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How American movies change when they are exported

Translation has always been interesting to me. It is interesting to me how something like a movies are translated. Even before making it to the theater the movie can be changed dramatically through translation. The name of the movie can reshape the expectation and focus of the movie for example. While not lingual, the movie poster can also be “translated” for a different audience.

Meryl Streep’s It’s Complicated is an example of those two things happening at once. The result is that the bakery (which isn’t featured at all in the American marketing) and the character’s family become the focus. While the American version seems to focus on the character’s complicated love life.

It’s really interesting. The big question is how these two marketing campaigns reflect cultural values and whether these reflections are pleasing to witness.

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Warner Brothers want more people to pirate their new movies

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Warner Brothers will be delaying release on Netflix by four weeks. It is a silly move to try and squeeze more money out of consumers at a time when most consumers don’t have lots of extra cash to spare.

From the article:

“Within the home entertainment category, we’re creating different times at which a product is available at different prices,” said Kevin Tsujihara, Warner Bros.’ home entertainment president.

I place my bet on this being a total wash financially. Whatever money they gain from the few customers who are willing to pay the premium they’ll loose to illegal downloads. This is also a great move to anger and alienate their customers.

It is amazing that a company can create a strategy that is hostile to customers and simultaneously complain about things like piracy (which are in part an issue of customer loyalty). It seems that Warner Brothers doesn’t understand some of the fundamental changes in technology and culture that effect their business. This is yet another issue of boneheaded money grabs which make life more difficult for legitimate customers and much much easier for people who don’t pay a penny.

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Should We Keep Letting the MPAA Fib

The MPAA is always going on about how they are losing tons of money in the theaters because of pirates. However a AP article recently pointed out that

Since the first weekend of May, domestic grosses total $1.46 billion, up 4.6 percent from 2007’s, according to Media By Numbers. Factoring in higher ticket prices, actual movie attendance this summer is up 1.6 percent.

But this isn’t the first time someone has pointed out this inconsistency. And an Ars Technica article points out that

US box office doing its biggest year of business ever in 2007, growing 5.4 percent over 2006 and bringing in $9.63 billion

So the question is, how much longer are we going to let the MPAA concoct a “truth” that allows them to push new crappy laws that erode our freedoms? But are we sure they are fibbing? Maybe they made some honest mistakes? Unlikely, the Ars Technica article also reminds us that

It turns out that the MPAA’s college [piracy] numbers were off by a factor of three, a revelation that came after years of hiding the study’s methodology but continuing to lobby Congress with its numbers.

Such gross lies are clearly not innocent. You can expect the same of the laws they’d like to push through.

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movies

I'm Gonna See This (Darjeeling Limited)

Looks like Wes Anderson is finally gonna remind me why I sometimes really want to go to the movies (even if the theaters treat customers like hardened criminals). The Darjeeling Limited is written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman, and Anderson is the Director. It stars Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman who play three estranged brothers. The preview was enough to sell me. Every movie that Anderson has done so far has been original, funny, and poignant all at once and it looks like he’s keeping up that awesome tradition.

Hopefully, it’ll play somewhere near me… the limited release date is Sept 29th and it looks like there will be more dates in October.

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humor, politics, technology

Ten Things I Hate About Comandments

Fair use makes great derivative works like this legal. Of course Viacom still had it taken down, even though they legally don’t own it. But now it is back, take a look.

This is just one of the many reasons fair use needs to be protected. The DVD-CCA (the folks is charge of DVD licensing) are trying to make it illegal to copy a DVD in anyway, in fact they don’t even want people to playing a DVD movie without the DVD in the drive. So for example, if you wanted to save battery life on your laptop during travel by watching a movie from its hard drive you’d be doing something illegal. The worse thing is that the DMCA will probably make it work— hope you’re all ready to say goodbye to your rights.

People should write to their representatives and let them know that we all think the DMCA needs to change. The content creator’s rights are important, but the rights of the people purchasing that content is important too. The problems with the DMCA go way beyond DVD protection— fair use and innovation freedom in general are being strangled.

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writing

Write Your Movie Script this June

From the folks that brought you the National Novel Writing Month comes Script Frenzy. They’ve made June the month to write a complete script from start to finish.

you in the movies, big timeThe Script Frenzy website has all sorts of tips on how to write a screenplay. From what I understand the site is basically just a support group where you can get help getting the screenplay done and a place to prove you’ve done it once it’s over. And if you are wondering, you retain all the rights to your work, plus they “don’t keep or read your script when you upload it” they have robots that count the words to see if you reached 20,000 word requirement and then they delete it. In fact they “encourage you to scramble [your script] into jibberish before submitting it.”

And if you need a computer to work on they have loaners available (they’re just notepads), but the application deadline for those is looming. If you really want one you’d better apply now or risk missing the May 16th deadline.

The import thing here are their five basic rules

  1. To be crowned an official Script Frenzy winner, you must write a script of at least 20,000 words and verify this word count on ScriptFrenzy.org.
  2. You may write individually or in teams of two. Writer teams will have a 20,000 total word goal for their single co-written script.
  3. Script writing may begin no earlier than 12:00:01 AM on June 1 and must cease no later than 11:59:59 PM on June 30, local time.
  4. You may write either a screenplay or a stage play.
  5. You must, at some point, have ridiculous amounts of fun.

There are actually a few more rules, for instance you can’t write an adaptation. Before you start writing you should check their FAQ and help section where you can see the rest of the do’s and the do not do’s.

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The MPAA Might Need a Better Public Image

Recently a satirical news story had some people up in arms. The idea of the story was that the MPAA wanted to start charging each person that watched movies at home. The idea being that the MPAA though everyone who watched a movie ought to own it or at least pay for it. Outrageous, yes, but not outrageous enough to be put beyond the realm of possibilities. Lots of people thought this was the real deal. The question is why?

Could it be that people think the MPAA is greedy? Looking at the news we can see that just recently movie studios came out saying that they want to impose heavier limits on iTunes store movies (there are already some pretty crappy restrictions), people have a good reason to think they are greedy.

mpaaThe interesting thing is that they keep saying they don’t want to have the problems that record companies have had with downloading music. They say that, the question is whether they have considered that part of the reason record companies have done so poorly (aside from releasing terrible music) is because they were unable to adapt to new consumers.

Consider yourself that a movie ticket in Seattle costs $9.50, then you’ll have to watch five to minutes of commercials, and most of the movies out at these huge theaters are, at best, mediocre. Does this have anything to do with people not going to the theaters anymore? A family of five has to spend money on gas, probably some crappy over priced food and then there’s the tickets and maybe even parking. We are talking well over $60 for them to see a movie. Or they could watch one of the movies they just got from netflix for $17 a month. Best of all there are no commercials, annoying people in the audience (unless your family and friends are annoying), and if the movie sucks you just send it back— you’ve barely lost any money on the deal, certainly no where near $60-$70 dollars.

But that isn’t the reason movie studios are doing poorly. It’s clearly pirates, lurking in the filthy darkness where they grow rich off the sweat of the sweet hard working movie execs who just want people to play fair.

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