January 27, 2014
Why Classic Movies Have Terrible Trailers

Like any other form of advertising, film trailers are as much a reflection of the decade’s dominant marketing trends as they are the films they’re selling.
Read more. [Image: Miramax]

Why Classic Movies Have Terrible Trailers

Like any other form of advertising, film trailers are as much a reflection of the decade’s dominant marketing trends as they are the films they’re selling.

Read more. [Image: Miramax]

January 8, 2014
In Books, Movies, and Media, the Most Popular Title Word Is 'New'

January 2, 2014
How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood

If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?
If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?
This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created. 
Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies.
There are so many that just loading, copying, and pasting all of them took the little script I wrote more than 20 hours. 
We’ve now spent several weeks understanding, analyzing, and reverse-engineering how Netflix’s vocabulary and grammar work. We’ve broken down its most popular descriptions, and counted its most popular actors and directors. 
To my (and Netflix’s) knowledge, no one outside the company has ever assembled this data before.
What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.
Read more. [Image: @darth]

How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood

If you use Netflix, you’ve probably wondered about the specific genres that it suggests to you. Some of them just seem so specific that it’s absurd. Emotional Fight-the-System Documentaries? Period Pieces About Royalty Based on Real Life? Foreign Satanic Stories from the 1980s?

If Netflix can show such tiny slices of cinema to any given user, and they have 40 million users, how vast did their set of “personalized genres” need to be to describe the entire Hollywood universe?

This idle wonder turned to rabid fascination when I realized that I could capture each and every microgenre that Netflix’s algorithm has ever created. 

Through a combination of elbow grease and spam-level repetition, we discovered that Netflix possesses not several hundred genres, or even several thousand, but 76,897 unique ways to describe types of movies.

There are so many that just loading, copying, and pasting all of them took the little script I wrote more than 20 hours. 

We’ve now spent several weeks understanding, analyzing, and reverse-engineering how Netflix’s vocabulary and grammar work. We’ve broken down its most popular descriptions, and counted its most popular actors and directors. 

To my (and Netflix’s) knowledge, no one outside the company has ever assembled this data before.

What emerged from the work is this conclusion: Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable. They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.

Read more. [Image: @darth]

November 6, 2013
Should We Be Glad Blockbuster is Gone?

A chat about the cultural significance of late fees and blue boxes.
Read more. [Image: AP]

Should We Be Glad Blockbuster is Gone?

A chat about the cultural significance of late fees and blue boxes.

Read more. [Image: AP]

October 10, 2013
One Possible Future for Movies: Projecting Them in 270 Degrees

The story was nothing special: dapper secret agents, ribbed metal briefcases carrying confidential contents, double-crossing lovers with a penchant for the extravagant, motorcycle chases that defy physics. It could have been an episode out of any old spy series.
But the audience was gripped.
South Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s latest work features all of the usual staples fit for an action-adventure film, but it captivates its audience so thoroughly by other means. Kim, who recently directed The Last Stand starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, on Friday premiered his short feature The X using his country’s new multi-projection technology, ScreenX.
Read more. [Image: CGV]

One Possible Future for Movies: Projecting Them in 270 Degrees

The story was nothing special: dapper secret agents, ribbed metal briefcases carrying confidential contents, double-crossing lovers with a penchant for the extravagant, motorcycle chases that defy physics. It could have been an episode out of any old spy series.

But the audience was gripped.

South Korean director Kim Jee-woon’s latest work features all of the usual staples fit for an action-adventure film, but it captivates its audience so thoroughly by other means. Kim, who recently directed The Last Stand starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, on Friday premiered his short feature The X using his country’s new multi-projection technology, ScreenX.

Read more. [Image: CGV]

September 12, 2013
Fall Movie Preview: 16 Oscar Contenders to Watch For

If you’re a filmmaker looking to attract smart, adult audiences and award-show buzz this fall, it seems your best bet may be to set your movie in one of the following settings: out at sea, out in space, or in any year before 1980. Who knows which actors and directors will walk away winners at the Oscars next March, but here are 16 highly anticipated releases that hold plenty of promise.
Read more.

Fall Movie Preview: 16 Oscar Contenders to Watch For

If you’re a filmmaker looking to attract smart, adult audiences and award-show buzz this fall, it seems your best bet may be to set your movie in one of the following settings: out at sea, out in space, or in any year before 1980. Who knows which actors and directors will walk away winners at the Oscars next March, but here are 16 highly anticipated releases that hold plenty of promise.

