Author: Jack Kirk


Quibi: Where Does The Short Film Platform Go From Here?

July 7, 2020

This April, Quibi, a unique streaming service launched. All of it’s content is designed to be “bitesized” around 10 minutes or less. Perfect for watching on a lunch break or on the tube. With some big names involved like Spielberg, Del Toro and Jason Blum involved, it seemed like it had potential to get to the big leagues. So why isn’t it?

Quibi launched right in the middle of the global pandemic when everyone had free time on their hands. With everyone stuck inside, they need longer series to keep invested in, rather than 10 minute long episodes. It is also only available in the US and Canada, although that wasn’t really an issue for Disney+. While it does seem that the release couldn’t really have come at a worse time, there are likely other factors.

Try before you buy

Quibi Dashboard
Quibi offerings feature a wide variety of genres (Source:TechHive)

Like most streaming services, Quibi is a paid service. While it does offer a 14-day free trial, it previously offered a 90 day when it first launched. The 90-day trial is a better representation of Quibi, which adds new content weekly. After the two week trial, there are two payment options, a $4.99 which is slightly cheaper than most streaming services but features ads. The other option removes the ads for $7.99. Most paid-for streaming services do not feature ads, with Netflix offering several plans based on how many people use the account.

Another problem unique to Quibi is its content. Because of the “bite-sized” nature of its content, it doesn’t have any existing content to tempt viewers. Whereas Netflix had the likes of Breaking Bad, and Disney has its vast library. Quibi only has original content which can be much harder to sell, especially when you only have 15 minutes of a show. While it might have some top talent involved, it’s hard to get people invested in a show that only has one 15 minute long episode.

(Don’t) Tell your friends

One of the big reasons Netflix gets shows to go viral is because it actively starts conversations. When new shows like Tiger King or Bird Box are released, the twitter account engages with it. By actively encouraging discussion and showing clips or sharing memes, Netflix helps build the conversation around its shows. By contrast, Quibi does not even allow users to take a screenshot whilst in the app, and no sharing onto social media, making it hard to grow buzz for a series without getting people to sign up for it and watch it themselves with little to no context.

Another issue is that Quibi is mobile-only, with no option to watch on a computer or cast to a TV. This has the unfortunate side effect of making it difficult for more than one person to watch any content on there. Watching a funny Youtube clip on a mate’s phone might be good at school, but it doesn’t really work in this context.

Where does Quibi fit in?

Quibi doesn’t really offer much that can’t be found elsewhere (Credit: Quibi)

In a world where anyone can create short content and upload it to the internet on platforms like YouTube and TikTok, a paid service seems odd. While it has the benefit of big names, most of them are active on other platforms and have other much more exciting projects planned. Actors like Jack Black and Will Smith have their own YouTube channels, which viewers can watch for free, so why sign up for Quibi?

While the actual content on Quibi isn’t the issue, some of the more weird and high concept shows are perfect for the platform. However, a lot of the shows could go onto YouTube, which already has it’s own premium option. Also, YouTube already has access to new content it also allows other benefits.

While Quibi is an interesting idea, it appears that it just doesn’t have enough to make it stand out from existing platforms, it’s a combination of Netflix and YouTube which is interesting, but those platforms offer different things for a reason. Many of the shows on Quibi are well funded and produced, but seems like a lot of money to throw at shows that total little over 2 hours when finished. It still has a chance to recover and be successful, but only time will tell if that happens.

Also Read: Amazon To Own Odeon Cinemas?

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Review: Da 5 Bloods

June 27, 2020

The latest “Spike Lee Joint” could not have come at a more apt time. With the Black Lives Matter movement calling for justice and diversity, and a global pandemic meaning most people are stuck watching Netflix.

“We fought in an immoral war that wasn’t ours for rights we didn’t have”

Da 5 Bloods tells the story of ageing Vietnam veterans, Paul, Otis, Eddie and Melvin, as they return to modern-day Vietnam. They arrive to bring back the remains of their fallen leader, Norman, as well as the gold they buried. While the Bloods are the central characters, most of the focus is put on Paul and Otis. Paul, suffering from severe PTSD and wearing a MAGA hat, has had the hardest time adjusting to civilian life. While Otis has an old flame he reconnects with in Vietnam. Melvin and Eddie get less development, but the camaraderie of the four is excellent, as they do elaborate handshakes and have in-jokes. Norman, the fifth member is presented as an almost mythical figure, described as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Although he only appears in flashbacks, the loss they feel without him is clear.

Chadwick Boseman's "Stormin' Norman"
Chadwick Boseman’s “Stormin’ Norman” has a huge presence, despite being dead for decades (Netlix, 2020)

 The group are first reunited in modern-day Vietnam, a stark contrast to the usual depiction and how they remember it. The culture clash is even more jarring after the opening, which uses real-world footage about the war and black people’s struggles at the time (many of which are still present today). Just as things are settled, there is a grim reminder that, while time has passed, the war hasn’t ended for everyone. The film does a great job at exploring this theme, despite the aspect ratio and grainy footage, the characters remain the same age in flashbacks. No recasting or de-ageing ala The Irishman. It shows how they feel they haven’t changed since the war, as well as highlighting the tragedy of Norman being killed as a young man.

“After you’ve been in a war, you understand it never really ends”

Delroy Lindo
Delroy Lindo’s performance as Paul is one of the films biggest strengths (Netflix 2020)

The film is at it’s best during these moments, a simple interaction at a marketplace causing Paul to have a panic attack. Or a prankster setting off firecrackers meaning all four of them dive to the floor. It’s clear that despite the passage of time, they’ve never really forgotten. Paul’s support of Trump is implied to be a direct cause of the war, having spent so long being told people who look different are the enemy. This distrust extends to Vinh, the Vietnamese guide taking them to the jungle, whose family thought for the Viet-Cong. Like BlacKkKlansmen it makes use of real-world footage, here flashing footage of the horrors and figures of the Vietnam war. While these are quite jarring and distract from the film, they are incredibly effective. It’s one thing to hear about something but another to actually see it.

