Ask 411 Movies for 10.21.13: Just Another Manic Monday
Posted by Chad Webb on 10.21.2013
Is Breaking Bad the greatest show of all time? Will Jason Statham become a direct-to-video star? Did Kevin Costner help get a director fired once? All that and more covered in this week's Ask 411 Movies!
An "Ask 411 Movies" column would be nothing without questions, so please toss them my way. Why should you ask me instead of using Google? Well, perhaps I'll tell you something you can't find there, or maybe you just like my conversation and soothing words. You can post any questions or thoughts below in the comments section, email me at email@example.com, or send me a tweet using the links below:
I did see Captain Phillips and loved it, thought it was one of the better films I've seen in 2013. Tom Hanks delivers a great performance, starting as procedural and straightforward at first and then really unleashing the emotions and some truly great exchanges as the plot progresses. Paul Greengrass does a fabulous job directing. He uses the same approach he did in Bloody Sunday and United 93. I also saw Scary Movie V, which is easily one of the worst of the year, and Admission, which somehow misuses Tina Fey AND Paul Rudd. It's as forgettable as it gets. This week my movie watching will be kicked into high gear. I am definitely behind.
I did go to two concerts this week, Nine Inch Nails & Between the Buried and Me, both of which were a blast. Both groups keep the talking between songs to a minimum and concentrate on playing as much music as possible. I also saw the play Betrayal on broadway starring Daniel Craig, Rachel Weisz, and Rafe Spall. The story is told using reverse chronology, which makes is very intriguing. Long time readers might recall that I reviewed the 1983 movie adaptation during my Nether Regions run. To check that out, click here.
If want to know more about my movie tastes, check out my page on Letterboxd by clicking right here. Also, make sure to look at all the great articles and writers at 411, particularly in the Movie-zone because that's where I predominantly am, but all of the zones.
Lately I have been finding a lot of Jason Statham movies through Netflix that I have never heard of or known to get a theatrical release (Safe, 13, Parker) but at the same time he has had recent theatrical releases other than the Expendables movies. Is he teetering on becoming a direct to dvd star like Van Damn or Segal or is he still a bankable movie star who is doing a Bruce Willis thing, making as many movies as he possibly can? Thanks again!
With action stars or actors who commonly take the lead in a thriller, it is not as easy for your film to receive a wide release in theaters and then be successful. Many people the days of the true bankable star are over. What I mean by that is, I heard some random actor talking years ago, and they said that often times they genuinely do not know whether or not a project will get picked up and released theatrically by a major studio. It depends on how the studio feels about, how much marketing they're willing to put behind it, etc.
For Jason Statham, he is a hard worker who predominantly sticks to his wheelhouse of action flicks and does them all the time. Some of them will get a wide release and do well at the box office, whereas others will hit a limited amount of screens for a week or two and then disappear until they finally arrive on DVD.
In the case of the titles you mentioned, each of them actually did receive a theatrical release (I enjoyed Parker btw). Granted, it probably wasn't in the number of theaters as an Iron Man 3 would be, but it was out there. Depending on where you live, it just might not have reached your area. 13 (check out the original, 13 Tzameti) only appeared in New York City and Los Angeles. This happens sometimes. A movie will be tested in big markets and if it doesn't do well, they will fast-track the DVD release. The Expendables franchise gets a more notable release during the summer movie months because it has a lot of star power to draw in audiences. Technically titles like 13 and his recent effort Redemption do get a theatrical release, but it's not much of one and even I tend to refer to them as DTV.
As Stallone and Schwarzenegger get older, Statham is one of the main action stars to lead fans of that type of film into the decades to come. There are others of course if you include The Rock, Vin Diesel, etc, but Statham is more of the old-school style of action star I grew up with. You know what to expect from his movies and that's fine. Some work, some don't. As he gets older and as the young bucks take the roles, I would guess that you'll see more of his projects go DTV. For now, he does have enough fans that will pay for a ticket in the theater that you'll see a solid marketing campaign for say, Homefront. I don't think you have to worry about his star factor sinking drastically right now, but unless he attaches himself to a major franchise, it is bound to happen someday.
Chad, I have a couple of questions if you don't mind. So SyFy was playing scary movies this weekend, including a couple of Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and a couple of things popped up that I just noticed:
1. Why is it that in Nightmare on Elm Street 2, 5, & New Nightmare, he is trying to come into the real world, but in Freddy's Dead & Freddy vs. Jason, he's brought into the real world (via someone grabbing him before they wake up), and he's unhappy with it? Which one does he want?
2. If Freddy was a child murderer, and he vowed, as revenge, to come back and kill the children of the parents that killed him, why didn't he go after the kids when they were real young? I mean, maybe I missed something, but I thought he killed kids, as in around age 8 or younger. I thought that was his preference. Plus as teens, they were difficult to kill. Why not go after them when they were young and helpless, as he did before he was killed?
