BOP Answers Its Mail
By Calvin Trager
June 3, 2004
BOP loves its readers. And BOP's readers love BOP. But some of BOP's readers don't love certain things that BOP does. But others do. This is the enigmatic nature of feedback: It doesn't often let you know what you are doing well, but it very nearly always lets you know what you're doing wrong, or at least what others think you're doing wrong.
And while we at BOP are self-aware and confident enough to follow our own muse even in the *gasp* face of negative feedback, from time to time we will use this forum to respond to our readers, to further clarify, to enlighten, to entertain.
Here then is some selected feedback and response from May 10-16, 2004.
Luke is now BOP's Senior Content Editor:
I love your "intermittent issues" and "box office fallacies" types of articles that help your uniformed audience understand the movie business a bit better. I've noticed that in many of your weekly box office reports, you try to explain how certain a certian film may or may not be profitable for the companies involved. I think it would be great to read a BoxOfficeProphets article on this subject, explaning such important aspects of a film's profitability as production costs, marketing costs, the actual percentage of gross that studios get from the theaters themselves, distribution costs, and overseas distribution. And, of course, I look forward to any more articles you may have in the works about the movie industry. Thank you for your factual and entertaining box office coverage!
Just a quick point of clarification here. We don't actually make our audience wear uniforms, so you can put the Starfleet Commander digs back in the cedar closet, mmmkay?
Luke follows up on 5/24:
Thanks so much for the recent (and, apparently, upcoming) articles on analizing box office profit and financing!
Luke, did not ten lepers make column requests? Where are the other nine? Er, anyway, You're welcome. By now, I'm sure everyone has read Walid Habboub's Movieball article and is in talks with Harvey Weinstein for a three-picture deal. If you aren't, get clicking. Thanks for your feedback, and for coming back to show your appreciation.
Eric favors pitching the cant:
Hi -- this email is for David Meek: David: Hello. I enjoyed your columns on aspect ratios and projection systems and look forward to Part III. A comment and a couple of questions: HARD MATTING I believe that in H'wood, the studios bar hard-matting. PROJECTION ANGLE and CURVED SCREENS It seems that the cant of the projector or the screen varies from theater to theater, creating a degree of distortion. Is that correct? Unless the projector is absolutely perpendicular to the screen (which I guess couldn't be possible unless the projector sat somewhere in the middle of the theater) there will be some distortion, right? If so, do theater designers or projection systems take this into account (possibly by pitching the cant of the screen forward or backward)? It just seems that in some theaters you can readily notice that, for example, the frame is somewhat wider at the bottom than at the top. In any event, thanks again for the interesting and informative column. Best regards, Eric
So here's the thing, Eric. I read every word of David's excellent feature on Original Aspect Ratios when it debuted, so when I saw your feedback I was all like, "I can answer this dude's question, no problem." But as it turns out, I'm not so good with all the technologies? Then I realized you weren't asking me in the first place, which frankly was a little embarrassing. For the both of us, Eric, the both of us. Sooooo anyway, here's David.
David Meek drops some more OAR knowledge on us:
Thank for the feedback, Eric. In regards to hard matting of prints, I can't say what the current studio policy might be. However, in 1992 I ran a print of Silence of the Lambs that was most definitely hard matted.
Projection angle is one of those really difficult problems to solve. As you noted, putting the
projector perpendicular to the screen involves more trade-offs than most theater operators are
willing to make. The result is that virtually all modern theaters have moderate to high angles of
projection. And while a small number of theaters do have curved screens, they aren't able to fully
compensate for the angle.
The result of high-angle projection is known as "keystoning", where the image is wider at the
bottom than at the top. Good masking and a well-cut aperture plate can eliminate the bowed edges, but the image is still somewhat distorted. One of the neat things that came out of the ToddAO company (which first popularized the 70mm format) was a process where they compensated for high-angle projection optically when making the prints. They produced prints for moderate angles (10-15 degrees) and extreme angles (15 degrees and up). Since they were only making small numbers of these prints for special engagements (roadshows), they could pull this off. Since modern films can be released with 4,000-5,000 simultaneous prints (and that's just in the US and Canada), getting studios to deal with extra print versions on the same title just ain't gonna happen today.
Me again, Eric. You ah, get all that? Let me know if you have any other questions. So I can get the answers from David for you. Thanks for your feedback.
