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Saturday, July 01, 2006

I've been getting some requests for interviews after finally obtaining the impossibly-rare Garada K7 Jumbo Machinder.  The INITIAL PRESS RELEASE went up at Toybox DX a few weeks ago and a new article went live today at TOYBOT STUDIOS. If nothing else, the new article is certainly enthusiastic.  GIANT ROBOT and the Japanese- language magazine FIGURE KING are also working on pieces.  The thirteen-year hunt for this guy has certainly been worth it. 

Posted at 01:22 pm by jmachinder
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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

There's been a lot of talk over the past year or so about the decline of revenue at the box office.  An argument that you hear quite a bit is that fewer people are going to the movies because the product has become no good.  I don't buy it.  Maybe Hollywood blockbusters do suck and maybe they don't, but I think that doesn't stop them from raking in huge sums of dough.  

The theory seems like sour grapes as many of the folks making this argument are people in showbusiness who aren't having their films greenlit or being given the budgets they want or whatever.  Oh, I see. It's because YOUR movies aren't being made that people are going away from the box office. 

I decided to test out the theory by going to two movie websites:  BOX OFFICE MOJO and ROTTEN TOMATOES.  I looked at the domestic grosses of the top twenty films of the past five years and then examined the "tomatometer" reading for each film.  The Tomatometer simply compiles all the reviews for a film and compares the "fresh" (positive) ones with the "rotten" (negative) ones.  I by no means consider the Tomatometer a foolproof tool for evaluating films.  Indeed, I see flaws in the system - but I think it's at least consistent and certainly worth looking at for determining how much a movie was liked or disliked overall. 

I'm only including domestic grosses because the tastes of foreign audiences can vary so much from Americans'.   U.S. moviegoers were (rightly) underwhelmed by epics such TROY and THE LAST SAMURAI, whereas overseas crowds can obviously be fooled by big stars in big budget period pieces. 


This was the year that the box office dipped from the year before.  And all the articles about the decline in films started The top twenty films grossed 3.706 billion dollars and the average Tomatometer rating for them was 61.75 % For all the talk about Hollywood dropping the ball, the top 8 grossing films all had high Tomatometer ratings.  Revenge of the Sith had 82%, Goblet of Fire 89%, Batman Begins 83% etc., etc. 



This year had at least three big stories about surprisingly high movie grosses.  The first was Farenheit 9/11, which became the most successful documentary ever, grossing 118 million dollars.  The second was The Passion of the Christ, (not a studio film) which grossed a massive $370 million dollars.  The third was Shrek 2, which became the third-highest domestic grossing film of all time, taking in a mind-boggling $441 million.  The top twenty films grossed 3.937 billion dollars and the average tomatometer rating for them was 60.55%.  That's right, LOWER than 2005.  Most people realize that The Passion of the Christ was a non-repeating phenomenon.  It wasn't well-reviewed, getting only a 51% from the Tomatometer, but, by itself, put 2004 over the top. 



The top twenty films grossed $3.604 billion and their average tomatometer rating was 60.55%.  This was sort of a franchise-light year:  no Spiderman movie, no Harry Potter, no Star Wars.  There were two Matrix sequels, but they pissed off people so much that they earned ultimately disappointing grosses. 


The top twenty films grossed $3.939 billion and the average tomatometer reading was 66.9%.  This was a franchise-heavy year, but also a year with very well reviewed blockbusters.  Spielberg had two well liked moneymakers in Minority Report ($132 million, 92%) and Catch Me If You Can ($164 million 96%).  The year saw a Spiderman film, a Star Wars film, a Harry Potter film and a LOTR film - all which got overall positive reviews.  But perhaps the biggest box office story was My Big Fat Greek Wedding coming out of nowhere and making $241 million, despite so-so reviews. 



The top twenty films grossed $3.617 billion and had an average tomatometer rating of 58.85% (the only "failing" year so far).  I guess my point is, if this year was disappointing artistically, a few critics darlings wouldn't have yielded a substantially bigger gross.  A Passion of the Christ or My Big Fat Greek Wedding would have. 


If you ask me, if the box offfice is hurting it's because of DVDs and maybe to a lesser extent, bootlegs. 

