fbpx

Category: Editorials

Read the latest editorials and opinion pieces from Big Picture Film Club.

Editorials

Brexit: How Will It Affect The UK Film Industry?

July 14, 2019

Whatever your feelings on Brexit it is bound to have a big impact on many aspects of the UK, but what will the impact be on British film? I’ll be upfront from the beginning and say I voted Remain in the referendum and think leaving the EU will have a negative impact on the country. Will we cease to get any funding from the EU and will that hamper creators? Will a Britain freer to trade with foreign countries provide more opportunity? Is this a golden opportunity or a terrible disaster for British film? The unfortunate answer is it’s complicated. There are numerous different scenarios depending on what deal, if any, the UK government reaches.

The Current State of Affairs

For the time being Britain remains a member of the European Union, the European Economic Area and various other treaties and organisations. These agreements have reciprocal benefits and obligations and while the UK pays a substantial sum of money to be in the EU proponents would argue the benefits to the economy and country make it worthwhile. Some of this money goes into a central pot from which citizens or organisations from that area can make applications, for example, the film Paddington received over £300,000 in funding from the EU.

One of the founding principles of the EU is the free movement of people, goods, money and services across participating countries, this basically means it is as easy as possible for people to work, goods to be bought and sold, access and provide services and invest money. Whilst in the EU a UK citizen could easily work in Spain, Italy or any EU country and their citizens do the same. This is based on the belief that these freedoms will lead to increased trade, a stronger economy, more opportunities and more for those involved and will benefit the member countries and EU as a whole.

After Brexit

To be blunt, we don’t know what the situation will be. We could leave the EU but continue to be in the EEA. We could still be involved in funding cultural programmes. We could still give access to EU citizens to work in the UK and vice versa – although admittedly ending free movement of people seemed to be one of the cornerstones of Brexit. There was no clear definition of what Brexit meant and this has been one of the central difficulties of negotiating with the EU.

Brexit As An Opportunity

The British Film Institute conducted an extensive report on the effect Brexit would have on UK film-making, raising many potential problems but it did highlight three areas of opportunity after Brexit:

  • Depreciation of currency – since the referendum the value of the UK currency has dropped and, in a nutshell, has made it cheaper for places like America to do business in and with the UK. However, there are negative consequences of having a lower value currency that a government may want to avoid.
  • Opening new markets outside the EU – one of the features of the EU was many trade agreements were made with the EU as a whole rather than by individual countries and there were a lot of criteria that had to be met. After Brexit, the UK would be free to negotiate any free trade agreement they wanted with non-EU countries. This could create new markets or mean expanding existing ones.
  • Outside of the EU, the government could offer more tax incentives for film production in the UK.

The report also states that as the UK would not automatically be subject to new EU rules that might make the EU a less attractive place to do business with.

Working

It is hard to imagine a Brexit where it will not be harder for EU citizens to work in UK. Some have suggested that EU citizens will have to meet certain criteria around skills and be sponsored by their employer. A big drop in non-UK citizens being allowed to work could be a significant blow to British film-making, an article in Forbes stated that “In terms of post-production, visual effects and animations sectors, up to 40% of personnel are non-U.K. citizens”. Whilst some of those jobs will be taken by qualified UK citizens I doubt there are enough to make up that shortfall, the Forbes article goes onto say, the UK simply does not have enough people who possess these skills. And that is just looking at one area of filmmaking.

Funding

Films need money and the EU has put a lot of money into the film industry across Europe, for example, there is the Creative Europe programme which, essentially, could give you funding to make a film or help fund a cinema. Now regardless of what deal is reached, or no deal, the UK government has signalled it wants to remain part of some of these programmes. There is also the possibility that any EU funding that is lost could be matched by the British government, which is what has been promised in the case of Creative Europe in the event of no deal.

Co-Productions

Co-productions are when companies from more than one country work together to make a film. Sometimes this could be because the film takes place and is filmed, in two countries or it could be that there is a cultural message of the film the brings together relevant countries. The main reason, especially in recent years, is financial, as it allows more money to be raised from more people. Sometimes minority co-producers may have some creative control and sometimes they don’t. In recent years co-productions have become a smaller part of the UK film industry with the major exception being Ken Loach. Since 1990 Loach has released nineteen films of which fourteen had European co-productions, it is not a stretch to say co-production has been essential to his film-making.

Loach’s relationship with co-productions goes back decades, and creative control of his co-producers have waxed and waned. Sometimes a cultural input from a co-producer is extremely useful, Loach’s film Land and Freedom which was about the Spanish Civil must have benefited enormously from co-producer Tornasol, a Spanish company. Recently Loach has had to sacrifice very little, if any, creative control to co-producers, having many small backers dilutes their potential power.

Looking at the numbers Loach’s more international feel seems to be good for him, 87% of ticket admissions for Loach’s films come from outside the UK, a significant increase on 55% for most British films. What seems the most important factor in Loach’s success with co-production is that this method allows him to raise significant sums of money whilst sacrificing little, if any, creative control.

It is likely after Brexit the UK would not be part of the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-Production (ECCC) which was specifically designed to encourage European co-productions. To be part of this scheme would be to allow people working on the film to, well, be allowed to work on the film. The ECCC allows co-producers to claim the lucrative tax relief given to British film-makers and so make them keener to invest.

Barriers

There is one definite thing that will be true after Brexit, making films in Europe will be a lot harder and a lot of barriers will go up. Filming in Spain, Poland, France – any EU country will get a lot more complicated. Something as basic as moving filming equipment through countries could become far more difficult.

The Future…

Essentially there is very little we will know for certain, possibly there will be good and bad aspects to it. I think the best thing for British film-makers, and everyone really is to get a clear picture of what will happen and make decisions on solid information.

Also Read: Silence Is Golden: Great Scenes With No Dialogue

Editorials

Horrors On Horror Sets

July 13, 2019
Real Skeletons on set of horror movie "Poltergeist"

Sometimes horror films can become all too real for the people on set. Over the years several horror movies sets have been the sites of unfortunate, weird and in some cases fatal accidents and incidents that make you question the luck and safety standards of the production. Today we will look at seven famous incidents where a film set turned into a real-life horror film.

Warning, there is upsetting content ahead.

The Bunny Game

A shock-horror film about a prostitute being kidnapped and tortured by a truck driver, the BBFC rejected The Bunny Game, fearing that its portrayal of violent and dangerous acts may harm audiences. This wasn’t helped by the presence of extreme unsimulated acts within the film.

While filming a nude scene in a junkyard, actress Rodleen Getsic received several injuries from shards of metal sticking into her body. And during one scene, she was actually branded.

Through trying to create an authentic atmosphere, the filmmakers created one of the most disturbing movies of the past decade, from a health and safety perspective.

