VOD

escape-bench

Yesterday a fight broke out over who is killing movie theaters. Throwing the first punch was Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, who gave a keynote address at the Film Independent Forum in L.A. “I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution, not only are they going to kill theaters, they might kill movies,” he said regarding the industry’s protest of VOD releases being day-and-date with theatrical openings. Soon after, National Association of Theatre Owners president/CEO John Fithian countered with a weak blow of: “Subscription movie services and cheap rentals killed the DVD business, and now Sarandos wants to kill the cinema as well.” As a former longtime employee of the movie theater industry, I can say with some certainty that the most lethal enemy of cinemas is cinemas themselves. Sure, there is a lot to say about the convenience of lazily staying home and clicking the remote on our cable box or Roku or Xbox or using our smarthphones or tablets to watch a brand new movie in our beds with no pants on. But at some point Fithian and the rest of NATO’s scapegoating curmudgeons need to realize that going to the movies isn’t necessarily about the movie on screen. It hardly has been for the better part of a century, in fact. Moviegoing is an experience. That’s what NATO should be focused on, and much of that focus will always be on pressuring its theater chain partners to maintain a better quality experience […]

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The Letter Trailer

Ever think that Winona Ryder always looks like she’s creeped out about something? Ever think that James Franco always looks kind of creepy? Then The Letter is the movie for you. Because, from the looks of its new trailer, it seems like that’s pretty much the only thing the movie is about. Sure, there’s some talk about bad dreams, and some talk about poisoning people, but what’s definitely clear is that Ryder spends 90% of the movie either looking creeped out or screaming, and Franco spends 100% of the movie staring at people like a total weirdo (or doing unseen things to their nether regions while staring like a total weirdo). Given the vague nature of the advertising, I guess we need to turn to Lionsgate’s official synopsis  for the film to discern what it’s really about. According to their blurb, “Martine Jamison (Winona Ryder) is a NY theatre director beginning rehearsals for a new play starring her boyfriend Raymond (Josh Hamilton) opposite a young beauty. They are joined by an unknown newcomer, Tyrone (James Franco), who develops a peculiar fascination with Martine and is openly hostile to all others. As rehearsals continue, Martine has periods of disorientation that quickly deteriorate into vivid hallucinations as she becomes convinced someone is trying to poison her. As Martine’s mental state devolves she begins to rewrite her play… and art and life become inseparable.”

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What is Movie News After Dark? The title seems pretty self explanatory, at least where the topic of conversation and timing are concerned. You should also note that it happens every night of the week and is read all around the world. Thanks for joining in on the fun. We begin tonight’s rundown with an image of Ron Perlman visiting Zachary. Who is Zachary? You might ask. He’s a six-year old boy currently undergoing treatment for leukemia, whose Make-a-Wish desire was to “meet and become Hellboy.” The folks at Spectral Motion, the creature effects shop of Guillermo Del Toro, and Perlman were more than happy to oblige. And here’s a tissue…

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Earlier this week, Deadline Wherever reported that during a panel at CinemaCon, exhibitors discussed the option of allowing patrons to text during films. It was pitched as an attempt to attract younger audiences to the theaters, even though it doesn’t actually address the reason (price of films, quality of the home video experience and rampant online piracy) why teens and college students don’t go to the movies as much as they did in the 70s and 80s. At Film School Rejects, we support a staunch no-texting policy (and no tweeting, Facebooking, web surfing, Wikipediaing, playing of Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja) at all theaters. However, instead of pointing out the fallacies of this idiotic suggestion, we’re taking a look into the future. Here is a possible timeline of what might happen were texting allowed in movie theaters. Gird your loins and enjoy this cautionary tale from Cole Abaius and Kevin Carr.

