2018 The Measured Circle’s most profitable movies: looking back

January 15, 2019

2018 The Measured Circle’s most profitable movies: looking back

For years, The Measured Circle has tracked not only box office, but profitability.

We do it at IMDb…this year’s is here:

https://www.imdb.com/list/ls022217945/

I like to take a look at it in the beginning of the following year, even though it will change quite a bit over the next couple of months. Some very big movies open very late in the year, and then there is the phenomenon of the “Oscar Bump”. This tends to benefit “art house” movies more than blockbusters, and that may be through getting a wide release after having a limited release. Still, that can make a difference of tens of millions of dollars.

I’m going to first reproduce the introduction at IMDb, then the values, and finally, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on it.


While tracking a movie’s box office is fascinating, The Measured Circle is also interested in how profitable a movie is.

This list of movies making a domestic gross (“dogro”) of at least $40 million in the USA in 2018 ranks them in order, based on their dogro against their rumored production budgets. Certainly there are other costs (including the not inconsiderable marketing budget) and other income (including foreign box office and merchandising), but this can give us an interesting picture.

Expect studios to look at these types of results, and sometimes greenlight projects based on them (although it’s hard to resist spending a $100 million on a possible blockbuster).

Note that recent releases will typically appear lower on this list than their eventual results. If they were in the top ten the weekend before the list is updated, they will normally be marked with “and counting”.

Movies where the rumored production budget is not available on IMDb (or elsewhere…we prefer using BoxOfficeMojo, which, like IMDb, is owned by Amazon, but which have dogroed at least $40m in 2017 in the USA appear at the bottom of the list. They may be more profitable than many of the movies above them, but we can’t do the math on them.

As a new feature (introduced in 2013), we’ve decided to label movies, to make this clearer. A traditional measure of success is the dogro being twice the production budget. Using that as a starting point…

Dogro 2X production budget = “Money”
Dogro 3X production budget = “Golden”
Dogro 30X production budget = “Platinum” (God’s Not Dead prompted the creation of this new award)

Dogro less than 50% of production budget= “Underperformer”

Starting in July 2017, we added another Measured Circle Award: Road Winner. These movies have at least 2/3rds of their box office from “foreign”, per BoxOfficeMojo. While we specifically focus on US box office, that can help explain why, for example, a sequel might be made to a movie which was an Underperformer. This number is also particularly unstable in the early part of a movie’s release, since movies don’t open in all markets simultaneously. For that reason, not every movie that qualifies may show the award, and it’s possible we’ll award a movie and then the percentages will change.


Title DoGro ProdBud Profit % Intl Award Road Winner
Black Panther 700.1 200 500.1 350% 646.9 Golden
Incredibles 2 608.6 200 408.6 304% 634.1 Golden
Avengers: Infinity War 678.8 300 378.8 226% 1370 Money Yes
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 417.7 170 247.7 246% 891.8 Money Yes
Deadpool 2 318.5 110 208.5 290% 419.1 Money
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 269.6 75 194.6 359% 235.1 Golden
A Quiet Place 188 17 171 1106% 152.9 Triple Golden
A Star Is Born 203.6 36 167.6 566% 200 Golden
Halloween 159.3 10 149.3 1593% 94.3 Quintuple Golden
Bohemian Rhapsody 198.5 52 146.5 382% 553.4 Golden Yes
Crazy Rich Asians 174.5 30 144.5 582% 64 Golden
Aquaman 287.9 160 127.9 180% 732.4 Yes
Venom 213.4 100 113.4 213% 642.2 Money Yes
The Nun 117.5 22 95.5 534% 248.1 Golden Yes
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 167.5 80 87.5 209% 359.8 Money Yes
I Can Only Imagine 83.5 7 76.5 1193% 0 Triple Golden
Ocean’s 8 140.2 70 70.2 200% 157.5 Money
Peter Rabbit 115.3 50 65.3 231% 236 Money Yes
Creed II 114.9 50 64.9 230% 51.7 Money
Book Club 68.6 10 58.6 686% 0 Double Golden
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 147.8 90 57.8 164% 154.6
The First Purge 69.5 13 56.5 535% 67.5 Golden
Ant-Man and the Wasp 216.6 162 54.6 134% 406
Night School 77.3 29 48.3 267% 25.6 Money
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again 120.6 75 45.6 161% 274.1 Yes
Fifty Shades Freed 100.4 55 45.4 183% 271.5 Yes
Mission: Impossible – Fallout 220.2 178 42.2 124% 571 Yes
Breaking In 46.8 6 40.8 780% 4.6 Double Golden
The Mule 90.6 50 40.6 181% 3.6
The Equalizer 2 102.1 62 40.1 165% 88.3
Blockers 60.3 21 39.3 287% 33.7 Money
The House With a Clock in Its Wall 68.5 30 38.5 228% 62.9 Money
Overboard 50.3 12 38.3 419% 40.9 Golden
Truth or Dare 41.3 3.5 37.8 1180% 53.9 Triple Golden
Hereditary 44.1 10 34.1 441% 35.3 Golden
A Simple Favor 53.5 20 33.5 268% 43.5 Money
Tag 55 28 27 196% 23.4
Disney’s Christopher Robin 99.2 72.5 26.7 137% 98.4
Uncle Drew 42.5 18 24.5 236% 2.4 Money
Love, Simon 40.8 17 23.8 240% 25.5 Money
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony 43.5 20 23.5 218% 2.9 Money
Life of the Party 53.1 30 23.1 177% 12.8
Mary Poppins Returns 150.7 130 20.7 116% 137.2
Instant Family 66.7 48 18.7 139% 13.3
BlacKkKlansman 48.5 30 18.5 162% 40.9
I Feel Pretty 48.8 32 16.8 153% 45.7
Ralph Breaks the Internet 190.4 175 15.4 109% 243.7
The Meg 145.4 130 15.4 112% 384.8 Yes
Sicario: Day of the Soldado 50.1 35 15.1 143% 25.8
Den of Thieves 44.9 30 14.9 150% 35.6
Game Night 69.2 55 14.2 126% 69.2
Insidious: The Last Key 67.7 55 12.7 123% 100.1
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween 46.7 35 11.7 133% 46.5
12 Strong 45.8 35 10.8 131% 21.6
Smallfoot 83.2 80 3.2 104% 130.9
Paddington 2 40.9 40 0.9 102% 186.4 Yes
A Wrinkle in Time 100.5 100 0.5 101% 100.5
Widows 42.2 42 0.2 100% 32.9
Maze Runner: The Death Cure 58 62 -4 94% 230.2 Yes
First Man 44.9 59 -14.1 76% 55.6
Sherlock Gnomes 43.2 59 -15.8 73% 47.1
Rampage 101 120 -19 84% 327 Yes
Red Sparrow 46.9 69 -22.1 68% 104.7 Yes
Bumblebee 108.3 135 -26.7 80% 258.1 Yes
Tomb Raider 58.3 94 -35.7 62% 216.4 Yes
The Predator 51 88 -37 58% 109.5 Yes
Ready Player One 137.7 175 -37.3 79% 445.2 Yes
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald 158.2 200 -41.8 79% 486.4 Yes
Skyscraper 68.4 125 -56.6 55% 236.5 Yes
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms 54.8 120 -65.2 46% 118.6 Yes
Solo: A Star Wars Story 213.8 300 -86.2 71% 179.2
Pacific Rim Uprising 60.3 150 -89.7 40% 231.1 Underperformer Yes