Eery shot of branding in The Bunny Game

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Like the Bunny Game, 1974’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s production is a tale of a horrific working environment. Because of the films low budget, the effects were minimal, and often employed workarounds to accomplish them. But when coupled with hundred-degree weather, rank working conditions (dead animals were used as set dressing) and a stressed crew, something was bound to happen.

Notably, the scene where Sally’s finger is cut was supposed to show stage blood coming out of a tube. But when the mechanism didn’t work, Gunnar Hansen (Leatherface) cut actress Marilyn Burns’ finger with a razor. Also, during the scene where Leatherface kills the character Kirk, Hansen brought a real running chainsaw down three inches from actor William Vail’s face, making the film’s title very nearly prophetic.

The insanity of the dinner scene may have been reflective of life on set of The Tecxas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

The Exorcist

Often considered the scariest film of all time, the Exorcist has several on-set horror stories to go with it.

As well as most of the MacNeil house set burning down (eerily, aside from the scenes where the exorcism would take place) actress’ Ellen Burstyn and Linda Blair both suffered back injuries during filming. Burstyn was pulled back strongly by a rig for a stunt, injuring her coccyx, which she has said still bothers her to this day. And Blair was hurt when the lacing of her back brace came loose when she was being thrown around on a bed. Ironically the takes where both actresses received these injuries were used in the final film.

The shot of Ellen Burstyn injuring her back (The Exorcist)

The Omen

The Omen’s filming was also plagued with problems.

When the filmmakers charted a plane to get some aerial shots of London, they allowed another party to use the plane first. Shortly after the plane took off it crashed killing 6 people. The filming also had several serious incidents with animals. A rottweiler injured a stunt double when it bit through his protective padding. In the zoo scene, the baboons used by production attacked the car that actors Lee Remick and Harvey Stephens were in. Remick reportedly feared for her life. And a zoo handler who had been working with the production was killed by a tiger after zoo shooting wrapped. And those are just the incidents that happened during production.

One of the dogs used as hellhounds in The Omen (1976)

Maximum Overdrive

When people think of Stephen King, they think of some of the most terrifying novels of the last century, but cinematographer Armando Nannuzzi probably thinks of King very differently.

During the making of King’s sole directorial effort, Maximum Overdrive, for a low shot involving a lawnmower all safety equipment was removed from the mower, exposing the blades. When the lawnmower met the wooden stand the camera was on, it sent a large number of splinters into Nannuzzi’s face which resulted in him eventually losing an eye. He later sued King and the crew for unsafe working conditions.

Even everyday objects can be dangerous when not used with care (Maximum Overdrive)

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

During the making of the final movie in the long-running action-horror series stunt woman, Olivia Jackson was injured when her motorbike collided with a malfunctioning camera crane at high speed. She was put in a medically induced coma for two weeks and suffered several injuries. Including crushed facial bones, a degloved face and a paralyzed left arm that was eventually amputated.

Following this horrific accident crew member Ricardo Cornelius was unfortunately killed when a hummer fell off a rotating platform and crushed him.

Poster for Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Twilight Zone: The Movie

Finally, we come to the film that started modern Hollywood’s move for better safety regulations. Twilight Zone: The Movie was an anthology movie based on the classic tv series.

In John Landis’ segment, Time Out, we follow a racist man (Vic Morrow) forced to witness the consequences that such attitudes have had throughout history.

However, while filming the segment’s climax where the main character saves two Vietnamese children (Myca Dinh Le and Renee Shin-Yi Che) from a warzone the helicopter they were using flew too close to a pyrotechnic, causing it to crash on top of the three actors, killing them instantly.

The aftermath of the horrendous accident which claimed the lives of three (Twilight Zone: The Movie)

Thank you for reading and always remember, stay safe.

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK

Editorials

Dynamic Duos: Iconic Actor/ Director Match-Ups

July 11, 2019

Batman and Robin, Doc and Marty, Bonnie and Clyde, Han Solo and Chewbacca. There are many iconic duos on screen, but there are just as many iconic partnerships between some actor and director duos that are behind some iconic films.

Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio

Dicaprio and Scorsese

This duo first appeared in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and have produced four feature films together since, with two more in development as well as a promotional short. While this partnership has not produced as many films as Scorsese’s other famous partnership with Robert DeNiro, it is arguably more varied, with their collaborations including genres like crime, comedy (“The Wolf of Wall Street”)and biopic (“The Aviator”), with Leo helping the director win his first Oscar with his role in “The Departed”

Interestingly it was actually DeNiro who introduced the pair, after having worked with DiCaprio previously, DeNiro sang the young actors praises and that Scorsese needed to work with him, with the director referred to as “extraordinary fortune” and that they wanted to make movies the same way

Christopher Nolan / Michael Caine

Nolan directing Sir Micheal Caine on the set of “The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Brothers/Legendary Pictures, 2012)

When Christopher Nolan turned up at Micheal Caine’s house, he was initially going to turn down the part of Alfred, Batman’s loyal butler, as serving dinner and coffee didn’t really appeal to the veteran actor. Then he read the script and quickly changed his mind, noting that he had “written great parts for real actors“.

Michael Caine is a prolific actor who has been in the business for over sixty years, so it’s fair to say he recognises talent when he sees it, and that’s exactly why he keeps partnering up with Nolan. Since “Batman Begins” in 2005, Nolan has included him in every one of his films, with a small voice cameo in “Dunkirk” being the only time he hasn’t appeared in person.

Sam Raimi / Bruce Campbell

Campbell and Raimi at a promotional event (WDIV ClickOnDetroit )

Raimi and Campbell have been friends since high school, making short films in their spare time. They eventually convinced some dentists to invest in their first feature “Evil Dead” and both of them became cult horror icons.

Bruce Campbell has gone on to have roles in various fan favourite projects, but aside from his role as Ash Williams, he is also known for his memorable cameos in various Raimi movies, especially his Spider-Man trilogy, appearing in various roles through the series. If Spider-Man 4 had ever gone into production, Campbell would once again appear, this time as the villain Mysterio.

Guillermo Del Toro / Doug Jones

Del Toro and Jones, talking about “Shape of Water”

Possibly the least recognisable duo on this list, not due to the body of work, but because Doug Jones’ face is often hidden behind hours worth of prosthetics, with his first big break actually being a McDonald’s ad. He first met Del Toro on the director’s English language debut “Mimic“. Despite the films’ troubled production, the two became friends, bonding over their love of monsters and movies.

Jones has appeared in all of Del Toro’s films since the original “Hellboy”, except for “Pacific Rim”, with his biggest arguably being the creature in Del Toro’s “Shape of Water” which won an Oscar for Best Picture.

Matthew Vaughn / Mark Strong

Matthew Vaughn and Mark Strong

Some partnerships happen because of a pre-existing friendship or a recommendation. Some just happen because the pair find each other easy to work with, as is the case with Director Matthew Vaughn and actor Mark Strong.