Unfortunately, the film does start to lose steam around the hour mark as it switches gears. Having found the gold, the veterans have to survive long enough to keep it. Becoming more of an Indiana Jones-style adventure film than, the Vietnam character study it was before. The film doesn’t totally abandon the themes, with Delroy Lindo delivering some exceptional monologues to the camera as Paul wanders the jungle alone, unable to trust anyone. While the action scenes are well done, they grow stale towards the end and are far less interesting than the psychological battles being fought. The film is also a touch too long, coming in at two and a half hours.

Final Verdict

An effective and important tale that tackles it’s themes head on. Although things become unfocused in the later half, it is still a worthy watch, with a powerful perfomance from Delroy Lindo and some execellent uses of Marvin Gaye. It’s a shame the second act doesn’t hit as hard as it should, but it sticks the landing.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

Also Read: BlackKklansman (Review)

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Amazon To Own Odeon Cinemas?

June 12, 2020
Odeon Cinemas

With the global pandemic, movie theatres, like many businesses have been forced to shut down. People were advised to stay at home, and only leave the house for essentials. So trips to the cinema weren’t included. As the pandemic has gone on, some smaller businesses have unfortunately had to close for good. Many surviving businesses will likely take time to recover. A recent report indicated that AMC Theatres could be seeking a buyer. AMC also owns the Odeon chain in the UK. The potential buyer? Amazon. Yes that Amazon.

So could Amazon really own a cinema chain? And what would that mean for cinemas?

What’s this all about?

Trolls: World Tour
Trolls: World Tour became an unexpected hit via on demand (Universal, 2020)

Streaming services have been invaluable while everyone is in lockdown, and Prime has been a heavy hitter for a while. Especially in the UK, which didn’t get Disney+ until a few months ago. Amazon Prime has the added benefit of additional discounts from the main site. It also lets users rent and purchase many films, even if they don’t have prime, unlike most other services.

With cinemas closed, many studios have had to either delay big films or release them on demand. The pandemic has cemented the influence of streaming services, and many people are asking what the future holds for cinemas. With streaming being easier and often cheaper, audiences may not be as inclined to visit cinemas anymore, except for “event” films such as “Tenet”. The latest trailer confirmed it would be “only in theatres”.

Why does it matter?

Amazon Studios
Amazon have had success with some of their orginal films

So Amazon has a successful streaming service and want to buy a cinema chain. This is good for Amazon, as they could give their original content theatrical releases. Existing Prime customers could also get additional perks. But what about cinemas they don’t own? Could we start seeing some releases exclusive to some cinemas? Amazon has had success with original films like “The Big Sick” and “Manchester By The Sea“. Although the Oscars temporarily allow films streamed digitally to be eligible, traditionally they need a theatrical release. Although they have started to move away from this, like most streaming services. Netflix had a big exception with Scorsese’s “The Irishman“, which had a limited theatrical run so that it qualified for Oscars. This would allow them to release a film on their streaming service for subscribers, while also being awards friendly.

If Amazon did this, it’s likely other streaming services would follow suit. Disney is a likely contender. Along with Universal, they have been less concerned with cinemas, releasing films soon after theatrical releases. If these studios begin buying up cinemas, they could have the best of both worlds. Many cinema chains are refusing to show Universal movies if they continue ignoring the theatrical window. This could potentially lead to a scenario where huge franchises are only available in certain cinemas. You could watch Fast and Furious 9 at your local, but then have to travel to a Disney owned chain for the new Star Wars. Imagine the streaming wars, but with actual cinemas!

How bad would this be?

Orson Welles infamously clashed with studios on most of his projects (Source: Vulture. com, 2015)

This would actually be a step backwards. Back in the 1920’s studios not only owned the theatres but had exclusive contracts with actors and directors. This meant that they could only work for that studio for the duration. and created a monopoly on the industry. During a two-decade-long court case independent producers, like Orson Welles and (ironically) Disney fought to end the practice. Eventually succeeding, the Supreme Court managed to end the practice of block booking in 1948. Although some argue those rules are no longer needed, meaning we could see a return to this model…

This would give studios complete control over films, with potentially much more “studio interference“. Director’s Cut’s would be very hard to produce as they would now be tangled up in rights issues. It would also be much harder for directors or actors to leave a project or refuse one.

Luckily, it seems like these talks may just be rumours, as neither company has confirmed they are actually happening, but if it did happen, it could be very bad news for everyone but the studios.

Also Read: Why We Need To Support Independent Cinemas Now More Than Ever

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UK Government Allows Film & TV Productions To Restart Filming, But How Practical Are Their Guidelines?

June 6, 2020
Camera operator wearing face mask

With the outbreak of Covid-19 and industries being brought to a standstill, everyone has been eagerly awaiting new information. With some shows having to end seasons earlier than planned and even beloved soaps running out of new material. People have been itching to get back to work. The UK Government announced new guidelines allowing the film and TV industries to get back to work. But are these guidlines too restrictive? Or is this all a bit too soon?

The Government guidelines encourage people to work from home whenever possible, and when not possible, to maintain social distancing. While some select programmes have continued filming, such as the news and chat shows, albeit with no studio audience and most guest appearing via webcam. This has faced many of these shows to adapt. Saturday Night Takeaway transformed from a studio show to being a skype chat from the host’s living rooms, with old footage.

