|By David Kozlowski | 18 August 2017
Welcome to Issue #9 of The LRM WEEKEND, a weekly column offering strong opinions about film, TV, comics, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, animation, and anime. We also want to hear from you, our awesome LRM community! Share your feedback or ideas for future columns: @LRM_Weekend and we’ll post your Tweets below!
Hey LRM Weekenders, this week we’re featuring some of the most intriguing, powerful, and successful women in Hollywood. Its easy to become fixated on our male action stars, since that’s how Hollywood tends to market their films, so we sometimes fail to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of our female action stars! But first, we want to discuss the elephant in the room: the dwindling audiences at movie theaters — we’ll explore some problems, one potential solution, and hopefully provide some insight into an issue that’s only going to get worse if everything remains status quo.
The Big Theater Chains Continue Prioritizing Revenue Over Value and Quality Experience — Consumers Are Fed Up!
A night out at the movie theater has been an American tradition since the early 20th-century, but it’s rapidly fading from modern culture, and the major theater chains are only hastening its decline. According to Business Insider, way back in 1930 more than 65% of the population visited a theater at least once each week, but today weekly attendance has fallen to less than 10%. In fact, almost 45% of Americans seldom (if ever) visit a theater. The proof is fairly evident, as this summer’s domestic box office is down 10% from the same time last year.
At least part of the problem is that 46% of all movie screens — a total of 17,877 according to NYT — are owned by the top five chains (AMC, Regal, Cinemark Marcus, Harkins), and they’re so focused on their own bottom lines that they’re bleeding audiences at a faster and faster rate each year. Rather than seek common ground and work together to lower costs and improve the movie-going experience, each of these chains is actively squashing third-party solutions, designed to bring lapsed fans back.
Let’s be honest, going to the movies is bloody expensive. A family of four could easily drop $100 on tickets, parking, concessions, and dinner. Consequently, most people only go to 3-5 movies per year at theaters, according to data analytics site Statista.com. The theaters themselves make money three ways: tickets, concessions, and on-screen advertising (those crappy ads before every movie). The problem is, theaters only keep about 20%-25% of ticket revenues; the real money is in popcorn and soda — The Atlantic reports that the average markup on popcorn is 1,275% and soda around 1,000% depending upon size (I’m not kidding).
Surely, someone out there has a plan to make going to the movies cheaper and more appealing to families. Well, yes, there are. Mitch Lowe, co-founder of Netflix, is the CEO of Movie Pass, a subscription-based system that allows consumers to watch a movie every day for $9.95 per month. According to Variety, Lowe claims that Movie Pass can boost theater attendance by 111%. More butts in seats means more concessions, which is one of the main sources of revenue for theaters. Sounds like a great idea, so why are AMC Theatres suing Movie Pass?
Turns out, each of the big chains have their own loyalty programs (and they’re not compatible with one another, naturally). AMC’s program is called “Stubs,” which grants a discount to large popcorn refills, ticket savings, and rewards points… problem is, there are multiple membership tiers and a bunch of confusing rules. (Besides, who the hell eats two large bags of popcorn in a single theater visit?) Clearly, AMC’s problem with Movie Pass is that it competes with Stubs (whether Stubs is a better or worse value to consumers is secondary to AMC).
In my community, there are about a dozen theaters within a five-mile radius, and most offer a different loyalty program. No one, and I mean no one, is going to join multiple loyalty programs. What the theaters need is a shared system that works everywhere in the short-term, and helps everyone in the theater-owning business long-term. That’s pragmatic, right?
Now, I’m not suggesting that Movie Pass is somehow a panacea (it has its own problems), but at least it’s an attempt to create a rising tide scenario for the betterment of the industry. Instead, we’ve got a bunch of competing systems that provide diminishing returns and are simply annoying to consumers who just want to save a few bucks or see more films.