The pair have worked together four times since their first collaboration in 2007’s “Stardust” with Strong only being absent for X-Men First Class. Having previously played villainous characters in “Stardust” and “Kick-Ass” he plays Merlin in the “Kingsman” films, in which he is a member of the super-secret spy organisation.

Wes Anderson / Bill Murray

Anderson and Murray going over a scene for “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” (Beuna Vista Pictures, 2004)

Murray has worked with Anderson since his second feature “Rushmore”. Anderson sent him the script with no expectations, then had an executive leave their own office while Murray talked to him about the role. His role in “The Royal Tenenbaums” happened simply because Murray lived close to the shoot, the two talked about “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”.

Murray and Anderson have such a good rapport, that he instantly says yes when the director calls, no matter the project. He must get the call a lot as Murray has appeared in all of Anderson’s film since, totalling eight, with some being important parts, and others just wordless cameos.

Quentin Tarantino / Samuel L Jackson

Quentin Tarantino and actor Samuel L. Jackson pose at the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 21, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)

Tarantino has several actors that he frequently collaborates with, which he refers to as his “Tarantino superstars“. However. he clearly has a favourite, Samuel L Jackson, whom he frequently writes roles in mind for. The admiration goes both ways, as Jackson cites some of his roles in Tarantino’s films as his favourites.

Jackson has appeared in 6 of Tarantino’s 9 films (Tarantino considers “Kill Bill” one film, and Jackson does not feature in “Once upon a time in Hollywood”). He actually auditioned for “Reservoir Dogs” but didn’t get the part, when he saw Tarantino again later at the premiere, the director told him he was writing something for him, which would turn out to be his Oscar-nominated role in “Pulp Fiction”.

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK

Editorials

Conflicted Heros Who Do More Harm Than Good

July 9, 2019

Warning – spoilers for Super, Chronicle, The Incredibles and Watchmen.

Brightburn is the story of an alien child who comes to Earth and is adopted by human parents but as he grows he develops incredible powers. Sound familiar? Well, it should as it’s basically the plot for Superman but the difference in new film Brightburn is that while Clark Kent grows up to be the ultimate hero things go a bit sideways with this child. Not surprisingly giving a teenage boy superpowers quickly leads to him abusing those powers and hurting people. Obviously, this is a far more realistic outcome than the saintly Superman and we must, therefore, consider Martha and Jonathan Kent the greatest parents of all time. If we ask ourselves what would we do if we woke up tomorrow with Superman’s powers I think most honest people would come back with an unpleasant answer – so the question must, therefore, be asked, do we actually want superheroes?

Super

Super (thecrimson.com)

Before James Gunn made the upbeat and joyous Guardians of the Galaxy he made Super – a film in which a character in a badly made costume beats people with a wrench and has the catchphrase “Shut up, crime!” This indie gem features a stellar cast from Rainn Wilson to Ellen Page including the amazing Nathan Fillion as a TV Christian superhero called the Holy Avenger who inspires Wilson’s character to become the Crimson Bolt. Not only does it deal with the problems when a vigilante goes after people committing very serious crimes, but also how the line can get a little blurred from serious crime to a misdemeanour to just being rude, and all of these people being hit very hard on the head with a wrench. The behaviour of Wilson’s character is so questionable that at times you find yourself agreeing with Kevin Bacon’s drug dealer villain, who often seems far more reasonable.

Chronicle

Chronicle (rogerebert.com)

Brightburn focuses on a young teen while found-footage superhero film Chronicle is about teenagers a few years older. This time three teenagers fall into a mysterious cavern and develop incredible powers, at first the three teenagers bond over their powers and largely do no harm aside from minor mischief. But it is not long before the loner of the group starts getting carried away with his powers. This teenager, who had few friends and had a history of being bullied before he got his powers, is easily corrupted by his new capabilities and his chance to be a star and maybe get even with a few people. While Chronicle deals with superhuman abilities and over the top fight scenes the fact that only one of three teenagers became a power-crazed killing machine always struck me as the implausible bit. Certainly my memories of other teenagers – and being one myself – would suggest adding superpowers to an already irrational and emotional group would make a bad situation far worse.

The Incredibles

The Incredibles (nme.com)

Do you know what you get when you use superpowers? Collateral damage. Man of Steel showed Metropolis being levelled by Superman and Zod battling it out but a much better film also addresses this issue – The Incredibles. The film is centred on Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl not only two superpowered crimefighters but also a married couple. The pair and all other superheroes are forced into retirement when the government decides that the collateral damage they do simply outweighs the good. Naturally enough, some of them have trouble adjusting to living a normal life and not using their powers. This is especially true of Mr. Incredible who is looking for any opportunity to escape his boring office job and go back to being a hero. A dark issue in the world of superheroes is explored in The Incredibles – why do they become heroes? Is it for justice and to save people or for attention and fame? Does Mr. Incredible just love being a hero? Ultimately I think the film comes down on that yes, he does miss the attention but deep down he wants to help people and finds it impossible to just sit back while people suffer.

Watchmen

Watchmen (nme.com)

When it comes to the downsides of superheroes the ultimate film is Watchmen. Based on what many consider the best graphic novel of all-time Watchmen is essentially the story of what happens to superheroes when they are forced to retire but is also about far more. It examines why someone would choose to risk their life to fight criminals, why some people would cheer them and others be disgusted? Are people with superpowers fundamentally different from “normal” people? Why does putting on a mask make beating people up okay?

If we look at the lineup of Watchmen we have a wide variety of superheroes:

Rorschach – a man who regularly brutally murder criminals and one of the few superheroes who did not retire, only believing in his personal code and not the law.

The Comedian – Superhero with no powers who fought crime for decades but also an attempted rapist and government assassin (it is suggested that it is the Comedian who killed JFK and, in this world, Woodward & Bernstein, the journalists who uncovered the Watergate scandal).

Nite-Owl II – restrained and relatively respectable when compared to some of the other Watchmen.

Silk Spectre II – helpful if inappropriately dressed for fighting crime who seemingly only became involved because of pressure from her mother, the original Silk Spectre.

Ozymandias – not only the smartest man in the world but a formidable fighter capable of catching bullets. He might sound like a nice guy but MAJOR SPOILER ALERT Ozymandias kills millions of people in order to save the world.

Dr Manhattan – one-time physicist Jon Osterman became Dr Manhattan, seemingly indestructible and unstoppable and is often said to be a god.

On close inspection, they don’t seem to be a good bunch of people, certainly not heroes. Ozymandias takes the superhero idea of breaking some rules for the greater good to its logical extent while Rorschach is simply appalling. The most interesting case is Dr Manhattan who serves as the film’s Superman, a man so powerful he is no longer human.

