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Anthem’s Sales Figures Could Mean More Publishers Stop Early Copies

Anthem, despite all evidence pointing to the contrary, actually performed pretty well from a sales perspective during its first month of release. The game topped US sales charts, and immediately became the second-most popular game of 2019 behind the much better-received Kingdom Hearts 3. Not only was Anthem successful from a monthly sales standpoint despite struggling to move physical copies, it was also close to a studio-best for developer BioWare as its second best launch month behind Mass Effect 3.

How Anthem‘s sales success came to be is a more fascinating story than just the numbers, though, and it could point toward a larger trend that threatens the transparency of the industry. Anthem was one of the first major releases of 2019 that failed to provide advance review copies to critics ahead of its launch. Instead, reviewers were entered into the PC early access week that was reserved for people who had purchased a subscription to Origin on top of Anthem. As such, in the week leading up to launch, Anthem was mostly reviewed as a work-in-progress, with many critics rightfully asserting that their early impressions could be off compared to the title’s endgame.

Related: Don’t Play Anthem Until It’s A Full Game

It was pretty tough getting to the endgame, and even then, the player totals were sparse. As a result, most Anthem reviews weren’t out for longer than a few days prior to the game’s official launch, and those who may have been swayed were also keenly aware that 5 or 10 hours with a title’s endgame content often isn’t enough to make a completely accurate assessment. Despite being a shambles at launch and doing very little to improve since then, Anthem crushed its first month of sales all the same.

What does that mean? For EA and BioWare, it appears to be a lesson learned: Mass Effect: Andromeda completely tanked thanks largely to some incredibly negative review buzz, but it’s hard to suggest that Anthem is a better game in any capacity (outside of face animations, sure). So the publisher/developer duo did something different with Anthem. It cut off the amount of time word could circulate about the game and ensure that, regardless of critical feedback, fans who were sold on it by the game’s gorgeous E3 presentations – which weren’t fully implemented into the game, by the way – would remain sold on it until they got to try it for themselves. Mike Ybarra infamously suggested that, instead of listening to critics, people interested in Anthem should listen to streamers and content creators instead – just weeks before it was revealed Ninja was paid $1 million just to play Apex Legends for a day, coincidentally by EA, who also publishes that title.

Look, there are plenty of reasons people might have picked up Anthem in spite of the early reviews that strongly indicated they should avoid it, and not all of them have the same sinister undertones as deliberately trying to mask a game’s quality prior to full release. A lot of Dragon Age fans saw Anthem as, functionally, a Kickstarter campaign to get BioWare to work on the next iteration of that beloved franchise. Anthem also had an incredible amount of hype swirling around it after years of anticipation and careful glimpses into its development, buoyed by a restricted hands-on session that had many outlets reporting good things about the game. For many, their minds were made up prior to any gameplay footage even being shown, and poor reviews won’t sway people who want to decide for themselves.

Those factors were definitely at play in Anthem‘s sales success, but it’s hard to shake the lingering sense that they weren’t nearly as important as the fact that EA and BioWare made sure critics couldn’t get a full review out with enough time to impact pre-orders or day one purchases. We’re certainly not trying to say that this was a case of a publisher and developer deliberately shipping a game both parties believed wasn’t good. If anything, it’s clear that BioWare really believes in Anthem, and the developer has been admirably trying to salvage it with frantic updates and community discussions ever since day one. What did happen, though, was that a game that wasn’t even close to what had been promised managed to have a decent bottom line all the same.

That in and of itself isn’t troubling if not for the likelihood it could become an even more predominant industry practice than it already is. Fans rely on critics to help them make decisions about where to spend their money. It’s unlikely anyone who was ever a diehard fan of a game truly decided against its purchase because of a bad review, but those who are on the fence about a title and strapped for cash benefit greatly from added information. We’re swiftly moving into an era where that won’t be possible anymore.

Anthem is the worst-reviewed BioWare game ever, and it is being routinely shredded by its own sub-reddit. It’s also the best selling game in its launch month. These two facts are no longer mutually exclusive from each other, and if publishers look at Anthem and see a safety valve for unexpectedly poor receptions, it might become a very common phenomenon over the next few years.

More: Diablo 3 Developer Perfectly Explains Anthem’s Biggest Issues


2019-03-20 08:03:20

Cody Gravelle

Crazy Rich Asians Is Highest-Grossing Rom-Com This Decade (So Far)

Wildly successful romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians looks to be leader of the pack in box office receipts for the decade. It’s been roughly two months in theaters since its mid-August release, and the runaway hit adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s best-selling book has handily outsold every other rom-com in the 2010s, and yet remains in theaters at time of this writing.

Crazy Rich Asians broke early ticket sales records from its premiere, dominating the box office for three straight weekends with no signs of slowing down. The film stars Constance Wu ( Fresh Off the Boat ) in the leading role, alongside veteran Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Star Trek: Discovery) and rising star Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8), among others. Directed by filmmaker Jon M. Chu, Crazy Rich Asians’ immediate success followed positive early buzz, making its opening weekend the biggest rom-com opening since 2015’s Trainwreck.

