Through some prodding by a friend, I’ve spent the last two nights watching Perfect Stranger and Obsessed. Oh, bad erotic thrillers, won’t you be my lady? Both end in spectacular fashions. I think Obsessed is probably the more classically entertaining of the two, especially because as I was watching it, I thought to myself “you know, if Ali Larter said Stringer Bell was sexually harassing her, people are going to probably believe the skinny white bitch.” But then it just goes nuts, and ends in a catfight, as to be expected. Good fun if you’re in the right spirits. On deck next (for bad): Dragon Wars.



STATE OF THE UNION

If Avatar was Daniel Plainview, it’d be in its house, shooting dishes and telling Titanic that it was a bastard in a basket. If it were Alexander, it would weep, for there are no more worlds left to conquer. The film is now the highest domestic grossing film, along with the highest international grossing film of all time. I’ve mentioned adjusted grosses, but who fucking cares? You get into the math on that, and it’s nonsensical. Even with that said, it’s at #21 right now on the all time adjusted and should finish in the high teens (Snow White is at #10 with $829 Million). If it does more than $23 Million, it’ll have the highest eighth weekend in history. And though it won’t have the most number of #1 weekends, that’s just because competition is much stronger this year.

On that level, there’s not much left to say about the film, except perhaps that journalism has changed. People were still writing about Titanic at this point in 1997, it was very much a part of the conversation and culture, and I think the way news and pop culture works is that the fan base is excited about this and new viewers are trickling in, but because there is no Premiere, because most writing about film is internet- or newspaper-based these days, I think a lot of people have moved on. We’re that much faster in having discussed and processed a thing. I think also it’s because the fanbase isn’t a bunch of twelve year old girls. The fans of this one, the hard-core are likely not as cute. Which means it’s not as much fun to write about. It’s the difference between young women being obsessed with the Beatles and comic book culture. That’s not a value judgment, it’s just not as photogenic, nor as limited a thing. Also, Avatar beat Titanic much quicker, and it was such a slow and steady drum beat, this opened okay, but then had three solid weekends, and has performed strongly since, but it hasn’t been as strong in terms of flat-lining or going up. It might, though, we’re not even done with this thing.

I was talking about Alone in the Dark with a friend, and after watching The Room, I compared Alone in the Dark to a late night Cinemax movie after having had sex. I can recognize that it’s a really bad movie, but it’s not next level shit. I feel somewhat similarly about this, in the sense that because it’s Cameron doing $600 twice in a row – as impressive and first as it is – means a little less than it would if it weren’t Cameron. Even though Cameron was looking like a sort of underdog with this thing, we’ve seen him do $600 Million before, and I think we’re sort of bored by it. It’s like a great player who’s gone back to the championship and dominated. But dominated with something that is tech savvy but not necessarily as well crafted or what have you. The next milestone is a Billion domestic, and Cameron may be the only person to do it.

The fall out seems to be that studios are now 3-Ding everything, and here’s where the real sex vs. soft-core comparison comes back into play. If you’re used to seeing someone naked, then it becomes standardized and not as kinky, and there is a threshold. Once you’ve flat-lined, you can’t go any further. And the problem is they’re doing it without understanding the leap forward Cameron made in the development of 3-D film-making. Even as a non-fan of Avatar, the way Cameron used 3-D film-making is obviously leaps and bounds better than anything Robert Zemeckis was doing with mo-cap, and with films being adapted for this format, we’re going to get more stereoscopic diorama type 3-D.

The simple reason for this is that Hollywood is greedy and stupid.

But it used to be independents who were making Grizzlys and Kingdom of the Spiders in response to Jaws.

I can only think of three major reasons why they are doing this. 1) They want to force theater owners to get more 3-D screens and 3-D technology. The problem is that the simplest way to do this is to split the costs, or pay for it themselves. The benefit of 3-D is a two way streak. As long as people can’t watch 3-D at home, then there might be longer plays. But unfortunately studios aren’t releasing less product so that doesn’t really benefit them or even the theater owners. The constant stream, even with a 3-D flood means only that prices will artificially go up, but then if half the theaters are showing 3-D movies, then that too will flatline. It’s a bullshit lunch rush, by limiting the seats available. 2) They honestly want to ruin 3-D. If you flood the market with something, the market no longer cares in regards to drumming up interest. That’s not the way the studios are treating this (they’re planning for more), but people don’t really like wearing the glasses, but they’ll do it for an event and all that. With the next year or three’s steady flow of this product it will eventually become alienating, because no one is doing what Cameron is doing. 3) They want to force Avatar out of the market. If Warner Brothers converted Clash of the Titans to 3-D and it works we may see more late-stage conversions. If more screens aren’t made available, then this is partly about keeping Avatar from playing as long as it can by constantly flooding the market with new 3-D. Clash is already stepping on Alice in Wonderland‘s tail, and the reason why The Hole hasn’t come out yet is that it was hoping for an off season to release it’s 3-D film. In fact, The Hole along with Cabin in the Woods, which got delayed for a year because of MGM’s fina- err I mean to make it 3-D and still have a solid January release date, have been robbed of their oomph. I suspect by the end of this year there will be 3-D lag. And, let’s face it, other than animated films that played anyway (as a screenwriter said on Twitter) the main person who was doing 3-D mocap was Robert Zemeckis, whose biggest hit was a Christmas film and couldn’t duplicate that success with A Christmas Carol (which was terrible and lost money).

If I was a theater owner, I too would be reticent about upgrading because the cost to benefit ratio is small if you’re just doing good business. And also, there’s going to be 3-D TV’s on the market soon enough, so whatever boom there is will be deflated by people being able to wait to watch things at home. On top of the fact that getting a 3-D television is an expense that most people in the time of a great recession and 10% unemployment could care less about. Though there is still a market for DVD’s, blu-rays and all that, people don’t buy movies the way they did at the start of the 21st century. The novelty has worn off, and anyone who’s seen a shelf of blockbusters at someone’s house or what have you knows that people might have bought the two disc set of Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes when it came out because there was fifteen hours of additional content, now they’re not going to make that mistake again. People are worried about money, and with streaming video and netflix, owning films is returning to the land of the collector, because there’s only so many films that the mainstream will upgrade for, and after that you’re delving into niches. Even five years ago, you might have seen a nice bump in selling people a special edition of a modest “classic” (say Goonies), and there is still a market, but I don’t think you get that same enthusiasm on Blu-ray from as many people. It’s no longer an event. Of course some people still do get excited, but they are – by nature – fetishists. Movie people are perverts, basically.

SUPER BOWL WEEKEND PREDICTIONS… WHO DAT PLAYING?

Avatar dominates, From Paris with Love (terrible title) Dear John flail. If Pierre Morel loses Dune in the next couple weeks, it’ll be because of this film, which is no Taken.

1. HAVATARI! – $28 Million
2. Dear John - $14.5 Million
3. From Paris with Love - $12 Million
4. Edge of Darkness – $8 Million
5. When in Rome – $7.9 Million

And then Sunday, I’ll cover you in fur. Not furs, fur. Like a doggie. Oh, hi doggie.