So looking through some of the darker superhero films we have a collection of violent, dangerous and sometimes insane individuals who all – at least at some point- thought themselves to be good people. Watchmen takes its title from the expression “What watches the watchmen?”, originally from ancient Roman poetry but applied throughout history to abuses of power by those who are meant to be guardians. Perhaps Lisa Simpson when confronting her own vigilante father put it best “if you’re the police, who will police the police?”

Also Read: Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films in the UK

Editorials

Has The Marvel Cinematic Universe Reached Its Peak?

July 3, 2019
Marvel Cinematic Universe - First 10 Years Banner

With Avengers: Endgame sitting just behind Avatar as the second highest grossing film of all time, the franchise has constantly reached new heights, especially with the team-ups. But with Endgame being the final appearance from some of the characters that made it the juggernaut it is, is it all downhill from here?

No one could’ve predicted just how big the MCU would become when it started back in 2008, Iron Man wasn’t as popular as characters like Spider-Man, so there was very little chance the film would be a success, let alone that it would give birth to the highest grossing franchise ever. It not only catapulted “cult” comic book characters into household names but also inspired several other studios to adopt the “shared universe” model.

“Become part of a larger world…’

2008’s “Iron Man” officially started the universe, but “The Avengers” took things to a whole new level. (Marvel/Disney, 2012)

The first “Avengers” film is still to date the 6th Highest grossing film worldwide and is when people really started to pick up and take notice of the franchise after all the planning and easter eggs had paid off. “Iron Man 3” kicked off “Phase Two” a year later, which included “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Guardians of the Galaxy”, the former being the first film directed by the Russo Brothers, who would go on to direct “Infinity War” and “Endgame”, while the latter proved Marvel could experiment with the more outlandish elements of their canon, leading to films like “Doctor Strange” and “Thor: Ragnarok”

“Phase Three” saw Marvel get even more ambitious, with everything leading towards the massive crossover events of the final two “Avengers” films as well as putting their own spin on familiar characters, when they struck a deal to use Spider-Man in their shared universe, who now gets to share the screen with the Avengers just like in the comics, as well as have a film directly deal with the fallout of Avengers: Endgame, the film that broke box office records almost instantly.

“We’re in the endgame now”

“Avengers: Infinity War” features a huge cast of characters (Disney/Marvel, 2018)

The MCU won’t be stopping anytime soon, although Marvel has yet to officially announce any of the films in Phase 4, there are several rumours about what could come next. And the recent Disney/Fox merge means that they now have access to the X-Men and Fantastic Four, so expect to see them appear alongside (or even against) the Avengers before long. While this crossover would likely not feature the cast of the previous X-Men films, it would still be exciting to see versions of them with characters we are familiar with, such as a Spider-man and Wolverine team up.

However due to the scale of “Avengers: Endgame”, it is likely that the MCU will slow down and tell smaller stories for a time, focusing on more standalone stories with occasional team-ups, like Falcon’s cameo in “Ant-Man” or the Hulk’s role in “Thor: Ragnarok”. While the solo films are popular, they never quite reach the heights of the Avengers films, although several have grossed over $1 billion dollars, like “Black Panther” so a sequel would likely do very well.

“Avengers Assemble”

Could Avengers 5 give us even more heroes in one battle? (Marvel/Disney, 2019)

But the appeal of a shared universe is the team-ups and connections, otherwise, they may as well be standalone franchises (which is no bad thing). As of Endgame, there are over 20 superheroes, that either have their own franchise (Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Black Panther etc) or are major players in another (Falcon and Winter Soldier have huge roles in the Captain America films) and that cast is only likely to expand as the films go on. In addition to the feature-length outings, several established characters are getting spin-off series on the upcoming Disney+. These will crossover with the films “in a big way” (although previous Marvel shows, such as Agents of SHIELD and The Defenders, had tenuous connections at best).

Given all of this, it’s likely “Endgame”, as a conclusion to “The Infinity Saga” will be the last official Avengers film for a while, but the characters will crossover with each other at every opportunity. Given the success of some solo outings like “Black Panther” that are guaranteed sequels, it is possible that one of them could break even more records. However, the likely option is that Marvel will once again try to replicate their success several years down the line. With several newer characters, the old guard can call in for back up. So while Endgame might be the end for the foreseeable future, don’t expect this to be the last time the Avengers assemble…

Also Read: Spoiler Etiquette: To Spoil Or Not to Spoil…

Editorials

Video Nasties: The History of Censored Films In The UK

July 2, 2019

The UK film industry has encountered countless censorship controversies over the years. Some date as far back as 1925 and they continue well into the 21st Century. Considering that the definition of censorship is to suppress speech that is obscene, politically unacceptable or a threat to security, this raises considerable questions for freedom of speech.

Well, today we are looking at the history of UK film censorship. We will look at the video nasties scandal and the role they played in British film and law history. And we will look at examples of British film censorship throughout the years and the reasons behind their censorship. But first, we will look at the body responsible for the regulation of British film, the BBFC.   

Who are the BBFC?

The BBFC was founded in 1912. Their acronym stands for British Board of Film Classification, originally the British Board of Film Censors. Its purpose is to certificate films shown in UK cinemas. These certificates are legal guidelines for who should be able to see a film The film classifications are U, PG, 12A/12, 15, 18 and R18. This is done to prevent potential harm to the public, especially children. Under the Licencing Act 2003, all cinemas must restrict admittance of anyone under 18 in accordance with the BBFC’s age ratings.

The BBFC’s logo

The BBFC can also advise film distributors on how to reduce their classification by listing potential cuts. Censoring any material that may be harmful to the British public. Later they became responsible for classifying video releases. A responsibility brought about thanks to…

The Video Nasties

In the late 70s/early 80s, the video market in the UK was unregulated. The BBFC originally ran a voluntary regulatory service. Meaning that the video distribution companies had to submit their film and pay for classification. Usually these videos were heavily cut to meet the BBFC’s guidelines. So many companies chose to avoid it.

Many conservative outlets, including the Daily Mail, campaigned against the slew of violent horror films being released. And how children could easily acquire them because of the lack of regulation. The Director of Public Prosecutions subsequently made a list of 72 titles that he thought would be liable for prosecution under The Obscene Publications Act, The Video Nasties. Meaning that he saw them as capable of depraving and corrupting the British public. The DPP also listed another 82 titles, called the section 3 titles. These films contained offensive material, but they were less likely to get a conviction.

The Video Nasties List

Several films listed by the DPP were successfully prosecuted, but several cases were unsuccessful. Meaning that there was a lot of conjecture as to what was classified as “obscene”.

This eventually led to the creation of the Video Recordings Act 1984. This required all videos to be classified by an industry body, resulting in the BBFC classification of home video releases. Many of the banned titles were later released. Although they were heavily cut. Though years later many of the films have since had all cuts waived.