Related: Crazy Rich Asians’ Michelle Yeoh & Awkwafina Reunite For Action Film

That early attention simply did not waver, and the film has seen eight solid weekends of consistent sales thus far, placing in top 10 tickets sold in the first weekend of October. That momentum has seemingly secured its legacy, and, according to Box Office Mojo (via Screen Crush), Crazy Rich Asians as the sixth-highest grossing romantic-comedy of all-time at the domestic box office, with over $169 million in sales, which also makes it the highest grossing rom-com of the decade.

This news makes reports of the imminent sequel, which arrived a mere week after opening weekend, seem particularly wise on the part of Warner Bros. Titled China Rich Girlfriend, the sequel is based on the follow-up novel of the same name, and will push the story presented in the original forward. Limited information about the sequel is available at present – and there’s considerable speculation as to plot details when weighing the changes made in the Crazy Rich Asians adaptation – but the director and writers are expected to return.

Aside from its profitable reign in theaters, Crazy Rich Asians was notable as the first Hollywood studio film with primarily Asian-American leads since 1993’s award-winning The Joy Luck Club. News of the sequel aside, this distinction may have spearheaded a new trend, and Warner Bros./New Line’s recently-acquired Singles Day may represent increased trust being placed in Asian-American actors and actresses to draw audiences to theaters.

For now, Crazy Rich Asians continues its run in theaters across the country, and a mere $7 million more will see it crack the top five romantic comedies and outsell 1998’s There’s Something About Mary.

Update: Corrected the filmography of Constance Wu.

More: Crazy Rich Asians Review: This Is What Big Studio Rom-Coms SHOULD Be

Source: Box Office Mojo



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2018-10-10 06:10:50 – Leo Faierman

10 Best Disney Movies According to Rotten Tomatoes (And 10 With Almost 0%)

After all these years, Disney movies remain the gold standard in family entertainment. Starting from the back of a realty office in Hollywood back in 1928, Disney is now a brand worth billions of dollars. But it’s not just money—Disney’s cultural influence is worldwide and manages to stay relevant with each subsequent generation. There’s no underestimating the power of nostalgia; chances are if someone grew up liking Disney movies, they’re probably a fan for life. Walt Disney pioneered the idea of feature-length animated movies, an idea considered ridiculous at the time. They would be too expensive to make, and what self-respecting adult would pay money to see a full-length animated film? Turns out everyone wanted to, especially those with kids. At the time, there was no such thing as a full-production studio dedicated to animated films—so with the profits of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Walt Disney built one. From there, it was only a short period of time before Disney branched out into producing live-action films, and before anyone knew it, Disney dominated the family entertainment market.

Since then, Disney has expanded its intellectual properties to include Marvel, Star Wars, ABC, and 20th Century Fox. This makes Disney virtually unstoppable. Some meme artists have even depicted Mickey Mouse as Thanos, with its individual properties the different gems in the Infinity Gauntlet. But there were a few hiccups along the way. Disney has had tremendous success with its films, but people tend to forget that even the mighty occasionally fall. Here are the 10 best Disney movies according to the ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, along with the 10 worst.

20 Best: Pinnochio (100%)

Pinnochio was Walt Disney’s second animated feature, released shortly after the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Like its predecessor, it had gorgeous visuals with a painstaking attention to every element of the production. Unlike Snow White, it initially flopped at the box office. Luckily, Walt Disney had faith in the movie and gave it a second release to recover production costs. The plan worked, and Pinocchio eventually earned enough money to put it back into the black.

The iconic “When You Wish Upon A Star” theme from the film is still synonymous with the Disney brand.

The artists of Pinnochio helped pioneered advances in effects animation, which specialized on non-character elements that move, such as water or fire. The animated ocean effects during the Monstro sequence were the most ambitious water effects ever achieved for its time.

19 Worst: That Darn Cat (13%)

If nobody remembers this movie, it’s partially because it came in and of the theatre pretty fast. A remake of Disney’s moderately successful live-action That Darn Cat from 1965, the 1997 version was not nearly as successful. Starring Cristina Ricci as Patti, the plot features a cat that becomes “witness” to a kidnapping gone wrong. Patti eventually convinces the authorities to investigate and she becomes central in helping to solve the details of the crime and eventual rescue.

The reviews of the film were dismal. One critic described it as “…a desperate dip into utter conventionality: dull car chases, explosions, inept slapstick.” Another says it is a “…disappointing, rather warmed over Disney offering.” Despite this, Cristina Ricci was nominated for two awards for her performance in the film, a Kid’s Choice Awards, and a Young Artist’s Ward.

18 Best: Mary Poppins (100%)

The mostly live-action Mary Poppins was a smash-hit. It earned 13 Academy Award film nominations and won five, including Best Actress, Best Original Score, and Best Visual Effects. It’s easy to see why. Julie Andrews brought her amazing charisma to the performance, dazzling audiences with her ability to sing, dance, and easily handle comedy intended for children. The songs are memorable, with several such as A Spoonful of Sugar and Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious becoming part of the American culture.

