Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Duncan Jones' Moon: $5m UK sci-fi

$5m budget
$10m global box office (£700k UK, $3.3m USA)
Produced by Stage 6 Films
Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group acquired distribution rights to the film for English-speaking territories.[3] Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group was considering making Moon a direct-to-DVD release; however, after Moon premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, Sony Pictures Classics decided to handle this film's theatrical release for Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions Group.[12]
Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 185 reviews, with an average score of 7.4/10 [Wiki]

KEY POINT: Like Monsters (Gareth Edwards, 2010, $800k), digitisation has opened up even sci-fi to low-budget Indie producers. Genres such as horror have always been accessible to Indies, but until CGI SFX became accessible to anyone with an Apple Mac convincing sci-fi hasn't been a realistic possibility for Indies. Both Moon and Monsters (which won director Edwards the director's seat on the big budget studio production Godzilla: $160m with a $0.5bn take!). Moon had a much larger crew than Monsters, and required extensive set-building, helping explain why its budget was around 10-times higher - but still in the low budget range of, say a Warp or a WT2 production. Strong word-of-mouth and various festival and other awards helped boost box office takings. A slick website further boosts its prospects of DVD/Blu-Ray sales (the long tail?)
A critical hit.

The official site launch page - its a slick production; see next shot

Wiki, IMDB, RottenTomatoes, Official site, YouTube vids. There is a longer list of articles etc further down.

See full list on the Wiki; despite its low budget, Moon was a multiple award-winner

Consider this from the amctv blog:

Next question:

Why do idiotic films like Transformers and Wolverine get put into thousands of theaters while really excellent science fiction movies like Moon don't show up anywhere?
The short answer is that Transformers and Wolverine are "tentpole" pictures -- i.e., the sort of movies that studios spend millions on in the hope of making millions from -- so naturally they're going to be screened far and wide as well as promoted in a screaming haze of advertising, while Moon -- starring Sam Rockwell as a schmoe on a 3-year moonbase stint -- is sort of the exact opposite: A small movie, made for roughly the cost of Transformer shoot's craft service budget and without the help of a major studio. Moon was never destined to get onto 4,000 screens on opening day.
Now, this avoids the implicit question, which is why studios choose to spend millions and millions on movies based on toys and comic books and not on movies that grownups might not be embarrassed to be seen coming out of in the first place. The answer to that is actually the solution, which is that if you want studios to make those sorts of movies, go out of your way to see them in the theater, rather than just waiting until they wash up on Starz or HBO. It's not that humans are getting stupider, it's that people interested in entertainment that doesn't EXPLODE aren't going into theaters. So, you know. Go.

If you haven't seen this I'd highly recommend it: you'll be astonished for one thing at its cinematographic quality, and the convincing nature of its set, when you're aware of its production budget: $5m (which would merely pay for a quarter of a Hollywood A-lister's basic fee for a movie!). There are some great behind-the-scenes features on the DVD too, showing you how this was achieved.
The one caveat to this is that it helps being the son of David Bowie, even if you have changed your name from Zowie Bowie.
This enterprising directorial debut, working wonders on a modest budget, consciously sets out to operate in the manner of psychological SF movies of the 60s and 70s about the experience of being in outer space: films such as 2001, Outland and Alien, where being on Jupiter or the Moon has become an accepted way of life. Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, the sole operator of a plant mining Helium-3 on the Moon to provide energy for Earth. His only company is a computer called Gerty (voiced with slyly condescending concern by Kevin Spacey), and he's nearing the end of his three-year stint. One day, Bell has an accident driving a motor vehicle, and after coming to he discovers he has a doppelganger. Is this figure a clone or his real self? Is he the victim of some conspiracy operated by his callous capitalist employers in league with Gerty? A gripping, thoughtful, extremely claustrophobic movie, its director Duncan Jones, is a onetime graduate student of philosophy. Moreover, he was once known as Zowie Bowie and is the son of David Bowie, no stranger to the world of outer space.
(Philip French for The Observer)
Some links for further reading: 
Peter Bradshaw review (3/5) in Gdn
Gdn profile of DJones (2009)


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