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Monthly Archives: May 2010

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Who Should Replace Guillermo Del Toro on The Hobbit?

Since neither Guillermo Del Toro or Peter Jackson will be directing The Hobbit (or The Hobbit Part 1 anyway) let’s go over the basic list of who can replace him.

Fanboys will of course suggest Neil Blomkamp or J.J. Abrams, but those are the same fanboys who would suggest Neill Blomkamp for just about anything, if they’re not suggesting Neil Gaiman for it (what is it with fanboys and Neils anyway?) So far the only halfway reasonable suggest is Sam Raimi, who could probably do a decent job of it, but if the Hobbit’s scheduling was too unstable for even Guillermo Del Toro, who’s not exactly the busiest man around, it’s going to be way too unstable for Raimi who has a lot more irons in the fire.

To go a little more reasonable, here’s a name that no one has really put forward. Gil Kenan. Yes he hasn’t really done many movies, but I think City of Ember makes a convincing case for why he can successfully make a movie like The Hobbit.

Chris Weitz has to be hovering somewhere in the background, but while The Golden Compass wasn’t a creative disaster, I doubt anyone will give him a second shot at a 150 million dollar movie. Zack Snyder is somewhere around there too. The power of 300 alone makes certain of that. And Bryan Singer can’t be ruled out. And of course Gore Verbinski, one of the few directors with the credibility to tackle a big project like this.

But the real winner. Uwe Boll’s The Hobbit: Siege of Denmark. Starring Christian Slater. Coming in 4D.

3D Madness Hits the PC

Speaking of revolution in Taiwan is always risky, but Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang didn’t mince words: “This is the beginning of the 3D revolution.” “There is no reason to buy another PC unless it has 3D in it,” explained Huang.

Actually there’s no reason to buy a PC if it has 3D in it, because 3D adds very little value to a PC, and actually runs counter to the current netbook, smartphone and webpad trend that emphasizes mobility, by instead tethering users to a desk and a pair of glasses. It’s not exactly shocking for the CEO of the leading graphics card company to push 3D, but underselling DX11, which people actually care about in the real world, to push 3D, shows that James Cameron madness has hit even top executives. Is there a huge demand for 3D PC’s. Well what would you do with a 3D PC? I mean besides watch 3D movies on it. And at a time when users want it easier, how many people are really interested in migraines and glasses just to make things look like they’re coming at you?

Del Toro Off the Hobbit Train

Guillermo Del Toro will no longer be directing The Hobbit, which is not exactly the terrible tragedy that fanboys will try to spin it as, because Guillermo Del Toro had a record of bashing Lord of the Rings, so he was never a great choice for the job. Then there was Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which proved that Del Toro could make a special effects plastered movie, just not a good or coherent one. For all his faults, Peter Jackson can still tell a story. Del Toro had two chances with Hellboy, and blew them both. But ever since Warner Brothers tore apart New Line Cinema, but tried to turn its biggest product into a cash cow by splitting The Hobbit into two parts, and then fighting legal battles with everyone from the Tolkien Estate to Peter Jackson, this project has nothing but a train wreck. Jackson made plenty of mistakes, but he was sincere about wanting to bring Lord of the Rings to the big screen. The Hobbit project isn’t fueled by anything like that, just a burning need to shovel out a sure property that can score 400-500 million worldwide.

Is CBS’s New Season Headed for a Fall?

Ghost Whisperer isn’t defensible on creative grounds, but it’s easy enough to defend on pure ratings grounds. Not only did Ghost Whisperer have a habit of decisively winning Fridays, but it was one of CBS’s few shows that appealed to viewers under 40. Combine the challenge of finding a show that will perform well on Fridays, with a show on an aging network that appeals to some younger viewers, and CBS executing Ghost Whisperer seems stupid. Combine that with the purge of unspectacular but decent workhorse shows like The New Adventures of Old Christine and Cold Case, and you have to start wondering if CBS isn’t headed for a fall. Its ambitious plan to build a comedy night around Big Bang Theory is likely to have a few things in common with Icarus. And with new shows like Shit My Dad Says, that looks terrible, Blue Bloods, that probably won’t even pass 6 episodes, a Criminal Minds spinoff and a Hawaii 5-0 remake that looks more like Baywatch, and CBS may just be suffering from overconfidence.

Sex in the City 2 vs Shrek 4

Yes the official box office tally is that Shrek 4 beat Sex in the City 2. But Shrek 4 was in almost a 1000 more theaters than Sex in the City 2. Shrek 4 still wins even on the per theater average, but barely. And when you remember that much of that per theater average is unbalanced by higher 3D prices, Sex in the City 2 almost certainly wins on the per theater numbers. Does it really matter? Probably not that much. Two sequels going head to head means mediocrity wins either way. And with Shrek 4 on top, studio executives terrified that audiences were about to flee their overpriced 3D gimmick can breathe a sigh of relief now, and go back to making everything and everyone 3D. Coming next summer, Sex and the City 3D.

Grub Street Here We Come

Let’s pretend that all ebooks are free. How will writers make money? The same way all media makes money. Advertising, merchandising, and licensing.

Joe Konrath

Now let’s say that we fill eBooks with a lot of ads. That’s still not an answer to piracy. What stops people from ripping and distributing ad free versions of those same eBooks. That does it for advertising. Not to mention that it means a writer is on par with anyone running a website, in selling content around ads. If we run things that way, then publishing ceases to matter.