While this approach can work for programmes in post-production, like Netflix’s Umbrella Academy, as post-production can often be worked on at home, with actors even recording lines hiding in their cupboards. It is much more difficult to actually film new footage with the lockdown. With UK Government advice being to keep a distance of at least 2 meters between other people, filming would take much more time if not be impossible. This has resulted in some unique programming, as people have tried to adapt and entertain.

New Guidelines

ITV's Isolation Stories (Source: Deadline.com)
Some shows have been produced entirely in lockdown, like ITV’s Isolation Stories (Source: Deadline.com)

The new information means that some industries can go back to work, including the film and TV industries, however, things have not completely back to normal. For instance, the 2-metre rule should still be followed wherever possible, including by actors. This means that scenes may have to be re-written and planned to ensure this. It also means actors should apply their own makeup, costumes and microphones whenever possible and floor markings to clarify the distance.

Additionally, scenes set in open, outdoor spaces are to be prioritised, and the use of green screen is encouraged. This allows actors to film scenes without actually being on set. Senior actors, or ones with underlying health conditions, are to stay at home. Crews from local areas are to be prioritised, so as to reduce the spread of infection. Stunts and special effects sequences have even more planning and should consider demand on the NHS.

Is it too soon?

Social distancing has to be obeyed both in front of and behind the camera (Source:Cityam.com)

While these measures seem reasonable, they seem restrictive. Having to rewrite scenes so that characters are 2 metres apart in every scene could prove difficult. Especially in scenes between love interests or other emotional beats. There are very few natural reasons to not comfort someone in distress with a hug. Will every show now need to set an episode in the pandemic? While soaps and some other shows might be able to work with this premise, other’s won’t. The Walking Dead will be much less effective with all the Walkers social distancing.

While the effort to restart production is admirable, these measures do seem too restrictive. Although some programmes have still been filming, it clearly won’t work for everything. Even if only one person is on camera, there will be several behind it, unseen. With dozens of people on set, all trying to do a job, social distancing will be very hard. Things will likely take even longer on set, as everyone has to constantly stay apart, and do things on their own.

The reaction to these measures has understandably been mixed. While people are glad to get back to work and filming again, there are still concerns. Blackfish director Gabriela Cowperthwaite summed it up “There’s no quarantine-friendly version of making a film“. While writers rooms and pitch meetings can still happen via Zoom or Skype, not everything can. It is much harder to direct actors and crew without physically being in the space with them. Many also feel that the job isn’t worth risking people’s lives over.

While the impact of coronavirus will likely be felt for months to come, things are slowly returning to normal. While some are arguing it is too soon, precautions are being taken. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer before our favourite shows are back to normal.

Also Read: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

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Was It Really That Bad? Star Wars: The Rise Of Skywalker

May 20, 2020

The Rise Of Skywalker had the odds stacked against it very early on. Original director Colin Trevorrow was replaced by J J Abrams, legacy star Carrie Fisher had tragically passed away, and it had to not only follow up The Last Jedi, which proved incredibly divisive but also end the trilogy as well as the nine-film Skywalker Saga. Initial reactions were not positive. Fans on either side of The Last Jedi debate were dissatisfied with the “undoing” of several plot elements, the return of arch-villain Palpatine and the film’s reliance on nostalgia and references to the original trilogy. Now that some time has passed, it’s time to revisit Episode IX and ask, was it really that bad?

“I have a bad feeling about this”

Whatever faults this film has, at least it gave us Babu Frik (Disney, Luasfilm, 2019)
Whatever faults this film has, at least it gave us Babu Frik (Disney, Luasfilm, 2019)

Rise of Skywalker currently sits at a 6.7/10 on IMDb, putting it just ahead of Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones, and scoring the least of the sequel trilogy. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has the second-lowest score of the whole franchise, with only the animated Clone Wars film scoring lower. After the division that The Last Jedi caused in the fandom, it was important for the final installment to have more universal appeal, unfortunately, in trying to appease everyone, the film doesn’t take any risks and relies heavily on nostalgia, without any of the buildup that made the orignal moments so satisfying and iconic. In addition, many of the plot points were retconned, Rey did have an important lineage, Kylo Ren donned his mask again, and Palpatine was brought back from the dead by cloning or dark magic or… something.

So, without the magic of a midnight screening, would I see the stitches holding this film together? Well.. yes and no

“Bring balance to the Force”

Reading the reviews for Rise of Skywalker (Disney, Lucasfilm, 2019)

Some of the film’s faults are apparent right away, Palpatine, after dying in Return of the Jedi, has returned with an ominous and vague plan. How he returned is handwaved over, almost like the film is trying to jedi mind trick you, and his message announcing his return to the galaxy is never heard (except in Fortnite, because of course). Although it is always wonderful to see Ian McDiarmid as the Emperor, his presence doesn’t really add anything other than tie up some plot threads that had already been dealt with. And while the film does seem to go out of it’s way to attempt to put things back on track, it really doesn’t do that much damage when compared to some of the orginal retcons. Let’s not forget that Vader and Anakin Skywalker were once two seperate people, and that Luke and Leia weren’t related. While the Rey reveal in particular does more harm than good, she does still have a solid arc about choosing her own family.

The film also has a few plot points that don’t make much sense, such as the Sith dagger. It does feel like it’s jumping through hoops to explain some elements but not others. Again though, this isn’t a problem unique to this entry, Palpatine’s plots are hilariously convoluted in the prequels as well as Luke’s rescue mission in Episode VI. It also leans very heavily on nostalgia. Nearly every iconic moment from the original films is referenced. Some of these moments work better than others. But the things the film expands upon are some real highlights. The connection between Rey and Kylo Ren remains the best thing about the trilogy. Their “Force Skype” power expanding to allow physical objects to pass between them adds an intriguing new dynamic. The final duel between them is suitably dramatic. The main trio finally being together is wonderful and some legacy characters get a great sendoff.