Examples of Censorship

But of course, battles over films potentially harming viewers is nothing new in the UK. One of the first films the BBFC banned was 1925’s Battleship Potemkin, for political reasons. Because of the films function as communist propaganda, it was seen as having the potential to provoke violent revolts. Potemkin wasn’t released in the UK until 1954.

But even in the past decade, the BBFC have encountered problems with several controversial films. Most notably Human Centipede 2. Which the board initially rejected due to its portrayal of sexual violence and encouraging a dehumanizing view of others. The BBFC only allowed a release after they cut 2 minutes of footage. Which displeased the film’s fans, though it greatly pleased the film’s director.

The Human Centipede: Second Sequence (Six Entertainment)

But the board have also received flack for occasionally being too permissive. For example see Crash, which depicts the lives of a group of car accident fetishists. Upon release, several newspapers called for it to be banned. Westminster actually has a ban on the film, but the board passed it uncut. A rare example of local councils overturning the BBFC’s decision.

The Results

The BBFC has changed a lot over the years. It is now the overseer of Britain’s home entertainment industry and the legal arbiter of the cinemas. They have gone from consistently demanding cuts from films, to being more concerned with film classification. To see their changing attitudes look no further than the video nasties themselves. Once seen as potentially obscene many are now available uncut.

But like the nasties, there are newer movies that aim to push what is acceptable. Making things very difficult for the BBFC. “If they’re too heavy-handed the liberals don’t like them. If you’re too light-handed, then the conservatives don’t like them” – Christopher Frayling. And the internet makes it easier and easier for the public to circumvent the board’s decisions.

Ultimately, times change. What is obscene one year is next years punchline.  The board’s mission is, of course, important, to protect the vulnerable from potential harm. But does that give it the right to tamper with someone’s work? Please let us know your feelings in the comments below.

Also Read: Great Scenes with No Dialogue

Editorials

Can We Predict How Likely You Are To Succeed As An Actor?

June 24, 2019

It’s likely that almost everyone has dreamt of being an actor at some point, maybe there are a few aspiring actors reading this now. A recent report by researchers at the Queen Mary University in London tried to work out how likely someone is to become a successful actor. Using IMDb and looking at actors from the birth of film in 1888, all the way up to 2016. It claims this model can predict if an actor or actress has had their most productive year with 85% accuracy, as well as shedding some light on the realities of how likely an actor is to stay in work.

Most actors are “One hit wonders”

Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket in "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
Peter Ostrum, who played Charlie Bucket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” retired from acting after his one role (Paramount Pictures, 1971)

The study looks at 1,512,472 actors and 896,029 actresses and the number of credits they had each year of their careers, (a year without any credits, still counts, but scored a 0). “One hit wonders”, actors whose career spans only a single year, are the norm in show business rather than an exception, with around 69% for males and 68% of females falling into this category- over half of both the groups studied. Further analysis shows that while women are more likely to have a career that spans more than one year, it is often a shorter career than for males, which suggests a gender bias in men’s favour.

Work leads to more work

Johnny Depp (left) frequently stars in Tim Burton’s (right) films ( images2.fanpop.com)

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the study also found that getting roles increases the likelihood of future job opportunities. So while some mega stars have got discovered, the best route is to get a job, which inevitably leads to contacts and recognition, leading to more jobs, it’s all a big loop. Producers and directors often have a pool of actors and actresses they will reuse for subsequent films, like Christopher Nolan and Tim Burton casting Michael Caine and Johnny Depp respectively.

This creates a “rich get richer” effect, where famous actors are taking multiple roles while others are still trying to get their first credit. This is nothing new, however, the study does suggest that the circumstances regarding an actor “making it” are rather arbitrary and unpredictable, with no discernible pattern to success, meaning that actual acting talent may be less of a factor than networking when it comes to a successful career. Additionally, the career length is no indicator of activity. For example, Leonardo DiCaprio regularly takes breaks from acting, sometimes with a 2-year gap between roles, but has still managed to maintain a successful career since it began in 1979.

Actors have “hot” and “cold” streaks

Daniel Day-Lewis has had several cold streaks, mainly due to retirement (IMDb)

A “hot streak” refers to an actor having lots of credits over a short span of time, usually a couple of years, whilst a cold streak is a few if any roles. The study claims that both actors and actresses, experience hot streaks, where they work more based on if they worked the year before, interspersed between long cold streaks, where they work much less, if at all that year. These streaks of employment match findings with other creative and science industry jobs.

The biggest of these hot streaks, an actors’ “peak” (the year in which they have the most credits) takes place towards the beginning of their career, with an average peaking at around two and a half years from their first role, before experiencing a steady decline.

Conclusions

The main takeaways from this study strongly imply that most actors will be a “one hit wonder” with their career likely to span just one year. It also indicates a gender bias towards males, as the data shows that they on average have more credits each year and are active for longer, with just 2% being able to make a living out of the profession, whilst the number of actors compared to available roles means there as many as 90% unemployed at a time.

The more credits an actor gets, the more credits they are likely to get in future, as the industry works on a “rich get richer” scheme, with well-known actors being offered more work than newcomers, making it extraordinarily difficult to break into the industry. Actors usually peak around two and half years into their career, although this can vary based on how active they are, with their career coming in hot streaks with lots of work, followed by longer cold streaks, with little to no work. Perhaps most worryingly, their careers seem to show a steady decline after their peak.

Also Read: Great Scenes With No Dialogue

Editorials

Silence Is Golden: Great Scenes With No Dialogue

June 23, 2019

Warning – Spoilers for Kill Bill Vol 2, Baby Driver, Royal Tennenbaums, No Country For Old Men, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night

Also note – One of the scenes deals with suicide.

2001: A Space Odyssey famously has nearly fifty minutes with no dialogue at the start, with the monkeys’ evolution and the end, with Dave’s evolution. Few filmmakers are that brave or talented to pull that off but a lot have had a go on a smaller scale, here are some of the best scenes with no dialogue (or nearly no dialogue).

Kill Bill Vol 2 – Coffin Scene

Kill Bill Vol.2 – Buried Alive Scene

This scene starts with the Bride buried in a coffin by one of the men she went to kill, and after watching a scene of her being trained by martial arts master Pei May we see her attempt to escape from this seemingly fatal trap.

The Bride calms herself and slowly sets about her escape. She cuts her ropes and does what should be impossible and punches her way out of a coffin. If it had not been for the previous scene in which she was trained to punch through solid wood at a short distance I would have hated this scene but we know this is possible for her, it obeys the logic of its own world. The Bride’s resilience even as her knuckles bleed and dirt starts pouring into the coffin is amazing.

Music – L’Arena by Ennio Morricone.