Disney had experimented with combining live action with animation before, but never in such an ambitious way. For many, their favorite part of the film is where Mary Poppins, Burt the Chimney Sweep, and the Banks children jump into the chalk drawing and have a little adventure in an animated world. Disney is releasing the sequel, Mary Poppins Returns, in December of 2018.

17 Worst: My Favorite Martian (12%)

Based on the 1960’s television show of the same name, My Favorite Martian tells the story of a humanoid Martian (Christopher Lloyd) that crash lands on earth. He enlists the help of a reporter in a funk to put him up while he tries to repair his spaceship and get home.

Though reviews were generally kind to Christopher Lloyd, the movie as a whole was mostly disliked by critics.

Said one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes, “An utterly pointless and unimaginative remake based on the classic ’60s sitcom…a meteoric misfire.” Another gets right to the point: “A terrible movie. Beware.” My Favorite Martian did earn three nominations…of The Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. It was nominated for Worst Resurrection of a TV Show, Most Botched Comic Relief and Most Painfully Unfunny Comedy.

16 Best: The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (100%)

Like most Disney movies, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was adapted from existing source material. It’s based on characters from short stories from the author A. A. Milne. The film focuses on young Christopher Robin and his stuffed bear, and a menagerie of other stuffed animals come to life. The movie is a collection of animated shorts edited together into a feature-length film.

Surprisingly, the Winnie the Pooh franchise is worth much more than one might imagine. Variety estimated the sales of merchandise related to Winnie the Pooh topped over $5 billion, which among Disney properties, is second only to Mickey Mouse. Disney released a live action movie, Christopher Robin, based on an adult Christopher Robin rediscovering Winnie the Pooh and his friends in August of 2018.

15 Worst: Cinderella II: Dreams Come True (11%)

One would think that after one of the most stereotypical happy endings of all time, writers would have a hard time coming up with a good sequel for Cinderella. One would be right. Cinderella II: Dreams Come True is actually an anthology movie that ties together three Cinderella short stories into one film. The first story describes her struggle to be herself as a new princess. The second follows Jaq the mouse feeling left out. And the third shows how Cinderella tries to teach one of her step-sisters how to smile. Seriously.

This direct-to-video sequel wasn’t liked by critics. One top critic says simply, “Do not see this film.” Another, quite dramatically, announces, “A screaming black vortex of total, irredeemable awfulness.” A quick glance through other remarks reveals similarly negative responses. Nevertheless, Cinderella II: Dreams Come True still made approximately $120 million in sales.

14 Best: Toy Story (100%)

Toy Story was ambitious in scope, it being the first animated Disney feature that was fully animated with CGI. Audiences had never seen this kind of animated film before and impressed audiences made the movie a runaway hit. Though CGI animated movies have come a long way since then, Toy Story still holds up. The interplay between Woody the Cowboy (played by Tom Hanks) and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) is the highlight of the film. Though they have different perceptions of reality, they learn to work together to make sure they don’t get left behind in their boy Andy’s move.

Toy Story garnered three Academy Award nominations and won a Special Achievement Academy Award for being the first feature-length computer-animated film. It has two hit sequels, with a third in production.

13 Worst: Blank Check (11%)

What if a kid found a blank check that allowed him to spend a million dollars? That’s the intriguing premise behind Blank Check, a movie that didn’t really build a successful story out of this great idea. Through an implausible series of events, young Preston Waters is given a blank check to help pay for a bicycle accident involving a car. But he’s given the wrong check, and the person who gave it to him is a criminal. Preston spends the rest of the movie spending lavishly while trying to avoid the authorities and the criminal who is hot on his tail.

One top critic explains it’s “One of those smart-aleck kid adventures that manages to be entirely obnoxious with very little effort.” A Rotten Tomatoes super reviewer hilariously opined, “If you loved Home Alone, you’ll still gonna hate Blank Check!”

12 Best: Darby O’Gill and the Little People (100%)

Though many modern audiences have never heard of Darby O’Gill and the Little People, it probably remains the most successful movie ever made about Leprechauns. In the film, the aging laborer and caretaker Darby O’Gill has spent much of his life trying to catch the Leprechauns. One day, in his old age, he is actually caught by them. He spends the rest of the film strategizing how he will spend the three wishes granted upon him by Brian, the King of the Leprechauns.

The film also features a young and dashing Sean Connery as Michael McBride, the love interest to Darby O’Gill’s daughter.

Though it won no awards, it has been critically well-received over the years and had state-of-the-art special effects for its day.

11 Worst: Mr. Magoo (7%)

The character of Mr. Magoo was a successful cartoon character from the late 40’s through the 50’s. The running gag for each story was that millionaire Mr. Magoo was practically blind, which led him into comically dangerous situations. Mr. Magoo was also amazingly lucky, which seemed to save him every time.