Let me start this one by saying I have seen all of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, but only once and I am far from a connoisseur. I probably should have tossed this to one of the many avid horror fans I know, but hey you know me, everything the hard way.
1) It seems that this was probably just changed according to the agenda of the director, screenwriter, or studio preference at the time. Since the dream world is more his domain, one would assume he has more power there than anywhere else and also has the advantage in that realm. Having said that, one person I asked hypothesized that if the person "bringing him in" has knowledge of him and is prepared, he or she would be at a disadvantage, whereas if he could get through via someone who was frightened of him, he'd have the power and be able to kill them easily. This person also recalled that Freddy might have been in a weakened state when he was brought into the real world. But again, this probably shifted due to the tone of the sequel. I am reminded of Godzilla when I read your question. Initially he was destroying everything in his path and was a villain, but eventually he also became a hero who took down the monster causing the havoc. Did he change of his own accord or did the studio decided to alter the character because they could?
2) To be honest, you have found a hole in the series and that could have been an answer to your first question also. Obviously what you say makes sense, but think about how awful it would be to see Freddy slaughtering young children who can't fight back. I'd wager that the studio would have trouble getting that movie into theaters depending on what organizations would be pissed off and it probably wouldn't be that thrilling to see. You also have to consider what parents would consent to their kids being killed in horror movies, not that it hasn't happened before, but for a disfigured serial child killer spirit who haunts dreams? You also probably have a better crop of actors when they're teenagers/young adults. In addition, the theme of child abuse is likely not the best topic for viewers to pay for. From what I hear, there could be spin-off novels or short stories involving Freddy tormenting younger kids. I don't know for sure.
Hey Chad, Three questions today
1.) How come Bruce Wayne was never featured in Smallville? They've put other heroes from DC comics before and it seems like it would've been a huge rating blockbuster.
2.) How much money does a director get from directing a movie? Does he get a salary? Does he get a percentage of the box office?
3.) A while back, I asked you whether or not you thought that Breaking Bad was the greatest show ever. You claimed you couldn't judge until it ended. Now that it ended, what are your thoughts? What legacy could Breaking Bad have?
1) Well, there are several answers to this. I feel like the cast and crew had to have addressed this at a Q & A or panel at some point, but I'll be damned if I can find it. Anywho, the logical conclusion is that it wouldn't have made sense for Batman to meet Superman on Smallville because in the universe of the comics (and one would assume the series) they haven't met yet. Bruce Wayne was still becoming Batman and Clark Kent was busy becoming Superman so it wasn't their time to cross paths. They actually have had adventures together in the Smallville Season 11 comic, which I recommend checking out if you aren't sick of the gazillion other Superman comics. Characters have alluded to Batman in Smallville before, but that's about it, specifically Chloe who claimed to have met him in her travels.
The other possibility is that the DC Comics and Warner Bros did not give permission to use the character because the rights were tied up with the Christopher Nolan franchise at the time. Either one works.
2) In short, it depends on the contract agreement. But let me break it down for you: Directors working under the rules and regulations of the Directors Guild of America receive salaries based on the type of production and the number of weeks on the job. Films, whether it be low or high budget, shorts or documentaries, earn different pay. Directors working a week on a high-budget film (more than $11 million budget) earned a minimum of $16,508 in 2012, while a week on a short or documentary paid $11,791. When the film takes more than the week, directors on high-budget productions earned $4,127 daily pay. Short and documentary film directors took home $2,948 for a day of work in 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May 2011 that film directors earned an annual mean wage of $115,920.
Big name directors earn millions in salaries, and film directors who produce and write screenplays earn even more. George Lucas, for instance, took home more than $170 million in 2008 with the release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, according to Forbes. Tyler Perry took the reins as director, producer, writer and star of several films during 2009 and took home $75 million as his annual income that year.
Often times directors will take home a percentage of box office sales or part of the overall film profits, depending on the contract agreement. Contracts will also detail royalties from first-run screening tickets, DVD sales, cable licensing fees and money earned from traditional television station showings. According to The New York Times in 2008, director Steven Spielberg earns 20 percent of a film's gross. Novice directors also make agreements earmarking a percentage of the film's profits to organizations promoting the film or groups offering marketing assistance.
3) Now that Breaking Bad is over, I would call it my favorite show. I would also put it #1 on a list of the greatest shows of all-time. I loved every episode of this last run and thought the finale was brilliant. Did it please everyone? No, but what series finale does? It's tough to be unanimously praised. I think its legacy will be an overwhelmingly positive one. Flawed male characters and anti-heroes have been becoming more commonplace on TV and that is due to shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men (to name two). I think it has made a case now to be considered among the best shows ever. Of course it does need time to age, and in time I am sure that most people will place it in the top 3 of all-time at the very least.
