The Picture Palace
OK, I'm going to make some predictions.
But instead of studying frog entrails for possible signs of the future, I've been monkeying about with Google Trends. It's quite a useful little toy. You can get information on what people are searching for on Google in different parts of the world.
So, I was tinkering around with this and realised I could use it to try to predict which blockbusters coming out over the next few months might win at the box office.
And here's the result:
The new Superman movie comes out at the end of this month.
I'm excited for this film. It's interesting that, in this latest cycle of superhero movies, it has taken so long to get Superman back on the big screen. We've had relatively obscure comic book superheroes like Iron Man and Green Lantern hitting the cinema, but not the Mack Daddy of them all - Superman.
The lacklustre Superman Returns came out seven years ago and a lot has changed since then. The superhero genre has been redefined by the Marvel Cinematic Universe and films like The Dark Knight. And if things have changed since Superman Returns in 2006, then an awful lot has changed since Superman in 1978.
The original Superman is to the superhero genre as The Godfather is to crime movies. It took the camp hokum of the past and forged it into a grand narrative that took itself seriously and respected the story as a powerful modern myth about America.
Superman II is also pretty wonderful, with our hero facing a really cool bad guy in General Zod and Clark Kent's relationship with Lois Lane going to the next level. Superman III has its detractors, but I think it is fun. As a kid, I loved the Richard Pryor character and the whole Grand Canyon climax. It doesn't really hold up as well as the first two, but I think it is pretty harmless.
It's been a week of confusion and cars.
It started when I was over at a friend's house and he was deciding what film he should see with his son. We were looking through the movie listings in the paper when I suggested: "What about Fast and Furious Six? Does he like action movies?"
His partner turned to me with an expression of shock and disgust. "Fast and Furious Sex?" she asked. "No, no!" I said. "Fast and Furious Six. Six, the number! Wow. I think Fast and Furious Sex would be quite a different movie!"
When I recounted this story to my friend he paused for a moment and said: "With that cast, it would be quite a movie."
I post this cast picture below for your consideration and to make you think dirty thoughts.
Movies need a home in Christchurch.
Christchurch has always been at a disadvantage compared to other New Zealand cities when it comes to the film festival. The problem is, the festival has no proper home in Christchurch. It doesn't have the large auditorium it needs. Dunedin has the Octagon, Wellington has the Embassy and Auckland has the Civic, but Christchurch has nothing.
Before the Canterbury earthquakes, this lack of a large venue meant ticket sales suffered in Christchurch compared to other cities. The last time I compiled some figures, back in 2009, it showed that Wellington sold one festival ticket for every five people living in the greater region, while Christchurch sold one ticket for every 21 people living in the city.
The great thing about a large venue like the beautiful Embassy theatre in Wellington is the festival can sell lots of tickets for popular films and remain viable by capitalising on their most attractive films.
Since the earthquakes, the situation is trickier still in Christchurch. We lost every arthouse cinema in the city, the Regent on Worcester multiplex - which successfully hosted the festival in 2009 - and the Hoyts multiplex on Moorhouse Avenue.
I just read a lovely book. It is called Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made.
It is basically the story of a group of kids in America who were so blown away by Raiders of the Lost Ark they decided to remake it in their back yard. Over nearly a decade of summers in the 1980s, a core group of three friends enlisted schoolmates, parents and anyone they could cajole into helping them remake Raiders shot for shot. There is a great Vanity Fair account of the story here.
After seven or eight years they finished the film and embarked on their adult lives, only for the film to take on a life of its own and become a cult hit that helped them fulfil their childhood dreams.
It is a lovely story and one that anyone who grew up in the 1980s will recognise. It feels like a mix of The Goonies and Son of Rambow.
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