Archive for July, 2013

Money, Golden, and Underperformers…our new box office labels

July 28, 2013

Money, Golden, and Underperformers…our new box office labels

We’ve recently added a new feature to our tracking of the movie box office.

Each year, we’ve keep track of the movie box office. You can see the 2013 information here:

2013 Movie Box Office: 40, 80, 1, 2 , 3

This year, we also added ranking them based on the amount of profit that they’ve made (comparing dogro…domestic gross to their reported production budgets). You can see that list here:

http://www.imdb.com/list/KL-q-CWciQY/

However, even knowing the dogro to production budget difference isn’t the whole story.

If a movie has a reported production budget of $100 million and dogros $120 million, it made the same amount of profit (just based on that calculation…ignoring the marketing budget and international grosses) as a movie that has a reported production budget of $40 million and dogros $60 million.

The latter, though, will be considered much more successful, in part because it was less risk for the studio.

One traditional measure of success is having a dogro of twice the production budget.

The Measured Circle is now labeling a movie that has a dogro of twice the production budget as “Money”.

A movie with three times the production budget gets a label from of us as “Golden”.

While we like to focus on the positive, it’s also worth noting movies that haven’t done as well as expected. If a movie’s dogro is less than half of its production budget, we are labeling them as an “Underperformer”.

These are the movies from this year (which have a dogro of at least $40 million) which have received labels from The Measured Circle so far. It’s possible that these labels may change as a movie makes more money domestically.

For more detail, see the links above.

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

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My take on…R.I.P.D.

July 21, 2013

My take on…R.I.P.D.

R.I.P.D. official site
R.I.P.D. at IMDb.com
R.I.P.D. at MRQE.com
R.I.P.D. at RottenTomatoes.com

Surprisingly (because I’m the geek), my Significant Other wanted to see R.I.P.D., based on the trailers.

Me? I’m happy to see any movie, so that worked. 😉

Unfortunately, we didn’t find it very entertaining.

Let’s hit the good news first: Jeff Bridges made the movie worth watching (barely). Bridges made a clear effort to find something interesting to do, and did.

Hm…is that it for good news? Actually, no. James Hong is good, but James Hong has been good for literally decades (Hong’s earliest IMDb credit is 1955).

There were a few other good performances, too.

The effects were interesting at times…oh, and the movie is relatively short. 😉

Okay, on to the bad news.

It was pretty derivative. There were large amounts of Men in Black, and some Ghostbusters thrown in.

I like both of those movies, but it was partially because they were surprising and fresh.

We like Ryan Reynolds, but Reynolds was one reason the movie didn’t work very well. It seemed to me like Reynolds deliberately tried not to be like Will Smith in Men In Black. I can see the thought process: “What was Will Smith like in Men In Black? Oh, yes, funny and charismatic…so I won’t be either of those.” 😉

I also found some parts of the movie to be borderline objectionable. There is some language use, but it was more about playing into stereotypes, at least for me.

I pretty much never regret going to the movies, but you have quite a few options right now. I’d wait for this one until you are home folding laundry.

This is one of those where I”m going to say that if you enjoyed it, great…I’m happy for you. 🙂 I like things that a lot of people don’t,and I think you are a better person when you find entertainment in something.

For most people, though, this is a case where you might find something better to do with your ticket money.

Sorry, Ryan…looking forward to The Voices!

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

Happy birthday, Loren Coleman!

July 12, 2013

Happy birthday, Loren Coleman!

It isn’t often that you run into an author like Loren Coleman.

His work is innovative, entertaining, and informative.

He is a “go to guy” for the media on various topics. You certainly may have seen him on The Learning Channel or Discovery, lending his accessible expertise.

Most likely, that’s been on topics of cryptozoology…Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, and lesser known cryptids like the Loveland Frog and the Dover Demon.

Coleman also gets consulted on issues of mass suicide and “The Copycat Effect”…his studies include anthropology, zoology, and psychiatric social work.

Certainly, there are other authors with knowledge…but one reason Loren Coleman has succeeded for decades is that he is also a nice guy. 🙂

We’ve had some correspondence, although we’ve never met in person. That’s just me as a fan, and Coleman as the established author. I started using the term “Bufo’s Weird World” years ago, and Loren let me know that he had previously used “Weird World”. Rather than asking me to cease and desist, he said I could go ahead and use it…I’ve always been thankful for that, and it’s a generosity you don’t always encounter, either in authors or in those who are in what has been called “fringe topics”.

Definitely, the place to start with Loren Coleman is his books (after all, that’s what I did). 🙂

Coleman is an active presence on the internet, and has a list of his books here:

http://www.cryptozoonews.com/books-loren/

While I started with Coleman’s very earliest books, you might want to begin with

Mysterious America: The Ultimate Guide to the Nation’s Weirdest Wonders, Strangest Spots, and Creepiest Creatures

It’s an easy entry point…a fun read, and you may find some place you want to visit (or perhaps avoid, depending on your  temperament). 😉

On the other hand, if you want more of a narrative feel with a bigger connection to world events, I’d suggest

Tom Slick and the Search for the Yeti

There are many choices.