The Disney adaptation starred Leslie Nielsen, an actor beloved for being able to handle silly comedy with a straight face. But it just wasn’t enough to save the film, which seemed to suffer from the repetitive and unfunny gags. Critics were beyond cruel to the film. One announced, “The movie is an insult to the intelligence of the entire human race.” Another agrees, “Mr. Magoo is transcendently bad. It soars above ordinary badness as the eagle outreaches the fly. There is not a laugh in it. Not one.”

10 Best: Toy Story 2 (100%)

After the runaway success of the first Toy Story, a sequel seemed inevitable. Somehow avoiding the curse of most sequels being inferior to the original, Toy Story 2 managed to be a moving story which many think is even better than the first. It also introduced a brand new character to the saga, Jesse the Cowgirl.

Toy Story 2 has one of the most heartbreaking songs in Disney’s collection, When She Loved Me, performed by Sarah McLachlan. The song describes being abandoned by the child she loved, a sequence that left hardly a dry eye in the house. It went on to become a smash hit, just like the first one. Though it won no academy awards, it won many independent awards and some argue it is the best Toy Story movie of the entire franchise.

9 Worst: A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (5%)

A Kid in King Arthur’s Court is very loosely based on Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, a story that has been adapted into several other films. Modern ’90s kid Calvin Fuller is playing baseball for his team when an earthquake hits. A chasm opens up on the field and he falls in. Calvin is inexplicably transported to England in the age of King Arthur, where he quickly wows the locals with his modern knowledge. While there, he also falls in love with the local princess.

Critics seemed to be surprised this was a Disney film. One critic laments, “Rarely do the well-financed wizards at Walt Disney Pictures cook up a movie this badly written, acted, and directed.” Another says, “Sitting through it, I found myself shuddering at what Disney may have in store for next summer.”

8 Best: Old Yeller (100%)

Old Yeller was famous for ruining many a childhood with a depressing plot twist, the on-screen demise of its titular dog. After saving his family multiple times over the years from bears, wild hogs, and wolves, Old Yeller finally seals his fate when he fought off a rabid wolf to protect his people. Not only did the the dog pass away, but its owner and best friend Travis had to put him down himself because he had been infected with rabies. This scene has become one of the most famous tear-jerking live-action scenes in all of Disney’s films.

Despite the bummer plot development, the film was still a critical and commercial hit. And it still managed to leave on a high note—by the end, Travis adopts Old Yeller’s puppy and names him Young Yeller.

7 West: Meet the Deedles (4%)

As handsome as Paul Walker was, even he couldn’t have saved Meet the Deedles. The story describes the hapless Phil and Stew Deedle, brothers who are in high school and avid surfers. Their father becomes disgusted with their lazy behavior and sends them off to a boot camp where they can learn some discipline.

In an extremely unlikely series of events, the Deedle brothers assume false identities as park rangers and…hilarity is supposed to ensue.

As with most movies received this badly, the Rotten Tomatoes reviews are hilarious to read. One critic announces dryly, “If all of this sounds ridiculous, it is.” Another is much more cruel, saying, “Dumb is one thing, but this sorry attempt at action-comedy from stuntman turned director Steve Boyum is in an intelligence-deprived class all its own.”

6 Best: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves (98%)

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves was Disney’s first animated film feature and the first animated film to gain massive success. It was actually the profits from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves that allowed Disney to build its first full-fledged production studio in Burbank, California. From there, Disney was unleashed to produce dozens of huge hits.

Early forecasters predicted Snow White would be a huge flop, but Disney had the last laugh when the film was finally released. Critics, even the ones predicting its failure, absolutely loved it. Audiences flocked to it and children adored it. Walt Disney received a special Academy Honorary Award for making a “significant screen innovation.” The Honorary Oscar came with seven little miniature Oscars. As with Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella, Disney is producing a live-action adaptation of the film.

5 Worst: Mulan 2 (0%)

Did we ever even need a Mulan 2? According to critics, the answer is a resounding “no.” The original Mulan was a hit in 1998, following the adventures of the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, a woman who became a fearsome warrior against all odds. Mulan 2 features a convoluted plot wherein Mulan prepares to get married and go on an important mission at the same time, trying to prevent several kingdoms from collapsing against the Mongolian hordes.

The plot doesn’t sound terrible, but it didn’t deliver. Critics seemed to dislike it mainly for being bland. One explained, “If it were any more trivial, it’d be invisible. Mulan II is, rather, more conceptually offensive.” Another spoke bluntly, “It’s harmless, sure, but it’s also charmless.” Another sequel was planned but eventually shelved.

4 Best: 101 Dalmatians (98%)

With 101 Dalmatians, Disney opted to develop a somewhat obscure children’s story.  This was a bit different from the popular fairy-tale adaptations that Disney had been known for. After a bachelor and his new blushing bride get married, their respective male and female adult Dalmatians breed a large litter of puppies. An over the top villain, Cruella de Vil, steals them along with other Dalmatian puppies with plans to eventually turn them all into a fur coat. The adult Dalmatians and other animals lead efforts to rescue ALL the puppies and bring them back to safety.