Bottom line, if the big chains are wondering why audiences are dwindling a little more every year, they should maybe stop blaming Netflix, Apple, big-screen TVs, and hackers. Instead, they should each take a hard look in the mirror and ask whether giving consumers value is the true magic bullet. Americans love the movies — that’s not going to change — but audiences are sick of paying 1,000% markups on watered-down soda, finding limited movie choices, and being annoyed with irritating offers that provide insultingly low value… Or don’t and watch your market further erode and collapse, it’s your call big five!
Each week we’ll choose a familiar (or not so familiar) fighter and their base style. Our goal is to help fans understand a bit more about the differences between the various fighting styles shown in our favorite movies and shows, how they compare and contrast, and what makes them cool!
MICHELLE YEOH – CHINESE WU SHU
FIGHT OF THE WEEK: CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (2000)
BONUS: SUPERCOP 3 (1992) Stunts Clip
BONUS: MICHELLE YEOH INTERVIEW (2016)
BONUS: What is Chinese Wushu
Who Is Michelle Yeoh?
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh Choo-Kheng (1962-present) is a Malaysian actress, best known for performing her own stunts in the Hong Kong action films that brought her to fame in the early 1990s. Born in Ipoh, Malaysia, she was chosen by People as one of the “50 Most Beautiful People in the World” in 1997.
Yeoh burst onto the international scene in Jackie Chan’s Supercop (1992), wherein she performed some of the most amazing stunts ever filmed, including a completely insane motorcycle jump onto a moving train! Her true breakout role occurred in 1997’s James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies, and just a few years later in Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). In 2008, the film critic website Rotten Tomatoes ranked her the greatest action heroine of all time — Sigourney Weaver might have something to say about that!
Why Should We Care?
You might be shocked to learn that Yeoh is not a classically-trained martial artist. She has a dance and stunt background, and adapted these skills to fight scenes (it helps that she’s worked with legendary choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping). Yeoh relates in an interview :
“It’s a Michelle thing. I didn’t have to learn one particular style. When you are doing an action sequence, there is not one style. Also, the traditional styles look too dated, … it would not work in a street situation. I learned all the basics moves, the stance, the kick. And then you improvise on film.”
Yeoh has studied a variety of martial arts styles, including Wing Chun and Chinese Wushu — a modern fighting method and sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing and Chinese wrestling methods. Yeoh also learned classic Chinese martial arts weapons, which she’s used in several films.
Each week in The Creators we’ll showcase a legend or innovator from our favorite comics, movies, and shows via profiles, interviews, and documentaries that highlight these amazing individuals from any point in the last 100 years of pop culture.
SPECIAL FOCUS: HOLLYWOOD’S STUNTWOMEN
STUNTWOMAN: LAUREN MARY KIM (THE DEFENDERS)
STUNTWOMAN: DAYNE GRANT (XENA) INTERVIEW
FEATURE: MEET THE STUNTWOMEN OF HOLLYWOOD
Who Are Hollywood’s Top Stuntwomen?
From the very beginning of film hundreds of fearless men and women have performed dangerous and often death-defying stunts to create exciting action sequences. Edwin S. Porter’s The Great Train Robbery (1903), considered the first American Western, hired an ex-US cavalryman, Frank Hanaway, to perform trick-riding stunts, largely because he could fall off a horse without injuring himself. Helen Gibson, an accomplished rodeo star, is considered the first stuntwoman, debuting in 1912 in a series of silent-era Westerns.
Why Should We Care?
Stuntmen and stuntwomen are a unique breed of performer, standing-in (or doubling) for lead actors in film and TV to complete perilous shots. Often referred to as “Daredevils,” these individuals risk their lives to execute complex, choreographed scenarios, such as falls, fights, and crashes. Even in the modern era of CG and green screens, many stunts are still “practical,” conducted live while utilizing safety equipment, rigging, and wire harnesses.