The first thing I’ll point out is that, in this group, close to 2/3rds of the money comes from international (61% of it…about a third are Road Winners, but those that are may make significantly more money abroad). That explains why some movies which don’t do that well domestically get sequels. While I haven’t specifically analyzed this, movies with a lot of dialogue don’t tend to do as well internationally as movies with action and visuals, which makes sense (although it’s possible that translation will get better in the future). Comedies tend to suffer from that: a comedy may not do as well in countries outside of its originating one…not just based on language. A joke which works in the USA may not work in the UK, and vice versa.

Within the use, the top ones in terms of gross profit are as you might expect: big budget and geek-friendly.

However, let’s look at this again, but this time, sorting by return on investment…percentages:

Title DoGro ProdBud Profit % Intl Award Road Winner
Halloween 159.3 10 149.3 1593% 94.3 Quintuple Golden
I Can Only Imagine 83.5 7 76.5 1193% 0 Triple Golden
Truth or Dare 41.3 3.5 37.8 1180% 53.9 Triple Golden
A Quiet Place 188 17 171 1106% 152.9 Triple Golden
Breaking In 46.8 6 40.8 780% 4.6 Double Golden
Book Club 68.6 10 58.6 686% 0 Double Golden
Crazy Rich Asians 174.5 30 144.5 582% 64 Golden
A Star Is Born 203.6 36 167.6 566% 200 Golden
The First Purge 69.5 13 56.5 535% 67.5 Golden
The Nun 117.5 22 95.5 534% 248.1 Golden Yes
Hereditary 44.1 10 34.1 441% 35.3 Golden
Overboard 50.3 12 38.3 419% 40.9 Golden
Bohemian Rhapsody 198.5 52 146.5 382% 553.4 Golden Yes
Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch 269.6 75 194.6 359% 235.1 Golden
Black Panther 700.1 200 500.1 350% 646.9 Golden
Incredibles 2 608.6 200 408.6 304% 634.1 Golden
Deadpool 2 318.5 110 208.5 290% 419.1 Money
Blockers 60.3 21 39.3 287% 33.7 Money
A Simple Favor 53.5 20 33.5 268% 43.5 Money
Night School 77.3 29 48.3 267% 25.6 Money
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom 417.7 170 247.7 246% 891.8 Money Yes
Love, Simon 40.8 17 23.8 240% 25.5 Money
Uncle Drew 42.5 18 24.5 236% 2.4 Money
Peter Rabbit 115.3 50 65.3 231% 236 Money Yes
Creed II 114.9 50 64.9 230% 51.7 Money
The House With a Clock in Its Wall 68.5 30 38.5 228% 62.9 Money
Avengers: Infinity War 678.8 300 378.8 226% 1370 Money Yes
Tyler Perry’s Acrimony 43.5 20 23.5 218% 2.9 Money
Venom 213.4 100 113.4 213% 642.2 Money Yes
Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation 167.5 80 87.5 209% 359.8 Money Yes
Ocean’s 8 140.2 70 70.2 200% 157.5 Money
Tag 55 28 27 196% 23.4
Fifty Shades Freed 100.4 55 45.4 183% 271.5 Yes
The Mule 90.6 50 40.6 181% 3.6
Aquaman 287.9 160 127.9 180% 732.4 Yes
Life of the Party 53.1 30 23.1 177% 12.8
The Equalizer 2 102.1 62 40.1 165% 88.3
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse 147.8 90 57.8 164% 154.6
BlacKkKlansman 48.5 30 18.5 162% 40.9
Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again 120.6 75 45.6 161% 274.1 Yes
I Feel Pretty 48.8 32 16.8 153% 45.7
Den of Thieves 44.9 30 14.9 150% 35.6
Sicario: Day of the Soldado 50.1 35 15.1 143% 25.8
Instant Family 66.7 48 18.7 139% 13.3
Disney’s Christopher Robin 99.2 72.5 26.7 137% 98.4
Ant-Man and the Wasp 216.6 162 54.6 134% 406
Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween 46.7 35 11.7 133% 46.5
12 Strong 45.8 35 10.8 131% 21.6
Game Night 69.2 55 14.2 126% 69.2
Mission: Impossible – Fallout 220.2 178 42.2 124% 571 Yes
