Yes, there have been turkeys. “Blended” ($93.7 million on a $40 million budget) and “A Million Ways to Die in the West” ($82.2 million on a $40 million budget) will likely stay in the red, and the $15 million debut for this weekend’s “Sex Tape” doesn’t scream “sequel!,” but these are relatively cost-efficient misfires. They aren’t likely to produce $200 million write downs the way that realizing Johnny Depp’s ambition to wear a bird on his head did. Some films treated like flops, were in fact hits, as in the case of “Tammy,” which has netted $71.2 million so far, a healthy return on a $20 million production. Others, such as “Edge of Tomorrow” ($352.6 million on a $178 million budget) won’t break even, but have stemmed the bleeding with help from foreign crowds. Of course, the movie business may have dodged a bomb when “Jupiter Ascending” vacated the summer and took its frosty buzz to next year, allowing to Channing Tatum to get credit for “22 Jump Street” instead of getting questioned for donning Spock ears. So why is the box office still down 6.1%, year -to-date? The reason may be that there are fewer mid-level hits such as “The Conjuring” and “We’re the Millers,” not just the lack of a global blockbuster on the scale of last summer’s “Iron Man 3.” While none of this year’s crop of tentpole releases looks positioned to cross $300 million stateside, not enough films will top out at between $90 million to $120 million domestically.
Let’s get real. The seven-day-a-week printed newspaper – particularly in metropolitan areas – is terminally ill. Working to sustain it is not only futile, but ultimately destructive to the very values its champions espouse.
Here’s the long view: Some film historians argue that the concept of the superhero franchise was born precisely 25 years ago. That’s when Hollywood realized that the newly released “Batman” was not just a hit at the box office, but that it also came with a full array of tentpole tools — merchandising and global marketing and distribution. It was not just about selling a movie, it was about establishing a brand and peddling a full line of corporate paraphernalia (the 25th anniversary Blu-ray edition will be released in the fall).
What the story fails to note, though, is that with the exception of the sequels in this series it would be another 11 years - until the release of the first X-Men movie - that super heroes would really make a splash like this again. Sure, there were some other attempts, but there was a decade-long drought that preceded the current glut.
Comic books haven’t by any means disappeared, but they’re nowhere near as widely read as they were decades ago. Rare is the newsstand or drug store that carries them. To find a comic book, one must go to a comic book specialty shop or to various legal and not-so-legal websites that carry the characters’ latest adventures. Comics both recent and from over the past hundred years are also regularly collected in hard and soft cover editions. (Besides superhero comics, there is also a wide, wide world of graphic novels such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus and Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home that are the “indy film” counterparts to Marvel and DC’s blockbuster entertainments.)
This bums me out. Some of my favorite childhood memories are of riding my bike down to the drugstore to get new comics (and sometimes being beholden to what was on the spinner rack) or picking something random from the convenience store shelf when my grandparents said I could pick a comic out.
That sporadic scarcity - unheard of in a long tail-driven world - was actually a blessing in disguise as it exposed me to some fun titles I wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. They were what you might call “happy accidents” that today’s planned media consumption, where everything is always available, can’t replicate.
The movies have a long history of technophobia, and social media has become their latest villain. A new breed of coming-of-age dramas is borrowing from horror movies to make iChat users look creepy and teens look stupid. Cautionary tales like Adoration, Trust, and Disconnect take full advantage of the horror film cliché of the naïve, sexually proactive, and ultimately doomed teenager to imagine Privacy Settings-less games of online cat and mouse. When these scripts can call upon social media, they don’t even have to find a way to get rid of all authority figures: Being tech neophytes, the adults are already helpless to intervene before the denouement’s inevitable stalking sequence.
Even when films do show a competent young techies—think The Social Network or Hard Candy—they’re often portrayed as unlikeable outcasts. Of course, that’s a false depiction in an age when tech fluency is the norm, not a marker of social alienation. And lots of evidence suggests that “digital natives” are doing just fine. Movies that portray social media in a positive light, like Jon Favreau’s recent indie Chef did, are surprisingly rare. You might think Hollywood would want to try to understand the selfie generation, rather than terrorize them. After all, these millennials are purportedly going to save the movie industry.
Songs seem to be around three minutes – but of course not all songs are that long. I know there are some very long songs by both Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Though this seems mostly correct. Three minutes is a very common time length for a song. I asked a knowledgeable friend and he suggested that the time length of popular songs was based on the phonograph. You know, the original medium for recording sound. At first, these phonographs were cylinder shaped. Later, they came in the form of a 10 inch disk. These disks rotated at 78 rpm and could hold about 3 minutes worth of music. This format was popular until the 1960s when the 45 came out. The 45 was a smaller disk that rotated at 45 rpm (thus the name). However, they could still only hold “about 3 minutes”.
The findings contradict a similar analysis published two years ago by Stanford scientists, who found that there are only minor differences in the nutritional content of organic and conventionally-grown foods. However, the new study does not claim eating organic food leads to better health. However, many studies have suggested that antioxidants have been linked to a lower risk of cancer and other diseases.
Behind all of these charges is the suspicion that evangelicals are simply refusing to accept contemporary American mores; they are privileging their faith over the moral spirit of the age. But for many evangelicals, these beliefs are not actually a sign of retreat from public life. Instead, there is a fear that in an increasingly secularized society, there will be less tolerance for people who wish to act upon their deeply held religious beliefs, except in narrowly defined, privatized spaces. This is a fundamentally American concern: Will I have the right to serve God as I believe I am obligated to? This fear isn’t just personal. As laws on issues like same-sex marriage and contraception have changed, there’s a growing fear that public policy will become more and more in conflict with evangelical morality. This, according to many conservative Christians, is what these tensions are about: being legally required to perform acts that you sincerely and deeply believe are immoral. Although in the past the religious right has openly advocated legislating morality in the public sphere, for most evangelicals, the recent cases do not seem to be about policing other people’s morality—the concern is about preserving the ability to be faithful to one’s own morality. By paying to cover contraceptives that interfere with “conception,” as evangelicals define it, by baking a cake or taking photographs to celebrate a same-sex wedding, some Christians believe they are facilitating a profoundly immoral act—which makes them morally culpable, as well.