If Loren Coleman had just written books and appeared on TV and radio, that would be enough of a contribution to the world.

However, there is an important additional accomplishment, and one that you can support.

One of the biggest issues in the study of topics that are part of the weird world is that they haven’t tended to get respect. Respect and belief are two different things. Culturally, Bigfoot has had a big impact. Yet, there has been very little effort in academic circles to preserve artifacts and literature related to it.

Important items that affected the national consciousness, even if it was only for a few days, have simply disappeared through neglect.

To remedy this, Loren Coleman created the

International Cryptozoology Museum

You can visit it in Portland, Maine…but you can also support it through donations.

I donated online today, through the site above, in honor of Loren’s birthday…and you can do that, too. It’s easy to do (you can use a credit card), and in doing so, you can show your thanks to Loren if you have already read him, and help to preserve parts of America’s popular culture that are otherwise often ignored.

Thank you, Loren Coleman, for sharing your critical thinking, sense of wonder, and big heart with the world. I appreciate all you’ve done yourself, and all that you have encouraged others to do.

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

My take on…The Lone Ranger

July 6, 2013

My take on…The Lone Ranger

At this point, I can only hope that The Lone Ranger exhausts the list of shows that Johnny Depp and I both watched when we were kids…I’d rather not see any more of his big budget adaptations. 🙂 It’s not that The Lone Ranger is exactly a bad movie, or that Dark Shadows was…it’s just that, well, they aren’t actually good movies, either.

The Lone Ranger, in particular, is very uneven in tone. At times, it tries to be somewhat serious. At others, it’s Dudley Do-Right. There are bizarre fantasy elements, which are interesting in themselves, but don’t fit with Wile E. Coyote comedy and brutal (offscreen) violence.

MILD SPOILER ALERT

I’m very careful about spoilers. I’m not going to reveal anything significant about the plot, but if you want the joy of total discovery, you may want to skip this next part.

I did go into the movie with some expectations, and one was that they were going to make a real effort to treat the character of Tonto with respect. Honestly, as I mentioned in

A short history of the Lone Ranger

recently, the Jay Silverheels/Clayton Moore version always showed us that the prejudice against Tonto was wrong. In the original radio series, Tonto is important and intelligent.

I’m not sure how much of a wrong there was to right, here…and this movie certainly didn’t do it. In fact, we aren’t really shown excessive prejudice against Tonto, which would have been at least taking a stand. Yes, it happens, but the people seem to have a reason to do it…it’s not just irrational racism, it’s been spurred by events.

END SPOILER

I will say that there was some great makeup in it. The sound engineering was good, although there were times that some sounds seemed to come from the wrong part of the theatre…first from one spot, then from another, without the sound producer having moved. The costumes are good, the performances…okay. In fact, the whole movie was okay, even if it was a mish mash of tone and elements. My Significant Other said the movie would have been better if it had been bad, rather than thoroughly mediocre. 😉

I suspect that the next executive that suggests that Disney spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make a movie out of an older property, after John Carter and The Lone Ranger, is going to have to make a very seriously good case. 🙂

I wouldn’t tell you to stay away from the movie…but it didn’t have much of an impact on me, and you have to take into account that it is just shy of two and a half hours long. I guess that’s not too bad, though, considering that it appears to be at least two movies… 😉

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

A short history of the Lone Ranger

July 2, 2013

A short history of the Lone Ranger

The Gore Verbinski/Johnny Depp version of The Lone Ranger opens in the USA on July 3rd.

The character has been around for eighty years, and is a solid part of pop culture.

Before I give you a chronology, let me talk a bit about the Lone Ranger. If you know nothing about the character, it’s possible that you might consider some of this as spoilers, but I think that’s unlikely for most people. I have not seen the movie, so this won’t reveal anything specific to that production (which looks like it is going to take a different approach).

The future Lone Ranger was one of the Texas Rangers, along with his brother. The group rode into an ambush set by the Cavendish gang. All of the rangers except for the one who would become The Lone Ranger (in the original series, his first name was not given, but he is generally now thought of as John Reid) were killed.

The future Lone Ranger was rescued by Tonto. Tonto buried the other rangers (including the future Lone Ranger’s brother), and made an extra grave for the future Lone Ranger, in order to fool the Cavendish gang and give the future Lone Ranger a chance to recover.

After being helped back to health by Tonto, he becomes the Lone (the last left alive) Ranger. He dons a mask, made from the bullet-ridden vest of his brother.

There is a wild stallion that he later names Silver. It may not be appropriate to say that he tames Silver, but they do become a team.

Traditionally, the Lone Ranger doesn’t shoot to kill his opponents. In fact, he avoids gunplay. That’s why he uses silver bullets…it’s because they are rare, expensive, and difficult to get. That means he will always think twice about using one. Obviously, there is also symbolism here, as seen in naming his horse Silver as well.

