Box Office Revenue Rises as Attendance Declines

It’s no surprise that movies are getting more expensive with each passing year. According to Box Office Mojo, the average ticket price for 2013 was a whopping $8.13 compared to $7.96 in 2012 and $7.93 in 2011.

 

The inflation of ticket prices has caused the worldwide box office to reach record setting numbers however in just the past few years: 2013 had two films, Iron Man 3 and Frozen, cross the coveted billion dollar mark worldwide and 2012 had a record-setting four films to pass a billion dollars with The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises.

(Skyfall and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey were the other two movies to pass the billion dollar mark, although there late release dates made them cross it in 2013, therefore not shown on this graph.)

Of the top 50 highest grossing films of all time, 44 have been released in the 2000s. The remaining 6 have generated there lifetime gross through a combinations of original theatrical run, special re-releases, or 3D conversion.

But as impressive as these numbers seem, they really don’t add up. Movie attendance is at a steady decline and many people are opting for cheaper viewing choices like in-home early releases and rental services like Redbox and Netflix instead of rushing out to the theaters. Some are even going back to the good ole day’s television thanks to Hulu and on-demand programming.

Economical speaking, if you were to take just a handful of the 44 films listed within the top 50 of all time and adjust them for inflation, the revenue based on tickets sales wouldn’t come close to those of decades past.

Let’s do a quick comparison: last year’s Iron Man 3 currently sits as the fifth highest grossing film of all time with a total box office haul of $1.215 billion at the average ticket price of $8.13. That means about 149 million tickets were brought for that movie. But if we were to take a film like Gone with the Wind, which was released almost 75 years ago in 1939, whose box office haul was only $390 million, and apply in to today’s ticket price, we get a box office revenue of over $3.3 billion. Almost three times as much as Iron Man 3. That translates to over 406 million tickets sold for that film compared to 149 million.

 

Ticket prices will keep going up and up and there’s really nothing that we can do about it. Movie studios are going to keep releases big budget films one after the other and we, as moviegoers, will keep seeing them. We will stay entertained for years to come and the movie studios will stay rich and happy knowing their breaking records.

I guess it’s a win-win for everyone. But is it really?

Thinking Visually: Using Google Maps to Give Readers the Best of Both Worlds.

News is constantly evolving its form. It is no longer as simplistic as it once was in basic black and white. Vivid colors cover the fronts of newspapers and magazines and the online space is growing rapidly each day. Living in the 24 Hour News Cycle, in conjunction with new technology, has not only made our ability to get information easy, it has made the information itself better.

Perhaps the greatest way information has grown since technology become a major partner to journalism was this idea of visual media. It’s one thing to have just a story, its another to have a plethora of photos and links at your aid, not to mention the use of video, too. Some may argue that an excess of photos and links and videos takes away from the true meaning of the work, putting the journalists writing abilities to the side, but photos and videos tell a story words simply could not.

With the help of Google Maps, it is now possible to link the location of an online story directly to the story itself. For example, if the Knight News was to do a piece about an upcoming basketball game for the Queens College Knights, an option they could use for their online story would be to embed a link to the exact location of the Fitzgerald Gymnasium in the story to help their readers.

Once the location is found using Google Maps, it can be saved to a Favorite location in which Google Maps gives you the option of embeding the link directly to your website, like so: Queens College Fitzgerald Gym.

Multiple location can be saved to a Favorites List that will appear on the left side of the screen.

When clicking on the embeding link, a new tab or browser window will open up, taking you to Google Maps where you can observe the Queens College campus  via overheard and also get directions to and from.

Embeding your stories location directly to your page is a good way to promote what you are doing, create publicity around a certain event and have readers directly engage with your story. With the help of Google Maps it gives readers the best of both worlds: finding out whats going on and finding out exactly how to get there at the same time.

For more information about Google Maps and how to use them, the Knight Digital Media Center at the University of California, Berkeley has created a tutorial which you can access here.

 

Malaysia Flight 370: News Coverage Comparison

Legacy site:  cnn.com

Online only site: KyPost.com (redirected to WCPOCincinnati)

Malaysia Flight 370 has been missing since March 8th. Since then, its mystery has made it front page news on multiple newspapers as well as the online space in not only the United States but countries around the world. Its coverage, however, does vary depending on what type of media outlet is covering the story.

