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Entries in movies (16)

Sunday
Mar272011

Ebert's Art Film Revolution (1987)

OMNI magazine interviewed Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert about the future of movies for their June, 1987 issue. Ebert makes some bold and accurate predictions about how a revolution in the delivery and distribution of movies will open up the "art film" market, allowing people greater access to movies that may not make financial sense to screen in the theaters of smaller cities. An excerpt from the interview appears below.

OMNI: How will the fierce competition between television and the movies work out in the future?

EBERT: We will have high-definition, wide-screen television sets and a push-button dialing system to order the movie you want at the time you want it. You'll not go to a video store but instead order a movie on demand and then pay for it. Videocassette tapes as we know them now will be obsolete both for showing prerecorded movies and for recording movies. People will record films on 8mm and will play them back using laser-disk/CD technology.

I also am very, very excited by the fact that before long, alternative films will penetrate the entire country. Today seventy-five percent of the gross from a typical art film in America comes from as few as six --six-- different theaters in six different cities. Ninety percent of the American motion-picture marketplace never shows art films. With this revolution in delivery and distribution, anyone, in any size town or hamlet, will see the movies he or she wants to see. It will be the same as it's always been with books. You can be a hermit and still read any author you choose.

Later in the interview Ebert says that "by the year 2000 or so, a motion picture will cost as much money as it now costs to publish a book or make a phonograph album." Ebert was right, but it wasn't just film production and distribution costs that came down. With the rise of book self-publishing with sites like Lulu, the democratization of online music distribution with CD Baby, and the fact that I just can't keep up with the staggering volume of "puppy tries to roll over but can't OMG how adorable" videos, the internet really has fundamentally shaken up the media landscape.

 

Friday
Jan082010

Opening in Theaters 2019 (1986)

Chapter 8 of Arthur C. Clarke's 1986 book July 20, 2019: Life in the 21st Century describes what the year 2019 holds for popular media such as TV, music and movies.

Some predictions, like a mass medium that plugs directly into the human brain, may not be a reality by 2019 (Clarke writes about demand for this with a lot of references to LSD) but he was certainly on the right track with HDTV and 3D movie technology.

Below is a hypothetical listing from the San Francisco Chronicle of Saturday, July 20, 2019. I suppose in 1986 it was inconceivable that several major American newspapers might not even exist in 2019.

 

THIS WEEKEND IN ENTERTAINMENT

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Opening at Movie Theaters

Still Gone with the Wind. The sequel picks up several years after where the 80-year-old original left off, with Rhett and Scarlett reuniting in their middle age, in 1880. Features the original cast (Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland, and Vivien Leigh) and studio sets resurrected by computer graphic synthesis. Still Gone sets out to prove that they do make 'em like they used to (Selznick Theater, 2:00 and 8:00 P.M.)

The Apollo Mystery. Fine ensemble acting in this science fiction account of a murder during one of the Apollo Moon missions of the 1970s. The allure of the film, though, is in its setting; it was actually filmed on the Moon's surface during a commercial expedition last year. Very appropriate considering this weekend's anniversary. High production costs mean increased admission prices for this one, $15, only a dollar or two more than a regular ticket. (Roxie, 1:00, 3:15, 5:30, 8:00, and 10:15 P.M.)

This Is Holorama. One of this summer's gimmick films, Holorama is another of those ultra-realistic holographic movie processes that only scare the kids and leave Mom and Dad with a sick feeling in their stomachs. Like other "thrill films," it's mainly a travelogue, only this time the emphasis is on danger (an extended war sequence shot in the middle of battlefields in the Middle East, Central America, and Africa) and hostile environments. (We go inside an old-fashioned fission reactor during a real nuclear accident!) (Holostage, 2:00, 4:00, 7:30, and 10:00 P.M.)

