Pixel Scroll 7/17/17 All Along The Scrolltower Pixels Kept The View

(1) BY PIXEL AND PAPER. The Dublin in 2019 Worldcon bid tells what its publications policy will be for PR’s and the Souvenir Book.

So what should we do about our progress reports?

I note that for some people this is an access issue, and therefore, we will be having hard copies available for anyone who selects them as an access issue. To be clear, Progress Reports are complimentary and we’d like to send them to anyone who needs them for an access issue. Just tick the box please.

We will be sending them out electronically of course if you allow us to.

I noted that some people still liked them, as a historical document or just because they enjoy reading hard copy, and that is very cool, and the Dublin 2019 team will be making sure that anyone who wants a hard copy progress report can get one. There will be a charge of €10 Ten Euro for this.

I hope all of you are OK with this decision and support us in it.

This does not affect our plans for our Souvenir book which we plan to offer in hard copy to all members, full and supporting, and which we are happy to mail to anyone who doesn’t pick it up at con.

(2) HELP PABLO GO THE DISTANCE. Leigh Ann Hildebrand has launched a Generosity.com appeal to send Pablo Vasquez to Helsinki for Worldcon 75. The goal is $1,100. Here’s the pitch:

Bringing NASFiC to San Juan, Puerto Rico was great thing — and one of the prime movers behind that successful bid and con has been Pablo Vazquez. I was really looking forward to congratulating Pablo at the con in Helsinki and to hearing all about that NASFiC.

And then Pablo told me he wouldn’t be joining fans in Helsinki this year.

Money’s tight for Pablo; he’s been prioritizing travel and preparations for this historic and awesome NASFiC. Now he finds himself short of funds for his last travel expenses. He’s got accommodations and a membership covered, but his fixed-cost airfare and incidental expenses are beyond his means this summer.

This is where my fellow fans come in. Help me get Pablo to Helsinki! Here’s what he needs:

$600 for the air fare (it’s a fixed cost, ’cause he knows a guy.)

$500 for food, travel incidentals, walkin’ around money and buying a round. That may seem like a lot, but food in Finland is not cheap, and there’s no con suite this year, so he can’t live on Doritos and free sodas. 🙂

(3) SFF FILM FESTIVAL. Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) in partnership with SIFF is now accepting entries for the 2018 Science Fiction + Fantasy Short Film Festival (SFFSFF).

The festival will accept animated or live-action submissions of original science fiction or fantasy stories (examples: futuristic stories, space adventure, technological speculation, social experiments, utopia and dystopia, sword and sorcery, folklore, urban fantasy, magic, and mythic adventure).

A nationally recognized panel of distinguished film, television, literature, and science fiction industry professionals, peers, and film critics will review qualifying submissions to determine the winners of the Grand Prize, Second Place, Third Place, and the Douglas Trumbull Award for Best Visual Effects. Festival films will also be eligible for the Audience Favorite award.

In order to qualify, submitted films must have been completed after December 31, 2012, and must not exceed 15 minutes. Films that exceed 15 minutes may still be considered for festival inclusion but will not be eligible for awards.

See the link for guidelines, deadlines and fees.

(5) WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING? Adam-Troy Castro sighed on Facebook:

Over the past few years I have encountered Harry Potter fans who were abusive bullies, Star Trek fans who were against diversity, and now Doctor Who fans who were close-minded and unkind.

It’s like none of them were paying any attention at all.

I am looking forward to the emergence of Batman fans who are in favor of crime.

Since the targets of Castro’s comment might miss the point, Matthew M. Foster restated the message more explicitly:

The second is that people don’t see theme. SF is about space ships and explosions. Fantasy is about swords. The actual thing trying to be conveyed is missed far more often than not. The light was brought to this in a “funny” way to our little lit community by Brad and the Pups a few years back when Star Trek was pointed out to be first and foremost, about adventure and action–about combat in space. From the same group, there was a great deal of discussion in which they confused the theme with something incidental to the story because the incidental thing was not part of their normal life. So, if a story happened to have someone gay in it, then the story must be about sexual preference. If the story had a Black lead, then the theme must be about race. These are people that are big fans of science fiction, and they couldn’t see the themes.

(6) MAD PENIUS CLUB. And right on time, here’s Dave Freer’s death-kiss for the Thirteenth Doctor.

The trouble with this is it’s a judgement call, and especially inside the various bubbles (New York Publishing, Hollywood, and in the UK the Beeb’s little Guardian-and-Birkenstock club) they’re often so distant and unconnected with audiences outside their bubble that they assume they think like them and will respond like them. Which is why they have flops like the Ghostbusters remake, because they assumed the audience for the movie was just dying for a feminist version, with lots of man-kicking. Dr Who is trying much the same thing with a female Doctor. It could work because that audience is already pretty much restricted to inside their bubble. Still, with a new writer, and female lead after 12 male ones… She’ll have to be a good actress, and he’ll have to be a better writer. I expect we’ll see a long sequence of designated victim minorities cast in the role in future, until the show dies. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

(7) HEADWRITER CANON. Prospect’s James Cooray Smith declares: “Uncomfortable with a female Doctor Who? It’s time to admit your real motives”.

…Steven Moffat, Doctor Who’s Executive Producer from 2010 to 2017, used to make a habit, when asked if there was ever going to be a female Doctor, of throwing the question back to the audience. He’d ask for a show of hands as to who did and didn’t like the idea. Even half a decade ago, those audiences would be roughly balanced into pros and antis—although, as he noted, the proportion of “likes” was exponentially increasing every time he passed the question back.