Was it really that bad?…No

It doesn’t manage to compete with top tier entries, but it certainly isn’t the worst. It feel more like a sequel to Force Awakens than Last Jedi and it can’t quite decide what it wants to be or have guts to stick with some plot points. It feels rather similar to Solo, which isn’t a bad thing, but feels to safe for what should be the final word in the story.

Would Trevorrow’s version have been an improvement? It’s hard to say as the two are very different, but have some interesting similarities.

Overall, this one just needed more time in the oven. The rushed development and behind the scenes drama creates a lack of vision, but there is still a solid action flick in here akin to Force Awakens or Abram’s Star Trek reboot.

Also Read: Was It Really That bad?: Star Wars Episode 1 – The Phantom Menace

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Dynamic Duos: Iconic Actor Match-Ups

May 7, 2020

As there was an article previously that talked about directors that are always teaming up with the same actors, there are often a lot of actors that pair up too. Sometimes these are unintentional casting decisions, other times it is because of their proven chemistry and track record, or even because they’re close in real life.

Simon Pegg / Nick Frost

Simon Pegg & Nick Frost
It’s really weird when one of them is a film without the other (Indiwire 2019)

While many people assume they have been friends since childhood, the pair didn’t actually meet until Simon had graduated University. His girlfriend was a waitress with Frost, and introduced them. The two becoming fast friends after Pegg did his Chewbacca impression and both realised how big a nerd the other was. When Pegg was writing Spaced, he wrote a character especially for Frost, and continued when he wrote Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, with Edgar Wright. The pair have also worked together on Paul, and the final film in the Cornetto trilogy, The World’s End. They are currently working on a series about paranormal investigators, and recently did an updated version of the famous “the plan” scene from Shaun of the Dead, in response to the Coronavirus outbreak

Johnny Depp / Helena Bonham Carter

Few actors capture that Tim Burton style quite like these two (Warner Brothers, 2012)
Few actors capture that Tim Burton style quite like these two (Warner Brothers, 2012)

Director Tim Burton is known for his unique style and visuals, and for casting Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in everything (or at least it feels like it). The pair have teamed up together six times, each time because of Burton and usually play a couple. Although they haven’t appeared together in the franchise, they are both apart of the Wizarding World, with Carter playing Bellatrix Lestrange in Harry Potter and Depp playing Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts. Although they have not worked together for a while, it’s surely only a matter of time before they are reunited for another weird and wonderful project

Matt Damon / Ben Affleck

Affleck and Damon at 1998 Oscars, where they took home the award for Best Original Screenplay with Good Will Hunting, which they also starred in (ABC, 1998)
Affleck and Damon at 1998 Oscars, where they took home the award for Best Original Screenplay with Good Will Hunting, which they also starred in (ABC, 1998)

Bursting into the public eye with their Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting, these two have actually been friends since high school, with Affleck even helping Damon out in a fight. The pair actually shared a bank account which they pooled money that was only to be used for auditions. The pair co-wrote as well as starring in Good Will Hunting and Dogma, in which they play fallen angels, as well as various producing credits. Although they haven’t acted together for several years, the two remain firm friends, with Damon publicly speaking up for Affleck during his battle with addiction. They are currently working on a screenplay together, although it is likely going to be a while before we see them on screen in it.

Emma Stone / Ryan Gosling

Gosling and Stone as Sebastion and Mia in La La Land (2016, Lionsgate)
Gosling and Stone as Sebastion and Mia in La La Land (2016, Lionsgate)

Despite only appearing in three films together, these two have become fast friends, which is probably a good thing considering that they’ve always played love interests. The pair have nothing but nice things to say about each other, with Stone once declaring she “couldn’t imagine life without him“. Naturally, rumours of a romance have often circulated but nothing has ever really suggested these two are more than friends. Perhaps their biggest and arguably best collaboration is La La Land, a musical in which they play a couple while also trying to achieve their dreams.

Ben Stiller / Owen Wilson

Stiller and Wilson behind the scenes on Zoolander 2 (Paramount, 2016)
Stiller and Wilson behind the scenes on Zoolander 2 (Paramount, 2016)

Once comedic actors are paired up in a film, they often become inseparable. This is exactly what happened with this duo, who since their first on-screen team up in 1996’s The Cable Guy, which Stiller also directed, they have worked together on screen no less than twelve times in total, including the Night at the Museum and Zoolander films, which are arguably their most successful. Although they are known for their comedy work, their appearance in The Royal Tenenbaums proves they can do dramatic too.

Robert De Niro / Joe Pesci

Goodfellas is widely regarded as one the best works for both Scorsese and the main actors (Warner Brothers, 1990)
Goodfellas is widely regarded as one the best works for both Scorsese and the main actors (Warner Brothers, 1990)

De Niro is one of the most famous and talented actors around, so it’s fair to assume he has some standards about who he works with more than once. The equally great Joe Pesci is one of those actors. The pair starred in three Scorsese films, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and Casino, before a long-awaited reunion in The Irishman. They have also appeared in Once Upon A Time In America, and Pesci had small roles in two of De Niro’s directorial projects.

