Monday, August 20, 2018

The Breakdown of How Blumhouse Change Movies


This week we've got a special episode called 'The Breakdown of How Blumhouse Changed Movies.' Blumhouse is a movie and television production company run by Jason Blum, and has produced giant hits like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, Sinister, Get Out, Split and Whiplash. 

His model is keeping the production budget very small, enticing stars with back-end deals, picking up high concept movie ideas (usually horror or thriller), and giving directors massive creative freedom. Because he has small budget, he has the freedom to decide if a movie will get a theatrical release or go straight-to-video, since both ways can achieve a profit.

His production company has become a massive player in both the movie and TV industry with a string of major successes and has proven horror can be a major box office winner. His success has made his movies major inspirations and influences on strategies and plans from the major movie studios. Some of the mid-budget pictures that have come out of the big studios has been influenced by the success of Blumhouse.

This week we look at the success and how the movie industry has changed thanks to Blumhouse. We also admit that our initial assessment of Blumhouse was wrong when we started this podcast and explain how the company has won us over. Also this week, the Summer Box Office Challenge comes to an end and we do have a winner, so he is declared. It is a big episode this week, and we really appreciate you listening to it. If you love the show then please help us out by spreading the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).



We apologize but there won't be any outline for The Movie Breakdownbecause we still have issues with consistent times from the player. If you know how to solve this problem then it would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: What is your favourite ‘gimmick’ movie?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2 $182 687 905
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout $61 236 534
4. Ocean’s 8 $41 607 378
5. Equalizer 2 $36 011 640
6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again $34 952 180
7. Crazy Rich Asians $25 235 000
8. The Meg $45 402 195
9.  The Spy Who Dumped Me $12 103 043
10. Teen Titans Go to the Movies $10 411 189
Total: $534 067 553

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $148 024 610
2. Deadpool 2 $125 507 153
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp $75 812 205
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation $44 076 225
5. Skyscraper $24 905 015
6. First Purge $17 374 280
7. Disney’s Christopher Robin $24 585 139
8. Uncle Drew $15 242 781
9. Mile 22 $13 620 000
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $507 033 483

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Turning the Lights Back On. . .


I'm back!

After a week away, the site is up and running again. Or at least, more likely to be chugging along like a confident little caboose now that I'm back on the internet. 

I was away for a week at a cottage near Huntsville (Ontario) with my lovely family and the equally lovely family of my sister-in-law. Since cottage time is about relaxing and paddling and swimming and praying the thunderstorms take a vacation, I was without Wi-Fi and thus couldn't post here (with the lone exception of Monday's The Movie Breakdown episode that I had postdated before I left last Saturday). 

The week before the vacation, I was flying solo with the kids, because Emily was at a workshop. So, I've had two weeks' worth to get a little behind on client work and other writing projects. My goal is to dig deep this week into paying work. I also am well aware that my best way of landing work has always been this trusty personal site, and so I also aim to get daily (or more) articles on here this week (and beyond!). 

You can expect the latest episode of The Movie Breakdown up tomorrow, because it is already recorded. Being away means that I missed this weekend's new releases, so I plan to trot out to see those, so expect over the week reviews for Crazy Rich Asians, Alpha, and Mile 22. I have several tributes that I still want to write for passed celebrities that played a significant role in my pop culture consumption, and this week added a few more in Aretha Franklin and Jim 'The Anvil' Neidhart, so I'd like to try to get a few pieces over the next week or two. I've been meaning forever and a year to get something up about parenting again, and I have a few article ideas I am excited to write. Plus life keeps on powering through giving me new ideas to write about, so I will tackle what comes to me daily. You should have a significant amount of prose and rantings to make up for this past two week's drought.

But until then, how was your week?

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Breakdown of 'The Meg', 'Like Father', 'The Warning' and 'The Bleeding Edge'


Just when you thought it was safe to listen to The Movie Breakdown, we're reviewing a giant dino shark movie in The Meg. We also have three Netflix originals for you. The biggest being a Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer team-up comedy called Like Father. We also head back to Spain again, this time we're reviewing a thriller in The Warning. We also discuss a documentary about the dangers of some cutting edge medical devices in The Bleeding Edge. After all the movie reviews, we look at the latest big changes announced by the Academy Awards and analyze the potential impacts. We want to thank you for listening to us, and if you love those episode then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).