In the last few years, the idea has gone from almost universally disliked to “Why hasn’t this happened already?”

Laying the canonical foundations

Moffat has played no small part in that himself. The first lines of dialogue given to Matt Smith’s Doctor, the first lines of Moffat’s era, see the newly regenerated Doctor, who cannot see his own face, wondering if he’s now female. A year later in “The Doctor’s Wife,” produced by Moffat and written by Neil Gaiman, the Doctor comments of a dead Time Lord friend The Corsair, “He didn’t feel himself unless he had a tattoo. Or herself, a couple of times”.

Three years after that, Moffat cast Michelle Gomez as ‘Missy’, the Doctor’s oldest friend and arch enemy, a character previously only played by male actors and usually referred to as the Master. A year after that—just to make sure that no one regarded Missy as an exception that proves the rule—Moffat had Ken Bones’ recurring Time Lord character The General regenerate into T’Nia Miller, changing sex and ethnicity simultaneously. Other Time Lords in the series treated this as momentarily distracting but thoroughly routine.

It now seems daft to say that such groundwork needed to be done: after all, the character of the doctor is an alien who merely looks human. But the series itself had never hinted that the idea was possible before 2010. Now, any viewer who has seen an episode with Missy in knows the Doctor’s own people can, and do, change sex. No one can pretend the idea isn’t part of the series, no matter how much they may want to. Moffat’s careful layering over years shows up any objections to the series having a female lead for what they are.

(8) NEVERTHELESS. Alison Scott has a shirt she would love to sell you. I bought one for my daughter. (U.K. orders here; U.S. orders here.)

(9) TODAY IN HISTORY

  • July 17, 1955 — Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California
  • July 17, 1967 — Contact with Surveyor 4 lost 2.5 minutes before Moon touchdown.
  • July 17, 1987 Robocop, released on this day
  • July 17, 1988 – Debut of the sci-fi telefilm Out of Time…starring Bill Maher…yes that Bill Maher.
  • July 17, 1992 — Honey, I Blew Up The Kid in theaters.

(10) COMIC SECTION. Andrew Porter noticed Zippy the Pinhead mentioned d Emshwiller.

(11) READING PLEASURE. Look for the SF pulps! Photos of old newsstands.

(12) ADAM WEST REMEMBERED. “Family Guy pays tribute to Adam West with nine-minute highlight reel” – from Entertainment Weekly.

As famous as he was for playing Batman — and he was very famous for that — Adam West was also known to another generation of fans for his wacky work on Family Guy. The late actor, who popped up and scored in more than 100 episodes as Mayor Adam West, left a colorful, indelible imprint on the animated Fox comedy — as well as on its producers and fans.

 

(13) WORLDCON PROGRAM. Worldcon 75 put its draft program schedule online today.

There are three ways to view the programme schedule DRAFT:

(14) HAUNTED HELSINKI. Adrienne Foster has arranged a “Ghost walking tour of Helsinki” for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members. It will be an English-speaking tour at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, 9 August 2017.

Once again, those interested in reserving a spot on the tour need to be a member of Meetup.com and join Bay Area Ghost Hunters. Joining is free on both counts, but the fee for the ghost walk is to cover the cost of the tour operator. Yes, it was deliberate putting the “prere…gistration” fee in U.S. dollars and the “at-the-door” cost in euros.

As the 75th World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon 75) rolls around again, it gives me another opportunity to arrange a ghost walk of its host city, Helsinki. Yes, that’s in Finland. Ghost walks are one of my favorite things to do when I’m traveling and it’s always a lot more fun to do them with like-minded companions. To make it even more attractive to the many members who don’t speak Finnish, the tour operator has an English-speaking tour available.

Although this has been timed for the convenience of Worldcon 75 members, all BAGH members are welcome to participate. If anyone just happens to have coinciding travel plans to Helsinki, please join us.

In addition to ghost stories, guests on these tours learn a lot about the history of the locale, particularly some of its macabre past. It even starts at a hotel that is a converted prison.

(15) MINGLE LIKE TINGLE. Is this going to be an “I am Spartacus” kind of thing?

(16) AUREALIS AWARDS. The 2017 Aurealis Awards are now open for nominations. Eligible works must be created by an Australian citizen, or permanent resident, and published for the first time this year.

(17) VENUS AND MARS. David D. Levine’s second novel, Arabella and the Battle of Venus, sequel to the Andre Norton Award winning Arabella of Mars, comes out this week.

The thrilling adventures of Arabella Ashby continue in Arabella and the Battle of Venus, the second book in Hugo-winning author David D. Levine’s swashbuckling sci-fi, alternate history series!

Arabella’s wedding plans to marry Captain Singh of the Honorable Mars Trading Company are interrupted when her fiancé is captured by the French and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on swampy Venus. Now, Arabella must find passage to an enemy-controlled planet in the middle of a war, bribe or fight her way past vicious guards, and rescue her Captain.

To do this she must enlist the help of the dashing privateer, Daniel Fox of the Touchstone and build her own clockwork navigational automaton in order to get to Venus before the dread French general, Joseph Fouché, the Executioner of Lyon.

Once on Venus, Arabella, Singh, and Fox soon discover that Napoleon has designed a secret weapon, one that could subjugate the entire solar system if they can’t discover a way to stop Fouché, and the entire French army, from completing their emperor’s mandate.

Levine will be doing a book tour:

He is currently drafting the final book in the trilogy, currently titled Arabella and the Winds of Phobos but may end up being called Arabella the Traitor of Mars.

