Tag Archives: Hollywood

Snow Above Los Angeles (Feb 2019)

Snow Above LA (Morning)

The winter storm of the past few days is over, leaving a thick coat of snow on the higher parts of the San Gabriel Mountains and a thin dusting on the lower parts, even the mountains behind the Hollywood Hills, still lingering though mid-morning.

Snow above the Hollywood Sign

By mid-afternoon, most of the snow in the second photo appeared to have melted, and the patches on Mt. Wilson (barely visible to the left in the first and third images) had mostly faded. The next ridge back was still thoroughly covered, though!

Snow Above LA: Afternoon

I left work just before sunset, to make sure I could get some photos of the reddish light glinting off of the still snow-covered mountains.

Snow Above LA: Evening

Ah, Hollywood Accounting!

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Dreamworks and Aardman are going their separate ways after the disappointing performance of Flushed Away and Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Wait… Wallace and Gromit? Wasn’t it #1 on opening weekend? Didn’t it stay in the top 5 for at least a month?

Aardman’s dry British wit went over well with critics on such films as “Chicken Run” in 2000 and 2005’s “Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit,” which won an Oscar for best animated feature.

But both “Wallace & Gromit” and “Flushed Away” were costly misfires, failing to resonate with American audiences. DreamWorks reported a $25-million loss on “Wallace & Gromit.”

Hmm, according to IMDB, W&G had an estimated budget of $30 million. It grossed $16 million its opening weekend and went on to gross $56 million by January, 2006. Domestically. That’s not even counting foreign distribution or DVD sales.

If they spent $30 million and made more than $56 million, how exactly did they “lose” $25 million? Where did that missing $50 million go?

Mary Shelley’s Bride of Frankenstein

I’ve been working my way through the classic Universal Frankenstein movies, some of which I’m sure I’ve seen before, and some of which I’m sure I haven’t. Of course, they get filtered through having read the book at least three times and having watched Young Frankenstein many times.

Last weekend I watched Bride of Frankenstein. It’s a good movie, but the framing sequence bugs me. In it, Lord Byron is telling Mary Shelley how much he enjoyed her tale of horror, and proceeds to revisit the high points in the 1935 version of “Previously, in Frankenstein…” Unfortunately, just about everything he mentions wasn’t in her book! (Neither the 1818 or 1831 versions.) He then bemoans that it should have ended so abruptly, at which point she says something like, “Ended? That wasn’t the end at all!” and proceeds to tell Percy Shelley and Lord Byron the tale of, well, the next movie.

All this, despite the fact that the movies clearly take place in the 20th century, though they at least went to the effort to dress Byron and the Shelleys in period costumes.

On one hand, it’s a nifty conceit, made somehow more appropriate by casting the same actress, Elsa Lanchester, as both Mary Shelley and the Bride.

On the other hand, it’s emblematic of Hollywood’s mixed demand and contempt for original source material and its authors. This is the industry that brought us both Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, trading on the author’s name as a claim of authenticity while still taking things in their own direction. (To be fair, both movies made efforts to include aspects of the original stories that are usually left out. And MSF followed quite well until about 5 minutes before the end, at which point it took a 90° turn and flew off into another movie entirely.)

Neil Gaiman says it best in his short story, “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories” (in Smoke and Mirrors):

She managed a pitying look, of the kind that only people who know that books are, at best, properties on which films can be loosely based, can bestow on the rest of us.

Reality TV and Remakes

On seeing an ad for the upcoming Dukes of Hazzard movie, I started thinking of other 70s and early 80s TV shows that Hollywood might remake. Then I started thinking of late 80s and 90s shows. I’m certain that, 10-20 years from now, there will be a Beverly Hills 90210 movie.

But what about the big hits of this decade—the reality shows? Will Hollywood want to release Survivor or Fear Factor movies for 2025? Or would it be like producing a Jeopardy movie?

One of the big draws for shows like Survivor or American Idol is watching the contestants’ stories unfold over time. You can’t do that in a two-hour movie as effectively as you can over a 10–20–week season. On the other hand, not every reality show is about the long haul. Assuming the public’s taste doesn’t change, I’m sure Fear Factor could be made into a movie. (Though one could argue that it already has been.)

Later in my drive I heard a story on the radio about Iraqi reality TV. Apparently the genre has become quite popular there, particularly the helpful sub-genre (like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition). There’s a show that helps people navigate government bureaucracy, a show that rebuilds homes destroyed in the war, one that gives couples dream weddings, one that takes people to foreign hospitals for medical procedures, etc.

Who knew what else we’d be exporting?