Summary of “What the Oscars’ New “Popular Film” Category Says About the Art-and Business-of the Movies”

The gap between the art and the business of movies is larger than ever, and the planned changes to the Oscars announced today by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences look like a desperate response to that chasm.
The Academy plans to move the airdate of the ceremony up to early February, to shrink the telecast to three hours in order to offer “a more accessible Oscars for our viewers worldwide,” and to create a new category “For outstanding achievement in popular film.”
Their over-all effect suggests a reaction to a much greater problem facing Hollywood: its increasing irrelevance to the art of the movies.
What’s more, in worldwide receipts-where Hollywood’s big-budget films now make a majority of their money-most of these films fell still lower in the charts, because culturally specific, locally anchored movies don’t travel as readily as ones made from preëxisting fantasy sources.
When a new generation of filmmakers, richly educated in the most extreme trends of the art of the cinema thanks to the availability of VHS tapes and DVDs, brought forth movies of a new, original sensibility, they found themselves increasingly confined by the commercial demands of studio budgets and studio producers.
It’s no accident that the very notion of the Oscar campaign, of the high-powered behind-the-scenes exertion for awards, is the brainchild of Harvey Weinstein, an independent producer with Miramax who leveraged awards to vault his films and his company to a level of importance in Hollywood commensurate with that of the studios.
Because of this very commercial significance of awards for commercially minor films, the Academy’s decision to create a new award for “Popular films” is more than absurd and desperate: it’s rankly offensive.
The new category appears to be a play by the studios to siphon off some of the commercial benefits of the awards-to redistribute Oscar-related money upward from independent producers to the studios, from productions costing and yielding tens of millions to ones costing and yielding hundreds of millions.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Indoor cycling can be great for your heart”

Dennis,* an instructor at a major spinning franchise who’s in his early 30s, became concerned about his hearing and went to an audiologist, who diagnosed him with early onset hearing loss.
The study authors did not specify which companies they included but told Vox they covered six major US chains with locations throughout the US. Public health authorities are increasingly worried about noise exposure everywhere: The World Health Organization calls environmental noise an “Underestimated threat,” and hearing loss is now the third most common chronic health condition in America, just after diabetes and cancer.
A single 45-minute indoor cycling class was nine times the recommended noise exposure for an eight-hour workday Since I started reporting a series on noise pollution, I’ve received hundreds of emails about all the places people feel their hearing is assaulting on a daily basis: in restaurants, in clothing and grocery stores, at the movies.
Its researchers were working with the authors of the study to come up with recommendations for how to prevent hearing loss that were to be sent to cycling and exercise studios – part of a “Workplace solutions series” that offers public health guidance on safe workplaces.
How loud exercise classes can make us more vulnerable to noise-induced hearing loss It is difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of noise-induced hearing loss since the effects of loud sounds on the ears are cumulative and can take years to show up in hearing tests.
Loud noise we’re exposed to is thought to contribute to the wear and tear that degrades our hearing.
The louder the noise, the worse the damage – but really loud sounds can damage our hearing in a short period of time.
How to protect your hearing To protect your hearing, you need to understand how loud the environments you frequent really are.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How Superheroes Made Movie Stars Expendable”