(18) NEWCOMERS TO THE HEARTH. Fireside Fiction is undergoing a change of management, with Brian J. White stepping down. Pablo Defendini is taking over as publisher and Elsa Sjunneson-Henry as managing editor. Julia Rios and Mikki Kendall are also joining the team.

White is leaving to focus on his work as a journalist.

As many of you know, I work at a newspaper. And that work has been consuming more and more of my time lately, with both the volume and the importance of the news rising in a way we’ve never experienced in this country. And it comes alongside a level of furious, violent antipathy toward the press that is somehow both wildly shocking and banally predictable.

Fireside has been the labor of love of my life, and it kills me to step away. But I am a journalist, first and always, and I need to focus my energy on the work we are doing. A lot of people have made fun of the earnestness of the Washington Post’s Democracy Dies in Darkness slogan, but it is true, and I won’t let the light go out.

Mikki Kendall has been signed on as editor to lead the follow-up to last year’s #BlackSpecFic report, which White says will be out soon. [Hat tip to Earl Grey Loose-leaf Links #43.]

(19) THE COOLEST. Arthur C. Clarke would be proud, as the search for extra-terrestrial life turns to ice worlds.

Chris McKay has fallen out of love with Mars. The red, dusty, corroded world no longer holds the allure it once did.

“I was obsessed with life on Mars for many years,” confesses the Nasa planetary scientist, who has spent most of his career searching for signs of life on the red planet.

“It’s seduction at the highest level,” he says. “I’m abandoning my first love and going after this other one that’s shown me what I wanted to see.”

The new object of McKay’s affections is Enceladus, the ice-encrusted moon of Saturn. Investigated by the joint Nasa and European Space Agency (Esa) Cassini space probe, the moon is spewing out plumes of water from its south pole – most likely from a liquid ocean several kilometres beneath the surface. Cassini has found this water contains all the vital ingredients for life as we know it: carbon, nitrogen and a readily available source of energy in the form of hydrogen.

“I think this is it,” says McKay. “From an astrobiology point of view, this is the most interesting story.”

(20) SO BAD IT’S GOOD. Marshall Ryan Maresca extols the antique virtues of the 1980s movie: “ELECTRIC DREAMS: A Bad Movie I’ve Watched Many, Many, MANY Times”.

The Eighties got a lot of mileage out of the idea that computers were magic.  I mean, the fundamental principle of Weird Science is that Wyatt has, like, a 386 with a 14.4 modem and a scanner, which he can connect to the Pentagon and make a goddamn genie with it.  Most Hollywood movies today still let computers be magical, but not to the same degree.  And few movies go as full out crazy with the idea as Electric Dreams.

For those not in the know, Electric Dreams is a relatively small, simple movie, in which an architect named Miles (he might be an engineer—something to do with buildings) lives in the downstairs part of a duplex, below gorgeous cellist Virginia Madsen.  And he gets himself a computer so he can design an earthquake brick.  So far, all normal.

It turns into a love triangle with Wyatt and a sentient PC as rivals.

(21) THE LATTER DAY LAFFERTY. Adri’s Book Reviews praises “Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty”.

As in any good mystery, it soon becomes clear that there are shady things lurking in the past of each and every crew member, as well as the traditional untrustworthy AI. Six Wakes builds its narrative through an omniscient third person narrator which switches between character viewpoints, as well as flashbacks to the crews’ lives in the lead up to being selected for the ship. Each crew member knows the others have volunteered for the mission because they are convicted criminals who will be pardoned upon arrival, but they have been told their crimes must remain confidential. From the ship’s doctor who was one of the original people cloned when the technology began, to the AI tech who has been on the verge of a breakdown since waking, to the shady machinations of the captain and the security officer, Six Wakes uses a small cast to great effect, with the world of the clones coming across as claustrophobic and restrictive even in background chapters set on Earth, thanks to both the Codicls as well as the inequalities and power struggles that arise from a society of functionally immortal beings. Six Wakes’ characters aren’t likeable in a traditional sense but I found them generally sympathetic, and the backgrounds go a long way towards making that balance work.

(22) A BOY AND HIS HORSE. The British Museum blog asks “The Dothraki and the Scythians: a game of clones?”

The Dothraki in Game of Thrones are represented as feared and ferocious warriors. Jorah Mormont describes their culture as one that values power and follows strength above all, and there is no greater way to demonstrate power and strength according to the Dothraki than through war. Like their fictional counterparts, the Scythians were pretty terrifying in battle. The Greek historian Herodotus writes that Scythians drank the blood of the men they killed and kept their scalps as trophies and skulls as drinking cups. While we should probably take Herodotus with a pinch of salt, by all accounts they were pretty brutal! The Dothraki also like decapitating their defeated enemies – guards known as the jaqqa rhan, or mercy men, use heavy axes to do this.

The Scythians and the Dothraki fight on horseback and are excellent archers. They both use curved (or composite) bows to maximise the range and the damage of their arrows. As Jorah Mormont says of the Dothraki, ‘they are better riders than any knight, utterly fearless, and their bows outrange ours.’

(23) THE NEXT STAGE. The Verge has learned that “The Twilight Zone is being adapted into a stage play” in London.

The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling’s landmark sci-fi anthology series about technological paranoia, creeping dread in 1960s America, and monsters and weirdos of all sorts, will be adapted as a stage play, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed this morning.