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Meeting Evil writer/director Chris Fisher joins us to talk about how necessary movie stars are to getting financing in the indie world (and how to talk to Samuel L. Jackson on set). Plus, we go beyond the headlines to explore the Alamo Drafthouse‘s expansion into New York City with CEO Tim League and to push the envelope of film festivals with Tribeca Executive Director Nancy Schafer. Download Episode #129

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Take a deep breath and prepare to learn everything you need to know about Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope straight director Morgan Spurlock‘s fast-talking mouth. Will it change the world? Probably. Plus, Junkfood Cinema enthusiast Brian Salisbury accepts the dangerous mission to play Movie News Roulette. Download Episode #128

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Remember the MPAA’s much ballyhooed new rating for adult themed/non-porn films back in 1990? NC-17 stood for ‘No children under 17″ and was meant for films too aggressively naughty or thematically mature for kids and teens to even glimpse. One of the earliest films to receive the rating was Belgium’s caustic and satiric faux-documentary, Man Bites Dog (1992). It features a camera crew following a serial killer day to day as he does what he does best… kill, rape, and disembowel innocent people. It’s a brilliant film that manages to subvert both documentaries and serial killer films in one bloody swathe. Vampires is not rated NC-17, but then again pretty much nothing is these days. (A Serbian Film most likely won’t play in a theater with that rating, and Blue Valentine successfully appealed down to an R.) But it bears a few other similarities with with the film starting with its country of origin, Belgium. It’s also done in the style of a documentary, but the serial killer is traded in for a family of vampires who introduce the filmmakers to their modern-day bloodsucking ways. It doesn’t have the same bite as that earlier film, but it’s violent, darkly comic, and damn good.

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Kevin Smith made a splash at the most recent Sundance Film Festival by holding a mock auction for his horror film Red State, buying the distribution rights himself, and then taking the movie on a tour around the country. The whole thing was some sort of statement about the inflated budgets films have to accrue in order to get distribution and advertising, and an experiment as to whether or not a filmmaker could turn a profit by just distributing a movie themselves. Smith took his reel of the film from theater to theater, screening it and holding Q&As afterward, and charging the people who showed up a premium for the service. That’s fine for Smith’s loyal fanbase, but what about the rest of us who might just have a passing interest in checking out the movie and aren’t willing to pay a hefty ticket price for the experience of seeing it with the director in the room? Now we’ve got an option coming our way as well.

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It looks like everyone is throwing their hats into the ring. When the studios announced a plan to release movies in home theaters just 30 days after the theaters located outside the home (with a price tag of $30 per rental), the National Association of Theater Owners balked. Apparently their threat to boycott big blockbusters was a fake, but they haven’t kept secret their disgust for the new model that would limit their ability to make money showing movies (since studios take the 50%-100% lion’s share of the ticket split in the first weeks). Now, 23 directors and producers are speaking out against it. That list includes James Cameron, Michael Bay, Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro, Roland Emmerich, Antoine Fuqua, Todd Garner, Lawrence Gordon, Stephen Gyllenhaal, Gale Anne Hurd, Peter Jackson, Karyn Kusama, Jon Landau, Shawn Levy, Michael Mann, Bill Mechanic, Jamie Patricof, Todd Phillips, Brett Ratner, Robert Rodriguez, Adam Shankman, Gore Verbinski, and Robert Zemeckis. The full, un-edited open letter is below:

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Boiling Point

Before you go getting some silly idea like me believing in some silly idea like love, let me clear this up: this isn’t about the love between a man and a woman, a man and a fine cigar, and a fat kid and his chocolate cake. That’d be too easy. The price of those are heartbreak, oral cancer, and diabetes. No, this is about a love we all share, everyone of us reading this site and writing for it. This is about a love of cinema and, tragically, the extreme cost of it. Going to the theater is a great experience. Unless you’re a millionaire, the theater offers a gigantic screen, booming sound, and stadium seating. Watching Transformers on the big screen knocks the robotic pants off of watching it at home no matter how big your Samsung is. All of that is great – but is it worth the astronomical price?

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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