Legacy Paper – CNN

CNN was the first news site to bring back results searched through Google. On Tuesday, April 01, 2014, CNN covered the breaking news about the cockpit transmissions released by the Malaysian government. It was featured in a lengthy article that first addressed the miscommunications done by the Malaysian government, followed by a link to the complete cockpit transcript, summary quotes from CNN analysts and Malaysian officials, and then a timeline of events from sources taking part in the rescue effort.

CNN’s online website coverage followed the same model that we follow in class. The story itself had a balance of hard news to keep readers up to date as well as testimony and links to more emotional news coverage of families awaiting answers which I think worked perfectly in showing both sides of the story. The website also had a sidebar that directed reviews to a number of other articles published by CNN about Malaysia Flight 370.

Online Only Paper – KyPost (Kentucky)

Kentucky’s KyPost is an online only publication that was created when the Cincinnati Post and the Kentucky Post where shut down at the end of 2007 due to declining sales. Since the publication is aimed to only residents of the Northern Kentucky region, coverage of Malaysia Flight 370, although begin international news, was not heavily promoted. You had to enter it into the search bar on the KyPost homepage.

The results that were brought back weren’t nearly as up to date as the stories found on CNN. The last story to be published on the flight was dated March 30 and no information regarding the release of the cockpit transcript was mentioned on the results page. It seems that the paper was out of date, or out of touch, with what was happening in the rest of the world which could greatly hurt readers.

One thing that was a trend on the search page (which I felt failed the website) was that a few of the stories brought back had religious subtexts to it; stories of relatives and friends who have “found faith.”

Elements that worked where more in CNN’s favor. CNN had more coverage, links in the stories to different ones, videos, and a sidebar of related topics. Kentucky’s KyPost went for a more personal approach, having stories about families and relatives of the missing passengers and more religious material then other mainstream outlets.

Republic of Geek.

Since making a Spotify account for this class, I have been more open to viewing different types of websites. Whenever I needed information regarding movies, television, or other things media related my first thought was to use sites that are well known publications like Entertainment Weekly or The Hollywood Reporter. However, I soon realized that the news that they were putting on their website was very mainstream to say the least. It was nothing that I couldn’t get from another website. I wanted more variety particularly because what I was writing about wasn’t exactly your average topic. So while searching the internet for different viewpoints on the stories I was interested in writing I came across a website called Republic of Geek.

Republic of Geek:

Republic of Geek started in January of 2009 which makes it a relatively new site if put into perspective of how long the internet has been around. The site contains original content that discusses more than just film. It branches out into television, gaming systems (table and video), comics, anime, and it also has its own coverage of media conventions such as 2013 New York Comic-Con.

Layout:

I am not wildly fond of the layout this website has chosen. The layout is this block style in which the stories are stacked one on top of the other. It just seems too cluttered for one webpage. Personally, I find lists have a more professional look. Its simplistic and makes what your looking for a lot easier to find. Although I would like to see more graphics and visual affects if a website was to chose a list-type format for there content. Lists could be rather boring to scroll through.

However, what I do like about the layout is its use of the sidebar. On the right side of the screen, an interactive list appears that makes viewers able to scroll through the websites archives, dating all the way back to their first postings in January of 2009. I like websites that have archive categories because it gives the viewer much more freedom when looking up topics they like. For example, if I wanted to see if Republic of Geek posted anything in relation to films like The Avengers or The Dark Knight Rises which came out in the summer of 2012, I need only scroll through the archive categories and look for May 2012 and July 2012. Interestingly enough, they did have post about both films, which you can view here.  In comparison larger websites like Entertainment Weekly do not have this feature. Their homepage is dedicated to what’s new and what’s hot at the moment. There is nothing creative about it because all EW is writing about is, basically, what everyone else is writing about. Which lead me to . . .

Original Content:

Another thing I liked about this website was there use of original content. This is something I haven’t seen on any other major website which is why I chose this site more often than not when looking for story ideas. Republic of Geek publishes periodically a series of stories that have made headlines in the film and gaming world. These stories are then complied into one post called the Daily 8-Bit. This post contains 8 different stories that are accompanied with links to the sources of the material. You can see an example of one here dated from May 2012.