The play will debut in a limited run at London’s Almeida Theatre this December, with a script from Anne Washburn. Washburn’s best-known play is her 2012 Off-Broadway work Mr. Burns, which is about a traveling theater troupe in post-apocalyptic America that performs episodes of The Simpsons from memory. The play will be directed by Olivier-winner Richard Jones, who is best known for the 1990 London run of Sondheim’s Into the Woods, as well as the short-lived 1997 Titanic musical on Broadway, and has also directed several operas and Shakespeare productions.

(24) LIADEN UPDATE. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s 81st joint project — Due Diligence (Adventures in the Liaden Universe® Book 24) – was released July 10. The pair was also recently profiled by Maine’s statewide newspaper the Portland Press Herald“Welcome to the universe of Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller”.

For Maine writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, all it took to launch a brand-new universe was a single sentence.

The opening line for what would become “Agent of Change,” the inaugural volume of their Liaden Universe space opera series, was “The man who was not Terrence O’Grady had come quietly.”

It’s not quite “Call me Ishmael,” but something about typing those 10 words back in 1984 made Lee say to her husband, “I have a novel here.” And there was sufficient inspiration on the page for Miller to say, “I’m sorry, but I think you have a series.”

Both were right. Reached by phone at their Maine coon cat-friendly home in Winslow, surrounded by oil paintings, prints, book cover and other science fiction and fantasy artwork, Miller remembered, “We sat down that night and fleshed out the basic idea for the first seven books.” Four years later, in 1988, their collaborative debut was published in paperback by DelRey.

Since then, Lee, 64, and Miller, 66, have published 20 Liaden Universe novels and nearly five dozen related short stories. Baen Books published their latest hardcover novel, “The Gathering Edge,” in May.

.And they’ll be Guests of Honor at ConFluence from August 4-6.

(25) YOU WOULD BE RIGHT.

(26) PLASTIC IS NOT FANTASTIC. Jewish Business News has the story behind the commercial: “Mayim Bialik and Hodor From ‘Game of Thrones’ In New SodaStream’s Funny Viral Video”.

Following Jewish celebrity Scarlett Johansson’s campaign for the Israeli beverage company SodaStream, the Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik is the new face proudly representing the company new campaign in a Viral Video.

Features Mayim Bialik as an anthropologist, recalling her first encounter with the Homo-schlepien played by Kristian Nairn known as Hodor from “Game of Thrones.” The story reflects the devastating effect of single-use plastic bottles on Humanity. A habit that is hazardous to Earth and no longer exist in the future.

In this funny story, the Museum of UnNatural History features encounters between Mayim and the last tribe of plastic dependent species, the Homo-schlepien.

The shooting of the campaign was brought forward while Bialik had to rest her vocal chords for one month due to a medical advice. “This campaign has a powerful message and one that needed to be told before I went on vocal rest,” said Mayim Bialik.

 

[Thanks to JJ, Bill, Steve Miller, David Levine, Carl Slaughter, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]

169 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/17/17 All Along The Scrolltower Pixels Kept The View

  1. @Chip Hitchcock from my limited data, I’d say that depends on whether Nancy Drew is always eating bizarre picnic foods? That tends to be the main takeaway from Blyton for a lot of my (80s/90s) generation.

  2. I thought Enid Blyton was the name of the 13th Doctor’s new companion.

    Hmmm – a 30ish female Doctor travels through space and time with a 50ish somewhat jingoistic writer of children’s books – I can see the potential here. And of course Enid Blyton will always carry a sonic picnic basket filled with whatever the plot needs at the moment.

    I remember the constant picnics in the Adventure series: the children always seemed to be eating some exotic substance called treacle. Imagine my disappointment when finding out it was just molasses.

  3. @Joanna Rivers definitely don’t start at the beginning – it’s a completely different show and many of the episodes don’t even exist any more except in poor quality audio as the BBC used to routinely destroy old reels.

    The two natural jumping on points are season 1 of the revival with the 9th doctor, or with season 5 at the beginning of the 11th doctor’s run, as both of these start with a new doctor and new companions so it will be longer before you encounter any unfamiliar character dynamics. I would personally recommend the 9 and 10 era as my favourite but lots of fans of Steven Moffat’s run as showrunner too.

    Once you’re familiar with the modern stuff, it can be fun to seek out recommended arcs from the older series – sure others will be better able to help out here.

    Eta @James Moar: snap!

  4. I may try to tackle the series. Do I need to start with the ’60’s?

    It’s not such a hard show to jump into — there’s something of a fresh start every time the Doctor changes (and, in the modern version of the show, every time the companion changes, too).

    I’d say one of the best starting points would be the beginning of the 2005 series, where Christopher Eccleston takes the role. The show at this point is quite conscious of being a new introduction for a mass audience, and takes the time to give the show’s mythology its weight. Another good point is the 2010 series, introducing Matt Smith, which is also where Steven Moffat takes over as the showrunner, setting the style of the series right up to the present.

    EDIT: I see I came up with the same suggestions as Arifel.

  5. Peter Davison’s 5th Doctor always struck me as someone from a Blyton novel. Maybe it was the obsession with cricket and celery.

    (The streams have crossed. This can’t be good.)

  6. I did read a lot of Blyton but havent heard of Dr. seuss until way into my 20s. I also read Astrid Lindgrin and Michael Ende, but Im constantly amazed that X is apparently a children book, thats “known everywhere” (most recent X is a Wrinkle in time, of which I have heard first yesterday when I saw the trailer here.)
    Childrens book seems to be like New Wave Music: What you are familiar with depends very much on the continent of Birth.

    Anyway, Jasper Fforde mentioned Blyton (or rather a Blyton fan) in One Thursday Next novel, which should have put her on everyones map if you ask me…

  7. Matt Y:

    Yeah, that’s one of the reasons I was glad for an all female cast because trying to recapture the original was never going to be a good proposition, so why not try something new.

    One of the less silly complaints I’ve seen about the new Doctor went something like “I want the old characters to remain as I’ve always known them and I want new stories with women and non-whites”.

    And … yeah, I can see that. However, that’s really an arguments against the entertainment industry’s fixation on sequels, reboots, remakes and endless TV shows more than it is an argument against making changes to characters in all existing properties. I’d like to see more original stories brought to the screen – but if you’re making another iteration of an old classic, then please don’t just reshoot the script from a previous iteration.

  8. @Dex

    in spite of the awful pacing and poor direction, that cast almost managed turn that material into something good. The comedic chemistry was excellent and easily on par with the original.

    I agree. I liked Ghostbusters, but given the cast, and their chemistry, it should have been great. The pacing, plot, etc., reminded me of the late-80s phoning-it-in-comedies that eventually turned me off of blockbuster comedies for years. If it hadn’t been for the cast, I probably would have turned it off about mid-way through.

    Regarding Puppers and Doctor Who – it seems like this would be a great time to show they aren’t merely Social Injustice Warriors who hate representations of women in popular culture, by simply not commenting. Not that it’s justified, but I can at least see why man-babies would cry over eg the Ghostbusters reboot, but a female Doctor Who, despite being the first, doesn’t seem out-of-context or weird, given the show’s premise.

  9. @Aaron

    People are comparing them to those movies, because they are apt comparisons.

    Exactly. None of those movies were very good. They were modest successes at the box office and the cheap ones got sequels. Independence Day 2 did not, because it cost a lot (and people call that a flop too, despite getting to almost $400 million). I’d put Ghostbusters ahead of all of them in terms of quality, but that’s not saying much, is it? Plus it also cost a lot.

    It is perhaps unfair to compare to huge franchises like I did, but you don’t spend over a hundred million dollars on a movie (and the usual estimate of 2x that on marketing) unless you’re expecting some sort of smash hit. Yes, the studio probably broke even or turned a small profit when you consider video/merchandising, but that hardly qualifies as a smash. Or a tentpole, or whatever you want to call it. That’s just semantics. The studio was trying to relaunch a franchise, and it wasn’t a home run.

    Every article I have looked at says it was the number one movie the weekend it came out, and also that Sony was thrilled with its $46 million opening weekend, so you’re going to have to provide some citations for this assertion.

    Secret Life of Pets was #1 that weekend.

    http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?yr=2016&wknd=29&p=.htm

    The problem with this analysis is that there was clearly a substantial audience for a female-led Ghostbusters, as evidenced by its $230 million box office, higher than expected DVD/Blueray sales, and overperformance in toy sales.

    I never claimed there wasn’t an audience for the movie, but $230 million just isn’t what it used to be, and when you look at, for example, the original Ghostbusters (Over $600 million estimated for inflation, back when international markets weren’t much of a thing and sales weren’t bolstered by expensive addons like 3D – and that’s not counting video or merchandising either), one could realistically hope that a quality outing, even decades later, could recapture that magic. Projections right before a film comes out are different than projections before a project is funded. Again, this doesn’t get greenlit if the people with the money don’ t believe they’ve got a huge hit on their hands. (Yes, sometimes those people are breathtakingly stupid, but that’s a different discussion).

    My point was that Ghostbusters was just barely good enough (in terms of both quality and box office performance) that you could argue either way. That’s why this movie is a lightning rod for the culture wars. Everyone can credibly argue their perspective using that movie, which in my mind makes it a kinda useless indicator (i.e. it’s not a particularly good illustration of Freer’s argument either). It did fine. Sometimes, in Hollywood, “fine” is considered a flop. That might be stupid (and sometimes it really is), but that’s what happens.

  10. Thanks for the recs for Doctor Who start points. I tried starting from the beginning, skipping the audio-only episodes and, albeit reluctantly, the lost episodes, and I got bogged down in the slow-moving plots and often boring (in my 20th/21st Century mind) premises.

  11. @Magewolf:

    it was marketed as a tentpole

    That was my problem with it. I loved the cast–Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon in particular are amazing comedians–and the original movie was good enough for a reboot. I love funny stuff without super high realistic stakes. It sounded great! I made my plans to go and take the kid.

    Then I realized it was marketed as a tentpole movie, and I said, “I don’t think it can live up to that. I’m going to give it a skip.”

    Multiply that by a hundred million lost viewers and you’ll see the problem right there.

  12. John A Arkansawyer on July 18, 2017 at 11:45 am said:
    @Magewolf:
    it was marketed as a tentpole
    That was my problem with it. I loved the cast–Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon in particular are amazing comedians–and the original movie was good enough for a reboot. I love funny stuff without super high realistic stakes. It sounded great! I made my plans to go and take the kid.
    Then I realized it was marketed as a tentpole movie, and I said, “I don’t think it can live up to that. I’m going to give it a skip.”
    Multiply that by a hundred million lost viewers and you’ll see the problem right there.

    I’m having a sincere bewilderment concerning the logic here.
    Given 1) – 3):
    1) “I loved the cast–Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon in particular are amazing comedians”
    2) “and the original movie was good enough for a reboot”
    3) “I love funny stuff without super high realistic stakes”

    How does 4)
    4) “it was marketed as a tentpole”
    result in a decision not to bring the kid and enjoy it?

    I’m not meaning to dump heavily on your decision: no one is obliged to go enjoy something if they decide they don’t want to.
    I just don’t understand the logic of the decision.
    Why does a marketing decision you presumably disagree with outweigh the fundamentals of the movie itself, which you describe as appealing to you, and which remain unchanged?

  13. None of those movies were very good. They were modest successes at the box office and the cheap ones got sequels. Independence Day 2 did not, because it cost a lot

    Independence Day 2 was already a sequel. The others were successes, and called that, despite not doing particularly better at the box office when compared to their production budgets. If Ghostbusters was a “flop”, then every one of the other comedies that has been referenced was a bigger flop. And yet those movies get sequels and are regarded as decent properties, while a lot of people seem really invested in making sure that the “flop” status of Ghostbusters is trumpeted from the highest mountain.

    one could realistically hope that a quality outing, even decades later, could recapture that magic.

    Actually, one probably could not. The success of the original Ghostbusters was unexpected. It was expected to do business much more in the Stripes or Caddyshack range than what it did. The sequel was a reasonable success, but not incredibly so. Imagining that you’re going to have a success like the first Ghostbusters and not like Stripes was kind of a case of wishful thinking.

  14. @kathodus

    I agree. I liked Ghostbusters, but given the cast, and their chemistry, it should have been great.

    Yeah, it took a lot to sink a cast that talented. For me, it was the pacing and some of the creative decisions with the plot. Let’s face it, the entire premise of the villain was… pretty dumb.

    Regarding Puppers and Doctor Who – it seems like this would be a great time to show they aren’t merely Social Injustice Warriors who hate representations of women in popular culture, by simply not commenting. Not that it’s justified, but I can at least see why man-babies would cry over eg the Ghostbusters reboot, but a female Doctor Who, despite being the first, doesn’t seem out-of-context or weird, given the show’s premise

    They out themselves because their entire premise that they hide behind is based on BS. It was never about ‘oh gosh, let’s show off the fun stuff people are missing’. It always boiled down to wanting to be the gatekeepers so the writers and the content they hate remained pushed into the background. The only time they were ever honest about their intentions was the first round of Puppies, when Correria was at least open about stumping for an award.

  15. Finally picking up the courage to post after several months of lurking…

    Some recent links about adaptations of SF works, that I don’t think have been previously posted:

    TV versions of The Raven Cycle (not familiar with this personally), Hugh Howey’s Sand, Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan and Zelazny’s Lord of Light are in development. Sounds like the first two might be further along the preproduction process, given they’ve got directors attached.

    Three reviews of Johann (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049) Johannsson’s symphonic/multimedia adaptation of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, narrated by Tilda Swinton: one very positive, one slightly mixed, one pretty negative (content partially behind paywall). There’s a brief extract here. and audio interview here – not sure if/when a full recording might be made available.

    Channel 4 broadcast a brief teaser for their PKD anthology series “Electric Dreams” over the weekend. I wasn’t paying attention to the TV screen when it came on, but I don’t think there was any actual footage, nor a transmission date. (I’d assume it’d be within the next couple of months here in the UK, if they’ve started advertising it though.)

  16. @Aaron

    It was expected to do business much more in the Stripes or Caddyshack range than what it did.

    That’s not really accurate. In putting together Ghostbusters, they were looking at comedies starting to outperform in the boxoffice after years of under-performance. Trading Places, Tootsie, National Lampoon’s Vacation and 48 Hours had all hugely out-grossed their budgets and cracked the $100M barrier. (ironically, it would be the success of Trading Places that cost Ghostbusters Eddie Murphy as Winston, electing to star in Beverly Hills Cop instead).

    While they didn’t expect a blockbuster they did expect a hit. Frank Price at Columbia trusted Reitman, Ackroyd and Murrey as a creative team enough to give Ghostbusters a $30M budget and it was made very clear by the board that if it flopped, Price’s tenure was over. (It was Howard the Duck that cost him his job a few years later). Price was aiming for numbers similar to Tootsie, in the $150M range.

  17. and people call that a flop too, despite getting to almost $400 million

    I find it fascinating how things can be spun into “flop” based more on how people feel about the movie, rather than the numbers. I mean, I’ve heard plenty of people refer to Spider-Man 3 as a flop or a failure, despite it literally being the #1 grossing movie of 2007.

  18. @Marshall:

    I think it’s fair to call SM3 a storytelling failure, regardless of whether it was a financial failure or not. It tried to do too much in a limited amount of time, and wound up not really succeeding at it.

    Also, remember that what a movie grossed only has so much to do with whether it recouped its investment and made a profit. If one person makes a $10M movie that grosses $50M, and another makes a $100M movie that grosses $150M, which is the bigger success? It may not look fair to call the bigger movie a flop or only a moderate success, but realistically, it barely earned out… whereas the smaller flick made almost as much profit with a tenth of the risk.

    Numbers get tricky, and “success” can be a matter of opinion.

  19. Independence Day 2 was already a sequel.

    Yes, it’s a sequel to a wildly successful movie ($800 unadjusted). Again we’ve got a property where a studio was trying to recapture the magic and revive the franchise. It failed, and people called it a flop, ID3 is not forthcoming, and its performance is comparable to Ghostbusters (it did a little better in terms of pure box office, though I suspect Ghostbusters is doing better on the backend).

    The others were successes, and called that, despite not doing particularly better at the box office when compared to their production budgets. If Ghostbusters was a “flop”, then every one of the other comedies that has been referenced was a bigger flop.

