Blog Archives

Ready to See the Future?

You’re not seeing things:

Steven Spielberg is now a hologram.

Part of the story in Ready Player One is the exploration of the line between reality and virtual reality (VR) in society in 2045, centered in Columbus, Ohio. Rest assured that this blog won’t just reveal spoilers for film and TV without a bold, unmistakable disclaimer. For this specific blog post, have no worries as there are no film or story spoilers here.

Having said that, the special hologram version of Mr. Spielberg is the latest spotlight of the continued blurring of lines between reality and virtual reality that’s existed in various forms for some time now. This cool tech in the video above–also utilized in the original Star Wars trilogy from back in the ’70s and ’80s with Princess Leia–is an example of VR that can live harmlessly in reality.

Bonus points coins would’ve been given to Steven Spielberg and the team at IMAX if they could’ve created and then broadcasted the beloved storyteller’s avatar that would live in the Oasis.

Oh well.

BTW – If you have not seen Ready Player One directed by legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg in theaters on the biggest screen possible, then you should probably get on that ASAP with IMAX.

The Biggest Screening of the Future?

I’m ready already.

Yesterday’s Happy Monday kicked-off a week of blog posts leading up to the highly-anticipated science-fiction cinematic adventure Ready Player One. A film intertwined with VR-technology that may not be as far off into the future as we imagine has been described as “Pure Spielberg magic” by Empire Magazine’s movie critic Terri White.

The scenes in the real world look gritty and, well, real. The scenes in virtual reality look visually stunning and playfully immersive from an inactive audience perspective.

The making of this cinematic experience behind-the-scenes is equally engaging.

Could this be a modern attempt at Back to the Future-level nostalgia and visions of the future?

We’ll just have to see. Literally.

Filming in Space, You Are?

Colin-Trevorrow-Will-Direct-Star-Wars-Episode-9

(Colin Trevorrow, Comic Book Cast)

“I asked the question, ‘Is it possible for us to shoot IMAX film plates in actual space for Star Wars?’,” he said.

“I haven’t gotten an answer yet, but they’ve shot IMAX in space.”
–Colin Trevorrow

Filming Star Wars: Episode IX in the stars?

Let the war for cinema’s best practical effects begin.

Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow, working on his second mega franchise with Star Wars, revealed this stunning news recently during a panel at the Sundance Film Festival. He and a few directors, including Christopher Nolan, were discussing the incomparable quality and necessary future of film as an alternative to digital for filmmakers when this golden nugget surprisingly made its way into the conversation.

The conversation for saving film as a means for making movies is a worthy discussion for another day.

Returning to the burgeoning and ambitious young director, Mr. Trevorrow clearly means business in preparing to tackle the Star Wars universe. If simply daring to direct his second prodigious blockbuster isn’t proof enough.

One of the primary consequences of Star Wars: Episodes I-III was a rejection of CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) as central, interactive settings. This forced a return to the newest trilogy to feature locations that are rooted in practical effects. Add in supreme storytelling, better characters (ie-Jar Jar Binks) and a modern twist with a vintage, blue lightsaber glow.

Regarding the first film in the new trilogy, J.J. Abrams did an amazing job with The Force Awakens. The blockbuster utilized practical effects to the max. However, like any industry, innovation is paramount (the word, not the studio). Despite the lack of perfect effects, though groundbreaking at the time, the original Star Wars trilogy is cherished by fans for its revolutionary look and feel.

Episode IV, for example, looks like 1977. Watching this classic is like opening up a time capsule with a lightsaber inside.

Episode IX, with an expected release in 2019, could very well turn an important page for science-fiction epics in ways found only in our imaginations.

The investment in more practical effects correlating with demand for more realism in cinema is constantly increasing. The ROI has proven to be remarkable for movies that mimic real life to a certain extent, yet still give us what we want in a movie and in the theater: suspended belief.

Imagine a Star Wars battle scene, set in outer space, that’s actually filmed in outer space…

That would certainly be a new hope for the series.

Colin Trevorrow’s vision for Star Wars: Episode IX is bigger than any IMAX screen.

Dinosaurs Aren’t the Only Things Jumping at You in 3-D

It’s a surreal sensation when walking into a movie theater for an 8:00 p.m. on April 5, 2013 showing feels like 1993…June 11th to be exact. Opening the doors to theater 12 served as a time travel portal from precisely twenty years earlier (give or take two months). As an anxious seven-year old in suburban Columbus, Ohio, my adventurous family and I drove the three miles to the AMC Movie Theater at Mill Run for the first premiere of “Jurassic Park.” The previews indicated it was about dinosaurs living in the modern era, but revealed virtually nothing else. Our minds were filled with an excited curiosity at what famed director Steven Spielberg and his team had created. Familiar with his universal classics, “Jaws,” “ET the Extra Terrestrial” and the Indiana Jones adventures, expectations were as tall as a, well, Brachiosaurus.