The Lone Ranger travels around, helping build the West. Tonto travels with him. It’s important to note that the Lone Ranger generally treats him as an equal, and the audience is expected to do the same. While Tonto does encounter a great deal of prejudice, it’s from other characters (townsfolk, bad guys), and the audience believes the prejudice is wrong.

There are other things associated with the Lone Ranger. “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” starts a ride. When the Lone Ranger leaves an area, after having saved someone, they might say, “Who was that masked man? I wanted to thank him.”  The William Tell Overture, used in the radio show and the TV show, is also closely linked to him.

The Lone Ranger is someone who has sublimated his own identity for the greater good. He believes in the individual and helps others. He tends to side with the less powerful against those who abuse power and who might dictate the way the West develops.

To quote the show, “Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear…

Timeline (click links for information and content, including the original radio shows)

January 31st, 1933: the first Lone Ranger radio show is broadcast (there is some suggestion that it might have played on January 30th as a test, but the 31st was the official debut). It would run for close to 3,000 episodes, and become a national show and sensation

1936: the first Lone Ranger novel is published. Seventeen more in the series will follow through 1956. The Lone Ranger Rides

Late 1930s: a serious silent cartoon version is produced

1938: Parker Brothers released The Lone Ranger boardgame Board Game Geek listing

February 12, 1938: Republic releases the first chapter of a 15 chapter serial, just called The Lone Ranger Watch at YouTube

September, 1938: A Lone Ranger comic strip starts, and will run through 1971. Lone Ranger comic strip

January 7, 1939: The Lone Stranger and Porky, a parody with Porky Pig (and directed by Bob Clampett) is released Watch at YouTube

February 25, 1939: A Republic sequel (again, fifteen chapters) is released: The Lone Ranger Rides Again Watch a restored version at YouTube

1947: As a premium for Kix cereal, kids can get a Lone Ranger Atomic Bomb ring…which reportedly actually contains a radioactive isotope Tracy’s Toys

1948: Dell Comics begins a Lone Ranger comic book, originally reprinting strips, but later including original material. It will run for 145 issues

1948: Cheerios prints special editions of the boxes with 9 different paper card model sets, in honor of the 15th anniversary of the show Board Game Geek listing

September 15, 1949: The Lone Ranger becomes an early hit for TV with Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels. New episodes run through June 6, 1957 The Renegades episode of The Lone Ranger

1951: Dell publishes a Tonto comic book series…it runs 31 issues

1951: Dell adds a Silver comic book series…it runs 34 issues Silver comic book

January-February, 1953: Mad Magazine does a parody: Lone Stranger!

December 1953 – January 1954: Mad Magazine does a parody…sequel: Lone Stranger Rides Again

1956: Parker Brothers releases The New Lone Ranger boardgame Board Game Geek listing

1956: A theatrical release is done with Moore and Silverheels

1956: Lisbeth Wirthing releases The Lone Ranger and the Silver Bullets boardgame. It is reportedly later pulled due to licensing issues Board Game Geek article

1958: Another theatrical release with Moore and Silverheels, The Lone Ranger and the Lost City of Gold

September 1964: Gold Key begins a Lone Ranger comic book series

1965: Bill Cosby’s album I Started Out As a Child features a Lone Ranger routine audio clip on YouTube

1966: A Lone Ranger animated series runs, with Michael Rye as the Ranger. It is reportedly a darker tone than might be expected at the time

1966: Milton Bradley releases The Lone Ranger boardgame, apparently based on the cartoon series Board Game Geek listing

1973: Gabriel Toys released a line based on the Lone Ranger Skooldays article

1978: Warren Company releases The Lone Ranger& Tonto boardgame Board Game Geek listing

1980: The Tarzan/Lone Ranger (later Zorro was added) animated series. William Conrad (Cannon) voiced the Ranger. Ran through 1982

1980: Milton Bradley releases a Lone Ranger board game, The Legend of the Lone Ranger Board Game Geek listing

1981: A big budget version is made…with Christopher Lloyd as Butch Cavendish. A controversy at the time is Clayton Moore, TV’s Lone Ranger, being prohibited from wearing the mask in public appearances (so as not to conflict), and switching to sunglasses

1994: Topps comics does a four-part Joe R. Lansdale miniseries

July, 1991: Konami released a Lone Ranger videogame for the NES

February 26, 2003: A TV movie with Chad Michael Murray as the Lone Ranger IMDb listing

September 6, 2006: Dynamite Entertainment begins another comic book series

2013?: Lego releases a series of figures and sets connected to the new movie Lego

June 6, 2013: Disney releases Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer inspired characters for Disney Infinity L.A. Times article

July 3, 2013:  The Johnny Depp version opens

Lone Ranger collectibles

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The Lone Ranger search at Amazon
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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.


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