Snapshots 131 Full Reptend Prime

Here are 11 developments of interest to fans.

(1) While researching film editor Michael Kahn for my post about Norman Hollyn’s endowed chair at USC, I browsed an article that implied Steven Spielberg and Michael Kahn’s preference for using film to make their pictures was frankly quaint. I was surprised by the implication that digital was already dominant. Now Paramount has announced it will no longer release major movies on film in the United States.

The studio’s Oscar-nominated film “The Wolf of Wall Street” is the studio’s first movie in wide release to be distributed entirely in digital format, according to theater industry executives briefed on the plans who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Paramount recently notified theater owners that its Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” which opened in December, was the last movie released on 35-mm film, these people said. Previously, only small movies such as documentaries were released solely in digital format.

…Other studios were expected to jump on the digital bandwagon first. 20th Century Fox sent a letter to exhibitors in 2011 saying it would stop distributing film “within the next year or two.” Disney issued a similar warning to theater operators. And last year, many industry watchers expected Lions Gate to make history with an all-digital November release of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”

Paramount’s move comes nearly a decade after studios began working with exhibitors to help finance the replacement of film projectors with digital systems.

(2) We know it’s expensive to make a movie – with or without film. But check this out. Business Insider reports — at $105 million, the budget for Gravity, Hollywood’s space-themed blockbuster, is $32 million more than the total budget for India’s planned satellite mission to Mars.

(3) A remake of Barbarella is in development by the American television production arm of the French film studio Gaumont. Since it’s TV, can we assume it won’t follow Gravity’s precedent of costing more than a real space mission?

Gaumont is developing a remake of the film – about a sexy agent sent by the president of Earth to find the scientist and Positronic Ray inventor, Dr Durand Durand – for the small screen.

The project is currently on the table at Amazon Studios, an emerging online player backed by the giant online retailer Amazon. Amazon Studios is setting itself up as a rival to the major online players Netflix and Hulu.

(4) I doubt anyone wants Jane Fonda to come back and play Barbarella. But how surprised would you be to hear that financial analysts think they need to warn Disney not to put Harrison Ford in the next Indiana Jones movie?

Harrison Ford is a great actor. There’s no question about it. But his presence in a film doesn’t guarantee success; it only guarantees a big payday for Harrison Ford. Recently, my portfolio was banking on a film that was supposed to be a huge hit in part because he graced its frames with his presence.

I am, of course, talking about Lions Gate Entertainment‘s (NYSE: LGF  ) Ender’s Game. The movie grossed $112 million worldwide (at the time of this writing) against a reported budget of over $100 million (according to Box Office Mojo.) Remember the hype on that one? It was sold on its potential to be a significant cultural event at the cinema, but it fizzled instead.

“Fizzled” is a relative term. At least Ender’s Game grossed more than it cost to make.

(5) From April 1968. A photo of Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy in recording studio.”Feelin’ Groovy!” Shot by Douglas Jones for Look magazine. View full size.

(6) A building modeled after a Star Wars “Sandcrawler” has been constructed in Singapore to house the regional headquarters of American digital animation studio Lucasfilm.

The 22,500 square meter campus, which features a Yoda fountain, a 100-seat theater and state-of-the-art digital production capabilities, was officially opened on Thursday by George Lucas, the legendary director of Star Wars and founder of California-based Lucasfilm.

Lucasfilm’s decision to cement its presence in the city-state through the construction of the “Sandcrawler”, as the building is officially called, is a reflection of Singapore’s rapid development as a digital animation hub.

(7) Stephen Colbert had Hugo-winner Michael Chabon and Mariel Hemingway in studio to chat about Papa Hemingway.

“Telegraph Avenue” author Michael Chabon discusses Hemingway’s innovative writing style and ponders the lack of sexy-time in “A Farewell to Arms.”

(8) David Lloyd, the co-creator of “V”, offers an intriguing look at digital comics and other platforms in this interview with Comics Bulletin.

CB: Like I mentioned, I work in eBooks and it’s been one of the most fascinating transitions to see how quickly eBooks in general are adopted. Amazon for an example had a smash hit with Kindle. They have reached their market saturation, but it’s only to a certain point. Even with their text-only books, let alone with their graphic novels and such. It seems that there is some way a ceiling where it’s not that much of a generational thing as much as it is the perception. I mean, comic fans tend to be a kind of conservative group anyway – you know, we only want Batman done a certain way.

Lloyd: Yes, that’s interesting. In America, some folks do appear to develop their tastes very quickly and stick to them. Whereas in England there’s a tradition of accepting anthologies and such. But there’s a strong strand of conservatism in comics in both national groups. I don’t know. Maybe it comes out of that whole “clubby” thing. Comics has always seemed like a special club and I think that “clubbiness” makes people want to stick together – to hang onto what they’ve got. They value their exclusiveness, their outsider status. Especially in the situation where we’re all – any of us reading them, in the biz, or around it – still labelled ‘ geeks ‘, really. Resisting universality gives some kind of succour. But if we can reach out to a wider audience we can spread the love and not need to keep it to ourselves!

(9) A live production of Peter Pan will be aired by NBC to capitalize on the network’s ratings success with the The Sound of Music.

Though the cast has yet to be determined, [NBC entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt] joked to reporters at the Television Critics Assocation’s winter press tour on Sunday that he wanted Miley Cyrus to play The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up. Casting a woman to be the lead is not much of a stretch. After all, Mary Martin played Peter in the original Broadway production and won a Tony Award for her portrayal.