Today’s stuntwomen are highly-trained in martial arts, gymnastics, precision driving, equestrian, body building, and other physical and technical skills. In the videos above we’ve highlighted a few of these amazing performers, and hopefully provided some insight into the incredible work they all do in hundreds of productions each year.
For women in the field, the risks are even greater. While men can get away with bulky pads and protective gear, stuntwomen often have to wear high heels or execute stunts wearing little more than a bathing suit or a mini-skirt. LRM celebrates these amazing stuntwomen — although we cannot highlight more than a few of these ladies, we hope that we’ve at least paid homage to their (too often) unsung work in film and television.
We also want to pay our respects to the many fallen stuntwomen who lost their lives in pursuit of their art, and others who’ve endured serious injuries, including Joi ‘SJ’ Harris, who died while filming Deadpool 2 in Vancouver, BC.
We all grew up watching all kinds of movies and TV shows from the 60s-90s that turned us into the fanboys and fangirls that we are today! Whether it’s Ultraman, Jackie Chan, Voltron, Akira Kurosawa, or Knight Rider (you know who you are!), we tend to associate types of genre (Action, Comedy, War, Crime, Western, Sci-Fi, Horror) or sub-genres with particular decades (80s Action, 50s Westerns, 60s War). Each week we’ll profile and analyze a specific genre and decade, while asking what these films or shows said about that particular time in pop culture.
SIGOURNEY WEAVER 80s-90s
BONUS: SIGOURNEY WEAVER INTERVIEW (1986)
What Is It About Signourney Weaver in 80s and 90s?
Susan Alexandra Weaver (1949-present), known professionally as Sigourney Weaver, is an American actress and film producer. She debuted in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977), but her career exploded with the lead role of Ellen Ripley in Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979); she earned an Oscar nomination in the sequel, James Cameron’s Aliens (1986). Weaver has been nominated for 7 Golden Globes — winning twice in 1988 for Gorillas in the Mist and Working Girl (the first person to ever win 2 acting Golden Globes in the same year). She has also received three Emmy Award nominations and won two Saturn Awards.
Weaver captured pop-culture fame with key roles in some of the biggest action, drama, comedy, and sci-fi films between 1979-1999, including Ghostbusters (1984), Working Girl (1988), Dave (1993), The Ice Storm (1997), and Galaxy Quest (1999).
Why Should We Care?
Sigourney Weaver’s success during the 80s and 90s in unrivaled by any other female actor (and her career certainly hasn’t slowed down in the 2000s w/ Avatar and The Defenders). For the sake of brevity, however, let’s just focus on the great films from this era, beginning in 1979 with Ridley Scott’s original Alien, which hit like a bolt of lightning, shocking and thrillingmoviegoers around the world. The film successfully married sci-fi with horror to create an entirely new sub-genre that still thrives to this day.
Weaver’s performances are intense, she’s the center of gravity in everything she does — you can’t take your eyes off of her in Aliens, which is amazing given the energy and bravado of her Colonial Marine cohorts. Weaver is also an accomplished comedic actor too, her work in Ghostbusters, Working Girl, and Galaxy Quest express her incredible range and timing. She has also done some fine work in a variety of contemporary dramas and period pieces too.
Sigourney Weaver is Hollywood legend and a national treasure. She’s certainly not slowing down either, as there are multiple Avatars in her future (and who knows how she’ll fare against The Defenders either, perhaps we’ll see her again in Season 2).
It’s the weekend, which means it’s finally time to catch-up on all the stuff we’ve bookmarked on Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Vimeo, Twitch… you get the idea. The LRM community has millions of hours of stuff on our collective DVRs. We want to hear from you; tell us the shows, movies, etc. you’ve recently finished, or have queued-up!
What Is It?
LRM fanboy, David Kozlowski, recommends James Cameron’s epic sci-fi sequel Aliens, starring Sigourney Weaver (Alien, Avatar), Michael Biehn (The Terminator), Bill Paxton (Titanic, Apollo 13).
