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I noted that some people still liked them, as a historical document or just because they enjoy reading hard copy, and that is very cool, and the Dublin 2019 team will be making sure that anyone who wants a hard copy progress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.)


  • 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.


(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. 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?

    Maybe you just don’t follow box office numbers (an area with nitpicky nerdy followers like an other. That’s all moot, though, because even if you ignore marketing costs, Ghostbusters still flopped on the grounds that studios do not get 100 percent of the ticket price of movie admissions. If a movie costs $100 million to make and takes in $100 million at the box office, it hasn’t “broke even”–the studio has taken a washing because a big part of that $100 million is kept by the theaters.

  2. 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.”

    Nice! I’ll have to remember that the next time this kind of outrage occurs, which will probably be in another day or two.

  3. @John

    I’ll take people who act nice even though they aren’t over people who act like mean little shits even though they are nice.

    That hadn’t occurred to me before. Maybe the universe was thinking it’d be better to train Murray’s character to act like a human being than have him out there being his true self.

    @Soon Lee – Yeah, I guess it is an inversion of Poe’s Law. Interesting.

  4. Darren Garrison on July 19, 2017 at 7:54 am said:

    Ghostbusters still flopped on the grounds that studios do not get 100 percent of the ticket price of movie admissions. If a movie costs $100 million to make and takes in $100 million at the box office, it hasn’t “broke even”–the studio has taken a washing because a big part of that $100 million is kept by the theaters

    The studios and the theaters are about 50/50 there, the opening weekends the studios, or distributors, get a much higher percentage of ticket sales. Which is why there are movie theater coupons and passes that don’t apply for the first two weeks of a movies release because at that point they’re paying the distributor for you to attend. As weeks go a higher and higher percentage goes to the theater, so a movie like Wonder Woman which keeps doing well is probably helping theaters a bunch. Overseas that percentage that goes to the studio can be even lower and be subjected to different taxes.

    Of course if you common idea that the marketing is twice the production budget and only half of the ticket sales go to the studio, then nearly every movie not in the top ten grossing of 2016 was a theatrical flop.

    Of course Sony has mentioned that sales and rentals of the original Ghostbusters movie soared which provided additional income, the toy line performed better than expected, and other licensing for the franchise has helped mitigate the costs. In fact they formed Ghost Corps which is going to be producing an animated series and will be managing the brand going forward.

  5. Of course if you common idea that the marketing is twice the production budget and only half of the ticket sales go to the studio, then nearly every movie not in the top ten grossing of 2016 was a theatrical flop.

    Actually I’m wrong, while there’s a lot of flops using the budget x2, gross /2(assuming international cuts are the same, there’s a lot in the top 50). Of those the hardest hit are Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Divergent Allegiance, Alice Through The Looking Glass, Snowden, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Ben Hur and Gods of Egypt. Most of those were reported as flops.

    Of those Star Trek, Ghostbusters and Alice will probably make up some of the difference just from home video sales and will probably be in the black from streaming, rental and TV licensing deals. Licensing for toys, games, and other mediums will for sure even them out if not profit (no distribution fees on licensing).

  6. @Oneiros

    I can only speak for why I do it not other people but that is because a lot of people who never payed much attention to whether a film was profitable before are interested in Ghostbusters. I do see it mentioned a lot for most movies but I have followed the trade as a hobby ever since my songwriter cousin tried producing low budget films. Marketing is a big part of why common wisdom is that a film has to double it’s budget to make money.

    I saw a lot of people saying things like “it made a $100 million more then it’s budget. Why are all those meanies saying that it lost money” or ” This other movie made a lot less money then Ghostbusters and everyone says it was a success” when it was first released so I try to front-load the fact that it cost a lot more then the budget whenever I talk about it’s boxoffice.

  7. @kathodus:

    Maybe the universe was thinking it’d be better to train Murray’s character to act like a human being than have him out there being his true self.