Read more.

11:25am
  
Filed under: Film Fall Oscars Oscar Buzz Movies 
August 29, 2013
Obama Voters Like 3D Movies, Rom-Coms, and Horror Films More Than Romney Voters

6:35pm
  
Filed under: Obama Romney Movies Romcoms Horror 
July 12, 2013
Fruitvale Station's Insight: Oscar Grant's Life Was Complex; His Death Was Tragic

July 12, 2013
How Sharknado Explains the Federal Reserve

There is a movie called Sharknado. It is a real movie. It is about sharks in a tornado. The killer sharks in the tornado fly around snatching up people who say things like “we just can’t wait here for sharks to rain down on us.” 
And it explains everything you need to know about the Federal Reserve nowadays.
Sharknado, the movie, might just be a dumb story about sharks. But Sharknado, the business, is a story about a cable channel’s need to keep upping the ante to persuade viewers that it can always come up with a crazier idea than the last. After all, this isn’t the SyFy Channel’s first foray into absurdist animal action. Before tornadoes started catapulting great white sharks at unsuspecting victims, there was Sharktopus and Dinoshark and Piranhaconda. But with each stoner nightmare of science-or-nature-gone-wrong, SyFy has had to turn the ridiculousness to 11 to keep anybody’s attention: Alright, you’ve seen a genetically-engineered shark-human hybrid go on a rampage, but what about a genetically-engineered supergator … versus, um, a a dinocroc!?! (Those are real movies by the way).
Read more. [Image: The Asylum, Yuri Gripas/Reuters, Gary Cameron/Reuters]

How Sharknado Explains the Federal Reserve

There is a movie called Sharknado. It is a real movie. It is about sharks in a tornado. The killer sharks in the tornado fly around snatching up people who say things like “we just can’t wait here for sharks to rain down on us.” 

And it explains everything you need to know about the Federal Reserve nowadays.

Sharknado, the movie, might just be a dumb story about sharks. But Sharknado, the business, is a story about a cable channel’s need to keep upping the ante to persuade viewers that it can always come up with a crazier idea than the last. After all, this isn’t the SyFy Channel’s first foray into absurdist animal action. Before tornadoes started catapulting great white sharks at unsuspecting victims, there was Sharktopus and Dinoshark and Piranhaconda. But with each stoner nightmare of science-or-nature-gone-wrong, SyFy has had to turn the ridiculousness to 11 to keep anybody’s attention: Alright, you’ve seen a genetically-engineered shark-human hybrid go on a rampage, but what about a genetically-engineered supergator … versus, um, a a dinocroc!?! (Those are real movies by the way).

Read more. [Image: The Asylum, Yuri Gripas/Reuters, Gary Cameron/Reuters]

July 12, 2013
A Beautiful, Disappointing Pacific Rim

Heading into to the summer, there was perhaps no Hollywood blockbuster that appeared to have as low a floor and as high a ceiling as Pacific Rim. On the one hand, the cast is notably second-tier and the plot—giant, human-operated robots fighting giant, alien sea monsters off the coast of Hong Kong—seems like a cross between Battleship and the Transformers movies. On the other hand, the movie is directed by Guillermo del Toro, whose prior achievements—both pop-cultural (Hellboy) andhigh-cultural (Pan’s Labyrinth)—are beyond reproach. Adding weight on the negative side of the scale were a series of underwhelming trailers. But on the positive side, again: The movie is directed by Guillermo del Toro.
Read more. [Image: WB]

A Beautiful, Disappointing Pacific Rim

Heading into to the summer, there was perhaps no Hollywood blockbuster that appeared to have as low a floor and as high a ceiling as Pacific Rim. On the one hand, the cast is notably second-tier and the plot—giant, human-operated robots fighting giant, alien sea monsters off the coast of Hong Kong—seems like a cross between Battleship and the Transformers movies. On the other hand, the movie is directed by Guillermo del Toro, whose prior achievements—both pop-cultural (Hellboy) andhigh-cultural (Pan’s Labyrinth)—are beyond reproach. Adding weight on the negative side of the scale were a series of underwhelming trailers. But on the positive side, again: The movie is directed by Guillermo del Toro.

Read more. [Image: WB]

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