Go Big or Go Home

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Go big or go home!

Peanuts Trailer

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014

The official trailer for next year’s Peanuts movie is out. The CG look is surprisingly true to the minimalist line art of the original, and — if we ignore the not-at-all-timeless pop song in the middle — the tone feels right:

FPS Action Movies

Friday, November 21st, 2014

First-person-shooter games came out before the modern action-camera craze, but it turns out the GoPro footage of a practical-shooting stage looks just like a video game.

Now we’re getting first-person-shooter action movies:

The Giver Giveth and the Giver Taketh Away

Friday, November 21st, 2014

Doug Lemov discusses film adaptations:

A few weeks ago a transatlantic flight finally caused me to watch Saving Mr. Banks the story of how Walt Disney won P.L. Travers’ trust and warmed her cold, cold heart just enough to get her to gift the ages with a Disney version of her book Mary Poppins.

Decent movie, that Saving Mr. Banks.  If nothing else it offers compelling proof that history is a tale told by the winners.  The winners being movie makers in this case.  It turns out that when you leave it to a movie studio to tell the story of what movies do to books — really nice books — you get a very nice tale indeed, in which the books get really-nicer.  Don’t you see? A movie is just an act of love for a book.  A movie only wants honor a book and bring it to life — make it live forever, and maybe add a little music.  Is that so wrong?

No, the movie tells us. No, it is not wrong at all. It is right! In the end even the curmudgeon-ish author is shown to see it.

But If P.L. Travers told the story of the movie-fication of Poppins it might sound different.  After all, she did cry at the official release of Mary Poppins, but it wasn’t tears of appreciative joy.  In real life, she cried to see what they had done to her baby.

And in a lot of ways she was right to cry.  The movie is fine.  Not much wrong with it except Dick Van Dyke’s unconscionable effort at an accent. And the fact that it ain’t the book. That’s the big one.  I read the book with my kids a few years back and was stunned, so incredibly stunned, to find it nuanced and complex and rich and fascinating. It was beautiful: anything but schlocky, light years better than the movie, even if I read it in a horrible garble of Van-Dyke Cockney. But I only found out by accident that the book is a jewel. Having a song-and-Dick-Van-Dyke version of the movie out there made me assume for years that I should not read the book. I mean, with a hokie movie like that, who would?

He’s not going to see The Giver.

Super Revenue

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

The real superhero money comes not from movies but from licensed products, where the real hero isn’t Batman, Superman, or one of the Avengers:

It’s actually Spider-Man who is the superheroic earner, with licensing profits that in 2013 outpaced those of the Avengers ($325 million), Batman ($494 million), and Superman ($277 million). The Hollywood Reporter lists the data reported by the Licensing Letter.

According to the data, Marvel also sees far more licensed products shipped than DC does.

Arthur Rankin Jr. Dies

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

Animation legend Arthur Rankin Jr. has died. He and his partner, Jules Bass, produced many classics — especially holiday classics:

  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Frosty the Snowman
  • Santa Claus Is Comin’ to Town
  • The Little Drummer Boy
  • The Hobbit
  • The Last Unicorn
  • Thundercats

Creator of “Choose Your Own Adventure” Dies

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

R.A. Montgomery, co-author and publisher of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books, has passed away.

Choose Your Own Adventure 001f Cave of Time

His partner, Edward Packard, was considered the better writer, but Montgomery had his strengths:

Montgomery, on the other hand, often eschewed internal consistency in favor of big ideas, and his books have their own bizarre charm. While Packard was writing the standard sword-and-sorcery story The Forbidden Castle about dragons, knights, and princesses, Montgomery unleashed the berserk House of Danger which involved super-intelligent monkeys plotting to destabilize the world economy via counterfeiting, psychic detectives, Civil War ghosts, alien abduction, holograms, age regression, cannibalism, secret environmental conspiracies, and one ending that has the reader turned into Genghis Khan.

