are titans today…and they are companies.

The Department of Justice recently opposed a merger of AT&T and Time-Warner…and the judge shot it down definitively, even basically chastising the DoJ for bringing the case and warning them not to try to get a stay.

Shortly after that decision came down, Comcast made a bid to purchase (parts of) 21st Century Fox…challenging an existing Disney bid.

It’s easy to make a snap judgement that Fox should go with Disney…you know, I’m sure many people think of Disney as an entertainment company (like Fox), and Comcast as a service provider, but it’s not as simple as that.

Let’s frame this some different ways:

“ABC and NBC both bid for another TV network”

In August of 1995, Disney announced a $19 billion bid for ABC (the American Broadcasting Company), which also included Cap Cities.

In March 2013, Comcast bought NBC/Universal after owning part of it.

If we look at it that way, is Fox more like ABC or NBC? ABC has cultivated a family friendly reputation (though that’s not all they do, of course), while Fox was sort of the anti-ABC when it started. This isn’t clearcut…

“Battle of the theme parks: Universal Studios challenges Disneyland”

Would the Simpsons fit better at Universal Studios or at Disneyland? I’d say the former…but Fox’s Marvel assets fit better with Disney’s Marvel assets for theme park rides. An X-Men ride would work well at Disney parks…and Mickey Wolverine seems obvious…

This all reminds me of one of my favorite things: the great geeky magazine, Psychotronic Video used to have “Still not a part of AOL Time-Warner” on its cover. 😉

I think Fox ends up going with Disney (I would, even though Comcast is offering an interesting sort of insurance if the deal got quashed).

So, let’s just talk movies for now: if Disney merged with Fox, who could challenge them in terms of franchises?

What are top-grossing franchises, according to

Box Office Mojo

?

  1. Marvel Cinematic Universe [Disney]
  2. Star Wars [Disney]
  3. Harry Potter extended [Warner]
  4. Batman [Warner]
  5. X-Men (including Deadpool) [Fox]
  6. “Disney Live Action Reimaginings” [Disney]
  7. James Bond [Sony currently…formerly MGM before, and yes, WB did Never Say Never Again]
  8. Spider-Man [Sony: a deal has been worked out for Spidey to appear with Disney’s Avengers]
  9. Middle-Earth [Warner]
  10. The Avengers [Disney]
  11. DCEU [Warner]
  12. The Fast and the Furious [Universal (Comcast)]
  13. Transformers [Paramount/Dreamworks]
  14. Pirates of the Caribbean [Disney]
  15. The Hunger Games [Lionsgate]
  16. Shrek [Paramount/Dreamworks]
  17. Jurassic Park [Universal (Comcast)]
  18. Star Trek [Paramount/Dreamworks]
  19. Twilight [Summit Lionsgate]
  20. Despicable Me [Universal (Comcast)]

For movies, then, Disney-Fox would be challenged by…Universal (and Warner, among others).

Eventually, it may all become like the original Rollerball movie…where there is one giant “Energy” corporation. 😉

Oh, and this was my tweet (@bufocalvin) when Disney first announced that it was going after Fox:


My crossover: Rocket Raccoon steals the Banzai Institute’s time machine, robs Mos Eisley, accidentally creating a history where Dr. Doom is President. Link Hogthrob teams with Riff Raff, using Seth Brundle tech, to set things right. 😉


 

*This one is a bit obscure, but there is a Peter Sellers movie named “After the Fox”. I didn’t think it was a great movie…but I did love the ending. 

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Version harmony: liking the original AND the reboot

May 18, 2018

Version harmony: liking the original AND the reboot

I often talk about how tolerant geeks are.

After all, much of our oeuvre is about the triumph of the outsider (or the triumph they should have had, but it was unfairly denied to them by the mainstream muggles).

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t divisions, of course, even though they are generally pretty lighthearted: Marvel vs. DC; Star Trek vs. Star Wars; The Munsters vs. The Addams Family; and many more.

One place where I see a particular strong strain of this can be when there is a “reboot”of an original. A reboot is one of the three “Re”s:

  • Reboot (which is also a re-imagining) changes the original; the suggestion is that you are taking something which may be dormant and injecting new elements to give it a new beginning which can go in a different direction
  • Remake: this follows the original, usually even including the same basic plot, but commonly with different actors
  • Revival: this returns to the original, typically with at least some of the same actors (and possibly, behind the scenes artist, like writers and producers), and gives new storylines

I often see disdain by the originalists for the rebooters…and vice versa.

It sort of goes like this:

The originalists think that the reboot lacks imagination, and may add either mainstream or extreme characteristics to make it more palatable. For example, there might be more sex and/or violence, but quirky characters may be made more “normal”.

The rebooters think that the originalists were naive, and sometimes unenlightened. The originals were too simple and unrealistic…and limited and look hokey.

However, I also say that a defining characteristic of geeks is a low threshold of entertainment. 😉 We can see the same thing over and over again and enjoy it every time. Shoestring budget with obvious flaws? No problem.

So, why can’t I enjoy both the old Lost in Space and the new one? Why can’t I admire the imagination of the Westworld HBO series…and the Michael Crichton movie?

The HBO Westworld has a complex plot, focusing on the point of view of the “robots”.

The movie was, yes, much simpler. That makes a lot of sense…the movie was an hour and twenty-eight minutes long. There have already been more than twenty episodes, generally about an hour long. That’s a lot more than ten times as long, and it could go for quite a bit longer.

While the series certainly has more impressive special effects, the movie had very innovative visuals for the time. It had to rely more on imagination…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The TV series has extensive nudity, and not surprisingly, a 1973 movie didn’t have that. Would they have done that if they could have? I don’t think we can say that.

I’ve happily shown the original movie to the next generation of geeks.

At this point, I like the original Lost in Space better…but I did like the new one, too. They both have their charms. I like Will better in the original…but I like Penny better in the new one. 🙂

If you think about it, you can probably come up with two versions of the same “universe” that you like…maybe not equally, but where you like them both.

About seven years ago, I wrote

Hooray for remakes!

We used to call them all remakes. 🙂

You can like Christopher Reeve and George Reeves…and Kirk Alyn. You can like Dirk Benedict and Katee Sackhoff. You can like the 1954 Godzilla and the 2014 version…but if your favorite is the 1998 version, I’m not speaking to you…just kidding. 😉

I guess the bottom line is…you don’t have to pick sides. Stay open to the multiverse of entertainment. It’s okay to enjoy it all…even if it you don’t do it equally.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 


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