Is a bigger screen always better?
There may still be plenty of box office successes, with recent summer releases like “Iron Man 3” and “Fast & Furious 6” raking in tons of cash, but theaters nonetheless are feeling the squeeze from online streaming services, digital purchases, improving hardware at home and other non-cinematic media.
From Terrell Mayton, marketing director for Carmike Cinemas Inc. of Columbus, Ga.:
"It’s all about the sizzle, it’s all about the showmanship. When you’ve got an experience that you can’t duplicate in the home setting, that’s going to encourage more people to come to the theaters more often."
So do you agree, is it all about the “sizzle,” or is, perhaps the movie on the screen more important?
Photo: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times
Echo Park Lake circa 1920
Above is a panorama view of Echo Park Lake, as seen from Temple Street. If you look closely off into the distance, you can see Edendale, a former district of Los Angeles that was home to pre-Hollywood movie studios.
Photo: Los Angeles Times
Benedict Cumberbatch and the joy in playing the villain
The Times’ Gina McIntyre recently sat down with rising star Benedict Cumberbatch to discuss his sudden ascendance and his role in his first major blockbuster, “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Though the film debuted last week, we won’t spoil Cumberbatch’s long-hidden role (how long the secret remained hidden surprised even him). But he has won acclaim for his performance in the film.
As put by New York Times critic A.O. Scott:
“Mr. Cumberbatch, pale and intense, has become the object of a global fan cult, and it’s easy to see why. He fuses Byronic charisma with an impatient, imperious intelligence that seems to raise the ambient I.Q. whenever he’s on screen.”
And, as one would imagine, that “fan cult” extends to Tumblr.
For the full chat with Cumberbatch, head over to Hero Complex.
Photos: Jennifer S. Altman, Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times, Zade Rosenthal / Paramount Pictures
Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally: Together on and off the stage
The comedic duo have been married for nearly 10 years, something that makes perfect sense given that the two have shared the screen on a number of projects, from “Will & Grace,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Parks and Recreation” and the upcoming films “Kings of Summer,” “Somebody Up There Likes Me” and “Townies.”
Bart DeLorenzo about their new play “Annapurna.”
Mullally applauded the experience acting exclusively with her husband:
"It’s a lot of alone time together. It’s great. There are no annoying others."
Read more on the play, and the origins of Offerman and Mullally’s adorable courtship, over at Culture Monster.
Photos: Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times
Trying to crack Reddit’s AMA magic
Hollywood, always looking for a new way to promote its latest offerings, has turned to Reddit’s “Ask Me Anything” threads to allow stars to interact directly with fans.
But in the case of a recent AMA with Morgan Freeman, the whole thing blew up over allegations that the whole thing was a robotic, PR-driven falsehood.
Redditors immediately swarmed the thread, and by the end of it, Freeman and the film he was promoting, “Oblivion,” looked worse for wear.
Freeman and his team insisted to Reddit administrators that the actor was answering the questions orally, while his publicity people transcribed what he said. By that point, however, it was too late. Once the hive mind sets its mind to something, it’s difficult to shift gears and the damage can linger.
Read more about the machinations behind Hollywood’s efforts to seize grassroots momentum over at Company Town.
Scouting the Sierra for movie backdrops
There are birdwatchers, urban explorers and Instagram-centric photo hounds - but some people take their time to explore the barren expanses of California’s backcountry to find the iconic backdrops used in many Hollywood films.
From one couple with a particular penchant for finding famous backgrounds:
At one point, Carol held up a photograph of a campfire scene in “Django Unchained,” which is set in the South just before the Civil War. She moved the photo to the left, then to the right. She squinted, then broke into a smile.
Pointing to a nearby rock, she said that actor Jamie Foxx “stood right there.”
Read more, and see more scenic vistas, over at Framework.
Photos: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Paris photo fair arrives in Hollywood
The world’s most prestigious photography fair will be launching its U.S. branch in Los Angeles starting today - with Paramount Pictures Studios serving as the backdrop for the fair’s extensive offerings.
The fair concludes Sunday: For more details, head over to Framework.
Photos: The Paris Photo Fair
Looking back at the origins of kung-fu films
The latest installment of Movies Now’s looks back at classic Hollywood examines the sudden surge of kung-fu flicks that followed after Bruce Lee’s classic “Enter the Dragon” in 1973.
From Stephen Chin, who donated his huge collection of kung-fu posters to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
"There was an intensity, realism, dynamism and energy to this stuff that no one had ever seen before."
And, of course, the posters for even the lesser-known kung-fu films are still fantastic.
Photos: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Stephen Chin collection, Bruce Lee Enterprises
RIP Annette Funicello
One of the biggest stars of the initial “Mickey Mouse Club,” in the 1950s,
Annette Funicello passed away today at the age of 70 after a lengthy battle with multiple sclerosis.
Funicello followed her Disney stardom by defining the 60’s-era “beach” movies alongside frequent co-star Frankie Avalon.
As for her humble beginnings, she was chosen for her breakthrough role by Walt Disney himself:
Funicello was a 12-year-old dance-school student when Walt Disney saw her performing the lead role in “Swan Lake” at her dance-school’s year-end recital at the Starlight Bowl in Burbank in the spring of 1955.
Read the Times’ full obituary on Funicello here.
Photos: The Walt Disney Company, Lennox McLendon / Associated Press, Vince Vucci / AFP
RIP Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert, the legendary film critic whose “thumbs-up, thumbs-down” evaluations have become synonymous with cinema reviews, passed away today at age 70 after a lengthy battle with cancer.
Just recently, he had announced that he would take a leave of absence from his work at the Chicago Sun-Times.
Photo: Robert K. O’Daniell / Associated Press
A kinder, gentler Perez Hilton
The man who built up a reputation for mocking Hollywood stars, and pushing the boundaries of what a gossip blog could get away with (often at the expense of good taste), seems to have turned over a new leaf.
In Perez Hilton’s own words:
"I don’t have to give people nasty nicknames anymore. I don’t have to say people are stupid, or people are fat, or people are ugly. I don’t need to draw inappropriate things on photos or out people. I can still be sassy and fun and do my job."
Here’s to hoping he keeps it up. For the full story, check out columnist Robin Abcarian’s profile here.
Photos: Kirk McKoy/ Los Angeles Times
Argo still a no-go in Iran
"Argo" may have won acclaim from critics, audiences and now the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences - but many in Iran remain unimpressed with the film. Set during the turbulent post-revolution era in Iran, the Iranian government was initially provoked by the film for its portrayal of the country, but with time, more Iranians have been able to see the movie and react.
"I am secular, atheist and not pro-regime but I think the film 'Argo' has distorted history and insulted Iranians,” said Hossain, a cafe owner worried about business because of customers' lack of cash in a sanctions-battered economy. “For me, it wasn't even a good thriller.”
And further reaction from the ground in Iran:
"I did not enjoy seeing my fellow countrymen and women insulted," said Farzaneh Haji, an educated homemaker and fan of romantic movies who was 18 at the time of the revolution. "The men then were not all bearded and fanatical. To be anti-American was a fashionable idea among young people across the board. Even non-bearded and U.S.-educated men and women were against American imperialism."
Photo: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros