LOS ANGELES AP — Hollywood — long considered the land of excess — is becoming more cost-conscious, as movie executives rethink what they’re willing to pay to make a blockbuster.
After years of beefing up budgets to meet audience expectations, movie studios are cutting back and canceling projects that are too costly. Half-baked, expensive movie ideas that would have received approval a few years ago are now under scrutiny. For movies that are made, producers have to settle for toned-down special effects, cheaper actors and fewer locations for shoots.
In the past five years, major studios have trimmed the annual number of films they release by nearly a third to cut costs and avoid having big movies compete head-to-head on opening weekends.
In July, two major projects were stopped mid-stream because of budget pressures. The Walt Disney Co. halted “The Lone Ranger,” starring Johnny Depp, even though sets were already half-built in New Mexico. Universal pulled out of “The Dark Tower,” a three-movie, two-TV-series colossus based on books by Stephen King.
Strange Random Budget Quote:
“Some couples go over their budgets very carefully every month. Others just go over them.” – Katherine Mansfield (New Zealand Writer, 1888-1923)
- Hollywood And Big Budget Movies: Is The Love Affair Over? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Hollywood studios uneasy about big budget movies (ctv.ca)
- The Further Adventures of ‘Lone Ranger:’ The Budget is Cut, Disney Remains Undecided (slashfilm.com)
- Johnny Depp Denied?! Lone Ranger Movie Scrapped (eonline.com)
- Johnny Depp’s Wildly Expensive Ride: Crash Update (huffingtonpost.com)
- Not Dead Yet: ‘The Lone Ranger’ And ‘The Dark Tower’ Still Fighting For Survival (moviesblog.mtv.com)
- Johnny Depp’s ‘Lone Ranger’: Disney Hits The Brakes (moviesblog.mtv.com)
PRESS ASSOCIATION — Changes to copyright law to be unveiled later this week are expected to open the door to new services for film and music fans. Unlike most countries, Britain’s current intellectual property regime makes it technically illegal to transfer content from CDs or DVDs on to a different format, such as an MP3 file on a computer. Business Secretary Vince Cable is expected to say on Wednesday that he will legislate to sweep away these restrictions, according to a copy of his announcement seen by Channel 4 News. The move would make it legal for consumers to build up personal libraries of music, videos and films on their home computers and transfer them on to devices such as iPods – as millions already do without being aware that they are technically breaking the law.
Strange Random Copyright Quote:
The idea of copyright did not exist in ancient times, when authors frequently copied other authors at length in works of non-fiction. This practice was useful, and is the only way many authors’ works have survived even in part. – Richard Stallman
- ‘Crocodile Tears Jibe at Vince Cable (express.co.uk)
- In Praise of the Independent: finding strengths in Vince Cable and the Lib Dems (solutionfocusedpolitics.wordpress.com)
- Vince Cable ‘good news for business insurance holders’ (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Sorry, I can’t change £1.4bn trains deal decision, says Vince Cable (thisisderbyshire.co.uk)
- Vince Cable reinvigorated: the banks should start worrying (appgifs.org.uk)
- Move to back private digital copying (ft.com)
If you’re looking for a laugh before crawling back to work tomorrow, look no further than this short Easter– themed animation!
Strange Random Easter Quote:
I think of the garden after the rain;
And hope to my heart comes singing,
At morn the cherry-blooms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing! – Edna Dean Proctor, “Easter Bells”
- Portal Easter Egg Fun (geeksaresexy.net)
- Easter Traditions (buttcheeksandtoiletbowls.wordpress.com)
- Big cats and Easter eggs (americablog.com)
- Happy Easter (skytroopsofcp.wordpress.com)
- Fun games you should not play during Easter (thotplaces.com)
- Easter Egg Fights (zikata.wordpress.com)
Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the start of Twin Peaks, David Lynch‘s absorbing, frustrating and frequently surreal TV series about the murder of one Laura Palmer in the quiet town of Twin Peaks. Here are a few suggestions for those of you who want to celebrate or just find out what you missed.