101 Dalmatians cut costs by adopting a more minimal animation style but still was a critical and financial success.

The movie was adapted into two live-action movies in the ’90s and also had an animated sequel in 2003.

3 Worst: The Big Green (0%)

Not many Disney fans know this film even exists. The Big Green was released in 1995 and tells the story of a scrappy British teacher who introduces kids with low self-esteem in a small Texas town the game of soccer. Sort of a Bad News Bears for the soccer crowd, the movie follows these underdog kids as they go from losers to heroes.

However, according to critics, it’s derivative and not as good as either of those films. Perhaps the poster, which features a young kid getting hit in the groin by a soccer ball, is the first sign the “comedy” wasn’t up to par. One critic writes, “The Big Green is at its worst and most desperate when resorting to ridiculous hallucinations and silly sped-up photography to get laughs, and it’s at its best when… well, it’s over.” Yikes.

2 Best: Cinderella (97%)

It’s hard to believe, but Disney suffered a bit of a downturn during WWII and by the late 40s was financially doing poorly. Disney turned back to its classic roots and decided to produce Cinderella, an old story based on folklore and also told in a classic Grimm’s fairy tale. The movie not only brought Disney out of debt, but gave the studio enough capital to create its own film distribution company, begin production on other films, and start building Disneyland and Disney World.

The movie received critical praise not seen since Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Pinnochio. Many noted its rich colors and backgrounds, realistic human animation, and memorable music. It was later nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Original Song for Bippity Boppity Boo.

1 Worst: Kronk’s New Groove (0%)

The Emperor’s New Groove was a unique and charming Disney film that has become somewhat of a cult classic over the years, featuring the voices of the hilarious David Spade and Patrick Warburton. Its sequel, Kronk’s New Groove was not received nearly as well. Part of the problem may be the thin plot, which has something to do with Kronk running a restaurant, falling in love with a camp counselor, and trying to impress his father. Yzma returns as a villain but doesn’t really have much to do.

Voice talents notwithstanding, the resulting film was a dud with critics.

Pointed out one, “Great voice talents, but weak storyline and frankly not much groove.” Another astutely observed, “It’s just too generic, and generic is not what we want from a sequel to a film that managed to escape the Disney mold.”

Which of these films did you love most? Let us know in the comments!



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2018-10-07 06:10:17 – Gary Gunter

20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial

It’s been almost forty years since E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was first released, but this 1982 Steven Spielberg-directed gem is still going strong to this day with audiences of all ages. This wonderful film about a boy and his friend alien melted the hearts of all those who first watched it back in the early 1980s, and it still remains a most treasured family film. Its legacy is seen in every aspect of our pop culture, and it is regularly cited as people’s favorite film of all time. Only a director as visionary as Spielberg could take such a simple concept and transform it into a lasting cinematic treasure.

E.T. also helped transform the lives of those who participated in its making, sending a young Drew Barrymore into stratospheric fame and solidifying Henry Thomas as one of the most famous child actors of all time. There’s no doubt that E.T. will continue to leave its mark on future generations, and we can only hope that its perfection is respected without Hollywood grasping for a remake or an ill-advised, modern-day sequel.

If you’re a fan of this classic film or if you’re a Steven Spielberg aficionado wanting to know his tricks of the trade, you’ll be fascinated by the secrets that went on behind the scenes during the movie’s making. From the movie’s conception based on Spielberg’s life to the inspiration behind E.T.’s famous face, we have all the facts you’ll want to know about this iconic film.

With that in mind, here are 20 Crazy Details Behind the Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

20 Henry Thomas Brought Up His Tragic Past For His Audition

Landing the role of Elliott in E.T. unquestionably changed child actor Henry Thomas’ life. Having only previously done a couple of small movie parts in 1981, Thomas all of a sudden became the most famous kid in the world thanks to his on-screen adventures with his alien co-star.  

According to the Mirror, Thomas was only nine years old when he landed this role of a lifetime. In order to secure himself the part, during the audition the young actor drew upon the traumatic experience of seeing his pet dog attacked by his neighbor’s dog, which brought on real tears. Spielberg and the casting directors were immediately impressed. Being able to call upon real emotion showed the director that he could definitely act, and solidified Thomas as a genuine child talent.

19 Drew Barrymore’s Vivid Imagination Got Her Her Role

Drew Barrymore has been on the Hollywood scene for a long time, but her first big start on screen was in E.T. playing the part of Gertie. According to an interview on Ellen, Barrymore revealed that she wasn’t originally even going to audition for E.T. During her interview, Barrymore explained how she was actually trying to get a part in Poltergeist, but the director wasn’t there that day. Instead, Poltergeist’s producer, Steven Spielberg was there in his place.

She told Ellen: “I was six, and I lied my face off. I told him I was in a rock ‘n’ roll band, that I was a drummer, that I was a cook.”

After her audition, Spielberg said she wasn’t quite right for Poltergeist, but that he’d love to have her come in and audition for another project he was working on. Sure enough, he called her up soon after and gave her the part of Gertie in E.T.