Beth inspires no witty header:
Found your site through a link from IMDb.COM. I found the title I was searching but I need an E-mail contact to find out more about booking the film. Do you have a link to this info? Is this something you may want to consider adding to your sight? I was looking for a contact for THE BEST THIEF. Thanks... Beth
I have to confess I don't know what the hell you're talking about here, Beth. Do you mean The Best Thief in the World? Or do you mean The Good Thief? Or possibly even The Good Thief? O forse, avete significato Il Ladrone?
All right. I'm going to take a flying leap and assume you are interested in booking The Best Thief in the World, since that one has its own BOP listing, was made most recently, and played at Sundance. The moguls at Echo Bridge Entertainment recently acquired distribution rights for the film. Though their rights only extend to countries outside the US and Canada, I suspect by your command of the English language this is not a problem for you. Hmmm, maybe you were asking about Il Ladrone after all.
All right. Sorry about that, sometimes I can't help myself. If you're still with me, and you still want to book The Best Thief in the World, try contacting Eureka Pictures. Details can be found at the end of this link. Click on "more info" from there. Good luck to you (goed geluk) and thanks for your feedback.
Lots of people wonder why BOP does Survivor recaps even though we are first and foremost a movie site. Here's some feedback that should clear the issue up:
Scourge needs his (or her, I suppose) fix:
I miss my survivor fix. Are you doing a wrap up for the season?
Dave wants to know our plans:
Are you guys planning to recap the show's finales?
Rob has so much love to give, he should get a puppy:
Love the site, love the new updates, love everything except. . .where is the Survivor review. I have been patiently waiting to read BOP's wonderfully sarcastic review of it. . .it's one of my mainstays every week when the show is running. Better late than never!
James presents three viable scenarios:
Is the recap of Survivor ever going to happen? Waiting for that "Rob and Amber Survivor Wedding" Special? Or has it become old news ya just don't care? Just curious....
Rita is a self-loathing Canadian:
When are the final two Survivor Wrap-ups coming out?? I respectfully ask that you get off your asses and get writing!!.... please.... (damn, I hate being Canadian sometimes..) I just got turned onto your columns this season and have filled my time reading all the back-columns. Thouroughly enjoyable. Get the last two done already!! Cheers.
Paul makes an impassioned plea:
Will you ever finish up your Survivor recaps? Please?
Mark eventually gets to the Survivor part:
1. Your vote. I think people are missing the point. The question is "What movie is most likely to disappoint?" not "What movie is most likely to suck?" These are two different questions. I see Catwoman winning by a large margin, but is it most likely to disappoint? If you mean expectations, then I don't think I'll be disappointed at all, since I'm expecting it to suck. Of course, maybe the jokes on me. I'll be surprised if it doesn't suck, in which case it would definitely disappoint my expectations. But taking the question at face value, I think Riddick has the highest expectations and the farthest to fall. Or am I just over-analyzing this? 2. Um, Survivor recap? Don't you realize there is a small but loyal contingent out here that watch Survivor simply to enjoy the laughs of the recap? It's necessary so we can be in on the jokes. Don't leave us in suspense after the final two shows! Love the site.
Marv looked forward:
Are you going to do a re-cap for the final show of survior. I looked forward to the weekly re-caps. Thanks Marv
Ram's all about keepin' it short:
Heyas. I'll keep this one short. Why isn't there a Survivor: All-Stars finale summary yet? While not the only good thing on the site, the summaries are the best. Kindly look into it.
Erin is all like, I this and I that - hello, self-centered?:
Hello to all - love the new look. I was curious about the Survivor All Stars final episode re-cap. I missed the show and was looking forward to reading your re-cap. I usually read them anyhow - they're very entertaining. Keep up the good work.
Dear Scourge, Dave, Rob, James, Rita, Paul, Mark, Marv, Ram, and Erin - You folks are some tough customers, but we aim to please. By now you've seen Kim and David's work on the Survivor finale and a good part of the reunion; I have firm intelligence that the recap of the America's Tribal Council episode is looming around the corner. Can you believe some other people are calling for us to stop doing Survivor recaps? You could totally take them, though. Thanks for the feedback.