We apologize but there won't be any outline for The Movie Breakdownbecause we still have issues with consistent times from the player. If you know how to solve this problem then it would be greatly appreciated.

Question of the Week: Who is your favourite recurring director and actor team?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Star Ratings: 

The Meg **½ (CS)
Like Father **½ (CS) & ** (SM)
The Warning **½ (CS) & *** (SM)
The Bleeding Edge *** (CS & SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2 $182 687 905
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout $61 236 534
4. Ocean’s 8 $41 607 378
5. Equalizer 2 $36 011 640
6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again $34 952 180
7. Crazy Rich Asians
8. The Meg $45 402 195
9.  The Spy Who Dumped Me $12 103 043
10. Teen Titans Go to the Movies $10 411 189
Total: $508 832 553

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $148 024 610
2. Deadpool 2 $125 507 153
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp $75 812 205
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation $44 076 225
5. Skyscraper $24 905 015
6. First Purge $17 374 280
7. Disney’s Christopher Robin $24 585 139
8. Uncle Drew $15 242 781
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $493 413 483

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Going Dark


I haven't lived up to my daily articles promise for quite a long time now. As punishment, I am going to go sit in this corner for a week and think about what I've done. Then maybe while mulling about in that corner then I'll find some renewed productivity and get back to this site having at least one article a day.

Or maybe I won't take this time-out. I'm not sure yet, but there is a strong chance that I won't have access to the internet until next Saturday night. So, while this may just seem like a typical slacking week, I actually will have real reasons for not posting my in-depth analysis of the latest on-set photos of the live-action Dora the Explorer movie (this is a real thing, by the way).

Even though I won't be posting any new articles, Scott and I did record the latest episode of The Movie Breakdown last night. I've already uploaded the show and it has been dated to automatically be posted here on Monday. You can come here or iTunes on Monday morning to listen to the latest episode where we will be reviewing the Jason Statham battles a dino shark movie, The Meg.

Speaking of The Meg, since I probably won't have anything new posted this weekend, you should all just go see it in the theatre three or ten times. It is looking like The Meg may turn out to be a bit of surprise hit and if it break 30 million, then I could be sitting in a strong position for the Summer Box Office Challenge. Then it will come down to the final two movies next weekend, we have Scott's pick Mile 22 against my pick, Crazy Rich Asians. I am nervous about my movie coming out on Wednesday as we only count the Friday to Sunday opening weekend numbers. This is a pretty big cultural moment with an all Asian cast and you should all celebrate it by seeing it three times on Friday and eight or twenty on Saturday.

Of course, all runs need to come to an end, and this could be the end of my winning streak against Scott in the Summer Box Office Challenge (we started the game in 2015 and I've won every year so far). By next week, I will know if Scott gets to choose three awful movies for me to review, and he has already threatened me with some very painful looking movies. Of course, I also plan to use his threats for some great recommendations for when I actually end up winning for a fourth time

Off to my corner to think about stuff now. Have yourself a great weekend and make sure to come back Monday morning for the latest episode of The Movie Breakdown. I'll be back here with daily word goodness in a week.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Oscars Change May Increase Ratings But Will Devalue Awards


The Oscars announced some major changes to the awards show in an obvious attempt to improve sagging ratings. It is believed that the board of governors approved these major changes after pressure from ABC to become more mainstream since the network is contracted to broadcast the awards until 2028. The big changes are that the show now promises to keep the telecast to three hours and will do this by running some of the awards during the commercial breaks (then provide a highlight reel of the winners later in the show); creating a new award called "Outstanding Achievement in a Popular film"; and finally, starting in 2020 they are moving up the awards show with that year the show airing on February 9.

There has been a lot of talk about the Oscars losing relevance and the major dip in the TV ratings over the last several years. You know what else has seen a major dip in the ratings over the last few years: almost every single other awards show. Despite all the talk of the Oscars losing popularity, it is still the highest rated awards show every year. The reason more people talk about the Oscars losing viewers than the other awards shows is due to it still being the most prestigious and celebrated of all the award shows. It remains the most recognizable, so more people are paying attention to how it is doing in ratings compared to the Tony Awards or the MTV Music Video Awards.