Followers and Feedback:

This was something I noticed that could possible hurt this website. Along with the archives category on the right of the screen is a box that links viewers to the Twitter account of Republic of Geeks. It is a separate page that viewers can scroll through seeing tweets that they have made themselves and tweets that they have been tagged in by followers. The problem here is that Republic of Geek only has 45 followers and 122 that are following. It does however have a Facebook page but the page isn’t uploaded as frequently as the website it. The last post for the page was in August of 2013. It also does not have an Instagram account.  I see this as a big problem for viewers. It makes the website sort of isolated from the world. It has little too offer viewers in generating feedback.

My suggestion:

I think it would be beneficial to have the website itself linked to the Facebook page that way whenever a story is uploaded, it will be upload in two places, generating more views. Also, set up an Instagram account. That is a perfect place to advertise your logo adn upload posters of new films that are being discussed on the website. You can link your Twitter account to your Instagram name by posting it in the bio section of your Instagram account. This could help in bringing in more Twitter followers too.

What exactly is a teaser?

SUMMERS COMING! Which means no school, warmer days, vacations, parties and movies! Oh, the movies.

Summer starts earlier and earlier each year when it comes to big budget releases for studies. Last year, summer “started” when Iron Man 3 was released on May 2nd. Technically that’s still spring. This year I’ve noticed that summer starts on May 30, with Disney set to release Maleficent, the live-action retelling of Sleeping Beauty starting Angelina Jolie.

So while on the topic of Maleficent, has anyone noticed that all the previews for the film or not really previews? They are short clips, ranging from about 30 to 90 seconds,  that give away absolutely nothing about the films plot?

These previews are a new concept in marketing called teasers, which basically means they are a preview OF the preview. And a great way to built up anticipation for the film itself.

The end of the teaser reads “In 1 day see the full trailer.”

This is quickly becoming a new trend in Hollywood for hotly anticipated movies. Previous blockbusters like the Twilight Saga have used this technique to build up fan reaction to the final installment in the multi-billion dollar series. Upcoming films like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Transformers: Age of Extinction have also used teasers.

Paramount released this 35 second teaser on Superbowl Sunday in preparation of the films official two and a half minute trailer which was released about a week later.

In addition to this new trend, the latest installments to popular franchise like Spider-Man and Marvel’s Avengers have been accompanied with mid and/or post-credit scenes in which short segments of the next installment are shown to generate interest and keep the storyline going. Marvel’s most recent installment Thor: The Dark World teased this summers Guardian’s of the Galaxy, set to be released on August 1.

With upcoming films like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1, The Hobbit: There and Back Again and Avengers: Age of Ultron expect to see more teasers to be released throughout the summer.

Oscar Needs A Serious Redo!

I think is this one of the worst Oscar session I’ve yet to see.

After the Golden Globes where given tonight, I think the Academy should do a complete overhaul. The fact that the 2 films that took the highest honors tonight where actual shockers is why the Academy is in serious need of a change.

First off was Ben Affleck’s surprise when for Best Director. That he managed to beat out such experienced directors like Spielberg and Lee, both Oscar winners themselves, is nothing short of amazement. Not to mention that this is Afflect’s 3rd directoral effort to date, speaks so much about hes credibily. The film itself won Best Picture – Drama beating out the sure winner Lincoln.

And second (which is not surprising but I’ll explain why it is a shocker) is Les Miserable winning Best Picture – Musical or Comedy.

Now, the reason why I say that the Academy needs a complete redo from here on out is because the winners of tonight’s big awards, Affleck and Les Mes’ Tom Hooper, have no chance of winning the award that really matters the most: the Oscar. Why? Because they’re not nominated!

It must be a sad feeling for Spielberg to know that his only chance of winning an Oscar, too which he already has two, is because of the misfortune of an up-and-coming direct like Affleck. And while the Oscar’s did manage to diversify the nominees this year, it still missed the ball for the ones who did deserve it the most.

I believe that the nominations for the Academy Awards should 1) be decided upon in conjunction with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It’s the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that control the Oscars. Or 2) only be decided upon after the winners of the Golden Globes have been announced.

Or 3) out with the old voters and in with the new!

