Friday, January 18, 2013

TOWID (The Only Way Is Digital)

2013 is clearly set to see digitisation continue apace, with analogue media being displaced by digital media which are typically cheaper to produce and distribute. That doesn't mean that analogue media, such as films shot on 35mm and distributed as 35mm prints to cinemas (each print costing £000s), will disappear, but that bit by bit the industry is moving over to digital content.
Here's some useful stats from this article, about Google buying a 10%, $50m stake in the video distributor Vevo (the joint Sony/Universal venture that you'll have come across if you've watched a few videos on YouTube, given how much of the music industry their artist sales represent):
Earlier this month the Entertainment Retailers Association reported that downloads of music, TV shows, films and video games topped £1bn in the UK for the first time in 2012. Digital music sales grew but revenue from physical singles fell by 44% year on year and albums dropped 11%.
The cinema industry and CD sales remain strong but, like newspapers, which are also seeing circulation declining rapidly as more people access their news online, may not have a bright future. The record set by Skyfall, 2012's Bond movie, may never be beaten: it became the first movie to take in over £100m at the UK box office by the last week in December 2012 (it was already the biggest ever UK cinema hit, and topped $1bn worldwide).

Friday, January 11, 2013

Film/Ideology: Superman's global message

Great article here which amply demonstrates the deeper ramifications of popular culture; delves into the hegemonic connotations of fictional entities such as Superman, shortly to be the subject of yet another film, Man of Steel. Sample quote:
"He is the first global superhero," said Larry Tye, author of Superman: The High-Flying History of America's Most Enduring Hero.
Indeed, Superman's influence is so great that he is spearheading the growing academic study of comic heroes and their role in society. Such figures are seen as fulfilling the same societal function as the myths of ancient Greece or Rome. They are outlandish creatures doing battle for high ideals and teaching us moral lessons. "We need myths to teach us virtues. Eventually those virtues need to be embodied by a person. Mythology has always played that function," said Professor Harry Brod, a philosopher at the University of Northern Iowa.
Some have taken the point of the moral teachings of Superman stories further, seeing a powerful philosophical concept behind them. In his book Saunders devotes a chapter to Superman, in which he suggests that the character's immense popularity is a result of his embodiment of goodness. "In terms of 20th-century popular culture, he captures the notion of a Platonic ideal of the good. When Superman is done well, I am not embarrassed to call him a beautiful idea," Saunders said.
See Superman + the American Way
Other experts in how human cultures work go even further in their efforts to explain the extraordinary longevity of the Superman figure.
The 2006 film that made Superman into a Jesus Christ-like figure was perhaps closer to the core of Superman than any other depiction. Just take some of Superman's main attributes. He descends to Earth from a world far away up in the sky. His true father passes him advice as he walks among mere humans.
Read the full article below.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Cinema in 2013 will be...

Lengthy feature, broken down into shorter themed sections, from the Gdn Film Blog (if you don't already follow it you should!) here on what 2013 will bring for the cinema industry: read the article here or (partially reproduced) below.  

Care to add your own predictions as a comment? Will the 3D boom continue or tail off? Will home cinema 3D once again undermine cinema? Will streaming overtake DVD sales as a source of revenue? Will the window between exclusive theatrical exhibition and DVD/TV/streaming continue to shrink? Will the US audience continue to shrink as a % of Hollywood revenues for its own films - and if so, will this lead to greater multi-ethnicity in the casting of leads, or a shift away from depicting American power (surely a key tool of US political hegemony)? Will digitisation open up greater opportunities for Indie producers ... or will the tentpole strategy (closely tied to franchising sequels, prequels and remakes/reimaginings) continue to maintain big 6 global dominance? Will YOU go to see any film in the cinema in 2013 - or turn increasingly to viewing film on tablets, laptops etc?

Brits in Spandex and girl power: movie trends that will keep us talking in 2013

Last year, Hollywood was flush with international cash and films starring Matthew McConaughey. What will this year hold?
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent
Angelina Jolie as Maleficent represents the latest trend for Actresses of a Certain Age Who Aren't Really That Old: playing the bitch. Photograph: Disney

Time travel was popular. Prequels were hot. As were guns-for-hire, vampires and movies set on boats. Which of the year's cinematic trends, people, cultural avatars and epiphenomenon are most likely to set the agenda for 2013?

Jennifer Lawrence

In X-Men First-Class, Jennifer Lawrence wore the lightly stunned look of someone suffering from an acute case of Newcomer Bends. But then she narrowed her eyes, strung her bow and fired The Hunger Games towards $686m: Lawrence's imperturbability was revealed as the genuine article. The scene in Silver Linings Playbook where she walks into de Niro's lair and has him eating out of her hand in under five minutes may just win her an Oscar at the tender age of 22. If that weren't reason enough for New York magazine to put her at the top her their "Celebrity Brunch League" – the lost of famous people they'd most like to have pancakes with – the editors listed a few more:
She complains about her fussy premiere clothes; she crashes into cars while looking for Honey Boo Boo. There was that time that her entire family went to Sleep No More in search of orgies … Jennifer Lawrence cannot be contained by your Movie Star Rules of Decorum; Jennifer Lawrence has too much to share.
We concur. She's like Liz Taylor without the alimony.


Jennifer Lawrence wasn't the only ballsy princess of 2012. We also had the flame-haired, cinch-waisted Princess Merida in Pixar's Brave, the studio's first female protagonist; plus Kristin Stewart riding, fighting, and shooting her way through Snow White and the Huntsman, not to mention her swan song for beloved Bella, now a momma grizzly protecting her vampire cub in the last Twilight movie. They all added up to "an interesting new breed of warrior princesses," said the New York Times' AO Scott, "whose ascendance reflects the convergence of commercial calculations and cultural longings."
Much of the credit must go to Lionsgate, who released both Breaking Dawn Part 2 and The Hunger Games, thus proving conclusively that young female actresses can 'open' and power a movie move way past the $100 million mark. "Girls actually need superheroes much more than boys," said Gloria Steinem, approvingly. Boys aren't the only ones to play Han Solo.
brave film still by pixar Princess Merida – and her bow and arrow – were big hits in 2012. Photograph: Pixar