Science Addiction

A dormant blog by Devanshu Mehta

Tag: Films

Ten Years of Sequels, Prequels and “Based-on”s


As The Dark Knight is poised to become the highest grossing movie of the year, it is interesting to note that 1998 was the last year that the highest grossing movie in the U.S. was an original script.

Not a sequel, prequel, based on a comic, based on a book or anything else. An original screenplay. Since then, we’ve had two Star Wars, a Grinch, a Potter, two Spider-Men, a returning King, a green ogre, the chest of a dead pirate, and now a dark knight.

Of note, also, is that prior to Star Wars in ’99 we had four straight years of original screenplays- Toy Story, Independence Day, Titanic and Saving Private Ryan.

I’m not saying I don’t like the movies we’ve gotten in the last ten years- I can’t, I am a confessed Star Wars addict and have shed tears for a few fallen wizards- but this does tell you why big studios pump millions in to a steady diet of sequels, super heroes and wizards. We’ve voted with our dollars.

Obama, Montana and Jones

So, what’s hot this summer, asks

Daniel Plainview on Free Culture

Daniel Plainview’s “I drink your milkshake” line from “There Will be Blood” has gained a lot of pop-culture traction lately (most famously on SNL). While he wasn’t directly talking about the remix culture, it’s great to hear artists that understand that the more they get “slagged” the better it is for culture (and them). Here’s Daniel Day-Lewis:

“If people absorb something you’ve done… and people can make something else out of it, that’s delightful to me. I come from two cultures – England and Ireland – where there’s a long tradition of… we call it slagging in Ireland, taking the piss in England, and if you can offer up something that people can slag you for, they’re always grateful for that.”
[From IMDb]

Unfree Culture and The Science Fiction Wars of 1978

In 1978, 20th Century Fox studio sued Universal for “stealing 34 distinct ideas” from the then recently, immensely successful film “Star Wars”: to create “Battlestar Galactica”. This was one year after the release of _Star Wars_ and an old, hackneyed genre had just been revived. At the time, Universal said that _this is like the first Western movie ever suing the second one_.

George Lucas visited the production of BSG and decided not to link his name with the law suit. 20th Century Fox, however, pressed on. Universal countersued with a claim that _Star Wars_ (particularly R2D2) was lifted from Universal’s own film _Silent Running_. Maybe it’s time for some descendant of the Brothers Grimm (the great-grandchildren Grimm?) to come knocking on Disney’s front doors with legal papers- suing them for every cent they’ve made since _Snow White_.

A few major _Star Wars_ co-conspirators were major players on the original BSG production as well- John Dykstra, Dennis Muren- which also played a major part in the common “feel” to them both.

There is a “fantastic article from 1978”: called *ABC’s Multi-Million Dollar SF Gamble: Battlestar Galactica* which closes with these two interesting paragraphs which hint at more issues than just copyright and derivative works:

Once all the charges of copyright infringement and the other legal elbowing have subsided, and once other modern space fantasies like Buck Rogers, Star Trek — The Motion Picture, Starcrash, and Flash Gordon have come out to keep Galactica company, it will be more evident that Galactica was innovative in many ways all its own — not the least of which is its courageous, almost carefree use of funds in the hope of bringing to the public a TV fantasy of unparalleled quality. And some of the daring can be seen in things that neither zoom, blast, flash, or explode.

When, since the days of the Untouchables, have we seen such exciting wholesale slaughter on our livingroom screens? And it happened during the very season when the networks have been bragging that at last they have censored physical conflict from the screen. The full extent of the ramifications of a successful Galactica on TV programming is yet to be seen, but it will certainly be interesting to watch.

Ah, good old 1978. It was the best of time, it was the worst of times. Television bosses were actively censoring TV. Major studios were trying to control the fate of genre media. Journalists were hoping for a future that resembled a rose-tinted past. And beneath the surface, a vast array of creators were waiting to unleash their derivative works that had the potential to change the face of a genre, at the very least, and media in general if we were lucky. In short, it was a time much like today.

A Debate with the MPAA

The “#2 thesis on of my 95”: was that Violating a license agreement is not theft.

I got a lot of feedback about that one- many people made the point that it could be theft if it involved either loss of property or loss of potential income.

I grant both of those points- and I am not even close to being a lawyer- but my point still holds: Violating a license agreement could also be theft, but in my opinion, is not theft on its own.

The “BBC has a video debate”: between the MPAA President Dan Glickman and the EFF co-founder John Barlow on the subject, and while much of it treads familiar ground for those who follow this issue, it is especially interesting because the two opposing viewpoints have been presented together.

To get a better idea about “John Perry Barlow”: here are a few bits about him:
* Founded the “EFF”: in 1990.
* Was a lyricist for the “Grateful Dead”:
* His article on “The Economy of Ideas”: where he says

Intellectual property law cannot be patched, retrofitted, or expanded to contain digitized expression any more than real estate law might be revised to cover the allocation of broadcasting spectrum (which, in fact, rather resembles what is being attempted here). We will need to develop an entirely new set of methods as befits this entirely new set of circumstances.

* His “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace”: where he writes:

Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

* And “more recently, more pointed”: remarks from him.

Why Google Ads Do Not Work All the Time

The screenwriter “John August”: has a great little example of why “Google’s Adsense”: is not the solution for all seasons. Anyone referencing his “article on the use of air ducts/vents in films as a poor plot device”: on their blog/site, finds ads that try to sell you air vents or ducts. Which are completely besides the point of the article- nobody reading an article about good screenwriting is going to suddenly say to themselves “Wait a second. Reading about that scene from Die Hard reminds me- I’m supposed to buy Air Vent shafts!”

You can see an example of this in “the article I wrote about August’s post”: Sad. Like the time I saw Yahoo! ads selling cow hide on a Flickr photograph decrying cruelty to cows.

On the other hand, Google Ads to work tremendously well when they are on generic, well targetted and crafted content. They work on my “Star Wars site”: pretty well.

Fetch Your Netflix Ratings

If you use the “Netflix”: rating system even half as much as I do, your account has information documenting your entire movie watching life. At this point in time, I have rated 1348 films on Netflix and that number grows by about 15 per month- considering I am a movie geek and a statistics geek, that information is important- nay, vital– to me! If only there was a simple, friendly way to get at my information… Read the rest of this entry »

Cellular Phones at the Movies

I just put up rant on “WideScreen Glory”: about the ridiculous push by theatre owners to “jam cell phones in movie theatres”: From “that article”:

The annoying, distracting, place-reserved-in-hell, cell phone users are not the cause (of the movie industry slump); they are a nail in the coffin. […] In the past, the government tried to ban cell phones on airplanes based on the loosely defined threat of terrorists with phones. As with that case, the benefit of allowing decent people to keep their cell phones at their discretion far outweighs the annoyances of movie cell phone users.