2013 Oscar Race

YAY! IT’S OSCAR SEASON AGAIN! And I will admit, I am somewhat happy with this year’s nominees. It was a nice mix of old school talent and up-and-coming actors trying to make a name for themselves. Big stars like Denzel Washington and Robert De Niro picked up their sixth and seventh nomination, respectively, while Bradley Cooper landed his first nomination to date and Anne Hathaway is on tracked to gain her first Oscar win for Supporting Actress for Les Miserables.

But, as with every year, there are a handful of snubs and surprise enough to make me happy!

So let’s get to a few of them . . .

First off, WHERE IS LEO!? I swear, Leonardo DiCaprio has probably the worst luck when it comes to the Academy. Nominated eight times, EIGHT TIMES!, for a Golden Globe he only managed to ride the award season wave to 2 Academy Award nominations. That’s it. When J. Edgar came out last year, critics where calling it his big break. The pairing of him with Clint Eastwood, plus the historical context of the film which is always the favorable genre of the Academy seemed too good to be true. But so-so reviews of the film only help DiCaprio land Golden Globe and SAG nominations. No wins, by the way. I will admit his performance was stellar, as is all this performances, but not his absolute best. He did deserve the Oscar nom though.

So many people thought that was this year. And to that, I say “No. This is his year!” Playing the diabolical and charismatic slave owner Calvin J. Candie in Quentin Tarantino’s new film Django Unchained (the ‘D’ is silent) he portrayed an out-and-out villain for the first time in his career. As I said before, actually, I said it around this time 2 years ago when Mila Kunis lost out her Best Supporting Actress nomination for Black Swan to . . . I can’t even remember the girls name, a role like DiCaprio’s in Django Unchained is what I consider acting. Taking an actor out of there comfort zone and showcasing them in a completely different light and having it work. DiCaprio put so much heart and soul and commitment into his role. His disturbing, yet brutally amazing monologue towards the end of the film in which he uses a human skull as a prop was the highlight of the film. At one point he got so into the role that he actually smashed the skull with his own hand and then whipped his own blood on Kerry Washington’s face. The scene worked out so good that Tarantino used it as the final cut. If that doesn’t show power I don’t know what does.

Hang in there, Leo. Trust me, your day is coming. I hope some good will come from either The Great Gatsby or The Wolf of Wall Street.

A nice surprise this year was the foreign film Amour. Michael Haneke’s nomination for Best Director and the film itself getting a Best Picture nod show that the Academy likes to spread its wealth around. This wasn’t a film that has had much press all season long. I haven’t heard of it until . . . today. But, nevertheless, the film managed to pick up five nominations in comparison to is one Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. This shows that the Academy really does have an eye out for talent, regardless of culture. The fact that a foreign film can get five nominations with very limited press as opposed to an American film like Flight that has been talked about since its release in November only getting two nominations.

The supporting categories are sometimes the hardest ones to call, more so with Best Supporting Actor. The Best Supporting Actress category has been on point for the past few years now ( Mo’Nique, Melissa Leo, and Octavia Spencer) and this year all eyes are on Anne Hathaway who has had critics calling her the frontrunner since they heard her singing in the trailer! But there is always that one that slips in at the last minute. This year it is Jackie Weaver, a previous nominee for Best Supporting Actress. Weaver’s last minute nomination most likely resulted in Nicole Kidman losing the spot having already been nominated for the Golden Globe and SAG Award for her role in The Paperboy.

The technical and sound categories are always toss ups and places where the big budget summer blockbusters can final get a very brief and shiny minute at the Oscars. Marvel’s The Avengers and Prometheus managed to pick up Best Visual Effects nods.

And while on the topic of big budget summer blockbusters . . . NOT ONE SINGLE NOMIANTION FOR THE DARK KNIGHT RISES!? My disgust and outrage will be showcased in another post pretty soon because I just cannot fathom why Nolan doesn’t get any Oscar love whatsoever.

Everything else seems customary by now if you’ve been following the awards season. Lincoln picked up 12 nominations, the most this year, including Best Picture, Direct (Spielberg), Actor (Day-Lewis), and Actress (Fields). Silver Linings Playbook picked up eight nominations and, along with Lincoln, could be the first film since The Silence of the Lambs to win The Big 5 (Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Screenplay). Les Miserables also picked up eight. And other big name films this year like Django Unchained, Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty got five nominations.

Newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis made history by become the youngest actress ever to receive a nomination for Best Actress. She also goes up against Naomi Watts for The Impossible and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Lingings Playbook who was the second youngest nominee at the time of her first nomination in 2010.

And Adele continues her quest for world domination by picking up her first Oscar nomination for Best Original Song for ‘Skyfall,’ the theme song to this year’s James Bond film of the same name.

It was nice to see the Academy spread the love this year. Actor’s young and old, films foreign and domestic, all getting their own chance to shine. Whether or not the Academy will keep up there end is a completely different story. Remember, these are only nominations. But I guess it’s true when they say that it’s an honor just to be nominated.

The 85th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, February 24th.

My predictions:
Best Picture: Lincoln
Best Direction: Spielberg for Lincoln
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook OR Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
Best Supporting Actor: Phillip Seymour Hoffman for The Master
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
Best Original Screenplay: Mark Boal for Zero Dark Thirty
Best Adapted Screenplay: Tony Kushner for Lincoln

Is Hollywood Even Trying Anymore???

You know, you’d think with the advance technology we have in the post-Avatar entertainment industry Hollywood would be churning out gem after gem. Guess not.
This past week, moviegoers had the privilege of sitting through yet another Paranormal Activity. This year’s fourth installment signifies that the franchise is alive and well and certainly headed for a fifth installment next October. Almost like the Saw film’s of Halloweens past, Paranormal Activity signifies two things in this ever expanding entertainment industry: 1.) that the voice of the moviegoer is getting stronger and stronger. We demand to see more of our favorite characters and our favorite movies and 2.) We have absolutely no idea what we are talking about!
Hollywood has gotten lazy. Am I the only one that has noticed this?! I really hope I’m not. And as an active moviegoer, I feel like I’m being ripped off. My local theater charges me $13.50 to see the movies I love. Don’t even get me started on 3D films and there surcharges. For $13.50 I want my money’s worth and lately I feel like I’m getting the crappy end of the popcorn bag, with all the burnt popcorn and the kernels.
Yes, I did pay the $13.50 to see Paranormal Activity 4 opening weekend (advanced screening, actually) but I did so because I’m 4 films in. Why stop there when, if you read enough entertainment blogs, you know there will be a fifth one. That’s how Hollywood works nowadays. Introduce you a fresh concept and then run it into the ground. 4 films in and we still don’t know why this demon is attacking this poor family. There’s even a Latin-inspired spin-off film coming in 2013. Really?
The point I really want to make here is that as active moviegoers in the digital age where every thought we can possible have is documented, we can’t tell Hollywood to come up with something new? 2011 saw the release of 28 sequels, more than any other year documented. That means, if you space it out, we went and spent 28 weekends at the movie theater seeing the same characters and the same theme, just reworked.
Most sequels, no matter who you are you can’t deny, are good. And many franchises have the ability to withstand changing times and genres (I.E. Harry Potter and the Marvel Universe). This year’s James Bond marks 50 years of the character on the big screen and it’s far from over. But others (like Saw and the Paranormal Activities) have over stayed there welcome. It’s time for you guys to go. Frankly, the horror genre has a lovely track record of taking a scary, fresh, originally movie and killing it with franchises. (WHY, OH WHY DID THEY MAKE SEQUELS TO THE EXORCIST!?)

***I think this whole post is going to be an attack on the horror genre from here on out. They really do just destroy everything. I’m waiting for a sequel to Sinister. But I’ll spread out my anger across other genres***
I do love sequels, I can’t lie. I do leave theaters saying “Oh my God, they need to make another!” But just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. I would honestly boycott the theaters if they tried to make a sequel to the hugely successful Inception. Or they went through with Finding Nemo 2 without Ellen DeGeneress. There is a formula to making sequels. Some studios and directors get it right, others don’t. And the ones who don’t honestly think they do and that’s when a franchise is started. Darren Lynn Bousman should have stopped at Saw 3, but he didn’t and now we have 7 films that killed the first one!