Insidious: The Last Key 67.7 55 12.7 123% 100.1
Mary Poppins Returns 150.7 130 20.7 116% 137.2
The Meg 145.4 130 15.4 112% 384.8 Yes
Ralph Breaks the Internet 190.4 175 15.4 109% 243.7
Smallfoot 83.2 80 3.2 104% 130.9
Paddington 2 40.9 40 0.9 102% 186.4 Yes
A Wrinkle in Time 100.5 100 0.5 101% 100.5
Widows 42.2 42 0.2 100% 32.9
Maze Runner: The Death Cure 58 62 -4 94% 230.2 Yes
Rampage 101 120 -19 84% 327 Yes
Bumblebee 108.3 135 -26.7 80% 258.1 Yes
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald 158.2 200 -41.8 79% 486.4 Yes
Ready Player One 137.7 175 -37.3 79% 445.2 Yes
First Man 44.9 59 -14.1 76% 55.6
Sherlock Gnomes 43.2 59 -15.8 73% 47.1
Solo: A Star Wars Story 213.8 300 -86.2 71% 179.2
Red Sparrow 46.9 69 -22.1 68% 104.7 Yes
Tomb Raider 58.3 94 -35.7 62% 216.4 Yes
The Predator 51 88 -37 58% 109.5 Yes
Skyscraper 68.4 125 -56.6 55% 236.5 Yes
The Nutcracker and the Four Realms 54.8 120 -65.2 46% 118.6 Yes
Pacific Rim Uprising 60.3 150 -89.7 40% 231.1 Underperformer Yes

Doing that, the top ones tend to be lower budget (under $50m, certainly), and with horror movies (and faith-based, often) being the best investments. You need to get down to #15 before a movie which cost $100m to make gets our Golden award (profit three times production budget). Black Panther and Incredibles 2 (both Disney) are in that rarefied stratum: movies which cost over $100 to make (they both have reported estimated production budgets of $200m) but still got our Golden award.

Pacific Rim Uprising is an Underperformer (it’s too soon to make that call on Nutcracker), but it’s also a Road Winner, with hundreds of millions of dollars and close to 80% of the box office coming outside of dogro…so don’t be surprised if there is a third PacRim.

With so many other sources of income (streaming services, for one major one), movie studios seem to be figuring out how to keep from having big losers much more reliably.

See you in the movies!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

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2019 Critics’ Choice Awards geek-friendly results

January 14, 2019

2019 Critics’ Choice Awards geek-friendly results

AWARD SPOILER ALERT

Congratulations (again) to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for its

Critics’ Choice award

win last night as Best Animated Feature!

This follows its groundbreaking first Marvel (but not MCU) Golden Globe win

AWARD SPOILER ALERT: Marvel wins 1st Golden Globe as all other geek-friendly movie nominees shut out

Unlike the Globes, though, other geek-friendly movies and TV shows did go home with trophies.

Black Panther picked up three technical/design awards, which I think presages possible Oscar nominations (it could also get nominated at the Academy for other categories, including Best Picture…a nomination it got from the CCs as well):

  • Best Production Design (Hannah Beachler & Jay Hart)
  • Best Costume Design (Ruth Carter) (I think it’s a serious contender to win at the Oscars in this category…brilliant design)
  • Best Visual Effects (I haven’t seen that they name individuals for this…sigh)

The Critics’ Choice Awards has a category specifically for Sci-Fi/Horror, and A Quiet Place took that one.

For TV, it’s really significant that Thandie Newton won as Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for Westworld. That’s an equal-playing field category for GF and mainstream…congratulations!