    Possibly. Or possibly it was training him into his true self. Maybe he was learning better.

  8. @JJ
    Im 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.

    It was tongue-in-cheek but I really did thought of him as better known, considering I bought my first novels by him in a stationary shop in the Philippines.
    (Ive read everything from him since)

  9. Sounds like we’re starting to talk about Hollywood accounting. According to Hollywood, films never make a profit. (That’s why people are advised to never take a percentage of the net–there never is a net!)

    * “According to Lucasfilm, Return of the Jedi, despite having earned $475 million at the box office against a budget of $32.5 million, “has never gone into profit”.[7]
    * “Winston Groom’s price for the screenplay rights to his novel Forrest Gump included a 3% share of the profits; however, due to Hollywood accounting, the film’s commercial success was converted into a net loss, and Groom received only $350,000 for the rights and an additional $250,000 from the studio.”[13]
    * “Stan Lee, co-creator of the character Spider-Man, had a contract awarding him 10% of the net profits of anything based on his characters. The film Spider-Man (2002) made more than $800 million in revenue, but the producers claim that it did not make any profit as defined in Lee’s contract, and Lee received nothing. In 2002 he filed a lawsuit against Marvel Comics.”[14]

    Etc., etc., etc.

    So, Ghostbusters didn’t make a profit? Well, duh, pretty much no movie ever makes a profit. Theoretically. “But I pulled some numbers out of my ass to prove it did poorly!” Whatever, you still pulled those numbers out of your ass. (Half box – 2x costs is an ass-pull no matter how hard you want to believe it “must be true”.) We don’t know how the distribution of funds works exactly, and what we do know is that Hollywood keeps making movies, so, despite what they claim, they’ve gotta be making a profit. Somewhere.

    So…comparing GB to a couple of other recent remakes: Total Recall (2012) made $198M against a $125 million budget. Less than $100M over costs. And it actually had some well-known stars, unlike GB. RoboCop (2014) made $242M against its $100M budget. Better, but not a whole lot over $100M gross. So, GB seems to be right in line with similar movies–better than some, not as good as others. (None of these reached half-box – 2xcosts. If that were actually the requirement, I suspect Hollywood would have gone broke long ago.)

    The loss of China definitely looks like the biggest problem GB had–and that had nothing to do with the presence of icky gu-u-urls. And even factoring that in, it looks like it was probably doing ok. And probably along the lines that were expected for a remake of an older property with uncertain nostalgia appeal.

    But, of course, I don’t have a cousin who dabbled in amateur film-making, so I can’t pass myself off as an expert on how the professionals work. Yeah, no cousin–just an uncle. 😀

  10. Xtifr –

    The loss of China definitely looks like the biggest problem GB had–and that had nothing to do with the presence of icky gu-u-urls. And even factoring that in, it looks like it was probably doing ok. And probably along the lines that were expected for a remake of an older property with uncertain nostalgia appeal.

    I mean same thing happened to Power Rangers. 100 million budget, in the top 20 domestically, 141 million box office total after not getting China or Japan until months after it was released. CHiPs didn’t get a nostalgia boost at all, Baywatch struggled and Ghost in the Shell didn’t do so hot either.

    Matt Damon’s The Great Wall? Not so hot domestically, 44 million on a 150 million budget. World total? 331 million. xXx Return of Xander Cage did similarly which honestly makes no sense to me. Is Vin Diesel big in China?

    At least Ghostbusters has licensing opportunities, this year Monster Trucks, King Arthur and A Cure for Wellness tanked.

  11. @Xtifr

    In no way was I claiming to be an expert I was just explaining that marketing costs do come up a lot,especially if a film had more or less then normal, if you follow these things and why I follow it.

    And I think you are being disingenuous about the difference between a studio claiming to never make a profit and actually taking a loss on a film. Sony lost money on Ghostbusters from the boxoffice along. In the long run it looks like they will come out ahead because of other revenue streams.