(10) Simon & Schuster will launch a new imprint called Simon 451 dedicated to publishing literary and commercial speculative fiction.

The inaugural Simon451 list will launch in October 2014 with the first volume of the EarthEnd Saga series by actress Gillian Anderson, best known for her role on ”The X-Files,” and co-writer Jeff Rovin. Brit Hvide of Simon & Schuster acquired worldwide rights from Doug Grad at The Doug Grad Literary Agency to a trilogy of titles from Anderson and Rovin, the first of which is entitled A Vision of Fire.

…The imprint’s name, “Simon451,” pays homage to Ray Bradbury’s seminal science fiction novel Fahrenheit 451, which has influenced countless readers, writers and publishers, and which Simon & Schuster published in e-book for the first time in 2011, along with other works by Bradbury.

(11) And Bradbury would have laughed aloud if he’d seen Grant Snider’s silly homage “Fahrenheit 351” which gives the dystopian novel a technological tweak.

[Thanks for these links goes out to James H. Burns, Janice Gelb, Andrew Porter, David Klaus, Martin Morse Wooster and John King Tarpinian.]

13 thoughts on “Snapshots 131 Full Reptend Prime

  1. Casting a woman as Peter Pan wouldn’t be a stretch at all, since the musical part was written for a woman, and has (almost?) always been played by women — I’ve seen productions starring Sandy Denny and Cathy Rigby. Casting a man in the part would be much more of a stretch, and it will be difficult to find a boy with the right vocal range. Daniel Radcliffe voice changed much too long ago for him to be considered, unless they do something like have Marni Nixon overdub his singing voice.

  2. The tradition of casting a woman to play Peter Pan goes back to the original play. I don’t know who was in the original cast in London, but Betty Bronson played Peter in a 1920s silent film version, and Jean Arthur played him in a 1950 Broadway revival with songs by Leonard Bernstein (not the same songs that Mary Martin sang a few years later). Jeremy Sumpter — not a woman, I should note — was probably about 13 or so when he played the role in the 2003 movie. But working on film is not the same as working on a live production with songs to sing.

    The only example I know of an adult male playing Peter Pan on stage is BD Wong in a regional production a few years ago (I read that the songs had to be changed to fit his vocal range). Right now, a Peter Pan prequel “Peter and the Starcatcher” (it seems to come from Disney) is getting ready to open on Broadway, and it seems to rely on young men to play Peter (or a character like him) and the Lost Boys, but I don’t know much about it.

  3. “Peter and the Starcatcher” is the title of a novel by Dave Barry, the newspaper humor columnist. It has a very different feel than the J.M.Barrie book and play. I assume that the Broadway show of the same name is based on the book. I enjoyed the book, but not enough to make me want to read its sequels.

  4. Correction: the novel is by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
    I notice that “Peter and the Starcatcher : the Annotated Script of the Broadway Play”, based on the novel by Barry and Pearson, was published by Disney in 2012.

  5. My wife Nila gave me a copy of Peter and the Starcatcher by Barry and Pearson as a present because she knew of my love for Peter Pan.

    It was awful. It was horrible. The pirates and lost boys and Peter himself were so “realistic” they would have made Charles Dickens turn his head away in disgust. I literally couldn’t finish it, as it made me physically sick to my stomach, and metaphorically sick in my heart.

  6. After wearing the flying harness under his clothes for Hook, Robin Williams noted that there was a *reason* Peter Pan was usually portrayed by women.

    Mr. Keeson, I think you meant to refer to Sandy Duncan, not Sandy Denny. The one played the role for many years, the other has never played it, to my knowledge.

  7. On another note, J. J. Abrams has publicly stated that Star Wars 7 (for lack of a better title) would definitely be recorded on film, not digitally. He also said the script, written by him and Lawrence Kasdan, was finished and they were ready to go into production in May.

  8. An item in Slate this past week mentioned that Jack Noseworthy briefly played Peter Pan in the excerpt from the musical that was included in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway” (he was an understudy for the part). That’s the same “version” of Peter Pan that Mary Martin, Sandy Duncan, and Cathy Rigby played, albeit only one song’s worth, not the whole show.

  9. Yes, thank you, Mr. Klaus. Of course I meant Sandy Duncan, not Sandy Denny. That’s what I get for relying on my memory without verifying. I was so pleased that I remembered the name “Sandy” that I didn’t think any further.
    And “Keesan”, not “Keeson”.

    Your reaction to Peter and the Starcatcher sounds similar to my reaction when I first read Peter Pan as an adult, a few years ago. I think I had probably read James Barrie’s novel version when I was a child, but without detecting all of the nauseatingly saccharine Victorian moralizing.

  10. And I’m quite sure Ray Bradbury wouldn’t care for Simon 451 after recollecting RB’s response to a simularly titled film by Micheal Moore. RB was giving interviews and demanding his title back.

  11. – Wikipedia confirms the emails I’ve been getting from a ticket service; …Starcatchers recently \closed/ for the 2nd time. (It had closed on Broadway, then been revived Off-Broadway.)
    – wrt item #4 in this survey: I’ve read that the gross has to be 3 times the cost of making a film to pay off; is that inaccurate? If it’s anywhere near correct, “fizzle” is probably an understatement of investors’ feelings. I can imagine a formal scale of terms, in which “flop” is reserved for films that don’t even gross their making costs, and “disaster” for those that gross <50% of costs….

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