Best Animated Series went to BoJack Horseman, beating out Archer, Adventure Time, Bob’s Burgers, and veteran shows The Simpsons & South Park. I’d congratulate them, but somehow, I think BoJack would find that distressing. 😉

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert (starring John Legend) was the Best Movie Made for TV winner.

If we count First Man (which I haven’t seen) as geek-friendly (as I’ve said before, I’m not sure on that…geek-friendly is usually fiction for me, but it can include geek-friendly non-fiction about makers of geek-friendly fiction), we’d up it to include Tom Cross for Editing and Justin Hurwitz for Best Score.

Overall, this is a pretty good showing! I think it’s possible that the Oscars will be even more geek-friendly than these earlier awards have been, but we’ll know soon! Voting is wrapping up and nominations are announced in about a week (22 January) with the ceremony on 24 February.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

AWARD SPOILER ALERT: Marvel wins 1st Golden Globe as all other geek-friendly movie nominees shut out

January 7, 2019

Marvel wins 1st Golden Globe as all other geek-friendly movie nominees shut out

Congratulations to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse for winning Best Animated Feature at last night’s 76th annual Golden Globes!

That is Marvel’s 1st win at the Golden Globes…although notably, this movie is not part of (now) Disney’s MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies, but produced by Columbia and Sony in association with Marvel.

As I noted in

The Geeky Golden Globes 2019

there were certainly other geek-friendly movie nominees (including the MCU’s Black Panther and Mary Poppins Returns…A Quiet Place was nominated for score, as was Isle of Dogs). However, Spidey got the only win…counting TV nominees as well, provided that we don’t count First Man (which won Best Original Score). Generally, we count as geeky fiction which depicts things which can’t happen in consensus reality…and non-fiction about those works or about people who produce those works (as long as those works are part of the non-fiction). First Man is non-fiction about an astronaut, which certainly is something about which many geeks are passionate, but doesn’t fit the rule of thumb.

Does this bode ill for geek-friendly works at the Oscars?

I think we’ll still see quite a few nominations, although winners may be a different story. Some of the noms I think could happen (I’m leaving off animated movies, since they are almost all geek-friendly, and Visual Effects):

  • Black Panther: Best Picture (probably one of 10), Costume, Hair, song, score, maybe Ryan Coogler for Director, sound awards, Design
  • Mary Poppins Returns: Best Picture, Rob Marshall for Director, score, maybe song, Meryl Streep for Supporting Actress, Lin-Manual Miranda for Supporting Actor, maybe Emily Blunt…be interesting to see Dick Van Dyke and/or Angela Lansbury nominated, lots of technical awards
  • A Quiet Place: maybe script, maybe John Krasinski for Director
  • Bird Box: maybe script

There are likely more than that in the Maven categories (we count the acting categories, director, and Best Picture as the Big Six), but that should give some sense. I’d love to see acting nominations for Black Panther, but those may be more for A Quiet Place of Bird Box.

Do you have opinions on any of this? 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.

The Geeky Golden Globes 2019

January 6, 2019

The Geeky Golden Globes 2019

The

Golden Globes

which I’ve described as the “The Bizarro World version of the Oscars and the Emmys!” are tonight (6 January).

The Measured Circle’s Golden Globe posts

In the past, they could be more geek-friendly than the Oscars…but I’m not sure that will be the case this time.

When we look at the nominations (these are for movies released in 2018), the GGs really don’t have that many geek-friendly ones this year:

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama: Black Panther
  • Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy: Mary Poppins Returns

That’s two out of ten…we’ll see how many the Oscars have.

Best Motion Picture – Animated

  • Incredibles 2
  • Isle of Dogs
  • Mirai
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet
  • Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (winner)

Not much of a comparison…animated movies are almost always geek-friendly. 😉

Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda: Mary Poppins Returns

Actress in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

  • Emily Blunt: Mary Poppins Returns

Best Original Song – Motion Picture

  • All the Stars from Black Panther (Kendrick Lamar, Anthony Tiffith, Soundwave, SZA, Al Shux)

Best Original Score – Motion Picture

  • A Quiet Place (Marco Beltrami)
  • Black Panther (Ludwig Goransson)
  • Isle of Dogs (Alexandre Desplat)
  • Mary Poppins Returns (Marc Shaiman)

Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy

  • The Good Place

Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Drama

  • Caitriona Balfe (Outlander)
  • Elizabeth Moss (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Best Performance by an Actress in a TV Series – Musical or Comedy

  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role TV

  • Thandie Newton (Westworld)
  • Yvonne Strahovski (The Handmaid’s Tale)

Special awards are going to Jeff Bridges (Tron, Starman) and Carol Burnett (Once Upon a Mattress, Annie).

I won’t say I’ve covered absolutely everything…I haven’t seen Jim Carrey’s Kidding yet…might be geek-friendly.

So, looking at this list, there are quite a few noms in TV, and women get nominated more for geek-friendly acting than men do.

Still, doesn’t feel especially GF for movies…we’ll find out how it goes tonight! Oscar nominations will be announced January 22nd!