Sony owned the rights to Spider-Man, and Pascal made intelligent use of them-her choices for director and star were unexpected, and together they made a movie that honored fans and non-fans alike.
“So you’re feeling wobbly in the job right now. Here’s the fact: nothing conventional you could do is going to change that, and there is no life-changing hit that is going to fall into your lap that is NOT a nervous decision, because the big obvious movies are going to go elsewhere and you don’t have the IP right now to create them from standard material. Force yourself to muster some confidence about it and do the exact thing right now for which your career will be known in movie history: be the person who makes the tough decisions and sticks with them and makes the unlikely things succeed.”
Then the machinery of wide release was supplemented by a new technology, VHS. Suddenly, there were video stores all over America that needed to purchase at least one copy of every major new Hollywood movie.
Something had changed, he believed, and Americans were becoming indifferent to their great cultural patrimony-an indifference that was linked, Puttnam maintained, to how movies were being made and distributed.
As the major studios faced the loss of a large and predictable revenue stream, they trimmed their release schedules and focussed more of their efforts on the global mega-brands: Marvel, DC, “Harry Potter,” “The Fast and the Furious,” “Star Wars.” The movie business transitioned from a system dominated by a handful of larger-than-life stars to one defined by I.P. This brought the era shaped by Ovitz to a close.
“Michael Ovitz,” writes Violaine Roussel, in her book “Representing Talent: Hollywood Agents and the Making of Movies”, “Is commonly described as the demiurge responsible for shaping and leading the reconfiguration of the system linking together the main agencies and the major studios.” Roussel is a professor of sociology at the University of Paris, and she spent five years studying the world Ovitz helped create, interviewing movie agents, shadowing them at work, and meeting with their various rivals and counterparts, including top executives at the major studios.
Granted, there were limitations in the old model, some of them severe; it is hardly incidental that two of the most popular and interesting movies of the past year, “Wonder Woman” and “Black Panther,” made deliberate efforts to expand the usual demographic of old-fashioned Hollywood heroism, and to push back against the history of sexism and racism that it reflects.
The Internet and social media have changed things, he said, adding, “You almost can’t make new movie stars anymore, right?” Cinemas are already in danger of becoming like the church in the Philip Larkin poem: half-abandoned houses of “Awkward reverence,” with an aura that intensifies as fewer and fewer people go.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How to Introduce Your Kid to Studio Ghibli”

Studio Ghibli films have been a touchstone in my life for years.
Some young children may find elements in some of the Studio Ghibli films to be confusing or frightening.
Decorating your children’s bedrooms with beautiful art prints inspired by Studio Ghibli movies is an easy way to introduce younger children-especially infants and toddlers-to the films when they are too young to understand or pay attention to the animation or stories.
All Studio Ghibli films are distributed in North America by Disney or GKIDS, and you can easily purchase the DVD or Blu-ray versions on Amazon or other online retailers.
While children as young as two might appreciate these, both titles do have a leisurely pace, like all Studio Ghibli films.
Ages 8+: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is usually considered part of the Studio Ghibli filmography, but it predates the studio-it’s what led to Studio Ghibli being founded in the first place.
Studio Ghibli co-created The Red Turtle with a French animation studio, and it’s special because there is no dialogue.
There are many more movies and film shorts that well-known names-including Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, Yoshiaki Nishimura, and more-have worked on before or beyond Studio Ghibli.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Hollywood Wanted An Edgy Child Actor. When He Spiraled, They Couldn’t Help.”

It had been years since Renfro had delivered a performance that caught the public’s attention, and at the time, he was treated as yet another addition to the mournful legacy of former child stars – Dana Plato, River Phoenix, Judy Garland – whose lives collapsed from Hollywood darling to death by overdose.
Renfro became an overnight star because he was a rowdy kid with natural talent who stood apart from more seasoned child actors.
10 years after Renfro’s death, interviews with Renfro’s former colleagues make plain that the mechanisms in place to protect child actors – mechanisms compromised by conflicts of interest and a dependence on parents and guardians – were scarcely capable of protecting kids like Renfro, and largely remain so today.
Renfro’s parents divorced when he was 5; his mother remarried and moved to Michigan, and Renfro’s paternal grandmother, Joanne Renfro, became the primary caregiver for an increasingly wayward child.
None of the adults who worked with Renfro as a child who spoke with BuzzFeed News said they suspected Renfro might be addicted to a drug like heroin.
With no boundaries off the set, Renfro kept getting pushed past perceived limits for child actors on the set, as well.
Instead, throughout the ’90s and Renfro’s early adolescence, Hollywood kept courting the child actor, trading on his name and fandom.
If the parent or guardian is checked out, and their child’s darker facets are what keeps them employed, it’s not in any way surprising that an actor like Renfro would slip through a system so ill-equipped to save him anyway.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Made in China: every new video game you love”

