Texting blamed for summer movie flops
By Andrew Gumbel
18 August 2003
In Hollywood, 2003 is rapidly becoming known as the year of the failed blockbuster, and the industry now thinks it knows why.
No, the executives are not blaming such bombs as The Hulk, Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle or Gigli on poor quality, lack of originality, or general failure to entertain. There’s absolutely nothing new about that.
The problem, they say, is teenagers who instant message their friends with their verdict on new films – sometimes while they are still in the cinema watching – and so scuppering carefully crafted marketing campaigns designed to lure audiences out to a big movie on its opening weekend.
“In the old days, there used to be a term, ‘buying your gross,’ ” Rick Sands, chief operating officer at Miramax, told the Los Angeles Times. “You could buy your gross for the weekend and overcome bad word of mouth, because it took time to filter out into the general audience.”
But those days are over, because the technology of hand-held text-message devices has drastically cut down the time it takes for movie-goers to tell their friends that a heavily promoted summer action movie is a waste of time and money.
Five years ago, when summer movies were arguably just as bad as they are now, the average audience drop-off between a film’s opening weekend and its second weekend was 40 per cent. This summer, it has been 51 per cent. In some cases, the drop-off has started between the film’s opening on a Friday night and the main screenings on Saturday. The upshot: unsuccessful films disappearing from cinemas so fast that there is no time for second opinions.
A 56 per cent drop over the first week of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines was not what the studio moguls had expected. As Arnold Schwarzenegger himself might say, hasta la vista, baby.
A rather old article and took me awhile to dig it up, but it’s funny how the movie industry, instead of blaming movies for being bad, are blaming technology for being able to stop people from watching bad movies, even when it’s heavily advertised.
Real Transformer (from /.) – really neat video. The robot after transformation actually does a cool little pose.
Official wants coca fed to school children – Bolivia’s foreign minister says coca leaves, the raw material for cocaine, are so nutritious they should be included on school breakfast menus.
The Top Ten Sci-Fi Films That Never Existed (from /.) – Quite an interesting read if you have time. Here’s an interesting comment: I have a theory. There are two eras for the Hacker Movie genre. Pre-Matrix, hacker movies were always horrible and always box office poison (see Hackers and Johnny Mnemonic) that only appealed to a tiny segment of geeks. After The Matrix in 1999, every hacker movie was unfairly compared to The Matrix (incuding that film’s own sequels, but we’ll get to that in a moment). He talks about Snow Crash, the movies following Matrix should be prequels and not sequels and several other interesting movies that never existed.
Students embracing virtual sex – Call it a sexual revolution of the virtual kind — young Canadians are practicing a new style of safe sex and the only touching required involves a keyboard. Of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across Canada, 87 percent of them are having sex over instant messenger, webcams or the telephone, according to results of a national survey released on Monday. I wonder if the AIDS prevention foundation would support this or not.
Inside Newegg: They give us a Tour and you a Prize (from /.) – On a recent trip to Los Angeles we were given the opportunity to take a tour of one of Newegg’s warehouses. While we’ve been able to tour Newegg’s facilities in the past, this time they let us publish pictures and take you on a virtual tour of their facilities – effectively letting us follow the path of an order after it is placed online. Newegg sweetened the deal even more by working with us to give away some of their product to you all, but more on that later. I’m pretty amazed at what the inside of Newegg’s warehouse looks like with its tracks and tubes and peanut gun and inventory system. It’s all really neat.
Q&A: A lost interview with ENIAC co-inventor J. Presper Eckert (from /.) – There are two epochs in computer history: Before ENIAC and After ENIAC. The first practical, all-electronic computer was unveiled on Feb. 14, 1946, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Moore School of Electronics. While there are controversies about who invented what, there is universal agreement that the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) was the watershed project that showed electronic computing was possible. It was a masterpiece of electrical engineering, with unprecedented reliability and speed. The two men most responsible for its success were J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly. I recorded two days of interviews with “Pres” Eckert in 1989. He was 70 years old. My father was Pres’ best friend from childhood and I’d spent my childhood playing with his children. I visited him regularly as an adult. On that day, we spoke in his living room in Gladwyne, Pa. — most of the time sitting on the floor. We stopped talking about computers only to fiddle with his Nova Chord electronic organ, which predated ENIAC, and we fiddled with stereo speakers. On a second occasion I recorded a conversation at his daughter’s home in western Massachusetts. Eckert died in 1995. I’ve had the interview tapes for many years, but decided to transcribe them for ENIAC’s 60th anniversary. My favorite part of the interview: What’s the zaniest thing you did while developing ENIAC? The mouse cage was pretty funny. We knew mice would eat the insulation off the wires, so we got samples of all the wires that were available and put them in a cage with a bunch of mice to see which insulation they did not like. We only used wire that passed the mouse test.
Well, it’s easy to get them to hold still… – Japan’s obsession with camera-equipped mobile phones has taken a bizarre twist, with mourners at funerals now using the devices to capture a final picture of the deceased. What happen to being unlucky with anything that’s “dead” around you?
Australia trials tiger poo in fight against pests – Researchers at the University of Queensland said on Friday they had successfully trialled a tiger poo repellent, warding off wild goats for at least three days.
Drunk Drivers’ Penalty: Fine or Mahjong – Drunk drivers in Taiwan can now choose their penalty: Pay a fine or play mahjong with the elderly. That’s an absurbly light penalty for drunken driving. Imagine people convicted of drunken driving here in the states were penalized to play bingo with the elderly.
Ctrl+Alt+Del – Top Score – was browsing through their recent comic strips and thought this one was awfully sweet!
Nintendo to launch Pokemon amusement park (from Cari) – Japan’s Nintendo will launch a travelling amusement park later this year with rides based on Pokemon characters, starting in Taiwan. Reminds me of barnes park amusement parks. Anything amusment park that is portable can’t be that great. Must be trying to attract little kits. But I wouldn’t mind winning a few more Pikachu plushies.
You’ve probably read about Dick Cheney accidentally shooting the face of his 78 year old friend while he was hunting quails grown on a ranch by driving up to them and firing his gun: White House under gun for Cheney shooting mishap. Someone made a parody out of this by rewording the famous song Janie’s Got a Gun song by Aerosmith: Cheney’s Got A Gun (from FuzzyWuzzy)