Sasha Stone, Boxoffice.com‘s Phil Contrino and I kicked it around pretty well this morning. The Oscars, Viola Davis‘s real hair (and the return of ‘fros), the box-office calamity that is John Carter, the hugeness of Hunger Games, etc. Here’s a stand-alone mp3 link.
On 2.17 I summarized the reactions of Roger Ebert and MCN’s David Poland to Titanic 3D (Paramount, 4.4), which they both saw at Valentine’s Day (2.14) preview screenings in Chicago and Burbank, respectively. Both were disappointed by the relative darkness of the image. Ebert called what he saw “a defacement,” partly due to low light levels, and Poland said “it’s like watching the movie through a filter.”
It appears that Ebert and Poland saw Titanic 3D, which was converted from 2D to stereoscopic for the RealD process, on either Sony or Christie 3D projectors at their respective plexes in Chicago and Burbank.
There are specific technical reasons for darkish, filtered-looking 3D. And to hear it from respected Chicago-based projection consultant James Bond (of Full Aperture Systems), there’s a technical way out of that, or at least a way to make 3D look a little better.
This could happen, Bond believes, if Titanic 3D were to be shown in concert with the Panavision 3D process, which is basically a 3D image-enhancement system that works with 3D projectors manufactured by Christie, Barco and NEC, all of which enjoy decent industry cred. Panavision 3D‘s system (a) involves no polarization, (b) allows exhibitors to project 3D on white or silver screens, and (c) allows for brighter 3D light levels (which are measured in foot lamberts) than what Bond says is the usual-usual, or 2.5 to 4 foot lamberts.
Panavision 3D, which has only been around for about a year, allows for something closer to 5 or 6 foot lamberts. This cuts into contrast, Bond says, but is nonetheless much more preferable to what most people are seeing with other lower-light-level systems.
Right now Panavison 3D is “the very best of all…a very seamless process,” Bond says.
The one 3D system that Panavision doesn’t work with, according to Panavision 3D rep Sean Lohan, is Sony’s, which is much less admired among high-end projection consultants. (The Regal Cinema chain, he notes, “has finalized a decision to remove any Sony 3D machines they have in the booth.”) And yet in 2009 it was reported that Sony’s 3D projectors are technologically allied with RealD, the 3D projection process that Titanic 3D will be shown through.
Ebert and Poland both saw Titanic 3D at AMC plexes — Ebert at Chicago’s AMC River East 21 and Poland at the AMC Burbank 16. I don’t know if Titanic 3D was shown in either venue on 2.14 with a Sony or a Christie 3D projector, but if a Sony projector was used that would explain a lot.
I do know that AMC’s reputation has been less than sterling among projection consultants in recent years. One told me three or four years ago that the acronym stands for “all movies compromised.”
Either way it would seem like a good idea to catch Titanic 3D commercially at a theatre using the Panavision 3D system. Except there are only two theatres in the general L.A. sprawl that have installed Panavision 3D, according to Lohan, and both are located about an hour south of downtown L.A.
Panavision 3D has been installed at the Ultra-Star Garden Walk in Anaheim (321 West Katella Avenue) and Ultra-star star Tower 10 in Temecula (7531 Ynez Rd). It hasn’t been installed in any Los Angeles county theatre, and, according to Lohan, hasn’t been installed in any high-end private industry projection room.
It always takes a while for a new idea or approach to make its way into the system.
Panavision 3D has also been installed at theatres in Rexburg, Idaho, and in Woodstock, Ontario, Lohan says.
I’ll soon be looking at Panavision 3D at Panavision’s headquarters in Woodland Hills. They run a demonstration every Wednesday at 2 pm.
If I’m not mistaken, six years ago original Brokeback Mountain author Annie Proulx said something equally frank and snippy about Paul Haggis‘s Crash, the film that snatched away the Best Picture Oscar from Ang Lee‘s adaptation. It’s
always usually the writers who let go with the barbs.
I never rank very high in predicting Oscar winners because I’m psychologically unable to separate or compartmentalize my feelings about the contenders from what I’ve been told or otherwise led to expect will happen. Every year about two-thirds of my predictions are on the money and roughly a third are not. I could have done a little better than 63% (i.e., last night’s final score) if I’d listened to Ben Zauzmer and predicted Meryl Streep to win Best Actress, but I couldn’t push myself off the Viola Davis boat.
The Oscar prediction game is fundamentally naught but simple shit.