Also Read: Dynamic Duos: Iconic Actor/ Director Match-Ups

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Famous Movie Props in the Hands of Collectors

April 25, 2020

After the recent article looking at props for sale, it felt like time to look at some props that ended up in the hands of some very lucky collectors. Often times these props will sell for many times the amount it cost to create them, due to their status in pop culture and movie history. The most desirable props are often the version known as the “the hero” prop. Hero props are the ones used in close-ups or shots where they are the centre of attention. They are usually the most detailed version and sometimes are functioning, with lights, for example. Often multiple version will be made, such as rubber versions for stunts.

R2-D2 – Star Wars: A New Hope/ The Empire Strikes Back/ Return of the Jedi (1977-1983)

Several of the R2-D2 props that were used throughout the original trilogy (Lucasfilm, 1977)

Star Wars is full of iconic props, such as the miniatures for X-Wings, TIE Fighters, and of course, lightsabers. There are some very memorable costumes and creature designs, such as Chewbacca the Wookie, Stormtroopers and the fearsome Darth Vader. One of the most expensive mementoes from the series to have been sold at auction is an R2 unit. One of the Radio Controlled/Prop units was sold at an auction for over $2.7 million

The Maltese Falcon – The Maltese Falcon (1941)

“The stuff that dreams are made of” (Warner Brothers, 1941)

Perhaps the most famous Macguffin in all of cinema. The Maltese Falcon is a priceless statuette that Humphrey Bogart and several others spend the whole film trying to obtain. Several models were made for the film, with the hero prop being a heavy lead model. Ironically even though the (Spoiler alert, but come it’s been nearly 80 years) Falcon is a fake, the lead prop used in the film (complete with dents from Bogart dropping it several times) was sold at an auction for over $4 million dollars.

Indy’s Hat – Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

If the owner isn’t running around wearing it while humming the theme tune then why did they even bother? (Credit: Nils Jorgensen / REX / Shutterstock)

Arguably the most iconic elements of the character of Indiana Jones, aside from Harrison Ford’s performance and that theme tune, are his hat and whip. Indy’s hat is so iconic that one could almost say “it belongs in a museum”. There were actually several hats, some of which were actually sat on and had dust blown on it before filming to give it a more well-worn look, making Jones seem more of an experienced archaeologist. In 2018 one of the hats sold for a more than half a million dollars.

Delorean – Back to the Future Trilogy (1985-1990)

“Roads? Where we’re going we won’t need roads” Because it’s going in the garage (The Hollywood Reporter, 2016)

Up there with the TARDIS for iconic time travel vehicles, the Delorean is as much a character throughout the trilogy as Doc Brown or Marty McFly. The only car ever manufactured by the company, a total of seven were used for the trilogy. Only three of which remain, one is on display at the Peterson Automotive Museum in LA, another is owned by Universal Studios and is also occasionally on display. The third was sold to a private collector, with some of the proceeds going to the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research

Sting – Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

“It’s not really a sword, more of a letter opener..” (New Line Cinema, 2001-2003)

When the Fellowship sets out on its quest to destroy the One Ring, Frodo is given Bilbo’s old blade, Sting. An elven blade that glows blue whenever orcs or goblins are near, this prop was used throughout the entire trilogy and has actually gained some scratches and nicks in the blade from some of the combat during filming. The sword is incredibly detailed, like all Weta’s work for the films, including Elvish engraving, although no word on it glowing blue. Several weapons, including Anduril, were given away as promotional sweepstakes for the release of Return of the King.

Ruby Slippers – The Wizard of Oz (1939)

“Close your eyes, tap your heels together three times, and think to yourself, there’s no place like home” (MGM, 1939)

The Wizard of Oz is a classic that has survived generations, and will likely continue to be a firm favourite to many people. Despite its enduring popularity, the famous ruby slippers worn by Dorothy upon her arrival in Oz, have had a rough time of it. Only four pairs are known to have survived from the original production, with one pair safely on display in the Smithsonian museum after Leonardo DiCaprio, Steven Speilberg and others teamed up to save it, and another was recovered by the FBI over a decade after they were stolen. The other two pairs are thought to be with private collectors, although some believe that there are more slippers out there…

Also Read: 5 More Movies That Don’t Need a Sequel, Reboot or Remake

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Interesting Movie Props You Can Own

April 14, 2020

Often times, when a film needs an object, they make it, especially for the film. Sometimes it’s for legal reasons, like money. Sometimes it’s because they don’t exist in real life, like a lightsaber. Over the years, there have been some iconic props made, with propmasters working tirelessly to produce and maintain items, that sometimes get barely any screentime. They might only be visible in the background for a split second, or the MacGuffin everyone is after, but many of them were unique and will never be used again

After filming wraps, these items are no longer needed. Some of the important ones get given to (or are stolen by) cast and crew members, kept for use in sequels or other films, some of them go for sale at auctions, while many of the truly iconic ones are owned by collectors, there are still plenty of interesting ones you can own

Daily Bugle Newspaper – Spider-Man (2002)

The Daily Bugle News Paper - Spider-Man
Several issues of the paper were made, most with actual stories inside, not just a front page (Columbia Pictures/Sony 2002)

Although it hasn’t featured much in the newer films, The Daily Bugle and its staff, especially the cranky J Jonah Jameson were some fan favourite scenes in Sam Raimi’s trilogy. Peter takes a job as a freelance photographer taking pictures of himself fighting crime to earn a living throughout the series. The production actually made several copies of the fictional newspaper, which can be seen in various scenes such as this one, either framed on the walls or read by characters.

Predator Foot – Predators (2010)

Predator Foot
It’s not quite a skull, but still an intimidating trophy (20th Century Fox, 2010)

One of the most iconic film villains of all time, the fearsome Predator. A race of aliens that search the galaxy in search of worthy prey to hunt. The 2011 film featured a band of criminals trapped with several of the creatures in a fight for survival. The Predator famously takes a trophy from its kills, and anyone with this on display must be a fearsome opponent indeed.

