• October 1, 2007

    British box office booming

    With the help of a whole lotta sequels, the U.K. has had a record summer.

    Blighty’s wettest summer on record and a flood of popular film sequels combined to deliver the highest level of admissions for the June-August frame in 40 years.

    According to the U.K.’s Film Distributors Assn., there were 50.8 million visits to theaters — up 26% on the previous summer, which was hurt by the soccer World Cup.

    The admissions figures released today by the FDA follows a Sept. 7 announcement from Nielsen EDI that this past summer’s grosses were the biggest ever in the U.K.

    You can read more in Variety.

  • September 12, 2007

    The inevitable theater comeback

    Just when you thought it was safe to forget about those laughable 1950’s theater experiments, Smellovision returns.

    Megan Dickerson is reviving the idea of Smellovision — a concept developed 50 years ago that never caught on.

    The idea is enhance the viewing experience for an audience by circulating smells that go with what’s happening on the screen.

    Dickerson has developed a scent filled show of Willy Wonka, and staged it for hundreds of people in the Boston area.

    Read the full story at Eyewitness News WPRI.

  • September 7, 2007

    That buttery aroma might be toxic, too

    New findings show some potentially harmful side effects of that innocent treat, popcorn.

    Pop Weaver, one of the largest producers of microwave popcorn, is removing a controversial chemical flavoring agent from its products.

    The chemical — diacetyl — adds buttery taste. Government worker safety investigators have linked exposure to the synthetic butter to the sometimes fatal destruction of the lungs of hundreds of workers in food production and flavoring factories.

    And while Pop Weaver has dropped diacetyl from its product, it remains in widespread use in thousands of other consumer products, including the microwave popcorn brands Orville Redenbacher and Act II.

    Read the full report at Seattle PI

  • August 24, 2007

    New update for Connecticut Film/TV tax incentives

    Back in May, I posted on here the new law that Connecticut offered filmmakers to attract film and television to the state. It consists of a 30 percent tax credit for productions costing $50,000 or more and is one of the most generous in the country. Credits cannot be granted to actors making more than $10 million to anyone working on a production or their representatives. This past July, the State Legislature extended this credit to any production company doing commercials, etc.

    Since this passed one year ago, we have had 36 productions filmed in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, with “Revolutionary Road” (Winslet and DiCaprio) filming in Bridgeport, Bethany, etc as well as “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants 2”, filmed at Western CT State University in Danbury and most recently, John Travolta, Kelly Preston, Robin Williams and Seth Green in Disney’s “Old Dogs” in Redding. They filmed at the Redding Community Center and for 5 days at Putnam Park, where the crew camped each night. The stars rented houses in Greenwich, because they were shooting in Redding and New York City. (They paid $5,000 for the community center and a very generous $8,000 for the state park.*)

  • August 14, 2007

    Substandard soundtracks

    There is a growing body of evidence that distributors are aware of the bad soundtracks on many major releases. The problem stems from preferential treatment of digital soundtracks versus the analog variety used by nondigital venues.

    I’ve been told by reliable sources, installation and repair gurus, they keep coming across sound problems in analog cinemas where it turns out the print is the culprit. I cannot help but wonder if this a subtle way of encouraging exhibitors to make the big switch to digital.

    The circuits have rattled their swords about studios paying for the transition. I disagree. The U.S.A. is an essentially capitalist nation. The exhibitors should pay for the transition to digital projection from their own pockets. After all, it’s the circuits who will save millions on payroll. Switching to digital is a capital improvement the individual exhibitor requires to remain competitive. Just as importantly, the studios and distributors must continue to provide the analog cinemas with strong and clear soundtracks. The movie going public is jaded enough. Every movie theater in the world must put on a good show.

  • August 13, 2007

    Blockbuster acquires Movielink

    In a move to stay in the race with its rival, Netflix, Blockbuster bought out the movie download service, Movielink.

