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It's money that matters

July 29, 2009

[Today’s entry at Premium Hollywood had some FtY suitable material, so here it is again.]

Filthy lucre is today’s theme in movieland. Really, it’s every day’s theme, but it’s on my mind today.

* Nikki Finke, who actually makes money blogging, notes a pay cut for William Morris assistants, who already work ridiculously hard for the hope of decent money some day, and are expected to work a minimum of fifty hours a week. Presumably they get some overtime (though one wonders if they’re not working actually quite a bit more — Hollywood and Walmart have been known to have a few things in common in the past). They’d better because their boss’s brother is the White House chief of staff. Could get messy, otherwise.

Finke also has an interesting — inasmuch as I can follow it — look at some silver linings amidst the major studio’s fiscals clouds.

* A noted casting change in the third “Twilight” will probably not affect grosses perceptibly, but there’s no stopping those wagging tongues.

* And with all the fuss at Comic-Con, the appearance of anime genius Hiyao Miyazaki got all but ignored by the media, as far as I can tell. “Princess Mononoke” beat “Titanic” in Japan. If it had done so here, it’s fair to say he wouldn’t have been a relative afterthought.

* What of “District 9”? Given one of a few strong early reviews by Justin Chang, will politically trenchant, if thoughtfully violent/icky, Sci-Fi set in South Africa find a big enough American audience? (H/t Jeffrey Wells.)

* For those of you who live outside of California, it might be interesting to note that while mass chaos seems far away here, the state’s fiscal crisis really is effecting everything and everyone to varying degrees. People I know who work in the public sector out are personally experiencing furloughs and pay cuts to go with them, classroom sizes are ballooning absurdly and on it goes to some pretty scary and sad places.

It may not be directly related, but the Los Angeles Times report that the L.A. County Museum of Art is ending its weekend programming hits me where I live. As Anne Thompson points out, some of that may be due to some very canny competition from the terrific Los Angeles Cinematheque, a relatively very young organization that has actually come to the fore during the DVD era with two theaters at opposite ends of town offering some pretty great programming.

The Times‘ John Horn strikes a perhaps overly drastic or even borderline intellectually snobbish note on that point, though it’s true that this is not a golden age for art movies. LACMA was more prone than any other venue to offer works by such cinephile-only filmmakers as Bela Tarr, whose best known movie is the 7.5 hour “Satantango,” and will be closing out with the far-from-Frank Capra Alain Resnais.

Nevertheless, the museum’s Bing Theater was certainly not above offering crowd-pleasing fare from time to time and, indeed, not doing so would be to ignore a huge part of film history. Still, a cannier mix might not have hurt so much. Since they are talking of tie-ins with museum shows, programs similar to (or identical to) New York’s MOMA collaboration with Tim Burton might be in order. If regular film programming ever does return to MOCA, a little more Charlie Chaplin and a little less Maoist-period Godard might not be the end of the world, either.

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