18 It had a very boring title at first

When a movie becomes a huge hit, especially one that continues to garner success decades and generations after its first release, it’s hard to imagine it separately from its title. Indeed, the title of a movie becomes its first point of cultural consciousness, and there are those that last the test of time, and those that don’t.

Mention E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial to anyone and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s not only a memorable film title, it’s also become so deeply ingrained in our collective pop culture that we all know what it is even if we haven’t seen it. Well, E.T. might have faded away in the land of forgotten films, had they gone with the original title, A Boy’s Life, as noted by The New Yorker. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with A Boy’s Life, it’s not half as memorable as E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

17 Harrison Ford Shot a Cameo

While Spielberg was working on getting things ready to begin filming E.T., he was still in the process of filming Raiders of the Lost Ark, which, of course, starred Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. Ford dating Melissa Mathison, who was the scriptwriter for E.T., at the time.

Because of his friendship with Spielberg and his relationship with Mathison, Ford agreed to make a cameo appearance in the film.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Ford’s bit part was supposed to be a kind of a joke as he was going to play against his usual type, here as an uptight school principal who would scold Elliott after the frog-releasing scene. In the final edit, the decision was made to cut the Ford scene as it didn’t fit in with the rest of the movie and it was thought Ford’s presence would be too distracting from the story line.

16 M&M’s Were Supposed To Be E.T.’s favorite candy

Reese’s Pieces surged in popularity after the release of E.T.. The candy was featured in the scene where Elliott tries lays a trail of candy to lure E.T. back to his house. Many people back then, and now for that matter, might have thought it strange that Elliott used Reese’s Pieces.

Well, according to Business Insider, the reason for the choice of sweet was down to the fact that M&Ms had refused the production permission to use its brand in the film. Culinary Lore also states that Mars Inc., which owned M&Ms, refused the filmmakers the right to use the candy because it didn’t want to be associated with aliens. This was clearly a bad call, as after the release of E.T., sales of Reese’s rose exponentially, topping the numbers sold of M&Ms for the first time ever.

15 E.T.’s Face Was Modeled On Some Famous People

E.T. is one of the most recognizable movie characters in history and one of the cutest, albeit weirdest, examples of an on-screen alien. No character had, or has since, looked like like this singular creature, and its aesthetic is all thanks to Spielberg and his incredible designer Carlo Rambaldi.

Rambaldi created the aliens for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and his talents were once again put to use in E.T.

In a special featurette called The Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Spielberg reveals: “I remember saying to Carlo, here’s some pictures of Albert Einstein, Ernest Hemingway and Carl Sandburg. I love their eyes, can we make E.T.’s eyes as frivolous and also wizened and as sad as those three icons.” Based on these famous celebrities, we have the E.T. we all know and recognize.

14 E.T. Was Played by Three Different Actors

With today’s technology, it would be a fairly easy task creating a CGI alien to act as the main part in a blockbuster film. However, when E.T. was being made in 1982, things were not so simple According to The Vintage News, creating a believable, friendly alien back then took three mechanical puppets as well as three actors, one of whom was a young 12-year-old boy who had been born without legs.

There wasn’t always someone wearing the suit in every scene, as often E.T. was being controlled by a team of mechanical operators. However, when the alien was required to walk or move about, a small person was often behind the movements. Watching E.T. today, the alien might seem like quite a basic piece of engineering, but back then, Spielberg and his team were making technological strides.

13 Drew Barrymore Thought E.T. Was Real

Drew Barrymore was only six years old when she played the part of Gertie in E.T., and even though she was already developing into a bright, young, talented actress, she was still very much at an age where imagination and make-believe can cloud reality. Barrymore’s acting is fantastic in the film, especially for someone so young, but her great reactions to things on screen could be down to the fact that she believed E.T. was a real alien.

 The cast and crew encouraged her to believe E.T. was really alive, and she seems to have taken the bait completely.

In a behind-the-scenes featurette for the movie, Elliott actor Henry Thomas reveals: “Drew, she’s imaginative. She introduced E.T. to her mom and said ‘He’s just a little shy now. He doesn’t want to talk to you right now but he’s just a little shy.’”

12 E.T.’s Voice Comes From Raccoons, Otters, Horses, and Burps

E.T. is one of the most imitated movie characters, with people of all ages having tried at one time or another to impersonate the alien’s singular speech patterns. If you listen closely, you’ll hear that there are a lot of different elements and sounds to the alien’s voice. This wasn’t achieved by employing one spectacularly gifted voice recording artist. Instead, as we learn from the BBC, it was a talented sound designer, Ben Burtt, who collected noises from an entire array of sources and put them together to create E.T.’s voice.

As Burtt tells the BBC: “I created the voice for E.T. out of many different things, about 18 different people and animals and sound effects. There are raccoons in there, there are sea otters, there are some horses, there’s a burp from my old cinema professor from USC.” They also used the voice of a chain-smoking housewife.