This isn't to say that the Oscars shouldn't make changes to try to improve ratings and be a more appealing show. I am always for being open to change and not feeling anchored down by tradition. In the YouTube era where more people watch clips the next day rather than an entire show, I am not sure these are the changes to drive in more people. I do think that it is more harmful than beneficial.

The worst idea is relegating several of the awards to the commercial breaks. The Academy Awards are way too long and it is silly that most years it doesn't end until past midnight. It is an insult to many hard working and talented craftspeople, who are crucial to making a movie a success, do not get their one big moment to be recognized but rather shuffled off to an end of the night montage segment.

If the awards show wants to cut down the runtime than they can scrap all the segment where Hollywood pats themselves on their backs or all the unfunny segments with that year's host or 'gags' that really just end up being shameless promotion for a Disney movie (who owns ABC by the way). The Academy is the one time of the year that artists and craftspeople like the editors or special effects people or makeup/costume designers get some recognition and can be celebrated by a mainstream audience. This is a huge slap to the face for them and easily the worst decision the Oscars have decided to implement.

The most obvious appeal to a mass audience decision is the new award, Outstanding Achievement in a Popular Film or what is already being dubbed as "The Popcorn Award" by many. This feels like such a blatant ratings grab and such a meaningless thing designed to appease those who whine every year that comic book movies or big tentpoles get shunned by the Oscars. I'd also call this award "The Kiddie Table Trophy" where some movies that amassed a huge amount of money get its nice try ribbon to keep slobbering fans happy while the adults battle over the real award Best Picture.

What does most popular even mean? The highest grossing movies? The most buzzworthy movies? Are we saying that "Best Picture" awards are unpopular? Why can't a popular movie also be the best of the year without any caveat? Are we trying to say these movies are a cut below in quality? Will the criteria be popularity or quality? The Academy has already announced that a movie will be eligible to be nominated in both Best Picture and Most Popular. If that is the case and the Academy believes a popular movie can be one of the best of the year then why even bother with this new awards category? All it does is increase the stigma that a Best Picture movie is something pretentious and artsy only loved by the high-brow while the tentpole category is for the real average movie goer.

There has already been serious buzz that Black Panther, the highest grossing movie of the year, has a strong chance of being nominated for Best Picture. If a popular movie is nominated for Best Picture does increase ratings (and history shows that it has) then this year already had a strong chance without the mock award. It also means that a popular movie can also be more than just popcorn but have social relevance and worthy of award recognition. In the past, we've had big box office heavyweights like Inception, Toy Story 3, Gravity, Avatar, Up, Lord of the Rings, Titanic, Star War, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark and so on. It has leaned heavier to smaller and independence movies the last several years but that is more an example of a shift in society and what the Academy has decided to recognize.

A strong strategy would be an initiative for Academy to have voters appreciate and see the value in genre movies. It also would be better for the Academy to make an initiative to make Best Picture nominees more accessible to the average viewer and to focus on getting them to appreciate the movies' qualities and value. The current strategy devalues both type of movies. The Best Picture is further seen as something not for the average person and far too pretentious, while it reaffirms that a tentpole can't aspire to be an awards-worthy movie. The new award feels condescending to genre and tentpoles. If it is true that ABC (owned by Disney) pushed for this awards then it also feels like a way to ensure Black Panther gets some major awards recognition. Will even the average viewers feel like it is any kind of prestigious award? It is the "hey, it made money and was kind of watchable" type of victory. I am pretty sure the average movie fan will see through it.

The Oscars are claiming that a movie can get into both categories. In order to legitimize the award, my guess is that Black Panther will end up in both this year and win the Popcorn award. Just like how in 2009 and 2010 we had a Pixar movie get nominated for Best Picture (Up and Toy Story 3 respectively) but over this past decade, another animated movie has not seemed to even be considered but instead get relegated to the Best Animated Feature category. This is what will happen to the Popcorn award, and I fear what type of movies will eventually get shoved in their for the sake of ratings. Transformers: Robots Bash Good? GI Joe: Here We Go Again? Pirates of the Caribbean: The Search for Relevance? Texas Chainsaw on Elm Street?