But what I’m really trying to say is that as a lover of all things movie, I’m just tired of seeing the same thing. I feel like there is absolutely nothing original any more. All you see is remakes, prequels, sequels, reboots (that’s the new term so people can think it’s something more special then a remake) and adaptations of books and musicals or historic events. Inception was the last time I went to the movies to see a completely original concept played out before me.
Moviegoers: hear my voice . . . or read my words, whichever you prefer. Do any of you have an original idea? Share it with the world. Copyright that shit first but share! SHARE SHARE SHARE! I don’t want to see another Paranormal Activity. Mark my words, one day we’ll be sitting in their theaters watching a remake of Casablanca or The Godfather. God help us if we ever see a remake of The Godfather!
When that day comes, I officially lose my faith in humanity.

The Dark Knight Rises: Quality over Quantity and Why It Was Better Than The Avengers.

First off, let me just start by saying I will (I promise), even though being a HUGE! Christopher Nolan fan and an even HUGER fan of his Dark Knight Trilogy, try to be as unbiased as I possibly can. I will give a brief description for both movies (as basic of a synopses as I can) and then once you know the film I’m talking about, make a clear and coherent presentation on why I believe The Dark Knight Rises was the better of the two.

I’ll be far and start off with the The Avengers:

Marvel’s The Avengers (for those of you that have lived under a rock this summer and no, you cannot play the “age” card with this either! I’m pretty sure if you asked your grandparents about the movie they would at least know it from the previews) is the 6th installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that started back in 2008 with the first Iron Man. The movie represents a cross over, combining several already established franchises into 1 epic action packed extravaganza. The film’s main cast is Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Samuel L. Jackson.

To simply put the synopses: Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye and all summoned together by Nick Furry in order to save the Earth from the destruction of an alien race led by Thor’s adoptive brother Loki. Simple enough, right? Nothing out the ordinary. It is your basic summer popcorn film.

My argument: As a movie lover in general, I cannot bring myself to say that this was a bad movie. It was honestly everything a comic book movie should be and then some. Outrageous special effects, unbelievable fighting scenes, some campy humor thrown in, a reminder of the days of comic books, and just all around entertainment. There is no doubt in my mind that this film will go down in history as one of the biggest box office experiences. For a while there it was closing in on Titanic’s original theatrical box office numbers. But factoring in the revenue made my its 3D re-release earlier this year the film has since surpassed the $2 billion mark, making it far out of reach for The Avengers. Still, a $1.5 billion box office run is something to brag about and something that nowadays warrants a sequel. All that being said, to me, its flashiness. Nothing of real substance. Yes, you cannot fabricate box office numbers but in my honest opinion, that was what was pushing The Avengers along.

When the numbers came back for its opening weekend, a staggering $207 million debut, it made news the world over. And the plot, the movie itself, what I’m paying to see played out in front of me, was kind of swept aside. Headlines sort of went from “The Avengers: One of the greatest movies of all time” to “The Avengers: One of the biggest movies all time.” To the normal reader “greatest” and “biggest” sound the same, but when it comes to film, they are very different. The Avengers record setting box office was its blessing and its curse.

Very few articles that I can think of really went in-depth with the actual story of The Avengers. We all knew what it was about on the whole, but what about the actual film? The dialogue, the performances, what was written about them? The only case I can bring up here is critic’s reactions to Mark Ruffalo’s performance as the Hulk. A character already portrayed by 2 actors in a very short time frame (Eric Bana played the Hulk in ’03 and then Edward Norton in ’08) Ruffalo had to shine in the shadow of 2 well established actors. And he eventual came out on top. 

Like I said, I have no doubt in my mind that The Avengers was big and will remain big for a very, very long time. But what made it big was its sheer return of investment.

Now for The Dark Knight Rises:

Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises is the 3rd and final installment of Nolan’s take on Batman mythology that started back in 2005 when Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise with Batman Begins. The movie brings to a close problems first introduced with Batman Begins and then those followed up in its 2008 sequel, The Dark Knight, into one giant, monumental and revolutionary cinematic experience. The film reunites Nolan with recurring cast members Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and (spoiler for those who still haven’t seen it, Cillian Murphy) while at the same time introducing Anne Hathaway, Joesph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard and Tom Hardy.