Special PS to Mark: To say you are over-analyzing the poll question a bit (which movie is most likely to disappoint) would be an understatement akin to saying the Olsen Twins are trying to slutty up their image a skosh. My man, this is not a trick question. Do you think the hardworking folks at Warner Bros produced a movie solely to confound your expectations? They spent a reported $100 million, for crying out loud. Of course not; their most fervent desire is for you to spend your hard-earned money to go see their flick opening weekend. So when you say you're expecting it to suck, you've already answered the bleeding question. Compared to what? Compared to its highest *expletive deleted* potential! I really want to curse right now; I've let you make me way angrier than I should be over this silly thing. Deep breath, 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, exhale. Much better; all right then, thank you for the feedback.
Chris understands the easiest way to get featured in the feedback column:
After reading through all the snarkey comments in the mailbag, I had to write and lavish you with praise! Ever since I discovered BOP, I have been faithfully reading your site every day. You guys do an incedible job. I've learned tons about the movie business, and have always been entertained by your commentary. Keep up the excellent work!
I'm not saying that we at BOP are suckers for positive reinforcement, but simply put - Chris, will you marry us? Thanks for the feedback.
Dusty tries to circumvent the rules:
Let me just say I *love* the Top 5 thingies, but let us who have absolutely nothing productive to do go through them. Maybe a little button on the bottom of the Top 5 window that reads "More" or something. I say this out of respect for little finger, since it starting to cramp up from pressing the mouse on the "reload" button about 1,000 times. Thanks!
But but but, the Top 5 lists mean every time you visit the front page, there's something new you haven't seen before. We like this and the functionality of the lists is something we're not planning on changing any time soon. We appreciate your enthusiasm, and the feedback. Keep clicking. We add new lists all the time.
Ben needs a fork, a knife, and possibly a spoon:
Many thanks to David Meek for putting together that clear, informative column on aspect ratios. I've long been a "letterbox good, full-frame bad" dogmatist, and I had no idea that the full-frame option sometimes contained more material. I'm still going to go for matted presentation every time, but now I know, and knowing is half the battle. So huge respect to David and the whole BOP crew. Send more columns on cinema technology! Maybe something on the cinematography side of it? I'd eat that way up.
If Luke approves, we'll consider your request. Thanks for the feedback.
Steve jumps to conclusions:
Dear Bop, I stumbled onto your site and really love it. I was wondering how I'd find out how MR. BASEBALL (the tom selleck film) did at the Japanese Box office. Is that something you would have access to? Thanks, Steve
Steve, I'm posting this in case anyone knows the answer and wants to post in with some information for you. I did some searching and I'm not certain that Mr. Baseball was even released in Japan. What, just because the movie is about Japanese baseball, it automatically has to be released in Japan? How much did Amistad make in Africa? How much did Elf make at the North Pole?
According to IMDb, the film had a US distributor (Universal Pictures) only, and was released on video in Brazil. I actually submitted a question at UP's website in an attempt to get some kind of response for you; if they reply, you can be certain I will include it in a future column. Thanks for the feedback.
Connie is haunted by asterisks:
I was looking at the Holiday Weekends section & notice that some movies have astricks beside them but I could not find an explanation or legend anywhere. Where can I find that information?? I also want to say that I love the way you have re-designed the site! It looks great...it was good before but I like it even better now. I've been visiting your site since it's inception back when the old Showbiz BOC was in existance. I know you all have worked hard to put together so much in-depth info and you're fast becoming one of the most respected movie sites on the web. Keep up the good work! Thanks, Connie
To fully understand all the info we provide in our Box Office Database, be sure to check out the Glossary. The answer to your question is there - namely, asterisks indicate a four-day opening weekend. And Connie! Thank you for the rest of the wonderful feedback.
Craig is ordinarily a very careful reader:
Really enjoyed the three part piece on aspect ratios. However, I thought you might include something on in your section on Open Frame presentation of 1.85x1 movies on home video - namely the fact that opening up the frame sometimes allows completely unwanted information onto the home video. My favorite example is Pee Wee's Big Adventure; there is a scene where Pee Wee pulls an impossibly long chain from a tiny box to lock up his bike. When the frame is opened up, we can clearly see that there is a hole in the box, and he's pulling chain through from the bottom, ruining the effect.
While I thought David Meek made such a phenomenon perfectly clear - you did read the part about boom mics and tennis shoe-wearing space monsters, right Craig? - you provide an outstanding example of what used to happen when filmmakers operated under the assumption that images outside the "safe zone" would never be seen by the public. Luckily, these days most directors treat the entire recorded image as canon, just in case. Thanks for the feedback.