Snubdate: 😉 I meant to mention a couple of snubs…

  • Rob Marshall for Mary Poppins Returns: this was a very complicated movie, combining live action, physical effects, and animation, and working with kids, a dog, seniors…and a lot more baggage than Mary Poppins’ carpet bag! There was a definite vision and consistent acting tone throughout (which is a strong indicator of good direction)
  • I was also a bit surprised that none of the songs from Mary Poppins were nominated (although the score was). Sure, I would honestly say they weren’t as memorable as the one from the first movie, but still…not in the same class as the songs from Dumplin’ or A Private War?

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

 

Santa Claus is Coming Online

December 21, 2018

Santa Claus is Coming Online
(sung to the tune of Santa Claus is Coming To Town by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie)

You’d better boot up
You’d better log on
Type in your password before he’s gone
Santa Claus is coming online

He’s surfing the net
He’s downloading posts
He doesn’t like flames and he doesn’t like toasts
Santa Claus is coming online

He’s filling in his spreadsheet
He’s got data entry elves
They’re unzipping all the archives
So you’d better behave yourselves

The reindeer downsized
Blitzen retired
The sleigh’s pretty light since the Pole got wired

Santa Claus is coming online
Cyber Claus is coming online
Santa Claus is coming…online!

I wrote this years ago…possibly decades. 🙂 I’m actually surprised by how much of it still makes sense when tech changes so rapidly. I had to check, but I don’t think I’ve published this in The Measured Circle before.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

The strange Stooge story behind the gorilla with a gun GIF

December 16, 2018

The strange Stooge story behind the gorilla with a gun GIF

There is a popular GIF (in this usage, a short, repeating movie) of a gorilla maniacally firing a machine gun.

link to GIF at Giphy

It can be used to express different things, but I think I’ve seen it most as unbridled joy and enthusiasm…for example, because it’s Friday. 😉

I got it recently in one of my Twitter feeds, the one for

The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip

posted by “Retro Horror” (@el_zombo).

There was some curiosity as to what the origin of the clip was…and I was happy to answer!

That’s from a 3 Stooges short,

A Bird in the Head (watch at YouTube)

In this case, the “third stooge” is Curly…and that’s important, and surprisingly, may have a good deal to do with why this video exists.

While many people think of Curly as the original third stooge, who was replaced by his brother Shemp, that’s not exactly how it happened.

The Stooges were part of an act, and they didn’t get top billing…it was Ted Healy and His Stooges. Healy was the front man, the lead comedian, and the Stooges (originally Moe, then his brother Shemp joined, and later friend Larry Fine) would interrupt him, leading to slapstick abuse.

Shemp left the act, and the third brother, Curly (then nicknamed “Babe”) joined it…the version I like the best is that Curly (then with long curly hair and a mustache) auditioned, and Healy (who reportedly had alcohol issues) didn’t like him. Moe (who was the leader in real life, as he was in the eventual shorts), took him out, shaved his head, told Healy he was a different brother, and Healy fell for it.

With the Moe/Larry/Curly team, the Stooges made a number of now legendary comic shorts (after parting ways with Healy and changing studios).

Shemp was off as a successful solo act (including appearing with Abbott and Costello), supposedly with the promotional line, “The Ugliest Man in Hollywood” (and this is while Rondo Hatton was working…Hatton had a medical condition which gave him unusual looks which led to him being cast in horror movies).

Shemp rejoined the act after Curly had a major stroke in 1946…reportedly reluctantly, but realizing that Moe and Larry would be in trouble without a third stooge.

Prior to that stroke in May, Curly already was being impacted by medical issues…what has been described as a series of “mini-strokes”.

On the set of A Bird in the Head, Curly’s performance was impacted. If you watch the short, he appears to be okay, even doing some physical comedy. However, the director, Edward Bernds (this was his first film as director) realized that Curly wasn’t at full capacity.

He decided (he was also the screenwriter) to expand the roles of the mad doctor Professor Panzer, and his gorilla, Igor (played by Art Miles). The Professor is looking for a human brain small enough to transplant into Igor…and Curly’s would fit (there is also a bit of animation in this short, unusual for the Stooges, showing an animated cuckoo clock inside Curly’s head instead of a brain).

So, the forced inventiveness of accommodating a Stooge’s medical condition in 1946 led to a popular GIF of a gorilla firing a machine gun in 2018!

Do you have other pop culture (especially) geeky questions you’d liked answered? Feel free to ask…and check my series of

#1TweetExpert tweets

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 2018

November 17, 2018

Prime Geek (video) Thanksgiving week 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…


It’s Thanksgiving week (in the USA)! While that certainly can mean time with the family, it also can mean travel time. Whether your on a plane, a train, or a passenger in a car, video can be a good way to pass the time. Personally I’m an omnivorous media consumer:  I usually have video, books, magazines, old time radio shows…just for one trip. 😉

Of course, you may also have “downtime” at your location, especially if you are in a different time zone (you might wake up earlier than the household…or stay up later). If you aren’t traveling, you could still have time, maybe while waiting in line on Black Friday. 😉

Note that some of the videos may not be downloadable:: you may need to be connected to wi-fi or through cellular. That has gotten to be increasingly easy, even on airplanes.

Also, titles could hypothetically leave Prime after you read this, but you’ll be able to tell if it’s included at no extra cost.