11 Spielberg Dressed As A Woman On Set

Being around such a young cast, Spielberg had to ensure that there was enough fun and playfulness on set. In The Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial from 1996, we learn that the director definitely didn’t take himself too seriously while on set. Apparently, around Halloween, Spielberg came to set dressed up as a lady school teacher.

As Henry Thomas remembers: “Halloween was great. He directed the whole day like that, as an old lady.”

Spielberg adds: “I didn’t have children back then in the early 1980s, and you know suddenly I was becoming a father every single day, I felt like a father and it felt good.” Spielberg certainly knew how to keep spirits high on his set, and his kind, playful personality has left wonderful lasting memories on his cast and crew.

10 A Mime Was Hired To Move E.T.’s Arms

In The Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, we learn that it took a lot of work to create the alien we all know and love. Aside from having a whole team of mechanics working to ensure the creature looked real, Spielberg also hired a mime to help out E.T.’s gestures.

The director reveals: “When I saw the mechanical arms, they were really great but they were very jerky when they worked. The fingers would move, but almost too thoughtfully. And I felt E.T.’s got to have almost balletic arms, almost like the hands of a mime. So I just put it out there, can we hire a mime and we’ll put the E.T. hand makeup on a mime’s hand so the artist can really be artistic about picking things up and touching themselves and reaching out. So this is where this wonderful mime artist came to work with us.”

9 The Original Ending Was Very Different

When a movie is as beloved as E.T. is, it’s hard to imagine it being any different. Grown men and women still weep when thinking about the emotionally-charged final scene, but we could have ended up an alternative ending had Spielberg gone with his original idea.

According to actor Michael MacNaughton’s interview in Express, “The last scene was going to be all of us playing Dungeons & Dragons again, except this time, Elliott’s the dungeon master. Because he was the one that found ET, he sort of got in with the group. […] And then they would pan up to the roof and you’d see the communicator and it’s still working — in other words, Elliott is still in touch with E.T. But after they did the score and they saw what they had with the spaceship taking off and everything… How can you follow that? I mean, it was a wise choice.”

8 There Was A Dark Sequel Planned

Because E.T. did so unexpectedly well at the box-office, it’s a wonder why there was never a sequel released. Had the movie been made today, it’s almost certain that Hollywood would have tried to make it a franchise. Well, according to Syfy, there was actually a story treatment for an E.T. sequel, but it was so terrible that it never got made.

Apparently, its dark tone was done on purpose.

Spielberg was reportedly completely against the idea of a sequel to his 1982 film, saying: “Sequels can be very dangerous because they compromise your truth as an artist. I think a sequel to E.T. would do nothing but rob the original of its [purity].” Who knows, maybe someday someone will dust off the draft and attempt to make it, but Spielberg will certainly be the first to veto the project.

7 They shot the movie in chronological order for the kids

It’s a well known fact that most large-scale film projects aren’t filmed in chronological order. Due to shooting schedules, location requirements, and budget factors, it’s usually not possible to film in script-order. Well, E.T. is one of the very few exceptions to this usual Hollywood practice, as Steven Spielberg insisted that the scenes be shot chronologically.

According to TIME, Spielberg made this unorthodox decision in order to help his younger cast. The director explained: “I insisted on shooting the film in complete continuity so the kids knew, emotionally, where they had been the day before, and they pretty much didn’t have any idea of where they were going the next day. So, like real life, every day was a surprise – Drew, Henry Thomas and Robert really believed that this was happening to their lives.”

6 Robert MacNaughton’s Dungeons & Dragons love got him his part

Robert MacNaughton played Elliott’s older brother Michael in the movie, and he revealed to Express that a childhood pastime of his helped land him the role. Apparently, E.T.’s screenwriter Melissa Mathison was a huge fan of Dungeons & Dragons and she was always playing it with her then husband Harrison Ford at their house.

This explains the game at the start of the film, where we see Elliott trying to join in playing D&D with Michael and his friends.

MacNaughton revealed that he too was an avid Dungeons & Dragons player, and when asked by Spielberg what his hobbies were, he told the director about his love of the game. Spielberg seemed pleased that MacNaughton’s hobbies fit with his character Michael’s pastimes, and the role became his shortly after.

5 The Film Was Shot From A Child’s Point-of-View

One of the things that you may not have noticed while watching E.T. is the fact that is is filmed from a child’s point of view. According to Filmsite, the movie was deliberately shot from a lower-angle in order to encourage younger audience members to identify more easily with the child characters on screen. It also helps adults put themselves back into the shoes of a child, encouraging them to remember how scary and threatening the taller, bigger world of adults can really be for a kid.

In fact, the only adult we ever see in full is the mother, Mary, who was played by Dee Wallace.

Otherwise, most of the other grown-ups in the movie are seen from the waist down, the way a child would see the world in front of them.

4 Real Doctors And Nurses Were Hired As Actors

E.T. is a very emotional movie. From the burgeoning friendship between Elliott and E.T. to the ending when we face the teary goodbyes between these unlikely friends, the movie is rife with sentiment. One of the most poignant, dramatic scenes is when E.T. and Elliott are lying side-by-side in the makeshift medical facility at their house, both fading away while doctors and nurses try to revive them.