This aside, congratulations to Gold Derby reader “snuggle4” (whomever he or she may be) for scoring 88% correct. Ten other Gold Derby users scored 84%. But credit where due, Snuggle4 was way ahead of the top three Gold Derby “experts” who got 80% right — Deadline‘s Pete Hammond, Fox News’ Tariq Khan and Awards Daily‘s Sasha Stone.
Who is Snuggle4? I’m asking. Why doesn’t he/she have his/her own awards season column?
EW‘s “Safe Dave” Karger, Net Movie’s Kevin Polowy, TheWrap‘s Steve Pond, Gold Derby‘s Paul Sheehan and USA Today‘s Susan Wloszczyna got 75% correct last night.
The 71% Solution team: Vulture‘s Kyle Buchanan, Coming Soon‘s Edward Douglas, L.A. Times‘ Elena Howe, Gold Derby honcho Tom O’Neil, Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers and Fandango’s Chuck Walton.
The 67% Crowd included were Hollywood Reporter‘s Scott Feinberg, WENN’s Kevin Lewin, In Contention‘s Guy Lodge and the Village Voice‘s Michael Musto.
At 63% were Yahoo Movies’ Matt McDaniel, Hollywood News’ Sean O’Connell, Moviefone‘s Chris Rosen, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and myself.
For what it’s worth, Harvard Oscar-odds cruncher Ben Zauzmer, whose predictions I briefly summarized on 2.22, got 75% of these predictions correct, which is pretty good. (75% of the 20 categories he made predictions on, that is — he abstained in four categories.) Among the top eight categories he batted 100%, obviously partly due to his somewhat surprising five-day-old prediction that Meryl Streep would beat Viola Davis in the Best Actress race.
“By the time of Waterworld in 1996, the press’s sonar for the thrashings of a production in trouble — in this case, a prolonged location shoot, on water, with an unfinished script and a quarrelsome star — were so fine-tuned that reporters were virtually camped on the Hawaiian docks where Kevin Costner‘s post-apocalyptic extravaganza was shooting, sharpening their knives and forks.
“Here, though, was the twist: Waterworld wound up making $264 million, thanks to foreign markets, DVD sales, pay-per-view and all the other ancillary revenues with which the studios sought to insulate themselves from risk in the mid-1990s.
“With Last Action Hero (’93) and Godzilla (’98) — two more Flops That Weren’t — Waterworld marked the birth of a new breed of ‘presold’ movie, neither a hit nor a flop, just there, circling the Earth like a blimp, sucking rental revenues from Abu Dhabi, Helsinki, Bangkok.” — from Tom Shone‘s Wall Street Journal review of Ben Taylor‘s “Apocalypse on the Set,” a review of nine “disastrous productions.”
I distinctly recall that the original “it doesn’t suck” quote about Waterworld came from an early reviewer who either caught it at a recruited research screening or (more likely) at a press junket screening.
“Movies, I’ve seen hundreds of them. How many of them stay with you? Shane, Red River, On the Waterfront, Freaks? Maybe a handful of others… I saw one the other night, as soon as it was over, I couldn’t remember a thing about it. Seemed real important at the time though.” — Bob Dylan talking to Cameron Crowe, 1985.
In other words Dylan, born in 1941, had his movie-watching pores open the widest when he was young. If he caught the above in theatres he was 7 when he saw Red River in ’48, 12 when he saw Shane in ’53, and 13 when he saw On The Waterfront. He presumably saw Freaks on the tube or at the Bleecker Street Cinema in the early ’60s.
There is endless, infinite value in great, very good or at least noteworthy creativity. Quality cinema will ebb and flow, but it happens constantly to varying degrees. So the filmmakers with talent are covering their end. It is the responsibility of the viewer to keep him or herself sufficiently attuned and receptive to the good stuff. Same with music, books, fine art, etc.
One of the few surprises came before the ceremony began, when Sacha Baron Cohen approached the E! host Ryan Seacrest on the red carpet,” writes N.Y. Times “Tv Watch” critic Alessandra Stanley. “The comedian was in character from his new movie, The Dictator, and carried an urn filled with what he described as the ashes of Kim Jong-il, the deceased leader of North Korea.
“The comedian spilled the ashes all over a shocked Mr. Seacrest, saying, as he was hustled off by security guards, ‘When someone asks you what you are wearing, you will say Kim Jong-il.’ Mr. Seacrest was not amused.”
At the Artist after-party I was told by a Paramount publicist that there was definitely blowback from Seacrest after-the fact.