Current Event Friday #101

Wanna go the movies?

Let’s all go to the movies, let’s all go to the movies and return to normal life. That sounds like a great idea, but you may not have much of a selection depending on the theater and the films out at the box office. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at what is happening in the world of film.

War of words erupts after AMC says it will ban Universal films ...

As movie theaters have closed nationwide as part of social distancing, film studios have released their films on their on-demand streaming services. Many moviegoers have found that they enjoy paying to watch shows that were just released on their home screens. Film studios have seen their revenues for these movies are comparable to theatrical release and in some cases even better than the theatrical release numbers.

Early this week, the head of Universal Studios noted this phenomenon and indicated that they will continue this practice along with theatrical releases even after social distancing ends. Given the success it’s hardly surprising, but it didn’t exactly thrill movie theaters.

After the announcement, AMC Theatres declared that they were not going to show or promote Universal films as a result. Regal Theaters made a similar announcement to AMC’s a few days later. AMC’s stock dropped just a day after announcing their new policy. Talk about cutting your nose off to spite your face.

The cost for an outing to a movie theater has already become somewhat cost prohibitive anyways, so this won’t help them more. For the cost of one movie theater ticket, people can watch films that were just made available by studios in the comfort of their home. Independent theaters and drive-ins are also expected to make more money in the midst of this fight as well. Since people can stay safely distanced in their cars and it’s summer, drive-ins will rake in the money. After social distancing restrictions are lessened, the independent theaters can also take advantage of a major corporation arguing with another major corporation. On-demand rentals and purchases will also see a spike.

I’m lucky if I go to the movie theater more than a handful of times annually. I’m fine with watching a movie on-demand for less than $10 and sometimes less than $5. If the movie is garbage at least I didn’t waste a lot of money like I would at a theater. Yes, you miss the large screens, but technology has made portable screens and projectors semi-affordable if you really want to watch on a large screen. Even the appeal of movies as a dating location has lost its appeal in recent years. Movie-size candy is affordable as well, and quality popcorn is affordable, so movie theaters don’t really have an edge anymore.

Knowing that movie theaters have already lost money while closed, I’m guessing they’re going to blink first and will eventually end up showing some Universal Film Studios movies. If not, I’ll watch the shows on demand or at the local independent establishment.

Would you rather watch new films at the movie theater or at home?

Current Event Friday #88

A Cat-astrophic reception for a recently released movie

Christmas vacation affords families the opportunities to watch feature films playing in theaters, but one of those meow playing is on hardly anyone’s list. In a surprise to Hollywood studio executives, both critics and moviegoers are avoiding the movie. Today’s #CurrentEventFriday looks at some of the problems with the film and its icy reception.

Cats 2019 poster.jpg

While a new Star Wars movie is in theaters, a critically-acclaimed Broadway show should achieve respectable numbers, but Cats hasn’t lived up to the expectations. Based on the original play written by Andrew Lloyd Webber, Cats details the lives of alley cats and an abandoned kitten named Victoria,

The film is directed by Tom Hooper, who adapted Les Misérables to film in 2012 to much acclaim. Somehow, that magic didn’t translate to this film. Even top stars like Idris Elba, Ian McKellen, Judi Dench, Jenifer Hudson, and Taylor Swift don’t seem to help either.

Released last Friday, the film has already been re-edited with CGI effects as some panned the film for its portrayal of the feline singers and dancers. Jason Derulo’s natural ‘human anatomy’ has been a target of much maligning and was edited by the studio to be removed in the re-released format. Meow that it’s been re-edited since theatrical release drew even more negative attention.

Meow, the subject material is too adult for kids, so you’ll expect that they aren’t coming. They likely are watching Frozen II or Jumanji: The Next Level. The male demographic is likely watching Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker or Richard Jewell. Women might be watching Little Women. Plus, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is still in many theaters drawing families, Knives Out is offered for the horror fans. So, Cats was going to have an uphill battle anyways.

I’ve never seen the Broadway show, but I’ve heard several people who loved seeing it. I saw a preview for Cats recently when I watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and could tell it was probably going to be a dud. Even James Corden who stars in the film, is rumored to have avoided watching it in theaters. Of course, a movie about cats is probably not a film worth watching, since dogs are the superior pet anyways.

Have you seen the Broadway version of Cats?  

Current Event Friday #83

Just because an actress is popular doesn’t mean she’s qualified for an important role

“It was so long ago. No one is going to know the difference.” Thankfully, screenwriters and other executives challenged this short-sighted assumption in a recent box office film. The potential mistake and the outrage that has followed as news broke about the casting is today’s #CurrentEventFriday.

Image result for harriet movie

Many moviegoers have recently seen Harriet a biopic about noted abolitionist Harriet Tubman. If a studio head had his way in the preliminary stages of the film, Julia Roberts could have played the titular role. Yes, you read that right, Julia Roberts of Pretty Woman fame who is in no way African-American could have played the part of Harriet Tubman.

Image result for harriet
One of these is not like the other. Can you spot the difference?

The odd choice of Julia Roberts first was presented to the film’s screenwriter over two decades earlier when the film was still being marketed to various studios. Gregory Allen Howard, who wrote the screenplay didn’t mention the studio head by name, so it’s left for speculation.

Admittedly, I’m critical of casting directors choosing actors to play parts for the sake of gender equivalence like the recent Captain Marvel and Ghostbusters films.  Other woke choices have suggested that characters need to become LGBTQ+ in order to represent the population when the characters are not necessarily dependent or known for those sexual identities, the most notable choice has been to make Captain America gay.

Casting actors in roles of historical figures even though they don’t always bear a close resemblance can happen and the actors tend to play the essence of the real-life person rather than trying to physically resemble the person. Robin Williams’ portrayal as Pres. Teddy Roosevelt in the Night at the Museum franchise is one such example of an actor portraying the essence of the character rather than resembling him. Obviously, the studio head thought Julia Roberts could play the essence of Harriet Tubman and the audience would suspend disbelief that a white person was playing an African-American. Audiences are willing to suspend disbelief to some degree, but this instance would’ve been a stretch. Thankfully, the studio head didn’t suggest Julia Roberts play the part in blackface which would have been even more inappropriate.

Notwithstanding this surprising news about the film, Harriet seems like a film worth watching in theaters. Several on my timeline have praised the film for its portrayal of an important abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor. If you’re interested in a film featuring a well-known and beloved actor portraying a real-life figure in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood which opens in theaters today. This film stars Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood fame. With Thanksgiving break coming up, a movie outing sounds like a fun idea.

What are some dumb/strange casting choices that you’d like to recast?