Only dialogue -“Come on, you bitch” & “Okay Pai Mei, here I come”

Baby Driver – Opening Chase Scene

Baby Driver – Opening Clip

This is six minutes with arguably no dialogue whatsoever that transfers from a perfect lip-synch sing-along of the music Baby is listening to what for me is the most impressive car chase ever filmed. The best part of the whole scene is not the seemingly impossible stunts but the look on Jon Bernthal’s face when he gets in the car, points forward and the car takes off in reverse. This whole article could be about how Edgar Wright brilliantly uses music in this film with at times it is almost a musical but this one scene sums all of his techniques very well.

Music – Bell Bottoms by The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Dialogue – Jon Bernthal repeating “whoa” and you overhear “a red Subaru” on a police radio

Royal Tennenbaums – Attempted Suicide

Royal Tennenbaums – Attempted Suicide Scene

In Luke Wilson’s best role as Ritchie Tennenbaum, he plays a man trapped in the past, stuck in a look he has had for decades and after receiving some news about the woman he loves he has a breakdown. Before actually attempting suicide Ritchie drastically changes how he looks, cutting off his long hair and beard, removing the sports clothing he wore when he was a professional athlete. The scene shows his discovery by Dudley, his arrival at the hospital and his various family members rushing to his side.

Music – Needle in the Hay by Elliott Smith – the scene becomes even more tragic when you know that Elliott took his own life just a few years after this film was released.

Dialogue – “I’m going to kill myself tomorrow” & “Dudley, where is he?” “Who?”

The Big Lebowski – Dream Sequence

One of my all-time favourite scenes, an extravagant over the top dream sequence of what would possibly be the most ambitious pornography ever made. The Coen Brothers bring a fantastic eye for perfect costumes, precision movement and stunning cinematography. You can see the love of musicals that they expanded on in Hail Caesar!

Of course, then it turns into an absolutely horrific nightmare version of what the gang of nihilists threatened to do to him.

Music: Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) by Kenny Rogers

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Playing Record Scene

Quite simply A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night is the best Persian-language vampire western you’re ever going to see. The story of the music-loving vampire as she deals with life in a wretched ghost-town is brilliantly told and this scene is particularly memorable. Not only is nothing at all said very little actually happens but the scene is mesmerising. It plays with the old idea of a vampire giving in to their desires and you can’t be sure whether the vampire will rip out the man’s throat or kiss him and there is genuine tension.

Music: Death by White Lies

Note: Even though the man is wearing a Dracula-like cape the woman is the vampire.

No Country For Old Men – Hotel Confrontation

This film has a number of scenes of unbelievable tension and one of them is Josh Brolin slowly waiting for his attacker in his hotel room. The attacker, Chigurh, is only glimpsed for most of the scene and at times is almost an invisible attacker.

Music – None – this is the only scene I selected in which there is no music that helps cover up the silence. We hear breathing, footsteps, gunshots, glass shattering and cars braking but that’s about it.

Note – The Coens Brothers second appearance on this list is a good demonstration of the scope of their work, one film a stoner comedy come noir detective story and an incredibly tense thriller. Is there anything they can’t do?

Dialogue – “Don’t worry I ain’t gonna hurt you, I just need you to drive me” right before the guy dies.

Also Read: Movie Marketing: Films That Thought Outside The Box

Editorials

The Formula For A Successful Film

June 16, 2019
Successful at the box office

Films are a big part of modern life. We quote, discuss and review them daily. But with thousands of movies released each year, what makes certain movies into a phenomenon? What is it about select movies that capture the public’s attention and makes them successful? Is there a formula to it?

Today we are going to explore a recent study and see what conclusions they have come to about how to make a successful film. We will look at the purpose of the study, highlight their findings, their methodology and highlight examples of where their findings can be seen today and places where the study falters.

Purpose & Method

The paper we are looking at is called, The Data Science of Hollywood. This study was made to see how certain emotions can affect the types of media that people want to watch. And how production companies can customise their products to meet the preferences of audiences.

To accomplish this the authors compiled 6174 feature film scripts and charted the emotional journeys presented in each. They did this by analysing the sentences used within the script, declaring them as either emotionally negative, neutral or positive and then charting their use over the course of the script.

The movies were then grouped into one of six categories:

  • Rags to Riches – A film that continually builds positive emotion
The Shawshank Redemption is used as an example of rags to riches stories
  • Riches to Rags – The film is about a continual emotional decline
Toy Story 3 is a riches to rags story
  • Man in a hole – The film follows someone falling emotionally before rising out of it
The Departed is a man in a hole story
  • Icarus – The film charts an emotional rise followed by a fall
Mary Poppins shows the Icarus journey
  • Cinderella – This film begins building positive emotions, before declining and then rising again at the end
For a modern Cinderella story, look no further than Bohemian Rhapsody
  • Oedipus – This film begins with an emotional decline, followed by a rise and finishing with a decline
Little Mermaid is a great example of the Oedipus narrative

They then compared this data with various sources to see how successful these different journeys were with audiences. They looked at box office takings, IMDb audience and critic ratings, award nominations and wins and number of viewers. So, what did the researchers find?

Findings

Of the six narrative categories, the researchers found that the Man in a hole stories tended to have a higher average box office gross ($37.48 million). Cinderella was the second highest ($33.63 million on average) and Oedipus being third ($31.44 million on average).

Particularly successful examples of the man in a hole story from the past year include Black Panther and Halloween (2018). Both were among the top 25 highest grossing films of 2018 and began with the characters leading relatively normal lives before something turns their existence upside down. But they eventually fight to reclaim their happiness.

The Other Side

However, there are less successful films in this category, such as Mortal Engines. Which charted the journey of a privileged citizen as he is exiled from his city and eventually destroys its corrupt government with the help of the rebellion. It was one of the biggest box office bombs of 2018. And garnered an IMDb audience rating of 6.1 and a critical rating of 44/100. Halloween (2018) also did not perform greatly with IMDb users and critics, only garnering a 6.6 from users and 67 from critics.

On average the study found that Man in a hole films received the lowest average ratings from IMDb users and critics. IMDb Users usually rated Rags to riches stories highest. Successful examples include Avengers: Endgame, which charts the emotional rise from the low point of Infinity War, and is both the most successful film of the year and currently ranked as the 19th best film of all time on IMDb. This shows that films associated with positive emotions tend to work well with general audiences.

Meanwhile, movies with higher critical ratings tended to be Riches to rags stories. Showing that critics favour tougher emotional journeys. Examples include Jordan Peele’s Us. Which charted the continual emotional decline of its characters and has an 81/100 rating from IMDb critics compared to a 7.1 from regular users. But still managed to gross $175,005,930.

The Studies Failings

There are however several areas where this study opens itself for criticism. Firstly, relying on IMDb ratings to gauge public opinion can cause problems as people only tend to leave feedback/reviews if they’ve had a negative experience which can slightly skew the results. And IMDb scores are usually given by a different audience than those who see the movie in theatres. Meaning that an IMDb score doesn’t necessarily measure the satisfaction of people who saw the film in cinemas and contributed to its box office.