Music

All-Star Simulated Symphony. Always a treat for lovers of classical music, this duo uses the latest in synthesizers and digital music techniques (and a few robots) to simulate a live performance of the world's greatest orchestra and recreate the sounds of legendary performers. A robotic Rachmaninoff has the piano solos in the highlight of the show. Gershwin's An American in Paris, conducted by an animatronic likeness of the composer. So real, you'd swear the players were alive and in the room. (Wozniak Hall, 8:00 P.M.)

Television

Don't Mess with Me. Tonight mark's ABC's first attempt at a new English-language situation comedy in prime time since the network went to all-Spanish programming a few years ago. A summer replacement, the series brings back one-time child star Gary Coleman (has he ever been away?) who plays the father of two adopted children. Beats reruns, anyway. (7:30 P.M.)

So Who Wants to Work? Jerry Rubin is the resident con man in a San Francisco retirement home where, ever since the collapse of Social Security, the old folks must rely on their wits to stay afloat. Rubin is particularly effective as the elderly baby-boomer wunderkind. In this episode, he convinces an oil company to use his pals in a TV commercial.

 

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Sunday
Dec132009

Looking Forward to 2010 (1910)

The 1910 film Looking Forward, directed by Theodore Marston, imagines a crazy dystopia where women rule the world. Because, as this film accurately predicted, women naturally became a political majority after getting the vote.

The description below of Looking Forward is excerpted from Eric Dewberry's paper, "A Happy Medium: Women's Suffrage Portrayals in Thanhouser Films, 1910-16." [pdf]

The comedy Looking Forward (1910) centers around Jack Goodwin, a chemistry student who discovers a liquid compound which allows people to fall asleep for a determinate period of time without the pitfalls of aging. One day, Jack drinks the potion and wakes up in the year 2010. In addition to the marvels of futuristic “rapid transit facilities,” Jack is shocked to discover that men are in the social and political minority, and do not have the right to vote. In an attempt to “restore order,” Jack becomes a ‘suffragehim’ and is sent to jail for his activities. The female mayor of the city falls in love with Jack and offers to free him from prison if he will marry her. Jack wishes to restore “the rights of men,” however, and refuses to leave prison and accept the proposal unless the mayor signs a decree giving men their liberty. Upon signing, the end of the film shows Jack correcting the bride during the wedding ceremony, leading the Mayor down the aisle instead of vice versa and transferring the veil from his head to her head.

The image above is from the January 30, 1911 Centralia Daily Chronicle (Centralia, WA).

Previously on Paleo-Future:

 

Friday
Nov212008

Moving Pictures to Show Schoolboys of 1995 Our Time (1920)

The March 18, 1920 Cedar Rapids Evening Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA) declared that movies would help future generations better understand the past. This piece has striking similarities to 1920's predictions of movies replacing textbooks. The piece is also interesting to read side-by-side with "Big Laughs Coming" from the Modesto Evening News in 1922.

Every moving picture is a contribution, for the benefit of posterity, to the history of our time, its manners, its customs, its thoughts, its virtues and its follies.

 

To the schoolboy of the year 1995 history will not merely be something to be memorized out of books. It will be visualized and made real for him by the moving pictures that are being made now. The people of our time will not be mere history book ghosts to this boy but living creatures who smile at him and walk and play and love and hate and work and eat.

If only we had today moving pictures of the times of Washington and Lincoln! Imagine a Fourth of July celebration with moving pictures of the signing of the Declaration!

The historical value of moving picture plays will be as great as that of movies of current events. The 1920 photoplay exhibited in the year 1995 will serve as an exposition of the social life and manners of this period.

And, despite its faults, the present generation will make a fairly good showing when it appears in the movies before posterity in 1995 and thereabouts. The schoolboys of that time may laugh at some of the ways of their ancestors, but, in the main, they will agree that they were a pretty good sort at that.


