Friday, September 2, 2011

The September Follow-Up Post

It's that time again. There have been recent developments regarding several topics I've blogged about in the past few months, that I thought could do with some additional notes and commentary, but didn't warrant a whole new write-up to themselves. The original posts are linked below for your convenience.

Would You Use Movie Pass? - It's baaaaack! After the scrapped Bay Area test run a few months ago, the MoviePass service has rustled up a new partner in Hollywood Movie Money, and is going to try another limited roll out of its subscription theatergoing service in a few weeks. Among other new details, the monthly cost won't be $50 for everyone, as initially reported, but will vary depending on the cost of movie tickets in your area. That should make the reluctant theater chains a little less reluctant, though there's probably still going to be considerable resistance to this scheme. I still think MoviePass is a promising idea, and I'll be rooting for them.

2012 May be DiCaprio's Year - DiCaprio is still on track to appear as the baddie in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," but it looks like he'll be taking on the lead role in Martin Scorsese's remake of "The Gambler" instead of Clint Eastwood's remake of "A Star is Born" after that. The latter film is going to face significant delays regardless, because of female lead Beyoncé Knowles' recently revealed pregnancy. That may mean that 2012 will be the first year in recent memory where we won't have a new film from Clint Eastwood. As for "The Gambler," I never saw the original with James Caan, but this sounds like exactly the kind of challenging dramatic role that DiCaprio has gotten so good at - and that I wish he'd take a break from.

Oh PIXAR, Say It Ain't So - Breath a sigh of relief, PIXAR fans. At the recent D23 Disney fan convention, two new PIXAR films were announced, both original projects. First in 2013, we'll get "The Untitled PIXAR Movie About Dinosaurs" (see the delightful logo here), which will speculate as to what the world might look like if dinosaurs hadn't become extinct. Peter Doctor, the director of "Monsters Inc," is working on a movie slated for the following summer that will explore the "world inside the human mind," which is a pretty vague description but an intriguing one. The important thing is that it appears that PIXAR's recent spate of sequel-itis was only temporary, and the studio is getting back to the business of creating new properties instead of simply exploiting its old ones.

Casting Katniss - The MTV Video Music Awards premiered the first bit of teaser footage of next year's film adaptation of "The Hunger Games." It didn't really show us much except Jennifer Lawrence in costume as Katniss Everdeen stalking through a forest with a bow and arrow. I thought it was actually a pretty poor piece of promotional material, since it doesn't properly explain the premise or give you anything interesting to look at. That didn't stop entertainment writers from offering analysis of its minutuae as usual. However, the clip does show that Lionsgate is very serious about pushing "The Hunger Games" as the next big new fantasy franchise. Things are looking up for the studio, especially since Carl Icahn finally gave up his takeover attempts a few days ago.

DirecTV's New Bet on Video On Demand - This one just makes me laugh. The premium video-on-demand (VOD) service that had theater owners so incensed was finally launched back in April on DirecTV. The results have been awful. It turns out that next to nobody wants to spend $30 to watch a new-ish release on pay-per-view before it hits DVD. In the middle of a recession, who on earth has the kind of money these days? Oh right, the studio executives who thought this was such a great idea in the first place. Experimentation with early VOD continues, however. The upcoming Taylor Lautner film "Abduction" will be the next test, which will be made available later than the DirecTV offerings, but still a month before the DVD premier, and cost a much more reasonable $7-8 per viewing.

Where Did All the Stephen King Adaptations Go? - Well, it looks like "The Dark Tower" project has stalled for the time being, but it was recently annouced that Steven Spielberg will be producing that Dreamworks adaptation of "Under the Dome" for Showtime, possibly as a full series instead of a miniseries. I don't know how long you could really sustain the premise of a town trapped under an invisible dome, but who knows? And a team-up of Spielberg and King is definitely something to get excited about.

Nuts, Netflix! - Well now we know what they needed the money for - to try to convince a reluctant Starz to renew their content deal. Despite Netflix offering ten times the price they were currently paying, Starz called it quits over Netflix's refusal to impose a new pricing structure that would have charged viewers additional fees to access their content. It's still to early to say how much this will affect Netflix, but it may be a major blow.

'Til next time.

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