And the oversimplification of the emotional arc categories is very confusing. For example, The Shawshank Redemption is given as an example of the rags to riches story which supposedly continually builds positive emotions, but the film still has several emotional low points throughout. Meaning that the categorisation of these films is somewhat flawed.

Successful?

From this research we can conclude that the words of William Goldman hold true, “Not one person in the motion picture field knows for a certainty what’s going to work”. A film’s success at the box office does not guarantee audience or critical satisfaction. The use of IMDb as a method for gauging public opinion is also flawed. And the categorization is oversimplified and there are continual examples that prove the study wrong on an individual basis.

But this study did raise interesting points with its research. Showing that the most successful films may not be aimed specifically at critics or general audiences. Instead, they are the ones that generate the most discussion. And the mixture of positive and negative emotional arcs ensures the box office success of the man in a hole films because they appeal to the preferences of critics and audiences.

Also Read: Spoiler Etiquette: To Spoil Or Not To Spoil…

Editorials

Spoiler Etiquette: To Spoil Or Not To Spoil…

June 15, 2019

Spoilers are everywhere, even in this article. Some people avoid spoilers at all cost, while some people actively seek them out and try to spoil things for as many people as possible. Even science says knowing a spoiler helps you enjoy a story more. But do spoilers have a time limit? After all, everyone knows Darth Vader is really Luke Skywalker’s father. What actually counts as a spoiler? In the age of the internet, is it actually possible to remain spoiler free?

Loose lips sink Starships

Captain America reminding people not to spread spoilers (Disney/Marvel- 2014)

Anticipation for the next big franchise instalment can be a double edged sword, on one hand, there’s always lots of attention and excitement, but on the other, everyone wants to know what happens. Leaked footage and photos are constantly making their way onto the internet, sometimes even because of the stars of the films themselves. The Russo Brothers put out letters to the fans before the release of their “Avengers” films, warning fans that “Thanos demands your silence” and urging them “Don’t spoil the Endgame” after leaked footage was uploaded online. Creators obviously want moviegoers to enjoy their work on the big screen as intended, not recorded on a phone with people getting up for the toilet halfway through.

As such, they often go to some extreme lengths to prevent potential leaks. Even Quentin Tarantino asked for a spoiler ban when his latest film “Once upon a time in Hollywood” premiered at Cannes ahead of its official release. Avengers: Endgame crew gave cast incomplete scripts containing only their scenes and filmed against green screens, so the cast could not give anything away. The new series of Star Wars films even stage out toy and merchandise releases, so as not to reveal any surprises. Game of Thrones famously claimed to film multiple endings to throw people off, after previous episodes were leaked, including the final episode.

Cursed with Knowledge

Kylo Ren hates spoilers (Disney/ Lucasfilm- 2015)

Despite all these leaks, it is possible to go spoiler free, although the internet does make it more difficult. Muting keywords, and avoiding certain websites are key, but that won’t stop someone posting a spoiler on the comments of something entirely unrelated. Obviously, the longer you wait, the harder it will be to avoid spoilers (“Empire Strikes Back” came out in 1980, almost 40 years ago), seeing the film or episode as soon as possible is ideal. The Russo brothers’ ban on spoilers lasted two weeks, although they admitted they would have liked it be longer stating “we can’t control the internet”.

Staying off the internet is the most effective way of avoiding spoilers, but even then you might not be safe, some trailers can give away important story beats in an effort to get people excited. Even actors can give away important plot points in interviews, making many interviews potentially unsafe for spoiler-phobes. Many reviews and previews can detail particular scenes even if they are not major plot points, so avoid those too.

Great Power, Great Responsibility

Fan theories can seem crazy, but they do occasionally get some things right (FX, 2008)

With spoilers literally everywhere, and the extremes both creators and audiences go to avoid them, not to mention the consequences for those who do spoil things, some are beginning to wonder if it’s going too far. Even if isn’t going too far, who’s responsibility is it to keep audiences safe from spoilers? Filmmakers? The Audience? Critics? The trailers for “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” all but confirmed the death of a major character, but the director insisted it wasn’t a spoiler. Many people would likely argue that the death of a major character is indeed a spoiler, no matter where in the film it takes place. Fan theories can tread a fine line between outlandish and spoiler, with countless theories posted online, some closer than others.

Ultimately, unless one decides to live under a rock, it is almost impossible to go into something completely spoiler free. With behind the scenes information such as actors contracts regularly reported, and constant rumours and leaks, not to mention fan theories, audiences will never go in completely blind. How much this bothers someone is entirely up to them, after all, while knowing a twist might help the audience pick up on subtle clues and foreshadowing, you only get one chance to experience the twist the first time.

Also Read: American Psycho: 19 Years On

Editorials

American Psycho: 19 Years On

June 13, 2019
American Psycho Screenshot

It’s been nineteen years since Mary Harron’s adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho was released. A violent(ish) film filled with debauchery and materialism, it helped create and shape the careers of its actors. Here’s what they’ve been up to since.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale as Patrick Bateman (Lionsgate Films)

Before American Psycho, the films on Christian Bale’s résumé were relatively squeaky clean, starring in such films such as Pocahontas, Little Women and the musical The News Boys. Stepping into the role of the titular psycho, Patrick Bateman was a far cry from his other roles, but since then he has gone from strength to strength, displaying a wide range of diversity and going to extreme lengths in order to fully delve into whatever character he is playing. From the rapid weight loss to show the effects of insomnia and paranoia in The Machinist to working out enough to suit the physique of the Dark Knight, Bale has shown his dedication towards any role.

Perhaps his most well-known role is now Batman, however, there is so much more to Bale’s repertoire than the Caped Crusader. Since American Psycho premiered, Bale has been nominated for four Oscars, one of which he won for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter. It seems he’ll only be starring in one film this year, Ford vs Ferrari (or Le Mans ’66 depending on where you are in the world), however, I’m sure we’ll see him again very soon.

Jared Leto

Jared Leto - American Psycho
Jared Leto as Paul Allen (Lionsgate Films)

Perhaps most well known for his music rather than his acting for a while, Jared Leto didn’t really have a starring role in many films. It seems for a while he was most well known for his roles as Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life, Angel Face in Fight Club and Tobias Jacobs in Girl, Interrupted before he was hired to be Paul Allen in American Psycho, a colleague of Bateman’s, unaware that he is also his nemesis. Though his most memorable scene belongs to Bale more than it does to him (you know the one, where Huey Lewis and the News is playing just before Allen gets struck in the head with an axe), Leto has since become a lead actor in his own right, starring in films such as Requiem for a Dream and Mr Nobody.

Leto has also been nominated for and won an Oscar, for his role as Rayon, a transsexual diagnosed with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club. Though Leto doesn’t act as often, he has starred in the Blade Runner sequel, has an upcoming Marvel film where he’s starring as a living vampire in Morbius and, of course, who can (or rather, who will) ever forget his Joker. According to Leto’s IMDB, there are two upcoming Joker films he is attached to so… we all have those to look forward to.