I’ll feature a few movies (Amazon has, in my opinion, recently gotten a much better geeky selection), then list a bunch, then feature a few bingeable TV shows, and then list more of those. 🙂

Westworld (the original movie)

  • 1973, 1 hour 28 minutes, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Michael Crichton (a known author at this point, he wrote and directed this movie); Majel Rodenberry (Nurse Chapel/Number One on Star Trek: The Original Series)
  • Legacy: HBO series inspired by it, sequel, TV series
  • Premise: luxury resort with human-like androids where guests can live out their fantasies
  • at TMCGTT

I consider this one essential to a quality geek education. 😉 It’s rather different from the HBO series…don’t go into it expecting that. This is from the point of view of the guests, not the robots. There is implied (but not shown) sexual activity, violence but not gore…and quite a bit of humor. It was influential: seeing the point of view of a robot (with a different visual system), and an “unstoppable” are elements that have occurred in later movies/TV. Yul Brynner is great playing a gunslinger robot which is (unofficially) modeled on his The Magnificent Seven character.

Galaxy Quest

  • 1999, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Sigourney Weaver (Ghostbusters, Alien, Avatar), Tim Allen (Toy Story, The Santa Clause), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter)
  • Premise: years after a Star Trek like show has gone off the air, aliens arrive believing it was all real

Fun comedy (with some heart) with a quotable script, special effects, and a strong cast…not just in the principles, but also from the always reliable Sam Rockwell, Tony Shalhoub, and Missi Pyle.

Carrie

  • 1976, 1 hr 28 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: Stephen King (It, The Dead Zone…well, lots of stuff), Brian De Palma (Phantom of the Paradise, The Fury), William Katt (Greatest American Hero)
  • Premise: bullied sheltered teen is telekinetic
  • at TMCGTT

First Stephen King adaptation (from his first novel), has a stand-out performance from Sissy Spacek, for which she was nominated for an Oscar. Great horror movie, which has had a sequel and a remake. As visually stylish as any De Palma movie, it also features John Travolta, Amy Irving, and Piper Laurie.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension

  • 1984, 1 hr 42 mins, downloadable
  • Key geek names: W.D. Richter (Big Trouble in Little China), Peter Weller (RoboCop, Star Trek Into Darkness), Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, Thor: Ragnarok), John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun)
  • Premise: Multi-hyphenate (a la Doc Savage) Buckaroo Banzai and his friends face aliens from another dimension

I loved the premise of this movie, and there was some really clever writing…but many people found it, well, confusing. I’m still a fan, and I’m not alone.

  • Hot Tub Time Machine: raunchy comedy
  • Lifeforce: Tobe Hooper directed, with lots of nudity
  • Night of the Comet: very 1980s apocalyptic comedy
  • Donnie Darko: cult weirdness
  • Star Trek: the first of the reboot series with Chris Pine
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Logan’s Run: turning 30 is fatal…stars Michael York and Jenny Agutter. Pair this with The Island of Dr. Moreau (also starring Michael York)
  • Robot & Frank: critically-acclaimed comedy with Frank Langella
  • Soylent Green: great 70s social sci-fi which still gets quoted, with Charlton Heston. Pair this with The Omega Man with Heston (a version of I Am Legend). They also have my favorite adaptation of I Am Legend: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price. I recommend that one!
  • Saturn 3: Stanley Donen directs Kirk Douglas, Harvey Keitel, and Farah Fawcett…like a cop thriller in space
  • Mad Max (the first of the movies…The Road Warrior is a lot more accessible, this one more thoughtful)
  •  A Clockwork Orange: Stanley Kubrick with a star-making performance by Malcolm McDowell
  • Child’s Play (and 2&3…have a Chuckython!)
  • THX 1138: George Lucas’ first
  • Arrival: lots of significant Oscar noms. Not to be confused with The Arrival (1996) with Charlie Sheen…which you can also watch with Prime
  • Attack of the Crab Monsters: like a lot of other Roger Corman movies, cleverer than you might think from the title
  • Demon Seed: oh, I’ve been hoping they would get this! It’s a great warning about Smart Homes…from 1977! Tacky, goofy, sure, but I’ll watch it again to see if it is relevant as I remember
  • 4D Man: 1959 low-budget but worth seeing movie from Jack H. Harris with Robert Lansing and Lee Meriwether
  • Horror Express: Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee and…um…a caveman on a train. It’s much more atmospheric than that suggests
  • Plan 9 from Outer Space: considered by many to be the worst movie of all time…I could suggest others, but it’s certainly sincere. Pair this with popular parody of 1950s low-budget sci-fi, The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra
  • Kick-Ass: 2010 superhero movie with a remarkable performance by then 12-13 year old Chloë Grace Moretz
  • Things to Come: serious science fiction, based on H.G. Wells, from William Cameron Menzies
  • Liquid Sky: cult trippy 1980s movie
  • Get Out: Oscar-recognized…pair this with The Stepford Wives
  • Dreamscape, The Cell, Devil (character-based horror), Let Me In, Dog Soldiers, The Fog
  • The Wasp Woman, The Giant Gila Monster, Varan the Unbelievable,
  • Paranormal Activity
  • The Girl with All the Gifts (Glenn Close in a zombie movie…really)
  • Flatliners
  • Candyman
  • Tales from the Crypt
  • Vampire’s Kiss: Nic Cage
  • The Hunger: David Bowie
  • Q: The Winged Serpent…don’t be misled by the title, this is much more sophisticated than it sounds
  • Ghoulies
  • The Raven
  • The Fall of the House of Usher
  • Nosferatu
  • Blacula (blaxploitation, but a solid performance from William Marshall)
  • Dracula A.D. 1972
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers, Vampire Circus
  • Frogs
  • Squirm
  • Dr. Phibes Rises Again (wish they had the original…I don’t like to watch things out of order)
  • 5ive: low budget but all about the script and acting
  • Night of the Living Dead: pair this with The Crazies, also by George Romero
  • The Blair Witch Project
  • House on Haunted Hill: Vincent Price
  • Attack of the Giant Leeches
  • Countess Dracula
  • Phantom from Space
  • The Monster Club
  • Carnival of Souls
  • Turbo Kid: really fun 1980s homage. Laurence Leboeuf is terrific, and so nice to see Michael Ironside in a significant role
  • The Toxic Avenger
  • The Phantom of the Opera (Lon Chaney)
  • Little Shop of Horror (the original, restored in black and white)
  • Piranha
  • Trilogy of Terror: I saw it again in the past few years, and I was even more creeped out!
  • Dementia 13
  • The Nun
  • The Beast of Yucca Flats
  • The Ghoul: rediscovered lost Karloff movie
  • Caltiki: The Immortal Monster
  • Legend: Tim Curry, Tom Cruise, directed by Ridley Scott
  • Weird Science
  • Highlander
  • Angry Red Planet