For Zhu Jie, a 33-year-old with wireframe glasses and bright pink hair, credits are often the best part of a game, a rare moment of recognition for her and her colleagues at Virtuos Ltd, a company in China that builds 3D art and levels for the biggest game companies in the world: Sony, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts, among others.
In 2008, an anonymous poll of 200 major video game studios found that 86 percent relied on outsourcing for some aspect of development.
“It takes a village now, to build these games,” Peter Moore, then COO of EA, said in 2015 at the External Development Summit, “And I’m not just talking about the game itself. Because if games don’t have companion apps, if they don’t have websites – we have 450 different social media websites supporting all of our franchises, so we have requirements for integrated development that not only keeps the core game alive but keeps the ecosystem around that game humming, because if you’re not delivering content each and every day then the engagement drops.”
“We don’t place bets on certain IPs,” he said, referring to the intellectual property that constitutes a new game.
Costs for game development had been rising steadily throughout the 1990s, when the average budget for a PlayStation or Nintendo 64 title was between $1 million and $3 million, according to a presentation at the Game Developers Conference by Factor 5.
To ensure consistency across all the game’s outsourcers, van Beek and his team of artists at Guerrilla compiled a large library of reference photos of everything they wanted in the game.
Is there really a way to make a game of Horizon’s scale and complexity without someone being exploited along the way? Working conditions at many traditional game studios are already bad enough, with nightmarish crunch-time stories and frequent overtime, often without additional pay.
A recent report in Politico points to the fact that from 2005 to 2015, “The number of people in alternative work arrangements grew by 9 million and now represents roughly 16 percent of all U.S. workers, while the number of traditional employees declined by 400,000.” A 2016 IGDA survey found a similar force at work among game developers, only 66 percent of whom were full-time employees.

The orginal article.

Summary of “MoviePass Adds a Million Subscribers, Even if Theaters Aren’t Sold on It”

Under the MoviePass business model, theaters get paid full price for every admission.
The blistering growth has prompted new criticism from theaters and studio owners – namely that MoviePass will never be able to make money by charging $9.95 a month when a single ticket can cost almost twice that amount.
Mr. Lowe, who previously sparred with studios as president of Redbox, the kiosk company that rents DVDs for $1 a day, believes that ticketing can at least be a break-even business for MoviePass.
Mr. Farnsworth said, “When you apply computer science and machine learning to an industry that we believe has lacked significant innovation, useful patterns start to emerge.” If MoviePass gets big enough, it could try to demand that chain theaters sell tickets at a discount or share a slice of their concession revenue.
Helios recently raised $60 million for the expansion of MoviePass, which expects to have more than three million subscribers by the end of next year.
As the popularity of MoviePass demonstrates, theater owners may no longer be able to avoid fundamental change.
One small theater company that has become a MoviePass investor, Studio Movie Grill, which has 30 locations in nine states, credits the service with increasing attendance, especially on weeknights.
“Some people aren’t sure they want to pay $10 to $12 to see a movie like ‘Lady Bird.’ MoviePass takes out that hurdle.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Cover Story: Inside Marvel’s Universe with Kevin Feige, Thor, Black Widow, Iron Man, Hulk, and More”