On to merchandising. Merchandise what? J.K. Rowlings can merchandise, the average writer can’t. To merchandise, you need to be writing material that somebody would actually want to buy merchandise of, and you need a reasonable amount of popularity to do it. So another stupid answer. See the same thing for licensing.

The whole fantastic content is free model just reverts us back to Grub Street, in which there’s no copyright, and writing is something that bored rich people do in their spare time.

IO9’s Dumbing Down of SF Jumps the Shark

No, really. A claim that Sex and the City 2 is a Science Fiction movie is a real jump the shark (or for those still angry over Indiana Jones and Something Something Crystal Skull, Nuked the Fridge) moment for IO9. Yeah this post is on the lighthearted side, but that just disguises running a Sex and the City 2 post on what some people occasionally confuse with a genre site.

And the thing is that while this post may be tongue in cheek, IO9 people have sincerely claimed that House and 24 are both Science Fiction. They basically assigned every TV drama where technology is a factor into the Science Fiction drawer. Again not that surprising. This is the whole post-SF beat put out by those who kinda like playing with Science Fiction, but don’t really like it very much. I remember an interview with different Science Fiction writers done by TV Guide around the time Star Trek DS9 was being launched. While most writers when asked gave an example of an actual Science Fiction show as their favorite SF series, even if one of them had to resort to Nova, Ursula LeGuin listed Northern Exposure, with a series of putdowns aimed at Science Fiction TV shows.

It’s not just an IO9 problem. When Ron Moore decides that the right way to remake Battlestar Galactica is to shove the space travel to the background, have everyone wear ties and debate religion, and decides to follow that up with something like Caprica, the problem is really obvious. It’s why we have a shortage of SF on TV, but a lot of shows like Dollhouse and Caprica, because actual Science Fiction is just too embarrassingly escapist and irrelevant for some people. It’s the old SF Ghetto problem.

Top 10 Fanboy Excuses for the Lost Finale

10. We never wanted answers to all those questions we were obsessed with all the time. Actually what we wanted to see was everyone walking into a bright white light after they’re dead.

9. You really have to have the life experience to understand the work of producers who are too lazy to think a season ahead and then toss out the world’s lamest ending

8. They said everyone would hate it… and they were right. Which just proves they’re geniuses.

7. I bet the finale is just another ARG, and there will be a real finale hidden on a website if you input the right code.

6. If you freeze frame at 30.30 in every Lost episode, you get a clip which is the real finale.

5. I felt very enlightened afterward. Anyone who doesn’t is dead inside.

4. I don’t know what everyone’s complaining about. It answered almost as many questions as the Alias finale.

3. I don’t know what everyone’s complaining about, it was almost as good as the Star Trek movie ending.

2. We’re not worthy of the real finale.

1. The real finale is on the DVD.

The 3D Pushback Begins

Like most bad industry business models, the 3D business model was based on assuming that people were stupid and the train was always going to keep coming in. Charge people more for a 3D ticket and you get higher box office returns, or so the thinking went. And it worked for Avatar and Alice and Dragon. Mediocre or even bad movies made lots of money. But just like last time around, 3D quickly wears out its welcome as a novelty time, and a strategy based on upselling content during a recession may not be that smart. Now Shrek 4 is running into some 3D ticket price pushback.

Of course it doesn’t help that Shrek 4 is basically unwelcome and that it’s a fourquel to a bad movie. But 3D was supposed to cure all that. Just the way 3D made people ignore the thundering stupidity of Avatar, the mediocrity of Dragon and the pointlessness of Alice. But Shrek 4 wasn’t so lucky. Maybe it’s because unlike the other three movies in the list, Shrek 4 wasn’t really new. It was a sequel. And paying 20 dollars to get a 3D movie for the 4th movie in the series didn’t work out.

Robert Rodriguez tried the same thing with his Spy Kids sequel, Spy Kids 3D, parts of which were in 3D anyway. But nobody really wanted to see any more Spy Kids movies at this point, and it failed. Shrek 4 isn’t experiencing that brand of catastrophic failure, but the message is the same. Theater owners invested big in what was supposed to be the next big thing to carry them through DVD’s and online video. Instead they invested in a gimmick that the public is already getting tired of overpaying for.

Meet the New TV Season

So Michael Chiklis has gone from The Shield to playing SuperCommish in a live action version of The Incredibles. Or at least that’s the best available description of No Ordinary Family, a TV show about a generic TV family that gets superpowers and uses them in exactly the ordinary generic ways you would expect. ABC was probably thinking Heroes meets 10 Rules, which is what they got. And I doubt that’s a good thing. Chiklis seems to be having fun. Benz has somehow become a TV mom. And this thing won’t survive a single season.

Hawaii 5-0 reboot. Seems like a no brainer, which is the problem when people with no brainers do it. They not only managed to completely ruin something as basic as the Hawaii 5-0 theme song, but they somehow confused the show with Baywatch. Maybe it’s the bad upfronts impression, but between all the beach scenes and Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin, the whole thing screams Baywatch. Except they arrest people, instead of save them from drowning. The problem will probably be pinned down on producers who were old enough to grow up with Baywatch, not Hawaii 5-0.

Then there’s Shit My Day Says, which is a title CBS seems to be keeping. Smart of them since someone might think the show is groundbreaking, when the actual show is a terrible sitcom with an obnoxious laugh track in which a line derived from the Twitter account is emphasized and mechanical laughter follows. The sad thing is this wastes the talents of people who are actually better than this, including Shatner, Nicole Sheridan and Will Sasso from MAD TV. And it also proves that executives who try to use Twitter to make a show, instead just make something that looks like a generic sitcom from the 80’s, except not funny.

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