To simply put the synopses: Batman, following the death of Harvey Dent, has taken the blame and has been in hiding for 8 years. With the introduction of Selina Kyle a.k.a Catwoman (although never referred to as such in the film) Batman must return to crime fighting to stop the terrorist known as Bane from destroying all of Gotham with a nuclear bomb. Yet again, simple right? Your typical good guy vs. bad guy film. But herein lies the huge, and I do mean huge, difference between The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers.

My argument: Nolan created a comic book movie without it being a comic book movie. He created a superhero that wasn’t a superhero. He created a fantasy world without the fantasy. At the end of the day, yes you can argue that some of The Dark Knight Rises is farfetched (i.e. Bane turning Manhattan into some form of a utilitarian state. But it’s a lot more relatable than a space-time vortex that transported aliens from another galaxy here to enslave the human race.) In a post 9/11 world, and using New York City as the backdrop for Gotham, Nolan took a fantasy world created decades ago by Bob Kane and modernized it to fit in with every fear we can think of in the 21st century. Today, we constantly face the threat of nuclear war and the destruction of Wall Street, all of which were subplots to The Dark Knight Rises.

When it was released on July 20th, the premier was overshadowed by the tragedy in Colorado, an action that was in part materialized by the Batman mythology. The Dark Knight Rises didn’t have the projected box office results to catapult its success in the same way that it did with The Avengers. Instead it was met with horror and disbelief. But through all that, it maintained its ground. Eventually topping the box office for 4 consecutive weeks and grossing an impressive $1.05 billion in revenue, surpassing the then-record breaking haul of its predecessor.

The success of The Dark Knight Rises was not solely contributed to its return of investment. What made it so successful was the acting, the direction, the dialogue and the special effects. I have read countless articles from the likes of Roger Ebert and outlets like The Telegraph and The Guardian that praised the performances of Michal Caine in particular, as well as Christian Bale, Tom Hardy and even Anne Hathway whom many criticized as the choice of Selina Kyle before even seeing the final film.

What made Nolan as revolutionary as a director is that he is able to make the unbelievable believable without the heavy use of CGI. Let’s face it, that’s something that The Avengers would be nothing without.  It isn’t relevant only with The Dark Knight Trilogy – think the zero-gravity hallway scene from Inception.

The Dark Knight Rise was able to break box office records without the surcharge of 3D, become one the highest rated films of the years based off of quality and not quantity and manage to do all in the wake of a massacre that claimed the lives of 12 people and injured 58 innocent people.

As a lover of film, I believe every film has something special to it and therefore something relatable to the audience. Even critical panned films from the likes of Adam Sandler (i.e. Jack and Jill) still resonate with audiences in some way because film will always be at the mercy of the viewers. So in the end I won’t completely disregard The Avengers.

Cinema has completely done an overhaul in the past 20 years or so. It is no long the Oscars that vote what movie was best of the year (technically speaking they still do.) It is now in the hands of the audiences that can turn little no-name movies into franchise (i.e. Saw) or completely change the face of the Academy Awards, signaling that you can be a critical and commercial success, not one or the other (i.e. Avatar.) This realization is no more relevant than with The Dark Knight Rises.

The Dark Knight Rises plays perfectly to both sides of the movie-goer’s spectrum: those who want nothing more than action and explosions and those who want substance and creability. In the words of Selina Kyle, The Dark Knight Rises has “given them everything.”

Take Me Home Tonight: The New Film of OUR Generation?