Marvel Studios, which kicked things off with Iron Man in 2008, has released 17 films that collectively have grossed more than $13 billion at the global box office; 5 more movies are due out in the next two years.
They came for Kevin Feige, the unassuming man in a black baseball cap who took Marvel Studios from an underdog endeavor with a roster of B-list characters to a cinematic empire that is the envy of every other studio in town.
On the wall of one of those early, drab offices hung a 1988 Technicolor poster by Marvel artists Ed Hannigan and Joe Rubinstein, crowded to the margins with hundreds of characters from all different story lines with the words MARVEL UNIVERSE emblazoned across the top.
Jackson signed an unheard-of nine-picture deal with Marvel shortly after Iron Man came out, ensuring his participation in the subsequent Avengers movies and other Marvel properties.
Feige doesn’t deny that directors need to play by a set of rules when they join Team Marvel, especially now that the concept of a single cinematic universe is non-negotiable.
Director Ryan Coogler’s upcoming Black Panther movie marks another major shift for Marvel: in February, the studio will launch its first movie with a black actor, Chadwick Boseman, in the lead. Captain Marvel, starring Brie Larson in the title role of a female air-force captain with superpowers, opens in 2019.
Critics sometimes forget that Feige announced Captain Marvel and Black Panther in 2014-during the Perlmutter era.
Feige has no worries about Marvel’s longevity, a point he illustrated by quoting one of his personal heroes: “On opening day, when people asked Mr. Walt Disney if Disneyland was finished, he said, as long as there’s imagination in the world, Disney will never be complete.” And as long as people are willing to watch superheroes save the world, Marvel-and Kevin Feige-won’t be done, either.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Hollywood Screenwriters Are Learning From Peak TV”

Hollywood film writers – along with everyone else – have noticed a simultaneous boom in Peak TV. Which means that, for Hollywood screenwriters, even as ­studio slates shrink and become more attuned to event blockbusters, opportunity on the small screen abounds.
There are ­lessons that Hollywood movie studios – and screenwriters – are learning from the rise of Peak TV. For starters: Sometimes writers work better in teams.
“Sometimes, you’re generating three movies and two TV series per property.” Many screenwriters actually enjoy these round-table sessions.
“Judd started on Freaks and Geeks, and his movies are made in a similar way – he treats each movie like a giant episode of television.” Max Borenstein, who’s written Godzilla movies, is ambivalent.
Another lesson Hollywood writers are taking from TV: As long as you get your story on a screen, don’t worry too much about what kind of screen it is.
Just as early Netflix series like House of Cards sparked a debate – “But is it really TV?” – that seems ludicrous in hindsight, screenwriters are learning that a movie is a movie, even if it premieres on a hard drive.
“If everyone’s writing TV specs, it becomes a supply-and-demand issue: Zig when everyone else is zagging. Write a movie. Streaming services are looking for them.” All over Hollywood, top-notch screenwriters who have spent their careers writing screenplays that never get produced are dusting off old scripts to see if they might work in this new ecosystem – if not as studio films, then as streaming originals.
She pulled images from ’90s studio hits The Best Man and Love Jones but says “There was nothing from the last decade.” She realized that “If you’re trying to make a black love story in the studio system, all of the black movie stars are over 40,” because Hollywood stopped making young black romances.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Not so super: why Hollywood’s cinematic universes are on the way out”

To spend more time reading works of fine literature and watching cult movies; to spend less time on Facebook and reading the gossip pages or football transfer news.
The big geek news of the past week is that Warner, the studio behind the DC Extended Universe – launched in 2014 with the presumed aim of competing with Marvel’s MCU – has decided it might also be quite nice to begin making superhero movies that have absolutely nothing to do with the aforementioned series of interlinked films.
We are hearing talk of a Joker origins movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which will be entirely separate from the DCEU movies featuring Jared Leto as the clown prince of Gotham.
You’ve just spent hundreds of millions of dollars setting up a shared universe for your much-heralded superheroes to inhabit, and your next move is to start making movies about the same characters that have nothing to do with the main saga.
Warner clearly feels far more comfortable making a standalone comic-book movie with an A-lister in the lead than it does with the considerably more troublesome Marvel format of a series of interlinked episodes featuring lesser-known stars.
The studio couldn’t resist giving Hugh Jackman his swan song as Wolverine in the almost completely standalone effort Logan, a movie that might just – at a major stretch – have taken place in the same universe as the main X-Men movies, but let’s face it, probably did not.
Faced with the choice of a Wolverine movie linked to its ongoing efforts in the 1980s, or one based on director James Mangold’s desire for a sombre, dystopian comic-book take on Unforgiven, the studio simply couldn’t resist the latter.
At a time when Hollywood is struggling to persuade us to switch off our TVs and head out to catch a movie, we surely need film-makers who really care about the big-screen visions they are presenting us with.

The orginal article.