1) Several years back, Kevin Costner was in a movie that was being directed by a first-time director who normally was a cinematographer or something like that? Anyway, Kevin Costner went about being Kevin Costner about it, loudly complaining on set in front of the cast and crew that the guy was spending more time worrying about shot composition than about his actors, and the new director eventually resigned/was fired. My questions are: a) What was that movie? b) Who was that director? c) Did he ever go on to do anything else?
2) Miyazaki's releasing his last film soon. What's your take on him if you follow his movies at all?
1) The movie you speak of is Rumor Has It… from 2005. It is a romantic comedy film directed by Rob Reiner, starring Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Costner, Shirley MacLaine and Mark Ruffalo. The screenplay by Ted Griffin derives from a real-life rumor about the family in the 1963 novel The Graduate by Charles Webb.
This was to be screenwriter Ted Griffin's directorial debut, but the problems you refer to arose soon after principle photography began on July 21, 2004. The production fell several days behind schedule and on August 5, 2004 Griffin fired cinematographer Ed Lachman. Griffin was fired the following day by Executive Producer Steven Soderbergh. An unidentified source was quoted as saying this: "(Costner) was constantly in Ted's face about what he was doing wrong, criticizing him repeatedly about his setups in front of Paula Weinstein (one of the film's producers). He said several times loudly to anyone who would listen, 'This movie will take a year to shoot if you don't get rid of Ted'." The situation reached a climax when Griffin ordered Costner back to his trailer and Costner replied: "I will not. Not until you change the lighting set up like I told you." Costner's demeanor also upset co-star Shirley MacLaine.
In the end the production shut down in order to allow replacement Rob Reiner to make script, cast, and crew changes before resuming filming on August 18. Original cast members Charlie Hunnam, Lesley Ann Warren, Tony Bill, and Greta Scacchi were replaced by Reiner. Griffin would go on to pen a few screenplays, but he has to date never directed a major feature. He created the 2010 show Terriers and stood at the helms for 2 episodes of that. Otherwise he directed a short film called Do The Work this year. He has also done uncredited script revisions on titles like: Knight and Day, A Good Year, and Fun With Dick and Jane.
2) I love Hayao Miyazaki's films and have actually seen his final film, The Wind Rises, at the New York Film Festival. It is fantastic. Miyazaki is one of the greatest animators of all-time. If you haven't checked out his work, here is a 3-film beginners course:
*Spirited Away is a 2001 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film stars Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki, Takeshi Naito, Yasuko Sawaguchi, Tsunehiko Kamijō, Takehiko Ono and Bunta Sugawara, and tells the story of Chihiro Ogino (Hiiragi), a sullen ten-year-old girl who, while moving to a new neighborhood, enters the spirit world. After her parents are transformed into pigs by the witch Yubaba (Natsuki), Chihiro takes a job working in Yubaba's bathhouse to find a way to free herself and her parents and return to the human world.
This is my favorite Miyazaki picture. Anyone who is unfamiliar with his mastery should begin here. This is a masterpiece, period.
* Princess Mononoke is a 1997 anime epic historical fantasy adventure film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, animated by Studio Ghibli and produced by Toshio Suzuki. The film stars the voices of Yōji Matsuda, Yuriko Ishida, Yūko Tanaka, Kaoru Kobayashi, Masahiko Nishimura, Tsunehiko Kamijō, Akihiro Miwa, Mitsuko Mori and Hisaya Morishige. It is a period drama set specifically in the late Muromachi period (approximately 1337 to 1573) of ancient Japan but with numerous fantastical elements. The story concentrates on involvement of the outsider Ashitaka in the struggle between the supernatural guardians of a forest and the humans of the Iron Town who consume its resources. There can be no clear victory, and the hope is that the relationship between humans and nature can be cyclical.
This was my introduction to Miyazaki, which in retrospect was an odd title to start with, but a friend recommended it many years ago. It was unlike anything I had seen and although it took some time to digest for someone who had not seen Japanese anime before, I could not shake it from my memory. From then on, I sought out all the Ghibli titles I could find.
* My Neighbor Totoro is a 1988 Japanese animated fantasy film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by Studio Ghibli. The film stars Noriko Hidaka, Chika Sakamoto and Hitoshi Takagi, and tells the story of two young daughters (Hidaka and Sakamoto) of a professor and their interactions with friendly wood spirits in postwar rural Japan. The film won the Animage Anime Grand Prix prize and the Mainichi Film Award for Best Film in 1988.
This is another great film, one that is simpler, gentler, but still extraordinary to kids and adults alike. The Totoro image can be seen whenever the studio's logo pops up before any of their features. That and the kittenbus are two of the most well-known images in their canon.
"The plural of Chad is Chad?"
--From the movie Recount