As I mentioned, the key to helping the appeal of the Best Picture category is making sure viewers have a chance to see those movies. That is going to be even harder when the awards show get moved to the start of February. As it is right now, only a few of the movies tend to be available for rent before the Oscars. If movie studios keep to their current strategy of limited release in December and big roll out in theatres in January, there will be even less time for the average movie goer to catch every movie. If the goal is to make these movies matter, then if anything, the awards should be pushed to March for more time and to ensure every movie is available for rental.

I get that the reason for the push was to avoid awards fatigue. By the time the Academy Awards arrive, we've gone through 50 billion awards shows and so there may be some burnout. Though I think journalist are more burned out than the movie goer who may not really pay attention to many of the other awards. I am sure all the awards bloggers that make their living predicting the winners are bummed that they now have lost a few weeks of premium ad revenue. I think earlier in theory is good, but only if a strategy goes in place that ensures all the Best Picture nominees are accessible to the public before awards time.

Change is good. I do think Academy needs to look at ways of making the awards show more relevant and to connect to today's movie going audience. I just don't think this is the change that was needed or that any small rating increase is worth the damage these changes will make. There is already a great deal of backlash against these changes, and I hope Academy listens to these concerns. There is still time to alter these changes. I think the new format devalues the awards and is harmful for some hardworking people in the industry. Hopefully, Academy can find ways to make their show popular but also maintain its prestige and value.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Calling All Film Critics: How Do You Review Movies?


I started getting paid to write movie review in May of 2012. That summer, I also started professionally writing TV reviews, and then when 2013 showed up, I started The Movie Breakdown with Scott. In June of 2013, we turned the show into a multiple movie review format (our listeners from the very start may remember that for the first five months the show was devoted to a single movie). My point is that I would be watching a lot of shows and movies with the purpose of writing or recording a review.

For the TV shows, the agreement was that I'd have a review completed and ready to be posted within 90 minutes after it aired. Usually what I did was type a huge amount of point form notes while watching, start creating my slant during the commercial breaks, and then form it together as a full review after the show was done. I was not a fan of straight recaps and usually did more analytical and spoiler-filled review like pieces that didn't worry about nailing every plot point (my style was rare on the site that I wrote but many writers for other sites did do my style). I think that approach actually took me longer to write and usually it was proofread and edited and sent off with just seconds to spare before deadline. I also found that I had pages of notes to sift through and usually only used about 30% of what I wrote.

Since I don't go to press screenings, I never have taken a notebook when reviewing new releases. I fear it may be distracting to those around me who paid to see the movie. I will sometimes type some quick notes when I come home, especially if there is something noteworthy but I'm afraid I may miss it when I write the actual review. I usually like to sleep on what I've seen, so the review usually isn't written until the day after I watched the movie. I feel like a night's sleep and several hours between the movie gives me some time to digest what I saw and contemplate where I landed on it and get some time to marinate on what I thought were the themes and message.

For the first few years of The Movie Breakdown, I would type some note on my laptop when watching a movie at home for the podcast. Much like the movie reviews, I would compile pages of notes and usually only use a small amount of them for the podcast. I also found that typing down lots of notes stopped me from being able to fully engage with the movie. I had seen the movie but constantly writing notes didn't allow me to fully experience the movie. In the last few years, I've stopped typing notes, and instead after the movie, I put down a few quick thoughts that I want to make sure to discuss during the podcast.

My current way of reviewing is to not type any notes while watching but try to fully immerse myself as a viewer. Then occasionally, I will try to get a few quick thoughts and ideas down after. Then I either go off to bed or do something else, allowing some time for the movie to just sit in my head. If I do a TV review, I still write it right after as I feel they tend to not need as much time for reflection. The next day, I try to avoid any other review to not influence my opinion and stance, but do some research to learn about the production or any interesting facts about the movie (but from articles that are not reviews). Then I usually write a rough drafts, let that sit for a bit, edit it, and then publish. It is that review that I use for the basis of the discussion on The Movie Breakdown, and if I don't write a review, I'll have a few bullet points for the show.

I find this is what works best for me. I also know that after five years, I have adapted and changed how I review movies. I am interested what other movie reviewers do in their process. I get the impression many take lots of notes, and I am curious if they find it takes them out of the experience. Also just wonder how you jot down great notes in a very dark room.

In a hope to start some conversation on here, how do you review movies? Has it changed over time?