Strange Random Twin Peaks Quote:
Harry, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it. Don’t wait for it. Just let it happen. It could be a new shirt at the men’s store, a catnap in your office chair, or two cups of good, hot black coffee –Kyle MacLachlan as Special Agent Dale Cooper
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- Kyle MacLachlan’s holiday heaven and hell (telegraph.co.uk)
- ‘I’m electronically challenged’ (guardian.co.uk)
- I’m Going to Rave About Twin Peaks Now (kimwerker.com)
Wilson & Ditch – Digging America is a programme on the American PBS network, made by the Jim Henson Company. It features gopher brothers driving across America in an an ecological van, learning about the history and culture of the places they visit. The novelty is that the TV episodes have been made with a new digital technology that allows the people behind the scenes to animate and speak in real time. The show also has extra material, such as additional episodes, podcasts, downloads and so on at a special website here.
The first stop on their road trip was Philadelphia (left) and next up is Nashville. If you’re interested in the more technical details of the show, you can find out more information at the Henson Company Digital Studio Wiki.
Meanwhile, here’s the theme tune:
Strange Random Jim Henson Quote:
The most sophisticated people I know – inside they are all children.
A blurb is a short summary or some words of praise accompanying a creative work, usually referring to the words on the back of the book but also commonly seen on DVD and video cases, web portals and news websites. (from Wikipedia)
If you’re thinking of buying someone a book for Christmas (or even perhaps as an early St. Jordi present) and are not sure what they want, you’ll probably end up reading the blurb on the back cover. To start your training, here are synopses and comments on two popular novels, taken from the UK online bookstore Waterstones. We’ve highlighted the most important words and structures in bold 🙂
1 – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own tightly-knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves. A violent and bloody thriller; a sinister family saga; a mystery of massive financial fraud; an ambiguous and haunting love story – this is a genuinely complex and unique contribution to crime fiction.
What a cracking novel! I haven’t read such a stunning thriller debut for years. Brilliantly written and totally gripping – Minette Walters.
I doubt you will read a better book this year – Val McDermid.
Brilliantly written – the characters are superbly drawn and the story grips from first to last – Mail On Sunday.
WHAT WAS LOST WILL BE FOUND…Washington DC: Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned at the last minute to deliver an evening lecture in the Capitol Building. Within moments of his arrival, however, a disturbing object – gruesomely encoded with five symbols – is discovered at the epicentre of the Rotunda. It is, he recognises, an ancient invitation, meant to beckon its recipient towards a long-lost world of hidden esoteric wisdom. When Langdon’s revered mentor, Peter Solomon – philanthropist and prominent mason – is brutally kidnapped, Langdon realizes that his only hope of saving his friend’s life is to accept this mysterious summons and follow wherever it leads him. Langdon finds himself quickly swept behind the facade of America’s most historic city into the unseen chambers, temples and tunnels which exist there. All that was familiar is transformed into a shadowy, clandestine world of an artfully-concealed past in which Masonic secrets and never-before-seen revelations seem to be leading him to a single impossible and inconceivable truth. A brilliantly composed tapestry of veiled histories, arcane icons and enigmatic codes, The Lost Symbol is an intelligent, lightning-paced thriller that offers surprises at every turn. For, as Robert Langdon will discover, there is nothing more extraordinary or shocking than the secret which hides in plain sight…
‘Dan Brown brings sexy back to a genre that had been left for dead…His code and clue-filled book is dense with exotica…amazing imagery…and the nonstop momentum that makes The Lost Symbol impossible to put down. SPLENDID…ANOTHER MIND-BLOWING ROBERT LANGDON STORY’ – Janet Maslin, New York Times
Strange Random Language Fact:
The word “Checkmate” in chess comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” which means, “the King is Dead”