Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Movie News -- Lucas in Doghouse, Alternate Marketing, Netflix Roadshow

Lucas is back in the Doghouse for Fans
Seems like this guy just can't do anything right by his fans. First he rereleases his beloved original Star Wars trilogy (episodes 4-6) and adds stuff and changes stuff, and doesn't release them in their original condition so fans, up in arms, scream fury and hatred toward the jedi creator.
Then he finally acquiesces and releases the original versions on DVD -- though he still says he hates the originals; the do-overs are how they were supposed to be. So isn't that good enough? Apparently not. Let me explain...
So, I was delighted to find out that I could pre-order these older, better versions of the trilogy on Amazon.com. I immediately went to the site and excitedly popped them all right into my shopping cart, and was just about to check out when I noticed that all three of them have extremely low star ratings from the users. How could this be? How could the fans be so against that which they had been begging for for years? After reading some of the comments it becomes clear. Rumor has it that Mr. Lucas, who apparently still doesn't give a rats patoot what his fans love, nor does he care about keeping originals around for posterity, has mastered these new DVD versions from laserdiscs! No, not from some beautiful film print, no, not with digital remastering. Nope, supposedly Georgie pie instead just grabbed the footage right off a laser disc, so the thought is that it will look about as good as if we popped in an old, worn VHS copy. Not only that, but no 5.1 surround sound, no image cleanup, no nothing. Of course, each 2-disc set also includes the newer versions with all his stupid additions and changes, each beautifully presented in beautiful color and sound. So effectively, he's still not giving us a chance to appreciate the originals as beauties in their own right.

Now I must again underscore that this is rumor, at least until I find out how these people know this stuff. And it did make me think twice about putting my purchase through. But honestly, I still have to see them. Even if he might 5 years from now he puts out the originals again, but in higher quality, I still have to take that chance and grab these while I can. Rumors or no rumors.

A Scanner Darkly Experiments with Alternate Forms of Marketing
Using the internet as a major movie-marketing tool is not terribly new anymore. Though, amazingly there are innovative uses of this tool every day. There has been lots of buzz about the web-marketing efforts for Snakes on a Plane which apparently has not marketed in any other fora. In fact, it didn't even have advance screenings for critics. Even though most people refer to the film as ridiculous and probably not worth the viewing time, I can't help but think about Hitchcock's buzz for Psycho when I think about this movie (even given the absurdity of SOAP's title and premise). Hitch also didn't allow advance critic screenings for Psycho. And even through the public's ridicule of Snakes on a Plane, there are numerous accounts of audiences errupting in applause when the trailer appears onscreen. Way to go SOAP marketers!

A Scanner Darkly on the other hand, is perhaps a little more of an interesting flick even without SOAP-style viral marketing. It's created by the same people that brought us Waking Life -- the movie that inspired me to start fiddeling with animation. In the same tradition as Waking Life, SD combines digital art, rotoscoping, and a phylosophically heavy script to create a unique kind of animation. However, there was something about SD that just didn't make me want to run out and watch it. Maybe it was the fact that, judging by the previews, the animation is starting to become a little too realistic, and I have to wonder where that line is that we cross where actual photographic images are no longer necessary. For me, animation is just so much better when it is somehow drenched in an artist's particular style. Furthermore, we've been here before. We've seen this kind of animation before. It was a neat experiment, but is it interesting enough in it's own right to become a repeated medium? Add to that the fact that I am not sure I am all that inspired by Richard Linklater's style of storytelling (it's maybe a little too Altman-like and unscripted feeling for my liking) and I just don't have a lot of interest. I am not sure if audiences in general were sharing my lack of enthusiasm over SD, but apparently more buzz needed to be generated about this movie, so they did the unthinkable: They released the first 24 minutes of it for free online. And you know what? The trick worked! I want to see this movie. It's super weird! Check it out yourself!

Netflix Takes Movie Viewing on the Road
What if we could watch movies in the actual places where they happen? Would being surrounded by the real environment of the movie's setting enhance our movie viewing experience? Netflix thinks so. This summer Netflix is hitting the road and showing movies all over the country in the actual locations where the movies were filmed and/or set. And better yet, shows are free! Anyone who knows me knows that little gets me more excited than crazy movie-viewing experiences. I don't care what movie is playing, if there is a crazed-fan-midnight-
showing-nutty-people-in-costume or some such experience available I am so there, and I will wait as many hours as I have to to be there. (I waited 6 hours in a Padme costume for SW3!). So needless to say I am all over this idea too. A group of us will be headed up to the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park to see The Shining. The show begins August 16th at 7pm. See you there!

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1 comment:

Colleen said...

Oh man! If this is true about Lucas I will be majorly disappointed. I want the original versions - I loved the original versions - I want to see Han fire first dammit!!!

I really hope this is all crap - I can't imagine Lucas would be this lame. I'm waiting to hear what you find out.....


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