    In statement, Blockbuster said the acquired company gives its customers access to one of the largest libraries of downloadable movies and a large array of television content. Through the service, customers will be able to legally download entertainment content for rental and for purchase.

    The content will play over customer PCs, PCs, portable devices, television-connected home networks and approved set-top boxes.

    You can read the full story at Internet News.

  • August 3, 2007

    No more nickels at AMC

    Just when you thought large movie chains had squeezed every last dime from you, apparently they can get a few more cents out of you.

    Reader Anthony says he paid for his movie ticket with “$8 and some change.” The transaction resulted in AMC owing Anthony a nickel.

    But AMC doesn’t carry nickels. They told Anthony that if he wanted his nickel he’d have to go get it from the “Guest Services” desk. So he did. But instead of a nickel, he got attitude.

    Has anyone heard of other businesses doing this? Read the full story at the Consumerist.

  • August 2, 2007

    The Hollywood Recycling Machine

    I recently turned 40 and I have to say that nothing had lately caused me to feel my age until Hollywood began remaking so many movies that I grew up with during the 1970’s. So many of them (POSEIDON, THE LONGEST YARD, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, WHEN A STRANGER CALLS, etc., etc., etc.), and not one of them can claim to have marked any kind of significant place in our movie-culture or made any phenomenal killing at the box office.

    Mind you, I don’t condemn remakes entirely. Some are great (THE FLY, DRACULA, KING KONG, INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS), but some…well, let me just say one name to you all…Gus Van Sant! I don’t think I’ll ever, ever forgive him for remaking Hitchcock’s masterpiece, PSYCHO. And now, in recent months, I learned of more remakes to come, including HALLOWEEN, THE INVASION, THE THING and ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

    The point is – when the hell is it going to stop?? When does enough become enough?? Has Hollywood completely run out of new and original material to put on the screen? How are intelligent scripts (there must be a few left out there) ever going to be given a fair chance if all we keep seeing on the screen is recycled material? When is some Hollywood big shot who makes the green-light decision going to finally say, “No. It’s been done already.”

  • July 20, 2007

    Sherman Torgan, New Beverly Theatre owner, has died

    From the Greencine website:

    “From Hollywood Elsewhere comes sad news from the very heart of Hollywood,” writes Dennis Cozzalio. “Sherman Torgan, owner and manager of the New Beverly Cinema, died unexpectedly yesterday while bicycling in Santa Monica.”

    “I imagine he died doing what he loved, which is a happy thing; I don’t think anyone could run a theater like the New Beverly for three decades without having a passion for it,” writes David Lowery. “There’s an art to showing movies, a sort of showmanship crossed with curatorial craft, and it’s slowly being lost. It’ll never fade completely (not as long as devotees are willing to set up screenings in Parisian catacombs), but as of today its its lustre is a little bit dimmer than it was before.”

    “[S]ome of you may have noticed he got a thanks in the Grindhouse credits,” notes Blake Ethridge at Cinema is Dope. “Condolences to everyone that knew Sherman and were touched over the decades with his charge and dedication in providing films old and new a place to still breath and to be discovered all over again.”

  • July 17, 2007

    Adult theater pioneer Jim Mitchell passes away

    We don’t usually report on adult film theater moguls, but thought that this was rather notable. As owner of the O'Farrell in San Francisco and many other throughout the west, he created quite an empire.

    Mitchell died Thursday night at his ranch near Petaluma, Calif. The cause of death was not immediately known, but foul play was not suspected, a spokesman for the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department said. An autopsy was conducted Friday, but the results were not made available.

    The dramatic rise and flesh-and-blood fall of the Mitchell brothers has been chronicled in books, the Showtime movie “Rated X” and in countless newspaper and magazine articles.

    From their offices atop the O'Farrell Theatre in San Francisco, a combination movie and stage show emporium that opened in 1969 and was called the Carnegie Hall of Sex, the brothers built an empire that at one time included 11 movie theaters, including two in Southern California, as well as movie and video productions, The Times reported in 1991.

    Read the full story in the L.A. Times