According to People, the medical staff we see looking after these two friends were actually real-life medics. Spielberg contacted the UCLA Center for the Health Services in order to get information on cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and he was referred to a specialist. Wanting the scene to look as real as possible, Spielberg got real-life medical staff to play out the scene in order to simulate the chaos that really happens in emergencies.

3 E.T. was inspired by real children

E.T. is one of the most lovable incarnations of an alien to grace our screens.

Part of this androgynous creature’s charm is the fact that there’s so much goofiness and childlike innocence to it.

Well, this sweet naivete, as well as E.T.’s powers, were actually inspired by the screenwriter’s interactions with children. As Melissa Mathison tells us in The Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: “Many of the scenes from the movie come from my own experience being with children. For instance, what children would like [E.T.’s] powers to be. A lot of the children would mention the obvious of telepathy or telekinetic powers but I was struck by the fact that several of them mentioned that they would like this magic creature to be able to heal. And I thought it was such an incredibly poignant idea to come from a child.”

2 Spielberg Didn’t think E.T. Would Make A Lot of Money

According to Business Insider, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is the fourth highest-grossing movie of all time– not too shabby for a low-budget film about a boy and his alien pal. While the movie became a immense success and has been hailed as the most successful film to come out of the 1980s, Steven Spielberg didn’t think it was going to be a hit with audiences.

Speaking in The Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the director said: “I think E.T.’s not going to make a lot of money, I think I’m making a movie that is only going to appeal to kids. I said I’m probably making a big mistake, I’m going to make an old-fashioned Walt Disney movie about an alien and a kid and that’s all it’s going to be.”

1 The Movie Was Inspired by Spielberg’s Lonely Childhood

It’s always interesting to find out how some of our favorite movies came about, but no one would ever expect that Spielberg’s tale of a boy and an alien would stem from his own childhood experiences. In an interview with director James Cameron for People, Spielberg admitted that E.T. was “never meant to be a movie about an extra-terrestrial,” but instead about something very personal.

“It was supposed to be a movie about my mom and dad getting a divorce,” he explains.

“So I started a story, not a script per say, but I started writing a story about what it was like when your parents divide the family up and they move to different states.” Eventually, the idea for a boy and an alien friend developed from this, and the rest is E.T. history.

Do you have any other trivia to share about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? Let us know in the comments!



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2018-10-06 04:10:51 – Steph Brandhuber

Solo: A Star Wars Story Can Break Even With Home Video Sales

Solo: A Star Wars Story may have bombed at the box office, but home video sales can help the movie break even – and perhaps turn a profit as well. The Star Wars spinoff had a notoriously difficult production, with original directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller exiting mere weeks before principal photography wrapped, and veteran director Ron Howard brought in to finish the movie. The result was an inflated budget and a delayed start to marketing a movie that people were already skeptical about. Solo ultimately failed to even crack $400 million at the worldwide box office.

It’s important to note, however, that Solo‘s poor word-of-mouth didn’t extend to the reviews. Those who did go and see the movie seemed to enjoy the space heist adventure, led by Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, and Solo carries a respectable 71% score on Rotten Tomatoes. It saw the return of a young Lando Calrissian (played by Donald Glover this time around), offered an interesting origin story for how Han met Chewbacca, and even featured a surprise cameo from Darth Maul.

Related: Solo: Full Maul Scene Officially Released Online

Solo‘s failure to perform at the box office was driven by a range of factors – not the least of which was the fact that it released a mere week after Deadpool 2, and less than six months after the last Star Wars entry, The Last Jedi. Now Solo is gearing up for its Digital HD release on September 14, and its DVD and Blu-ray release on September 25. If it can match the sales performance of the last Star Wars spinoff, Rogue One, Solo stands a decent chance of, if not turning a profit, then at least hitting the break-even point.

The most commonly used metric for estimating a movie’s break-even point is to double the production budget (to account for marketing and distribution costs). With an estimated budget of $250 million, Solo needed to gross about $500 million at the box office in order to break even, but managed only $392 million. According to Nash Information Services’ sales tracking website The Numbers, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story grossed $83 million in domestic video sales from April-December 2017. If Solo can achieve similar sales, or even better sales, Disney may not end up at a loss after all – especially when factoring in merchandise sales.

The fact that Solo was generally poorly-viewed during its theatrical run (as opposed to Rogue One, which grossed more than $1 billion at the box office) could actually work out in its favor when it comes to the home video release. People who skipped Solo when it was in theaters may now be interested in watching it at home – especially as Star Wars fans face the long wait for Star Wars: Episode IX.

Of course, when you’re talking about the biggest sci-fi movie franchise of all time, a movie breaking even isn’t exactly a success story. But Solo is enjoyable enough to be worthy of a reappraisal now that the dust has settled on both the production drama and the online backlash to The Last Jedi.

More: The Winners and Losers of the 2018 Summer Box Office



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2018-09-12 03:09:57 – Hannah Shaw-Williams