Synopsis: After floating in space for 57 years, Lt. Ripley’s (Sigourney Weaver) shuttle is found by a deep space salvage team. Upon arriving at LV-426, the marines find only one survivor, a nine year old girl named Newt (Carrie Henn). But even these battle-hardened marines with all the latest weaponry are no match for the hundreds of aliens that have invaded the colony.
Why Should We Care?
“When I walked out of the theater, there were knots in my stomach from the film’s roller-coaster ride of violence“ — Roger Ebert.
The original Alien (1979) was a seminal sci-fi-horror film by master director, Ridley Scott. That film ended rather dramatically, so how could there possibly be a sequel and who could even dare to follow-up Scott’s work? James Cameron, who had just two years prior created The Terminator, was signed and the result was one of the top 10 action films of all-time!
Aliens combined Ellen Ripley’s powerful central character with a platoon of Colonial Marines and a planet full of hungry, angry, ugly, Xenomorphs… who aren’t even the true bad guys of the film. Underlying all of the action is the malevolent Weyland-Yutani corporation, who covets the space monsters as a weapon of war. Ripley discovers the corporations plans, but only after they’re all stranded on the planet, low on ammo, and facing a nuclear explosion… because tension!
This might be the most intense and unrelenting movie you’ll ever see. The special effects are dated, sure, but the acting and the combat is powerful and visceral. If you haven’t seen this movie A) what’s wrong with you? B) man, I wish I could be you. Watch this movie NOW!
SOURCE: N. B.
LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994)
What Is It?
This week LRM fanboy Moby85 reaches back to another cool 90s action film, the classic Luc Besson classic, Léon: The Professional (1994). Mathilda, a 12-year-old girl, is reluctantly taken in by Léon, a professional assassin, after her family is murdered. Léon and Mathilda form an unusual relationship, as she becomes his protégée and learns the assassin’s trade.
Why Should We Care?
This week’s recommendation, if you found Valerian lacking, is Luc Besson’s best film, “Leon: The Professional.” You’ll also see how Natalie Portman was also a great actress BEFORE the Star Wars prequels. And you’ll know why Gary Oldman is legendary. I think his performance as Winston Churchill may set a new bar for me…But as of right now, this is Oldman at his best. And this movie has some seriously insane action.
STEVE CARELL RETROSPECTIVE (Netflix)
What Is It?
LRM fanboy, Mark Cook, recommends The Office, starring Steve Carell (Anchorman 1 and 2, Bruce Almighty, Despicable Me 1-3, The 40-Year-Old-Virgin). Seasons 1-9 are available on Netflix right now. .
Why Should We Care?
Who needs a laugh? We all do, right? Most of the series I watch are serious, or action, but I enjoy finishing my day in a good mood, and The Office definitely delivers; particularly Seasons 3-5.
Michael Scott is the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company in Scranton, PA. The characters are all uniquely different all while working in an office where their personalities definitely clash with hilarious outcomes. The show was released in the US in 2005 (there is also the UK version on Netflix starring Ricky Gervais) and lasted through 2013. No matter what profession you are in, you will be able to relate to the vastly different personalities that are forced to work together, and will possibly find some of your coworkers to share some of the qualities the characters portray. Even with its focus on humor, it still provides interesting storylines as well.
Carell in the lead role is completely amazing. He will make you laugh each episode with his naivety. The supporting cast is great as well, and all are completely memorable (and quotable) characters. Once Carell left the series the humor wasn’t as consistent, but it is still worth watching, especially for the final episode. Many readers have probably seen the series, but even if you have, I recommend watching it again. Some of the episodes are classics (CPR Training) that will continue to make you laugh. If you haven’t checked it out, it starts a little slow in Season 1, so give it a chance and I promise it will not disappoint.
What do you think about this week’s selection of LRM Weekend stories? Give us suggestions for future columns in the comments down below!
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