Glen A. Larson Dies at 77

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Glen A. Larson just passed away. The Mormon TV producer was an only child who went on to father nine children by three wives — ordinary, Hollywood, sequential wives, not polygamous sister-wives.

His Mormon beliefs influenced his sci-fi hit, Battlestar Galactica.

He also helped bring the novel Cyborg to TV — as The Six Million Dollar Man.

Female Secret Service Bodyguards

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Female Secret Service bodyguards are not as awesome at hand-to-hand combat as you might expect from watching TV, Steve Sailer notes, citing this New York Times account of the White House intrusion a few weeks ago:

As the officer stationed there tried to lock the doors, Mr. Gonzalez “barged through them and knocked her backward.” She told him to stop but he continued on to the East Room.

“After attempting twice to physically take Gonzalez down but failing to do so because of the size disparity between the two, the officer then attempted to draw her baton but accidentally grabbed her flashlight instead,” the report said. “The officer threw down her flashlight, drew her firearm, and continued to give Gonzalez commands that he ignored.”

Mr. Gonzalez entered the East Room, but then exited, heading down the hallway. Two officers stationed in the White House, assisted by two plainclothes agents who had just finished their shifts, tackled him.

Too Many Cooks

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Adult Swim’s Too Many Cooks “intro” takes our pop culture to yet another level of weirdly meta self-reference:

Ten Hours of Princess Leia Walking in NYC

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Ten Hours of Princess Leia Walking in NYC:

Dogs Playing Dungeons & Dragons

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Dogs Playing Poker is fine, but Dogs Playing Dungeons & Dragons is better:

Dogs Playing D&D

Bee and PuppyCat

Friday, November 7th, 2014

I do not “get” Bee and PuppyCat:

Whiskey. Tango. Foxtrot.

The (now) highly anticipated YouTube series followed this recipe:

Create one 10-minute episode. The fans go wild. You realize you don’t have any more money, so you host a Kickstarter. Raise way more than you expected–over $900,000. Do Comic-con. Sell tons of merchandise. Then you create four more episodes, and schedule them to premiere 15 months after the first one.


To date, the initial “Bee and PuppyCat” short has garnered 10 million YouTube views. That only tells part of the story. For example, fans flocked to the show’s Comic-Con panel last month dressed like show’s the characters. The online retailer We Love Fine sells dozens of Bee and PuppyCat-branded items, ranging from handbags to t-shirts. There are “Bee and PuppyCat” Squishable stuffed animal toys. The show has sparked a robust Tumblr fan art community. Keep in mind there has only been one episode.


“Bee and PuppyCat” was created by Natasha Allegri, an artist who dropped out college about five years ago to work in animation. She eventually landed a job as a staff writer for Cartoon Network’s trippy show “Adventure Time.”

“I just wanted to make something that I’d like and other girls would like,” she said of “Bee and PuppyCat.”

Still, Mr. Seibert said he initially turned the show down. Then he showed it to his wife. “She went crazy for it.”

So Frederator committed to make the initial short, along with a slew of others.

New Bill Watterson Comic

Friday, November 7th, 2014

Bill Watterson has produced a comic for the poster for the 42nd annual Angoulême International Comics Festival:

Bill Watterson Poster for 42nd annual Angoulême International Comics Festival

3 Million ‘Frozen’ Dresses Sold

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

More than three million “Frozen” role-play dresses have been sold this year in North America:

Disney Consumer Products, which released that “Frozen” nugget on Tuesday — an unusual step for the company — did not disclose corresponding dollar sales. The princess dresses, frilly in light blue for the character Elsa, earthier tones for her sister, Anna, sell for $49.95 to $99.95 at Disney Stores.

According to the National Retail Federation’s 2014 Halloween consumer survey, an estimated 2.6 million children dressed up as one of the characters from “Frozen,” an animated musical that took in $1.3 billion at the global box office.

The federation estimated that 3.4 million children dressed up as princesses of some type; the most popular costume for boys was Spider-Man — also a Disney-owned property — with 2.6 million.