Well, really! I could keep going, but I’ve given you plenty on movies for now!

I’ll switch to TV shows, but I’ll have to make it another seed catalogue, like the bottom section of the above:

  • Stargate SG-1 (and Atlantis)
  • The Prisoner (The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner)
  • True Blood
  • Doctor Who
  • Eureka
  • The Expanse
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun
  • Battlestar Galactica (the beloved reboot)
  • Medium
  • Carnivale
  • Kung Fu
  • My Favorite Martian (Is My Favorite Martian’s “Uncle Martin” a Jedi?)
  • Charlie Jade
  • Under the Dome
  • Star Trek (a bunch of series)
  • Humans
  • Defiance
  • Babylon 5
  • The Tick (the Patrick Warburton version)
  • The Twilight Zone (the original)
  • Dark Shadows
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981 version)
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day
  • Lexx
  • Tin Man
  • PSI factor
  • Sapphire and Steel
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • The Prisoner
  • Teen Wolf

I might add to this, but feel free to add your own Prime Video suggesstions in the comments!

Have a great holiday!

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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.

I was a DC fan…but I loved Stan Lee

November 13, 2018

I was a DC fan…but I loved Stan Lee

In the 1960s, there was a lot of very serious social division in the United States.

However, as there often is, there were also more frivolous pop culture schisms: The Addams Family vs. The Munsters, The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, Star Trek vs. Lost in Space…while fandom is, by its nature, inclusive, you were “supposed” to take sides. People weren’t expected to be agnostic about which ones they liked.

One of the clearest divides was DC vs. Marvel.

The “Silver Age of Comics” was begun in the mid-1950s by DC (with the introduction of what we would now call a “rebooted” version of the Golden Age superhero The Flash), but by the 1960s, Marvel was a worthy competitor.

The feel was very different between the two. DC had the legacy, and was old-fashioned (which could be seen as both a good and bad thing). They had Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and the reboots (the aforementioned The Flash, Green Lantern). They had the Justice League of America (itself a reboot of the Justice Society of America). Their heroes were, well, heroic. They didn’t all act the same, but the heroes were heroic and the villains were villainous.

Marvel was the counter-culture company of the pair, but interestingly, by being more like the readers. Clearly led by the writing of Stan Lee, new characters including Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and The Fantastic Four lived in the real world (Spider-Man was in fully contemporary New York; Superman was still in fictional parallel Metropolis). They had real emotions, and “day job” problems. Bruce Wayne was a millionaire philanthropist; Peter Parker was a high school student science geek.

While it may seem natural that people would prefer characters which were more like them, I used to jokingly (and somewhat derisively) say that I didn’t want my superheroes to have acne. One of the things I liked about superheroes was the lack of realism, the fantasy, the escapism. That extended to their personalities: I wanted the simplicity and aspiration of always being noble.

Sounds silly, right? Well, it was part of why I liked superheroes better than regular detective stories. I was never a fan of fictional violence, but it’s very different when Superman throws a giant space-whale than when Mike Hammer punches someone and they vomit.

People still could have read comics from both companies, right? I would guess just about everybody crossed over some, but one challenge was that the comics from a single company were interrelated…like what we now call an “extended universe”. What happened in Batman might affect what happened in Superman; Spider-Man interacted with The Avengers. It would have cost a lot of money and time to invest fully in both.

In my

Yikkee-YaG (YKYAG: You Know You’re a Geek…) #1

post, I said

“You know you’re a geek…when people say you don’t know how to dress appropriately***, but you would never wear a DC shirt to a Marvel movie.”

Still, I read some Marvel comics. I knew who Stan Lee was…I didn’t think I qualified as one of his “True Believers” (which felt to me in part like a Marvel vs. DC thing), but I knew what he meant by “Excelsior!” I recognized his intelligence, his creativity, and his enthusiasm for comics. I read some of his Stan’s Soapbox columns…text, not comics, which sometimes took on larger issues (like racism).

Over the years, I greatly enjoyed some of his visual media efforts. I watched “Who Wants to Be a Superhero?”, a reality competition show. I thought Stan Lee’s Superhumans, in which he and contortionist Daniel Browning Smith looked for and tested people with truly extraordinary abilities, was fascinating. I thrilled to every cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which, with its lighter tone, felt to me more like the 1960s DC universe than the dark DC movies led by Batman Begins and including The Dark Knight…the latter being a wonderful movie but definitely not the bright heroism of the 1960s. I said at the time I didn’t want a ten-year old to watch The Dark Knight because I didn’t want them to be afraid of Batman for the rest of their lives).

Stan Lee was one of the most influential American writers…and I don’t mean just comic book writers. Our pop cultural world would look very different if he hadn’t been in it. Movies, TV…even other comics (I don’t think the social commentary of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern crossover in the 1970s would have been what it was without Stan Lee’s trailblazing) followed the path that he blazed. He always respected the fans…and the non-fans. He lifted the younger generations of artists, he didn’t exclude them or hoard success…he shared it.

I’m not saying he was perfect or that his life was perfect…he wasn’t a 1960s DC superhero, he brought his challenges to the panels of the 1960s Marvel superheroes.

Thank you, Stan Lee, for all you have done for the world, and for geeks like me.

Excelsior forever!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Today, October 31st, is Halloween…but some people want to change that

October 31, 2018

Today, October 31st, is Halloween…but some people want to change that

Happy Halloween!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve looked forward to October 31st…Halloween!

My first real job was working in a store which sold masks and makeup (and, er, whoopie cushions) at Halloween, helping people with their costume choices.

Yes, I’d say Halloween is my favorite holiday!

However, there are some people who want to move the holiday…to the last Saturday in October.

My initial, knee-jerk reaction was…what?! I’m not normally a big traditionalist, but there is a reason why Halloween falls on October 31st…it most likely has to do with the Celtic holiday of Samhain, and the date marks a weakening of the “barrier between the living and the dead”, when ghosts walk the Earth. As with some other things, it also became connected to a Christian holiday…All Hallows’ Day is November 1st (a “hallowed person” or hallow is a Saint), and the word “Halloween” is a contraction of All Hallows’ Eve(ning), the night before.

On reflection (hmm…what do vampires call it after they’ve thought about something? 😉 ), there is a good argument for it.

It’s not just that kids may have residual effects from the sugar bolus the night before and do poorly in school.

Adults could better support the kids. If you work until 5, trick or treating with your children can be complicated. Of course, adults also celebrate…intuitively, this might reduce accidents the morning after, if people could sleep in.

At the time of writing, over 38,500 people have signed this

online petition

Among those supporting?

Horror host Elvira, the Mistress of the Night, as evidenced in this

tweet

Hard to argue with the Queen of Halloween (although a spirited debate would be fun!)…

It’s worth noting that this petition was started by an organization:

the Halloween & Costume Association

It is an advocatory industry group (it’s also known as the Halloween Industry Association), but it is a non-profit…a 501(c)(6).

I can’t say I’m quite ready to sign…I’m still miffed that they took away Lincoln’s birthday to combine it into Presidents’ Day. Well, okay, that is my birthday, too, and I missed having my birthday off from school. 😉

What do you think? Should Halloween be moved to the last Saturday of October? Feel free to let me and my readers know what you think by commenting on this post.

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

To the person who didn’t want to rain on my parade…

October 28, 2018

To the person who didn’t want to rain on my parade…

Thank you.

I appreciate the concern, I really do.

I don’t think of my writing as a parade, though. A parade is something designed to show off what already exists. Certainly, rain can ruin that exhibition. It can keep people from showing up, from lining the street, staying motionless while the putative wonders flow by.

I think of my writing as more of a farmers’ market. I have an Idea Farm. Not all the seeds I plant grow, and I can’t always predict how they’ll turn out, despite my careful attention. Others I abandon or ignore, and they wither or lay dormant.

One thing that all plants and ideas need to develop to where someone else will want to partake of them: rain.

For plants, that is literally water. For ideas, it is challenges to them. An uncriticized idea doesn’t grow, isn’t tested, won’t incorporate anything to make it bigger and stronger.

Of course, plants and ideas also need sun. Ideas need encouragement: non-stop rain can wash them away.

So, thank you: both for your empathy and for giving my idea respect by taking it for a mental spin through the future, pointing out where you see potential threats…and letting me know. You didn’t see it as unworthy of exploration, or me as incapable of change or learning from other’s wisdom.

Bring on the rain and the sun…ideas need both to grow.

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.

 


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