Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Batman, Iron Man, Narnia, a starry movie, porn, and more

Happy New Year!

I haven't been posting much lately because of holiday break (I spent Christmas with my family at my parents' house) and because I've been busy writing my Statements of Purpose for my grad school applications. I don't know what my purpose is (do I even have a purpose? Do any of us?), so that makes writing a ~1000 word essay stating my purpose rather difficult. Luckily I have a pretty good sense of the kinds of things admissions committees might like to hear, so I managed to find something to write.

Anyway, here's some interesting recent entertainment news. There's a lot, since it's been a while...

Reports suggest that some key roles in the third Christopher Nolan Batman movie have been filled. Rachel Weisz has reportedly been cast as Catwoman, Eddie Murphy is lined up for The Riddler, and Shia Labeouf is supposedly set for the role of Robin (IMDb). I recall reading at some point that Christian Bale said he would drop out of the series if they ever brought Robin in, but I suppose he could have had a change of heart. This coming movie has a lot to live up to--I imagine it will be nearly impossible for it to match the critical or commercial success of its predecessor The Dark Knight. If it is as good as Batman Begins, though, I will be satisfied. The sequel is slated for release in 2010.

The economic downturn has affected even blockbuster franchises. Disney has dropped the third installment of the Chronicles of Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, from its slate, leaving co-producers Walden Media to find another studio to co-finance the film (IMDb). The first Narnia movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, made around $745 million worldwide, bolstered in large part by churchgoers interested in the story's strong Christian themes and parallels. The second, last year's Prince Caspian, made only $419 million. For most movies, this would be a success, but these films reportedly each cost around $200 million to produce. In the current economic climate, Disney apparently did not want to risk another $200 million if there is a chance they could earn even less than they did on Prince Caspian. I have never read Voyage of the Dawn Treader, so I have no particular reason to worry about this movie specifically, but as a fan of fantasy movies in general, I am concerned if what once seemed a hit franchise is being dropped by a major studio. What will happen to the smaller franchises? Some suggest even Harry Potter is not immune to the recession (The Independent). Hard to believe, but it's enough to make me nervous.

Evan Rachel Wood is trying to convince her Across the Universe co-star to star with her again in the stage musical version of Spider-Man as the Peter Parker to her Mary Jane (IMDb). While I do genuinely like both comic book heroes and Broadway musicals, I've sort of tracking this story mostly as a joke, because, I mean... it's Spider-Man singing and dancing on stage! But Wood insists that Spider-Man: The Musical is not a joke and has assured us that the character will never sing in tights--he will only sing as Peter Parker. Bono and The Edge wrote the songs. And director Julie Taymor of course did amazing things with the stage in The Lion King, so there is promise for some amazing web-slinging theatrics. My apologies; I will withhold my judgment.

As the summer blockbuster that was also a critical darling, The Dark Knight had some early awards buzz, but after many awards groups declined to give it a nomination for best picture, it seemed mostly out of the running for an Oscar nod. Until now. The Producers Guild of America has announced their nominees for best picture of the year, and The Dark Knight is in, along with Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Milk (IMDb). And this is a big deal because the PGA nominees and winner frequently predict the movies that will receive the same honors from the Academy. I'm definitely hoping for a little comic love from the Academy Awards. We'll see how the Oscar nominees turn out on the 22nd.

Head down to your local grocery store and pick up a pair of 3-D glasses to watch... a commercial. Dreamworks Animation is going all out and spending what is probably tens of millions of dollars on a huge promotional campaign for upcoming film Monsters vs. Aliens. A three-minute three-dimensional clip of the movie will be shown during the Super Bowl commercials. 150 million pairs of 3-D glasses will be distributed free of charge at 28,000 locations including grocery, drug, and electronics stores and big-box retailers (IMDb). Not as cool as beaming the movie to Alpha Centauri (see previous post), but a pretty cool (and likely more effective) promotional move nonetheless. I have a couple reasons I am interested in this movie and concerned about its success, one of which you might not think of--I may post on it at some point--so I'm interested to see how this promotional campaign turns out. The best thing about the glasses is that apparently the following night, you can use them to watch a 3-D episode of NBC's Chuck. Hopefully they will have some appropriate effects on that night's episode to warrant the 3-D treatment.

This is the first I've heard about it, but there is an independent 3-D animated film being made in conjunction with NASA called Quantum Quest (Variety). The main character is a photon who lives in the sun. Yes. The movie will fuse Digimax animation with actual space imagery from NASA. It's going to have a star-studded voice cast, with two Captain Kirks (William Shatner and Chris Pine) and two Darth Vaders (James Earl Jones and Hayden Christiansen) signed to lend their voices along with Mark Hamill, Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Peet, Sandra Oh, Abigail Breslin, and astronaut Neil Armstrong. The film has apparently been in the works since 1996, but they have been waiting for footage from the Cassini/Huygens to arrive. Sweet.

Mickey Rourke is in talks to play the villain in the Iron Man sequel (Variety). I find this mildly interesting because the talk this year has been all about the unlikely comebacks of Mickey Rourke and Robert Downey Jr. (who, in case you are living under a rock, is the star of the new Iron Man movie franchise). I became a fan of the latter after seeing 2005's Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and I was introduced to the former in 2005's Sin City, but those were either not big enough hits or big enough roles to count as real comebacks. Anyway, Iron Man 2 may be a face-off between the two comeback kings of 2008. Sam Rockwell is also in talks to play a villain in the movie, which is slated for release in summer 2010.

And lastly, my little gem of the day. Porn moguls Larry Flynt and Joe Francis are asking Congress for a $5 billion bailout for the troubled porn industry (IMDb). Adult DVD sales are apparently down 22 percent from 2007 sales, which Flynt attributes to American citizens being so worried about their finances that they don't have the time to think about sex. Quote: "It's time for Congress to rejuvenate the sexual appetite of America." Yeah, I don't know why Congress didn't get on that sooner. Flynt and Francis say that the porn industry is important to the American economy just as the auto industry is, though I think it may still be a tough sell to get Congress to spend taxpayers' dollars on reviving porn. But I guess the fact that there is a male majority may help. I don't really care what happens to the porn industry, but as a fan of Avenue Q, I can't help but think of a certain important moment in that musical. When it turns out that Trekkie Monster has $10 million to donate to Kate Monster's school for monsters, and everyone in shock asks him how he has so much money when all he seems to do is sit in his apartment and watch porn, he declares, "In volatile market, only stable investment is PORN!" So now I have become deeply concerned about our economy. If even porn needs a bailout, we must be doomed!

Ah, what a start to 2009.

1 comment:

Eleni said...

Ah, now I see why I've been getting a lot of traffic from the search terms "Narnia porn". So now I ask, Why are you people searching for Narnia porn??!! What does that even mean?!