    So Grown Ups did $270 million on an $80 million dollar budget (jeeze, that’s a ridiculous budget for what’s on screen). Even accounting for the usual 2x budget for marketing, it was profitable before home video, etc… (Ghostbusters cost more and made less). Hot Tub Time Machine is certainly more dubious, but it’s worth noting that the budget for the sequel was slashed dramatically (less than half the first). I suspect that if a proposed Ghostbusters 2 had a $30-50 million dollar budget, it could happen.

    Actually, one probably could not. The success of the original Ghostbusters was unexpected. It was expected to do business much more in the Stripes or Caddyshack range than what it did.

    Well, yeah. The success of a lot of the most profitable movies are unexpected, and yet their sequels/reboots go on to do well. The success of the original Star Wars was unexpected too. Hollywood has revived some properties successfully, even with bad movies. Ghostbusters (1984) was very successful and still maintains a decent following today. It’s reasonable to assume you could cash in on that in some way. I personally wouldn’t have taken that bet, but Hollywood is drunk on “prexisting awareness” and thought they could. Doesn’t seem completely unreasonable to me. Most attempts at revival fail miserably. Ghostbusters came in somewhere in the middle.

    As I’ve said, you can argue both ways, which is what makes this such a frustrating lightning rod.

  20. All I can say about the recent Ghostbusters is that I liked it very much, especially as all four of the leads were new to me. I’ll keep my eye out especially for new work by Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones (not a surprise as my favorites in the original were Dan Ackroyd and Harold Ramis).

  21. Enid Who? (Sorry.)

    Love both the featured t-shirts!

    As for Ghostbusters, it was a remake, not a sequel. (The original already had sequels.) As such, the appropriate comparison is to other remakes, like Total Recall, Robocop, Clash of the Titans, Starsky & Hutch, The Stepford Wives, and the like. By that standard, I think it did pretty well. (If there’s someone in Hollywood who doesn’t realize that remakes are always a gamble, that person is probably too stupid to be allowed near a studio lot.)

  22. Someone on the Jeopardy writers’ team is clearly an SFF fan. Last week, two Double Jeopardy categories were “Shaka,” and “When the Walls Fell.” Today, two Double Jeopardy categories were “Name of the Wind” and “A Wise Man’s Fear.” The last “Wise Man’s Fear” clue produced the question, “What is Dune?”

    Next week I expect something like “Too Like,” and “The Lightning.”

  23. Peer: Jasper Fforde mentioned Blyton (or rather a Blyton fan) in One Thursday Next novel, which should have put her on everyones map if you ask me…

    I’m guessing that your remark is intended as tongue-in-cheek, but Fforde’s a British author and I’d never heard of him until a Filer mentioned him a year or two ago.

  24. Frank Price at Columbia trusted Reitman, Ackroyd and Murrey as a creative team enough to give Ghostbusters a $30M budget

    And based on their previous performance, Ghostbusters would have been expected to perform much more modestly. Look at their careers – at that point in time, Stripes and Caddyshack were really their most successful movies, and they had been successes, but not blockbusters.

  25. Ghostbusters (1984) was very successful and still maintains a decent following today.

    Sort of. A lot of people remember that they liked Ghostbusters years ago, but the movie really doesn’t hold up all that well in a lot of places. Murray’s character is especially creepy and off-putting in a lot of places. I would suggest that people have a lot of nostalgia for the 1984 Ghostbusters, and a lot of people remember that they liked the cartoon, but the reality of the property isn’t that strong in their memories.

  26. Aaron: Sort of. A lot of people remember that they liked Ghostbusters years ago, but the movie really doesn’t hold up all that well in a lot of places. Murray’s character is especially creepy and off-putting in a lot of places.

    Agreed. He made several movies playing characters who were supposed to be “on the make” that crossed the line into predatory but in theory redeemed themselves by actions or character changes later in the film. But I must admit I watched those movies a lot of times before the thought entered my mind.

  27. I was surprised by how strong the feeling of revulsion was when I rewatched the original version of Ghostbusters a year or so ago. Bill Murray does great sleaze, but in Ghostbusters he leaps right over the line to predatory creep and it just isn’t fun for me to watch anymore.

    I’m not sure whether to risk rewatching Groundhog Day and Scrooged or leave them to stay surrounded by the glow of fuzzy nostalgia and a childhood lack of experience with being creeped on.

  28. Speaking as someone who just watched Groundhog Day for the very first time recently, I’d vote for fuzzy nostalgia — even “redeemed” Bill Murray in that movie was pretty much a predatory creep; just slightly less so than when he started.

  29. @Aaron

    And based on their previous performance, Ghostbusters would have been expected to perform much more modestly. Look at their careers – at that point in time, Stripes and Caddyshack were really their most successful movies, and they had been successes, but not blockbusters.

    There isn’t that kind of linear progression in production. As I mentioned, they expected it to be a hit; lots of special effects, several of the current top comedic actors of the time, and a bankable comedy director. Not the blockbuster that it was, but they were still thinking nine figures at the box office.

    Funnily enough, Price invested three times as much in Ghostbusters as Stripes and it grossed a little more than three times as much as Stripes.

  30. I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

    This is an amazing thing to say after there was a white male actor in the role for 54 years and 12 recasts of the title character. One woman gets the role and he feels a pain of exclusion so complete that he believes his kind will be left out forevermore.