Wolverine’s Claws – X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Wolverine's Claw
He’s the best there is at what he does, but what he does isn’t very nice… (20th Century Fox, 2009)

Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is one of the longest portrayals of a superhero, rivalling Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man. Jackman played the role from the first X-Men film in 2000, all the way up to his last appearance in 2017’s Logan. Undoubtedly the most iconic aspect of the character, Jackman unintentionally injured himself and others several times with the claws. They would make the world’s coolest bottle opener though.

The Elder Wand – Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)

The Elder Wand
Invisiblity Cloak and Ressurection Stone sold seperatley (Warner Brothers, 2001)

The Wizarding World has no end of exciting props. The detail of Hogwarts and it’s students is incredible, with the cast constantly singing the praises of the set designers and prop makers. Most of them are on display at the studio tours in London. One of the most important items in the story is the Elder Wand, one of the three Deathly Hallows, powerful magical items coveted by generations of wizards. This particular version of the wand was actually made before its importance was revealed, as it was used in the first two entries (Philosopher’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets)

Jurassic World Brochure – Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic World Brochure - Jurassic World (2015)
You can plan out your trip for when the park opens for real (Universal Pictures, 2015)

Every Jurassic Park fan has wanted to visit the park – when it’s safe of course. 2015’s Jurassic World gave the world a look at what the park may look like when it’s finally open, complete with gift shops and souvenirs. One of the things every theme park needs is a map, to help guests navigate the park and plan their route. In Jurassic World, guests have access to these when they arrive on Isla Nublar. Despite only appearing for a few seconds, these have full maps and a list of attractions at Jurassic World.

Future Soldier Uniform – Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)

Future Soldier Uniform - Terminator 2: Judgement Day
Judgement Day could be right around the corner (20th Century Fox, 1991)

Thankfully, the real judgement Day came and went, thanks to the intervention of Sarah and John Connor, but in the dark future where it took place, the surviving humans war outfits like this. While it’s effectiveness at keeping the wearer alive during the machine uprising is debatable, it certainly looks pracitcal, and has plenty of pockets for you to keep any useful items acquired.

Also Read: Share The Love In Lockdown

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Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry (Part Two)

April 3, 2020
Vue Cinema Coronavirus Closed

As large portions of the world go into lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus, many businesses have been left to fend for themselves. With many films delayed and production halted, people in the industry are having to fend for themselves.

No Films means no work

Netflix Headquaters
Netflix has pledged a $100 Million relief fund (credit: John G Mabanglo/EPA/Shutterstock)

As people self isolate and socially distance themselves, many “non-essential” industries have completely shut down for the time being. With no one having a good estimate of how long this situation will last, this has left many people out of work indefinitely. The people hit hardest by this decision are the ones at the bottom. Many Crew, Freelancers, and cinema staff have themselves without a job, it’s hard to make a film from home!

While many people working in pre and post-production are able to at least do some work from home, actors, camera, lighting, sound crews are all having to fend for themselves. Much of the industry revolves around freelance work, with individuals often going from one job to another and few jobs being permanent. Fortunately, some companies, like Netflix, have set up hardship funds, as have the BFI.

The main issue is the amount of freelancers, as they are self-employed, if a job is cancelled they have no support, although the UK Government has stepped in. In Hollywood, it’s estimated around 120,000 people are out of work, while in the UK the number is closer to 50,000. This situation is different for everyone, as some freelancers will have worked more than others and be in better conditions to take a hit. As the pandemic has spread across the globe, many shoots have been delayed before lockdowns began. This has caused concern, as many of the measures only apply to workers affected by having work cancelled from March, while many jobs have been cancelled well before then. Additionally, as most of these are freelancers, there is no furlough option.

However the longer this goes on the more difficult it will be for freelancers to survive. When “normality” finally does return, the job hunt will likely be even more competitive than it already is, as everyone looks to secure work. It is an incredibly difficult industry to get in with very little long term employment. With the whole industry looking for work at the same time, it will likely be very difficult for less established workers to find work.

Future of Cinema

Could delayed films like Black Widow be released on streaming platforms instead? (Disney 2020)

Likwise cinema staff cannot work from home, although audiences can still watch films at home. Even before countries were placed on lockdown, many cinemas pre-emptively closed due to advice to avoid large gatherings, in the UK. Several of these cinemas let these staff go without pay, a move that was understandbly controversial. This decision has since been reversed due to Government relief in the UK, however this is not the case in the US. With no support in place, AMC Theaters are “paying staff for as long as they can” potentially risking huge losses. While the large chain cinemas are clearly struggling, many smaller independent cinemas may not survive without help

As an added worry, a new study suggests that audiences may be less inclined to go back to the cinema after the pandemic subsides. With cleanliness and proximity to other people on audience’s minds, as well as a lack of summer blockbusters, it could be a while. Another factor to consider is streaming, which has been a concern to cinemas for several years. Some studios, like Universal are releasing some films straight to streaming, while still in theaters. It remains to be seen if this will remain in place once they do reopen

While cinemas are struggling, this whole situation is obviously good news for streaming services. Disney + launched in the UK, with it’s sign-ups tripling as more and more people are stuck indoors, and has even released films such as Frozen 2 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker months earlier than advertised. Meanwhile Netlfix may have to reduce the quality of it’s streaming in order to keep up with demand

These are certainly worrying times for everyone, whether in the film industry or not. But this period of uncertainty will help us appreciate the magic of cinema even more.

