a pro script reader ponders movies, reading, writing and the occasional personal flashback

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

News Out of Sundance...

Not that I'm at Sundance or anything, or have ever been there. From what I hear, it's overrated anyway; unless you have a movie there and are being fawned over, its all lines, parkas and pretension.

It's much more comfortable watching from Los Angeles, and trying to piece things together from afar.

News -- "Little Miss Sunshine" sells for a record $10.5 million.

Little Miss Sunshine is directed by longtime star video directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who did some of the better Smashing Pumpkins videos, among others. The basic plot is that it is a wacky road movie, about a makeshift family trying to get their pudgy little girl across the country for a beauty pageant. Steve Carell and Toni Collette topline.

It's nice to hear that they made this movie funny enough to get a bidding war out of it. But unfortunately, it is also too symptomatic of how the studios handle movies like this -- they tell the filmmakers to get the movie made themselves, and then if it is any good, the studios might buy it.

The budget of Little Miss Sunshine was $8 million. So the studios get to pass on it when it isn't a sure thing -- and now that it is a good movie, with suddenly-bankable stars, they can pick it up for a comparatively cheap $10.5 million. The extra $2.5 million is well worth it, knowing that you aren't going to get stuck with a stinker.

Of course, the Sundance record that the $10.5 million price broke was the $10.25 million that Miramax spent 7 years ago for "Happy, Texas", which tanked. So there are no sure things.

News -- Computer Geeks Figure Out How To Predict If a Sundance Film Will Be a Hit

A group of techies plugged all the information from the Sundance film guides of the last 10 years into a computer, as well as the info about which films had financial success.

They determined that the more producers a film had, the more likely that it might be a hit.

If, during the festival, a film is preceded by a short, it has a higher chance of being a flop than a hit.

And movies had a better chance being a hit if they had the following words in their program description: "academic, accomplished, bedroom, complex, dialogue, dream, death, focus, girl, human, high, journey, love, mother, narrative, romance, relationship, superbly, sex, ultimately".

Kiss of death words? "Africa, America, American, beautiful, black, best, emotional, fascinating, great, inspired, lake, new, riveting, Sundance, sexy, story, subtitles, truth, vision, world".

My analysis? The movies at Sundance with stars in them (and bigger budgets) have the biggest chance of being hits. The movies with stars and bigger budgets usually have more producers. Duh.

The short film thing feels like random chance. Though as it is, I think more Sundance films turn out to be flops than hits anyway.

The words thing is just random as well. Once, a friend of mine and I made a long list of movies with the word "Heart" in the title that had tanked; we figured it was a kiss of death word. Then Braveheart came out and was huge. There are no rules.

Lies, lies and damned statistics. Garbage in and garbage out.

News -- Missing Katie Holmes Nude Scene Sparks Mystery

The makers of the new film "Thank You For Smoking" were confused when a Katie Holmes naked sex scene disappeared from the print before it ran at Sundance.

Conspiracy theories were wafted. Was it the religious freaks? The Mormons? The Scientologists?

It turned out that the scene had accidentally been snipped out when the reels were being edited together, because it was at the end of a reel with a bit of black before it. Though somewhere, Tom Cruise is grinning.

News -- Filmmaker Slams the MPAA For Piracy

In a solid bid to get more publicity for his movie "This Film Is Not Yet Rated", a documentary that focuses on the shady MPAA and their ratings practices, filmmaker Kirby Dick has accused the MPAA of pirating his movie, because when he sent it to them to get rated (they gave it an NC-17), they also made a copy of it for in-company use.

The MPAA is hemming and hawing about how that really isn't piracy, even though they previously said that any illegally copying was piracy.

I think it's just brilliant to gave your film a name that pops up on so many other movie ads. I think I may call my next movie "Opens Friday At a Theater Near You".


At 6:02 PM, Blogger taZ said...

I think that Tom Cruise is behind it. Definitely.

He uses his power to make everything he wants possible...

At 9:17 PM, Blogger lad said...

When Paris Hilton is paid to show up, I think Sudance's integrity is dropping a bit.

At 5:20 AM, Blogger Thomas Crymes said...

On the commentary for Kentucky Fried Movie, one the Zuckers (or was it Abrahams) said they wanted to title their movie either "Free Popcorn" or "Closed for Rennovation," but were told to pound stand because the exhibitors would freak out.

They also had a play called "My Nose" so the ad might say "My Nose will be running every Wednesday in February."

At 12:48 AM, Blogger Fun Joel said...

I always wanted to open a store called "Going Out of Business Sale." POlus I once heard there was a Supreme Court case that mentioned two bands by name for similar tactics: Barenaked Ladies (who coincidentally are playing on my computer right now), and Freebeerandchicken. If I'm not mistaken, the latter band had to change their name to one word to avoid claims of false advertising.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger mernitman said...

I gave "Little Miss" a Consider for Uni Focus (and a writer recommend) but nobody bit -- at that moment the budget was listed as $7K. You're right about studio attitudes. Tho it's also true that if it's simply not a project that "says hello" to them, you're just the proverbial voice in the wilderness...

At 5:10 PM, Blogger Asa said...

not just a brilliant name, a very amusing poke in the eye to the mpaa
- Asa

At 8:54 PM, Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

I'm becoming increasingly convinced that I am not destined to write screenplays. There is no way I could endure a parka and I get allergic smelling snow.


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