  31. Is there a reason we have to play the expectations game on the Ghostbusters remake? Whether it was a “tentpole” or what it should have earned from its $144 million budget is a matter of speculation unless you’re an insider to the bizarre world of Hollywood accounting. If I want to check whether a film flopped I just look at the budget and the box office earnings on IMDb. It made $50 million more than it cost on that metric, which seems like a modest success to me.

    Those who are calling it a flop because women led the film should explain to us why they are certain it would’ve done better with men in the starring roles. I see no reason to believe it. Ghostbusters was hardly a franchise. There was one sequel in 1989 and 27 years of nothing more. A lot of old ideas get dusted off for big-budget retreads without becoming the next every-other-summer blockbuster series.

  32. @rcade

    I doubt we’ll ever see another white hetero male, but maybe that’s just me being cynical.

    You know, it didn’t occur to me until now, but that remark is a textbook example of the idea “To the privileged, equality feels like oppression.”

    (And it’s not even equality until forty-nine more years and 12 more Jodie Whittakers have passed.) Whoops, Ninja Dep’t of Redundancy Department.

  33. @rcade

    Well, not quite nothing. There were two reasonably popular animated shows and assorted video games.

  34. Murray’s character is especially creepy and off-putting in a lot of places.

    Yeah I’m a huge fan of the movies and rewatch them iften, but yeah as I get older Venkman zapping a male student while exploiting a female student to sleep with, and then stalking and treating Dana like she was dumb even after having proof of the paranormal.

    They can’t remake that without making it real weird

  35. The parts of the original Ghostbuster that were really cool were the parts that were over the top. The fire pole, the dough boy. It didn’t have much real humanity to it. That makes it good but not great. I’m curious how the new one is. It might be better and it might not. I’d settle for over the top and good. But it really ought to be great, with this level of talent:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJC9pozdU50

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfPdYYsEfAE

    The first sketch is very funny, in large part because Jones is so funny, and the second sketch is just magic, except the people who can’t keep a straight face.

  36. @Mike Glyer: Uh, I kindathought that was on purpose, too. I was like, “Wow, Mike’s a little extra snarkilicious today!”

    @Cora Buhlert: “my Dalek t-shirt with the words “Oh, look it’s R2-D2. I loved him in Star Trek”” – LOL, awesome t-shirt.

    @Joe H.: Re. the Orbit anniversary sale, those are some nice books to put on sale! But while I own six of the books (The Ancillary Way the Fifth Soulless Girl Wakes, to mash them into one title) and I’ve read three of those (The Fifth Ancillary With All the Gifts), I’m not interested in the other four. Oh well. 😉

  37. my Dalek t-shirt with the words “Oh, look it’s R2-D2. I loved him in Star Trek”

    Yes, that’s the one. Bought it at Forbidden Planet in Birmingham last year.

  38. @ August – a case of learn something new every day. It’s common usage for me to refer to America rather than specifying North America. I didn’t know this was offensive to Canadians. I’ll try and be more careful in future.

  39. @ rcade

    Ghostbusters had a very large marketing push behind it. Depending on who you listen to it cost between $80 million to more then the actual budget of the film. So it did not make money at the box office. Sony at one point said it needed to get to $300 million to break even and Feig said it had to do $500 million plus to be successful. Which lines up with convectional wisdom that say a film has to at least double it budget to make money.

    That is not an attack on women in film or on anybody liking the film just an attempt to be accurate.

  40. I’m in the same boat with @Joe H. I watched Groundhog Day for the first time a year or three ago, and while it was definitely good and SFnal, even, Murray’s character is a scumbag, and he remains one throughout the movie. He doesn’t become a better person, he learns to act like a decent human being and pretend to care about others. It’s a romance movie for sociopaths.

  41. kathodus on July 18, 2017 at 11:03 pm said:
    I’m in the same boat with @Joe H. I watched Groundhog Day for the first time a year or three ago, and while it was definitely good and SFnal, even, Murray’s character is a scumbag, and he remains one throughout the movie. He doesn’t become a better person, he learns to act like a decent human being and pretend to care about others. It’s a romance movie for sociopaths.

    Is that like an inverse Poe’s Law, where you are not a nice person, but you behave like one? It would be an improvement over Poe’s Law.

  42. @Magewolf: I never, or rarely at least, see anyone mention the marketing budget for any other films. Why is the new Ghostbusters such a special case that we need to qualify its box office gross by suggesting that a number we don’t know wipes it out completely?

  43. @laouwolf: These deadpan attempts of mine at humor are just not working this week:

    How does 4)
    4) “it was marketed as a tentpole”
    result in a decision not to bring the kid and enjoy it?

    I thought the very phrase “it was marketed as a tentpole” stated baldly would be self-evidently ridiculous, but I guess I was wrong.

    I think the very idea that one would market a movie as a tentpole movie is ridiculous. Why would a viewer care that the studio has Big Business in mind? I’m not sure who the target of such a marketing campaign might be. You’d use it talking with, oh, maybe toy companies or fast food franchises about partnering with them.

    That’s business, even salesmanship, but not marketing as the word was being used.

    So if someone, as the OP in the distant past did, claims a movie was marketed as a tentpole movie–which is different from marketed like a tentpole movie–I think the burden is on them to convince me that’s so, because I think it’s a silly idea on its face.

    If that claim is bundled into an argument about “tentpole movies”, I take that as one small reason to be skeptical about the bundle. Shotguns are for home defense, not debate.

  44. @Arifel @James Moar Thank you! We have 2 more months of scorching summer down here and I appreciate the tips to keep me entertained in the AC.

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