Posted at 04:24 pm by jmachinder
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Thursday, June 22, 2006

I've recently been watching a two-disc set of old Warner Brothers cartoons.  Seeing them again, I'm reminded of how brilliant they were and how lucky all of us were to grow up watching them.  I think Mel Blanc may be the most purely talented performer in showbusiness - ever.  I can't believe all the voices are his and it's quite obvious that he does them effortlessly.  I remember one cartoon (that wasn't in this anthology) where Bugs thinks he's Elmer and Elmer thinks he's bugs and they're dressed up as each other.  So they're having a conversation and Elmer is doing a Bugs impression and Bugs is doing an Elmer impression and it sounds perfect.  Amazing. 

There was one cartoon in the collection that I don't think I'd seen in ages.  It was a Tortoise-and-the-Hare type story and is the only WB cartoon I can recall where Bugs loses at every stage.  It's really strange to see the always-winning Bugs Bunny get his ass handed to him non-stop.  Moreover, there's a bunch of rabbits in this one and they all kill themselves at the end.  Truly morbid.  No surprise it's not shown much. 

Posted at 09:49 am by jmachinder
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Monday, June 19, 2006

Sorry, I haven't been posting much.  Just swamped with various stuff:  parties involving my daughter, visiting relatives - even things pertaining to screenwriting. 

Since my last couple of posts, I see that Kinghts of Cydonia by Muse has become the second most requested song on KROQ.  Also, my prediction that my sister's boyfriend would win the Tony award for best lead actor in a musical came true.  It's crazy, a year ago the kid was working as a transcriber. 

I'll try and blog more once things cool down a little.  Maybe I'll also have more things to blog about.  I've been so busy, I haven't had much time to think.

Posted at 05:48 pm by jmachinder
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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Just wanted to drop a quick note to tell people to watch the Tony Awards tonight.  My sister's boyfriend  is up for best lead actor in a musical and is the favorite in a very competitive field.  I think he's going to win and am quite curious to hear what he says in his acceptance speech. 

Posted at 03:17 pm by jmachinder
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

It's always a tough call to predict how well a song is going to do when you first hear it, but  I just heard the new "Knights of Cydonia" by MUSE on the radio for the first time and wouldn't be surprised if it takes off.  Interesting to hear a spaghetti western-esque pop song.  This little diddy has some clear nods to Ennio Morricone - who's a great influence for anyone.  We'll just have to see how it does.  

Posted at 08:43 pm by jmachinder
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I don't know if this is something that I'm partial to, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's possible to make a movie told in reverse that I don't like.  "Memento" is a film that I connected deeply to upon my first viewing.  I've seen it over and over again and still marvel at its brilliance.  A while later I saw the rape-revenge flick "Irreversible" and responded to it quite favorably.  Most recently, I saw "5X2" - a story about a relationship told in reverse.  The film opens with a lawyer reading off the terms of a couple's divorce and ends with the two of them walking off together into a sunlit beach, just before they fall in love. 

I found this movie almost profound.  The backwards-ness of the storytelling worked wonders for me:  the movie ends with this double foreshadowing.  We know the two characters are going to fall madly in love with each other, but we further know that their relationship will crumble apart horribly.  The story said a lot to me about the nature of relationshps - just because people can be thrown together via incredibly romantic circumstances that doesn't mean that they're going to ultimately make it, no matter how genuine their passion begins.  Moreover, I think this statement is something that is good to make in movies.  Countless flicks feature whirlwind romances that allegedly will end happily ever after.  The truth is that ultra-passionate, hypderdrive relationships usually don't last. 

But then again, maybe I'm just a sucker for reverse-storytelling. 

Posted at 05:17 pm by jmachinder
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I have to wonder about pregnant women who went into labor late last night.   Just how hard they were pushing to try and beat the clock?  They'd have to be more scared of midnight than Cinderella.  

Posted at 12:15 pm by jmachinder
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Monday, June 05, 2006

In case you don't know it, tomorrow is "Teacher Appreciation Day."  I really think, given the date that it falls on, that the holiday is inappropriate.  I mean, tomorrow shouldn't we be focusing our appreciation strictly on Satan?

Posted at 05:58 pm by jmachinder
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Saturday, June 03, 2006

A lot of people have been asking for comparison shots of the Garada K7 reproduction I made in 2001 and the real thing.  In my defense, I want to say that - in case you haven't sculpted a lot - it's very difficult to make something three dimensionally accurate when you're only using 2-D reference. 

Posted at 06:36 pm by jmachinder
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