Just as fossils have proven the existence of extraordinary species of dinosaurs, Steven Spielberg’s decision to adapt one of the best movies from his illustrious director’s log into 3-D has also proven to be extraordinary. The audience saw a new dimension of special effects visionary and Academy Award Winner (Best Visual Effects: “Jurassic Park”) Stan Winston. We the spectators were put in the same position as Ellie when the Velociraptor burst through the floor to ceiling pipes after restarting the park’s electrical grid and Tim and Lex in the compound’s kitchen while being hunted by two raptors. The girl next to me actually jumped out of her seat when Ellie was attacked by the once hidden raptor! There are breathtaking scenes throughout the two hour cinematic masterpiece.

“Jurassic Park” and 3-D are a match made in heaven. Absolutely stunning!

Going to the movie theater to see the magnificent “Jurassic Park” in IMAX 3-D did put into perspective a new reality we now find ourselves. With as much hype that surrounded this re-release, it was an unknown variable as to how the public would respond. The verdict? According to Moviefone: $18.2 million! A pretty tremendous success for the first weekend of an updated re-release competing against movies with brand new content. Arriving forty-five minutes early secured the second spot in line. This was important because the number of people who stood patiently grew exponentially every five minutes until the usher opened the doors.

It’s here we arrive at the center of what transpired last Friday evening in a cultural sense. This singular showing saw multiple generations dedicate their Friday night to waiting and then watching a movie they probably own and first enjoyed twenty years ago. To repeat, twenty years ago. In a scenario between remaining at home to watch cable or experiencing the thrills of seeing a film on the silver screen, crowds of people chose the latter. The atmosphere was terrific.

Did Spielberg provide us with more than one cultural flashback?

The box office numbers combined with the eye test proved there is still a desire to be around other people by vacating the “comforts” of our own private space. Last Friday night felt like I was back in the 1990s with the huge crowd of anxious people spending their evening at the movies for the big premiere. Yet, there is still a problem lurking around movie theaters across the country.

15.50

By its lonesome, it signifies nothing. However, with a $ before it, the solitary number becomes a value. It happened to be the price of the ticket of admission for the IMAX 3-D version of “Jurassic Park.” While standing in line, I wondered what the average ticket price of a movie was back in 1993. I researched it on my phone and the internet spit back ~$4. Okay, now how about 1973? ~$1.77. Groovy! Apparently, ticket prices are doubling every twenty years. The $15.50 was the cost of the most expensive ticket for this rare re-release, so don’t equate this number with the average price today. The average ticket price for a new major motion picture in 2013 is ~$8.

Paying up for a 3-D movie in IMAX is one thing, but the price for any new release is cause for reflection on the here and now compared to the not-so-distant past.

The instinct to physically venture off to a movie theater is still ingrained in the film loving mind of the American people. But at what cost? There will be a breaking point in how much a family or group of friends will spend on a night out at the movies. Anything more than $5/ticket to me is asking too much that does not involve 3-D or IMAX. We are currently at $8. The definitive red line for most families will almost certainly be $10/ticket: double digits.

Simply going to the theater on a whim one evening to see the new movie is no longer an affordable protocol due to the exorbitant prices, from teenagers to adults. Funds have to shifted around. By the way, the snacks have not even been purchased yet…anybody have a twenty?

And in today’s world, one of the most horrific questions has to be pondered by thousands while standing in the “twilight zone” of the lobby of any theater around the country. This is the area between the concession stand and the hallways for the individual theaters. Anything can happen here, for better or worse. For those precious few seconds, we all have been forced to ask: “Do we really need popcorn?” This proposition is enough to send me into shock, no joke. We all know prices are too high when this question is asked. No popcorn at the movies!?

“Houston (& everywhere else), we have a problem!”

My Mom and I used to have our own “movie marathons” to see new movies for a week or so during the summer when I was a kid. Movies, popcorn and a soda. This scenario, sadly, is virtually impossible today. The movie theater is supposed to be for everybody in the community on any give day and time to escape for a couple hours. Like those $4 tickets, spur of the moment “movie marathons” appear to be another relic of yesteryear.

“Back when I was your age, going to the movies cost ~$10 and included a popcorn, small drink and change for the arcade.”

If ticket prices for movies become too high, then fewer people will go to movie theaters and enjoy the atmosphere filled with wonderment whilst in the company of fellow movie lovers. A negative connotation will emerge for movies in general. The problem the major studios face is, ironic to the politically vocal celebrities in Hollywood, exactly what is occurring on Wall Street. The profits for the big studios and its beneficiaries are astronomical, at least in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet, the public continues to pay more than they ever have for reasons unknown. Yes, it costs more to film in 3-D and/or IMAX, but somewhere in this monetary cycle the revenue is being directed where it shouldn’t and we’re all paying for it.

People want to be gregarious. Thankfully, the magic of going to the movies on a Friday night is still there. However, movie studios and the deal makers involved better not take the public’s long history of excitement and commitment of paying to see newly released major motion pictures for granted. People and memories are not numbers on a spreadsheet. If the current inflationary trend is not reversed, then movie theaters could become extinct.

Hopefully in 2033, a coming attraction won’t be titled, “Jurassic Theater.”

Good luck with that.