Also Read: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

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Coronavirus: How It’s Affected The Film Industry

March 25, 2020
Cinema screen

Right now it seems that Covid-19 has affected just about every aspect of our lives. With more extreme measures being introduced every day, every industry is taking big hits. Many are temporarily shutting down completely during the pandemic. The film industry especially has seen major disruption. While a lot of the effects may not truly be revealed until after the pandemic, here are some of the more immediate results.

Releases Delayed

James Bond
Bond has some extra time to die on his hands now (MGM, 2020)

In an effort to stop the spread of the virus, people were advised against attending large gatherings, such as concerts and weddings, with many being cancelled or postponed until a later date.

The 007 Franchise is one of the biggest, with the latest instalment carrying lots of positive behind the scenes buzz. In addition, it will also be the swansong for Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond. Originally scheduled to release on April 2nd, and at the height of marketing, with the title theme released and press tour about to begin. It will now release in November, a whole eight months later, in light of the Coronavirus situation.

Bond was arguably the biggest release of the summer, but it was shortly followed by several others, including Mulan, Peter Rabbit 2, A Quiet Place 2, Black Widow and ironically Fast 9, as well as some smaller releases.

Perhaps one of the biggest casualties is The New Mutants, which has now been delayed four times, from its original date of April 13th, 2018. Currently, there is no release date, like most of the delayed films, although it could still happen this year.

Productions Stopped

Skydance 2020 Movie
A deadly virus that will affect millions on a global scale seems like something Ethan Hunt and the IMF should have dealt with (Skydance, 2020)

In addition to completed films having their releases delayed, films and many tv shows, are halting production, films like Matt Reeves’ “The Batman”, “Mission Impossible 7” “Jurassic World: Dominion” “The Matrix 4” and the third instalment in the Harry Potter prequel “Fantastic Beasts” series have all suspended production..This is all done for the health of cast and crew as well as an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

While these delays are understandable, they will likely have knock-on effects. While many of these films are not due for release until next year at the earliest, depending on how long this situation goes on for, this could result in some of, if not all, these films being delayed due to the new timetable.

Film release windows are a delicate science, with studios needing to consider potential competition, as well as the target audience and other factors when releasing a film, so some of these films could have severe delays, such as Fast 9 being delayed by a full year.

Festivals Cancelled

Cannes Film Festival
Could Cannes be Canneclled? (THR,2020)

As part of cancelling large gatherings, many film festivals have been cancelled, including SXSW. This is a major blow to countless independent and smaller budget films that count on the exposure gained from these festivals to get distribution. Cannes is working on a backup plan, a “virtual marketplace” where films can be screened, and presentations from filmmakers. It would also allow for video meetings, for deals to be hashed out and more.

New Releases Streaming

The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man is just one of several new releases that are available on demand during their theatrical run (Universal, 2020)

With most cinemas closed, the few films that are releasing aren’t bringing in big numbers at the box office. As a result, several studios, like Universal, have released their films online, with some on the same day as they are released in theatres. Frozen 2 and (soon) Onward can also be found on Disney+. While this is a simple and effective solution to the current isolation measures put in place, it does bring into question the future of cinemas and new releases. Traditionally there is a gap of several months between a theatrical release and a film being available on demand. With these extenuating circumstances, this “rule” no longer applies. Christopher Nolan recently wrote a letter in defence of cinemas.

It remains to be seen what kind of effect this will have on digital releases in the future. Jason Blum predicts that there will be a change after the pandemic has subsided, with fewer films being given theatrical releases or having shorter runs in theatres. Netflix has encountered this problem, giving The Irishman a short stint in cinemas upon its release in order to qualify for Oscar nominations. This could give streaming another leg up over cinema, if people can watch a new release at home or go to the cinema, which would they choose?

Hopefully, cinemas will still be around for a long time yet after this crisis is over, even if we might have to wait a little longer for some of this year’s big releases.

Also Read: The Simpsons’ Obsession With Films

More: Coronavirus: How It’s Affected the Film Industry (Part 2)

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7 Great Films about Bad Weather

March 22, 2020
Into the Storm

There are few things better than watching a film on a rainy day. Some films are even about rainy days. In fact, there’s an entire genre about adverse weather conditions. Director Roland Emmerich rose to fame because of them.

If you find yourself stuck inside on a rainy day, here are several appropriate films to help you pass the time away. While there are many disaster films about earthquakes and the end of the world, these films are about the weather. No matter how bad the weather is, at least it isn’t as bad as in any of these films.

The Impossible (2012)

The Impossible Movie
Yes, Tsunami’s aren’t “bad weather” but they aren’t exactly beach weather either (Warner Brothers/Summit Entertainment, 2012)

Based on a true story of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami, The Impossible follows the (fictional) Bennet family as they attempt to find each other and survive in the aftermath of the tsunami. Featuring a young Tom Holland in his feature film debut, as well as an Oscar-nominated performance from Naomi Watts and an excellent turn from Ewan McGregor. The tsunami itself was achieved with a mixture of practical and digital effects, including miniatures. Holland and Watts spent several weeks in a giant water tank during filming.

Frozen (2013)

Frozen Disney
It’s very hard to resist singing “Do you want to build a snowman?” whenever it’s snowing (Disney, 2013)

Even for those who haven’t seen this one, it’s hard not to know about it. It seemed like the whole world had Frozen fever when it was released. The story of two sisters, Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Indina Menzel) and their bond, as they try to save their kingdom from an eternal winter. A more modern fairytale than some other Disney classics, it won Oscar’s for Best Animated Feature and Original Song for “Let it Go“.