Since I have your attention. I also noticed what is a recommendable movie has changed for me. When I first started, I think I was really picky and hard on movies, because I wanted to not be perceived as a pushover and have a strong reputation. I also was always very aware of Rotten Tomatoes and how other critics perceived a movie.

When the podcast started, Scott and I agreed that three out of four stars and up was considered a recommendation (following the Siskel & Ebert approach). Because of that, I started awarding more three stars to stuff that I was a bit on the fence over. I also started getting more confident in my opinions and worried a lot less about the consensus. 

Then as the years went on and I started seeing hundreds and hundreds of movies, I believe I have become a little more choosy about what gets three stars, and stuff that I liked but found generic or messy would usually now get 2 and half (sort of the idea that fans of the genre should check it out but others can live with skipping it). I feel I am more forgiving to movies that are very ambitious or go against formula, so it may be a convoluted mess but I was entertained by taking risks. I've also come to terms with the fact that a movie that I give three stars to on a Monday, may end up with a two and a half if I rewatched it on the Wednesday. I've learned a movie can change and evolve on repeat viewings, and that is why my Best of the Year lists often have movies that are higher or lower on the list then there were when I made my mid-year list.

So, my next question is how has the way you perceive or enjoy a movie changed over the years as a movie reviewer/critic? Do you feel you have become pickier or easier on movies?

And if you're not one who write movie reviews, you can play too and just let me know how your movie tastes have changed over the years.

Monday, August 06, 2018

The Breakdown of 'Christopher Robin', 'Extinction', 'Duck Duck Goose', 'The Skin of the Wolf' and 'Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle'


This week it is all about the family on The Movie Breakdown. We review Disney's latest live action family picture based on one of their animated classics in Christopher Robin. Then a man learns the value of family when he needs to keep them alive during an alien invasion in Extinction. Even animals can learn to love family, this happens in the animated adventure, Duck Duck Goose. A man in the wilderness wants to start a family even if his wife is a little unwilling in the Spanish drama, The Skin of the Wolf. Many families can be saved if a team can defeat a giant lizard beast in the anime action feature, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle. It is a jam-packed show and we really appreciate you listening to us. We really hope you love it and if love is the emotion that you feel then please spread the word to other movie fans.

Reminder that you can now subscribe either to The Movie Breakdown feed (a subscription link is at the top right hand of this site) or on iTunes (if you enjoy the show, please help us by giving us a five star review).



The Movie Breakdown Outline (going to try this again, please let us know if the times are off):

0:00 Intro & Scott corrects an error
1:57 Extinction review
15:32 Christopher Robin review & discovery that there has been lots of two and half star movies this year
28:30 The Skin of the Wolf review
42:35 Duck Duck Goose review
53:04 Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle review & reminisce about Godzilla movies from the past
1:07:18 Box Office Challenge Update & pitch our own Mary Shelley cinematic universe
1:11:43 Question of the Week & hype our other work
1:18:58 Review Rundown & Send off

Question of the Week: Who is your favourite movie boogeyman or monster?

Send us your answers via email (themoviebreakdown@gmail.com), on Facebook, or Twitter (@MovieBreakdown1)

Star Ratings: 

Extinction *½ (CS & SM)
Christopher Robin **½ (CS)
The Skin of the Wolf ***½ (CS) & *** (SM)
Duck Duck Goose *½ (CS & SM)
Godzilla: City on the Edge o Battle ** (CS) & *** (SM)

Summer Box Office Challenge:

Christopher's Picks:

1.
 Solo: A Star Wars Story $84 420 489
2. Incredibles 2 $182 687 905
3. Mission Impossible: Fallout $61 236 534
4. Ocean’s 8 $41 607 378
5. Equalizer 2 $36 011 640
6. Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again $34 952 180
7. Crazy Rich Asians
8. The Meg
9.  The Spy Who Dumped Me $12 103 043
10. Teen Titans Go to the Movies $10 411 189
Total: $463 430 358

Scott's Picks:

1. Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom $148 024 610
2. Deadpool 2 $125 507 153
3. Ant-Man and the Wasp $75 812 205
4. Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation $44 076 225
5. Skyscraper $24 905 015
6. First Purge $17 374 280
7. Disney’s Christopher Robin $24 585 139
8. Uncle Drew $15 242 781
9. Mile 22 
10. Life of the Party $17 886 075
Total: $493 413 483