Willem Dafoe

Willem Defoe - American Psycho
Willem Defoe as Donald Kimball (Lionsgate Films)

Willem Dafoe is one of those actors where every time he pops up in a film, I always find myself saying to anyone I’m with (or even if I’m alone), “Hey look, it’s Willem Dafoe!” With over 129 credits to his name, Dafoe is one of those actors that I think surprises people with his range and the depth that he can bring to a role. Before becoming Donald Kimball, an NYPD detective that is suspicious of Bateman as starts to really get into his violent spree, Dafoe starred in Clear and Present Danger, Born of the Fourth of July and the incredible The Boondock Saints.

Though Dafoe has been in a wide range of films since, such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Antichrist and even Mr Bean’s Holiday, it is hard to deny his take on the Green Goblin. Though Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy didn’t always have its best moments, I think its fair to say that Dafoe’s performance was one of the better things about the films. Since his performance as Norman Osborne, Dafoe became Vulko in Aquaman, a friend and mentor to Jason Momoa’s Arthur Curry. Dafoe has five films coming out this year and at least two coming out next year, which shows there is clearly no slowing this man down.

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Reese Witherspoon as Evelyn Williams (Lionsgate Films)

Reese Witherspoon already had three big films under her belt before American Psycho came around. She was a teenage runaway getting revenge in Freeway, a naïve and sweet girl in Cruel Intentions and as a manipulative, over-achieving girl in high school in Election. So although her role as Evelyn, Bateman’s as equally narcissistic, materialistic, cheating fianceé, was diverging from her usual ‘teenager’ role, it was worth it in the long run. Though like Leto, her best scene belongs to Bale (their inevitable break up scene), it still showcased her comedic timings as she over-dramatically cries in the restaurant.

From there, Witherspoon embraced and twisted the dumb blonde image at the same time in Legally Blonde, a film that cemented Witherspoon as a star. She went on to a win an Oscar for Best Leading Actress for her part as June Carter Cash in Walk the Line and was nominated again for Wild. Witherspoon has since delved in producing, her biggest producing credit thus far being the hit show Big Little Lies in which she also stars. Though it seems she’ll only be in Big Little Lies and The Morning Show this year, she’ll also be stepping into her iconic Elle Woods character once more, as Legally Blonde 3 will be heading our way in 2020.

Also Read: Women In Horror: An Ode to Laurie Strode

Editorials

Movie Marketing: Films That Thought Outside The Box

June 7, 2019

Marketing a movie is usually similar for lots of films. A few trailers, poster reveals, showing the best parts of the film, press tours with actors talking about their experiences making it and then the film itself. While this often does the job, some films go the extra mile with their marketing campaigns. Here is a selection of films that should give their marketing teams a raise:

Deadpool 2

Deadpool talks about the sequel in a heartfelt, honest interview (20th Century Fox, 2018)

Deadpool is famous for his sense of humour and fourth wall breaking, and the studio embraced his sense of humour for its marketing campaign, from posters pitching it as a Valentine’s Day romantic comedy, to poking fun at the character’s history, as well as Ryan Reynold’s career, to much success. The marketing was as good if not better than the final film, so when the sequel was announced, there were high expectations

Somehow they outdid themselves, with the first teaser showing Deadpool channelling his artistic side in a Bob Ross parody. There was also a James Bond inspired intro song, performed by Celine Dion (complete with high-heeled dancing Deadpool), and box art for other films featuring the character. Footballer David Beckham featured in one spot as a response to a joke in the first film. It even managed to raise money for a charity. It was impossible to not know this film was coming out, even on LinkedIn.

The Blair Witch Project

Posters like these were pinned up on college campuses and at film festivals (Haxan Films, Artisan Entertainment, 1999)

A rare example of a marketing scheme that wouldn’t work today, the film was marketed as genuine found footage, with the three characters pitched as actual missing persons on posters. The whole movie was sold as a “true story”, with the website featuring interviews with concerned family members and the actual film being recovered from their investigation.

“The Blair Witch Project” was the first film to really take advantage of the internet (it was released in 1999) and kicked off the found footage genre used in films like “Cloverfield” and “Paranormal Activity”. As part of the “true story” angle, the directors even posted in forums to give “evidence”. Many people thought the film was real, with the actors not appearing at the premiere and being listed as deceased, leading to family members receiving sympathy cards.

Psycho

A poster for Psycho, featuring Hitchcock, informing viewers they wouldn’t be let in if the film had started (Paramount Pictures 1960)

Alfred Hitchcock’s iconic 1960 thriller was shrouded in secrecy up until it’s release, with one trailer simply giving a tour of the Bates’ Motel. With very little of the plot revealed in the marketing, stars not doing press and no critic screenings, Hitchcock oversaw all the promotion, ensuring that no secrets would be revealed before people had chance to see it.

There was a method to his apparent madness though, especially not allowing latecomers into screenings, as he didn’t viewers to miss the film’s biggest star before they get killed off early on. This caused long queues to form, much to the delight of cinemas, and Psycho is now one of the most famous films of all times, with the shower scene being homaged or parodied countless times.

The Cloverfield Paradox

‘The Cloverfield Paradox” follows a group of scientists as they accidentally open portals to other dimensions (Netflix, Paramount Pictures, Bad Robot, 2018)

The “Cloverfield” Franchise always has mysterious marketing, with the trailer for the first film having no title, just a release date. Each release is also accompanied by an Augmented Reality game, which provides vague clues, such as a conspiracy about a slushy company in the Cloverfield universe. While many of these bits of information do not connect to the films in a big way, they do flesh out the world and help to connect each entry in the series, with an active fan page, logging and connecting each clue

The third film, “The Cloverfield Paradox”, had it’s announcement trailer debut during the Super Bowl Halftime Show, with the film being available later that day. A 3rd film had been announced but no official information given until the trailer dropped, with the full film available almost at the same time. it’ll be hard to top for a fourth entry.

The Dark Knight

The first official look at Heath Ledger as the Joker, which was “unlocked” during the marketing

The marketing for Christopher Nolan’s second Batman film began 15 months before the film was to be released in theatres. Whereas most marketing makes an audience aware of the film, this time they actually got to be involved. For every email address that signed up to a (fictional) Harvey Dent campaign site, a pixel was removed, when enough people signed up less than 24 hours later, it revealed the first image of the Joker.

At San Diego comic con, the “Joker” took over, asking guests to complete a series of challenges, which unlocked a teaser trailer. The campaign brought Gotham City out into the real world. Heath Ledger’s untimely passing, created a bigger buzz about his role as the Joker, even winning him a posthumous Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

Also Read: How The Blair Witch Project Changed Horror