Sharknado (2013)

Sharknado Movie
The worst thing about a sharknado is nowhere is safe (The Asylum, 2013)

A tornado scoops up sharks and heads towards land. That’s it, that’s a Sharknado. The series starts off with this simple premise, but later progresses to include a space battle and time travel! The hero, Fin (yes really) fights to protect his family and the world from the sharks flying through the air. It’s got plenty of cameos, from David Hasselhoff to George R.R Martin and even Jedward. Perhaps the weirdest part though, is that a sharknado is actually possible

The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

The Day After Tomorrow
Although climate change flooding is an issue, it’s unlikely we’ll have to deal with this (20th Century Fox, 2004)

Roland Emmerich directs this cautionary tale about climate change, following a scientist and his son as they try to reunite against the dawning of a new ice age. The film was a box office success, and though several scientists have issues with its science, they have applauded its awareness on the issue of climate change.

The Fog (1980)

Anyone who’s ever driven in the fog knows how difficult it is, boats must be even trickier (AVCO Embassy Pictures, 1980)

While John Carpenter may be more well known for his slasher and sci-fi films, he also took a stab at a weather-based horror. A hundred years after a ship mysteriously sank nearby, a small town is covered in a mysterious fog. Although it has since gained a bit of a cult following, Carpenter himself is rather dismissive of the film, due to the troubled production.

Twister (1996)

Twister Movie
“Just popping out for some milk dear” (Warner Bros/Universal, 1996)

Written by Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton and produced by Steven Speilberg, Twister follows Helen Hunt and her estranged husband Bill Paxton as storm chasers, driving right into twisters in the name of science. Its special effects were nominated for an Oscar, and it gave us this cow scene. The shoot was full of injuries, like a crewmember being hit by a camera. Paxton and Hunt were actually temporarily blinded during the shoot, and someone was stook inside a collapsing house!

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (2009)

Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs Movie
How most of us would react if it started raining food (Sony Pictures Animation, 2009)

Probably the least likely weather occurrence on this list (although you never know), water molecules in the air are turned into food. The result is a sleepy fishing town has rainy days of burgers and a snow day with ice cream. Directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller intentionally parodied disaster movies and explain the weather with lots of pseudo-sciences.

Also Read: The Greatest Horror Villains of Each Decade

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1994: The Year of Jim Carrey

March 7, 2020
Jim Carrey as Dr Robotnik

1994 was a great year. Seal released “Kiss From A Rose“. The original Playstation made it’s way to homes everywhere as well as Friends airing its first season. Alongside this, we had some classic films released. The Shawshank Redemption, The Lion King, Pulp Fiction. It was an especially great year for Jim Carrey.

Carrey had his breakout year in ’94, with arguably his best-known work all being released during the year: Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Dumb and Dumber, and The Mask. These films propelled him into a household name and some of his best performances. 1994 was the year of Carrey.

“Pleasure To Meet You, Mr. Camp, And Congratulations On All Your Success. You Smell Terrific.”

Carrey's breakout role as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)
Carrey’s breakout role as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

After a few years in stand-up, and a failed audition for Saturday Night Live, Carrey got a start on In Living Colour. In the February of 94, Ace Ventura Pet Detective was released. Although the film wasn’t a hit with critics, it was with audiences, grossing over $107 million on a very modest budget, and gaining a cult following. Carrey’s over the top performance helped make it very quotable, including the iconic “Alrighty then!

Originally, Rick Moranis was approached for the role, but after he and several others turned it down (including Alan Rickman), Carrey was cast for his sketch comedy work. He was allowed to rewrite the script and improvise a lot. The inspiration came from several places, like a desire to be “unstoppably ridiculous” and a bird.

“I’m Smoking!”

The Mask - Jim Carrey
The Mask, is the perfect role for Jim Carrey (1994)

Before Ace Ventura became such a big hit, Carrey had signed on for an adaptation of The Mask. A much lighter version of the comic book. Carrey was attracted by the cartoon-esque nature of the project, and was so animated himself he saved on some VFX budget. Being released after Ace Ventura, gave it some added, and unexpected, star power. It also launched the career of Cameron Diaz.

Jim Carrey is the closest thing the world has to a living cartoon, and The Mask is a perfect example of that. The premise allows him to be as wacky as he can be in a way no other film has allowed. The Mask is also the most successful film, critically and commercially, of Carrey’s 94 films. Until recently, it was also the most profitable comic book film ever, before being overtaken by Joker. Carrey was nominated for a golden globe for his performance.

“The most annoying sound in the world”

Carrey as one half of the iconic Dumb and Dumber leads (1994)
Carrey as one half of the iconic Dumb and Dumber leads (1994)

After two successful films in the year, Jim Carrey was certainly a star to watch. However, he wasn’t quite done yet, as December would see the release of Dumb and Dumber. This time Carrey was sharing the spotlight with Jeff Daniels, who was more known for his dramatic roles. Despite some mixed reviews overall, Carrey and Daniel’s performances won lots of praise.

The film owes a lot of it’s success to it’s two main characters, and has become a cult favourite. Like Carrey’s other 94 ventures, it spawned a sequel and an animated series, although this sequel took much longer, arriving in 2014, a whole 20 years later.

“Good Morning! And in case I don’t see ya, Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Good Night!”

arrey's most recent big-screen role, Dr Ivo Robotnik or "Eggman" in Sonic the Hedgehog   (Sega 2020)
Carrey’s most recent big-screen role, Dr Ivo Robotnik or “Eggman” in Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega 2020)

Of course, Carrey’s career didn’t stop there, he would go on to fight Batman as the Riddler, explore dramatic roles in The Truman Show, and most recently, chase a blue blur in the Sonic the Hedgehog film. He is currently back in TV, working on the sitcom “Kidding”. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before he graces our screens with his unique brand of quirky comedy.

Also Read: The Unique Style of Wes Anderson

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