If John Hughes was alive, I think he would ask for a piece of the profit. There’s nothing in Michael Dowse’s new comedy that doesn’t scream out John Hughes. Not necessarily a rip-off of the classic 80’s rom-com’s like Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club, but more of a reflection on them. Adults in their 40’s could easily get past the flat story line of boy-likes-girl, girl-doesn’t-notice and enjoy a trip down memory lane supported with a blast of 80’s music. And teens of this generation could appreciate what life was like before parties turned into dry-humping on the dance floor. But there is much more to the story, it’s just hidden under the thousands of layers of hairspray and popped collars.
The movie centers around a recent M.I.T graduate named Matt Franklin (Topher Grace) who, simply put it, has absolutely no idea what we wants to do with his life. He is still living at home with his parents and twin sister Wendy (Anna Faris), who is ironically the complete opposite of him: She’s mature, independent to some extent, awaiting a response from grad school and, unbeknownst to her, about to be engaged.
As far as his parents, mainly his father, are concerned, Matt has massive potential but has thrown away his college career and now is stuck working a dead end job at Suncoast Videos (the Blockbuster of it’s time for kids who didn’t know that.)
Matt lives a quiet, mild-mannered life with zero ambitions in reflection to his hard drinking, take-life-by-the-horns best friend Barry Nathan (Dan Fogler) who becomes the antagonist of the movie. Barry decides it time for Matt to become a man and finally confess his love for his high-school crush, Tori Fredreking (Teresa Palmer), who he met early in the day at his job. From there one, the night begins.
Since recently being fired from his job as a car salesman, Barry seeks revenge on his employer by stealing a car from the show room. The car is just one part in an elaborate game Matt must keep playing during the night in order to impress Tori. He told her earlier that he works for Goldman Sachs. But things don’t go according to plan. It’ll come back to haunt them later. They steal the car and race to a famed Labor Day party in the neighborhood thrown annually by Wendy’s boyfriend Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt, who in real life is now married to Anna Faris.)
The party scene’s have no real meaning to the overall story line but it conveys most of the movies humor, practically for Barry: an epic dance battle endures between Barry and an unnamed break dancer, Barry tries Cocaine for the first time (hilarity guaranteed) and Barry has a three-some with an overpowering women and a creepy voyeur.
The real depth of the movie lies within the dialogue and therein lays my idea that this movie has, in my opinion, come to define our generation.
Although no one can understand why Matt, an M.I.T graduate, has not grown into the accomplished man he should be, his point is clear. Tori confesses to Matt that on the outside she looks as if she loves her job but on the inside she hates it and now realizes that her time has passed; she’s stuck. This plays into Matt’s defense because he fears exactly what Tori is going through: that he will wake up one day and hate the life he lives, hence his indecisive behavior.
This movie is a manifesto of the present-day teenager. Our society has made it almost impossible for a teenager, or even a college graduate, to succeed on their own. Back in the 80’s it was quite customary for a child to be out of the house and fending for themselves by the age of 19. Now, you’re lucky to see children out of the house and own there own by age 25.
Our crippling economy and high priced living has caused this generation to give birth to what Sociologist call “adult children.” Adults who, in their everyday life, have jobs, money, independence, and yet, still live at home under the guidance and support of their parents.
It is somehow the metaphorical job of the parent to make sure their child’s life turns out better then there’s. If children see at such early ages the struggles that their parents must endure in there day to day activities, it is only going to make them more self-conscious about the job path they want to take when it’s their turn to bat. In return, these action make it that much harder for young adults to make a firm decision and what they want to do in their life.
I’m not saying that it’s okay to grow up and become that “adult child,” I just feel like our generation has so many problems ahead of it that to force us out there is only going to make it worse. Let us enjoy our time as dimwitted teenagers and young adults. Let us try everything and anything that we deem interesting and let us figure out what we want our lives to be like.
Here in lies the climax of Take Me Home Tonight. It all still has to do with the stolen car (told you it would come back to haunt them.) Matt and Barry find themselves stuck in a ditch with their stolen car. The cops show up, revealing one to be Matt’s father. Matt’s father shows him some tough love and intentionally does damage to the stolen car, adding insult to injury. Words are exchanged and Matt’s true feelings towards his father are finally said: Matt is sorry for not doing anything with his life and for becoming, in his father’s eyes, “a failure.” But Matt’s father doesn’t believe his son is a failure because he hasn’t tried anything that he could fail at and Matt’s father deliver’s the moral of the story then and there: just aim! Aim for anything. Shoot for anything. It doesn’t matter what you hit as long as you tried to succeed in something.
Despite its obvious story line, the movie was definitely a fresh take for a new generation. The characters were not giving complicated emotional backgrounds or hardships to hurdle over which benefited the free-spirited comedic styles of Grace, Faris, and Fogler. Like me, if there are teenagers out there facing these same problems, this movie speaks to you. This is your time. “Put a little relish on your hotdog.” But beneath all the jokes and beneath all of the terrible 80’s style lies a message that we teenagers need to get into our heads quickly: JUST TRY!

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