    I do not think that that was because of the female cast, actually I think an equivalent male lead film would have done worse because it would have just sunk under it’s own weight with no one really caring.

  12. Magewolf: I’m not saying they did or didn’t make a profit. Hollywood accounting is so complicated that we probably will never know. But even the box office thing is more complicated than some have suggested. (I’m not going to single you out here because I don’t want to go back and sort out who said what.) It’s not a simple fixed percentage–theaters pay much more in opening week than they do later. It’s non-linear, which makes the analysis much more complicated.

  13. John A Arkansawyer: people who act like mean little shits even though they are nice.

    There isn’t such a thing. Nice people may have moments when they lose their patience and/or their temper, but that’s different from being a “mean little shit”.

    And I’ll always take a genuinely-nice person who occasionally loses their temper over a two-faced fraud who can’t be trusted to mean what they say.

  14. @Shem

    @ Andrew: I saw a while back that a movie of The House with a Clock in its Walls is being considered. Unfortunately, the only names connected to the project so far are Eli Roth and Jack Black, who would not be my first choices. Still, if it gets more attention for Bellairs…

    The funny thing is that Jack Black as a kid probably looked a bit like Lewis.

  15. Yeah I’m still not buying the idea of using figures that we don’t know to test whether a film is or isn’t a success. It’s so easy to make businesses and such “fail” or not generate a profit (for tax purposes) that you’d really need to be able to get into the nitty gritty of it to figure out whether it was successful. You basically can’t just extrapolate from a couple of numbers this whole web of intrigue, especially when we only know for definite what value one of those numbers is, and especially when the aim of the game is actually to minimise net profit anyway.

    Okay we have the studio saying $300mil will be break-even for them, and Feig saying $500mil would be considered a success. But based on what? The $300mil figure isn’t taking into account hidden costs like marketing because it’s just double the budget, and does Feig only consider a film a success once it’s made X amount over its budget? We really don’t have the information to hand to discuss the relative monetary success of this, or any, film.

  16. @Oneiros

    The double the budget thing is just a rule of thumb to try to make allowances for costs that no one outside the studio is supposed to know, such as marketing. And the variable percentage of the box office that they actually get. It works best for films with an average budget since it can break at the top and the bottom.

    For example take a film with a $30 million budget and $10 to $15 million in marketing if it makes $60 million then it will earn out or be very close to it. However at the low end with a $6 million budget and if they are lucky $1 million in marketing if they make $12 million they will be very happy campers. And at the high end Blockbusters can have marketing campaigns that cost more then the movie’s budget.

    As for the numbers for Ghostbusters, it was supposed to be the start of a new tentpole franchise for Sony so it needed to make money and show it had legs. That is where the $500+ millions number came from.

  17. Even your manufactured examples make a loss of 14%+ under your suddenly much more lax rules. The issue I have with it is you’re just plucking numbers out of the air.

  18. If Ghostbusters had spent only the budget reasonable for what we actually saw on the screen, the box office would’ve been fine. There were ridiculous cost overruns – a million dollar dance sequence that was filmed and then cut as unnecessary, and a total runtime for the finished unedited film of FOUR HOURS…it was a comedy, not freakin’ War and Peace. All that were issues that should’ve been resolved in writing and storyboarding pre-filming. If the movie had been competently budgeted and produced it would’ve cost what the actual product we saw on the screen was worth, i.e., about 80 million. With that cost, it would’ve counted as a success.

  19. @ Oneiros

    They are not my rules. They are assumptions you will see in any discussion of how successful movies are.

    I keep getting the impression that you think all this is made up to make Ghostbusters look bad. But it’s not, it is just the way people talk about films take. If you want to believe that Ghostbusters was actually successful and everyone who says it was not just has an axe to grind go right ahead. But Sony, who should know if anyone does, seems to think it was not a good investment since they walked away from the planned sequels.

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