Read more:
Movies Will Replace Texbooks (1922)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movie Theater of the Future (1930)
Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)
Big Laughs Coming (1922)

 

Tuesday
May202008

Movies to be Produced in Every Home (1925)

The September 5, 1925 Charleston Gazette (Charleston, WV) ran an article titled, "Expect Movies to be Produced in Every Home," in which Cecil B. DeMille predicts not only home movies of the future, but the rise of the amateur filmmaker as a force in the film industry.

Alongside D.W. Griffith's 1923 prediction of future private movie libraries, it is quite astounding how forward-thinking the film industry was in the 1920s.

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 4 - Even as father now slices the beef roast and Sister Mary plays the piano, so may motion pictures in the future be produced in every American home.

 

This is the belief of several leading American producers.

"It is not at all beyond the range of possibility, and to me it seems probable, that within the next 20 years some householder with absolutely no studio training will produce a screen masterpiece, with no stage except that of his own parlor, dining room or bedroom." Cecille DeMille, the Los Angeles producer, declared today in an exclusive interview.

Explains His Theory

In explanation of his theory, DeMille said:

"Slow film and slow camera lenses requiring a great quantity of light have been the sole reason until now that especially equipped studios have had a monopoly on the making of photoplays.

"Very elaborate and expensive electrical equipment has in the past always been necessary to produce a great flood of light. Lenses and aim have not been developed to a point where they can pick up a moving figures in ordinary light and still give the sense of depth necessary is good photography.

"That time is rapidly passing. Every day better lenses are being developed and every day some new chemical is found which increases the speed of our film.

"It will not be long until anyone will be able to make motion pictures in no more than ordinary indoor daylight. And when that time comes we will find cameramen utilizing daylight to give far better results than at present. For such limited light will do away altogether with sharp lines and shadows, which often mar pictures taken in too dazzling an illumination.

Use to Be Widespread

"With the necessity of powerful lighting done away with, motion pictures can then be taken in every American home and the motion picture camera used in just the same fashion as kodaks are today.

"So one sees that as a prairie woman in Nebraska may produce the greatest novel of the year or a man in the mountain wilds of Montana compose the best musical composition of a decade, so may an ordinary householder produce a motion picture far superior to all others."


See also:
Movie Theater of the Future (1930)
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)

 

Friday
Apr252008

Desk Set (1957)


The 1957 movie Desk Set, starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, explores fears of automation and computerization. When Tracy's character, Richard Sumner, introduces an "electronic brain" into the workplace it sets off a chaotic chain of events. Katharine Hepburn plays Bunny Watson, the head of a research department for a fictional television network and reluctant warrior in this battle of woman versus machine.

A short clip from the film appears below.

 


 

See also:
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)

Sunday
Feb242008

Movie Theater of the Future (1930)


The August 3, 1930 Syracuse Herald (Syracuse, NY) ran the above article about the movie theater of the future, complete with robot staff.

Titled, "Television Soon Will Flash Talkies Through the Ether; Theater of the Future Will Receive Its Films From Afar," the piece opens by explaining how a single man at a central control booth could beam movies, via television technology, to multiple theaters miles away. The accompanying illustration shows a man opening and activating theaters throughout New York state.

The caption below our robot hosts reads, "Vic Lambdin, Herald staff artist, sketches the Syracuse theater of the future, operated by robots and automations, and [receiving] its talkie programs by television from a distant master station."

The analysis of economic forces behind the move to "talkies" is fascinating. And the feeling that a move to television on the big screen is inevitable is also intriguing given the fact that most people had never even seen a television set in person at that point.

Much the same economic factors that forced the motion picture industry to climb on the talkie band wagon will compel the adoption of television, this may be later . . . but more likely it will be sooner.


See also:
Thinks We'll Do Our Reading On Screen (1923)
Movie Trends of the 21st Century (1982)
How Experts Think We'll Live in 2000 A.D. (1950)
"Just Imagine" Pictures Life and Love 50 Years From Today (1930)
Robots vs. Musicians (1931)