Five for Friday: August 31, 2012
Every weekday, we select headlines from around the web that speak in some way to the art and science of content creation. You'll see them if you're a subscriber to our Daily Fix e-letter or you can find them near the bottom of our front page under the heading of "News Reel." Some of them are hard news stories, some of them are about projects and creativity in the business, and others are just funny, intriguing, or touching. Here's a recap.
The Avengers was a huge worldwide hit, but it seemed like a bit of a risky bet a few years ago, when nobody knew what Marvel's Thor and Captain America films, building blocks of the Avengers franchise, would end up looking like. But the comic-book business has understood for decades the value of team-up stories, and the creation of story threads criss-crossing multiple films in the lead-up to a big superhero blow-out must have come naturally to the guys at Marvel Studios, who hit a home run. Now, they're expanding the synergies in a new direction, with ABC ordering up a pilot for a small-screen tie-in led by Avengers director Joss Whedon (pictured at top). George Lucas is going down a similar road, authorizing TV shows like Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Detours to extend the boundaries of his galaxy. When it comes to tentpoles, could this be the wave of the future?
Errol Morris's film Tabloid was an odd duck even by the documentarian's own somewhat eccentric standards. Its apparently completely cooperative subject, Joyce McKinney, was at the center of the "Manacled Mormon" scandal. In a nutshell, this former Miss Wyoming was accused of going to England, abducting a Mormon missionary named Kirk Anderson, and raping him. In his film, Morris gave McKinney plenty of room to protest her innocence with regard to the long, strange story, and he also examined the way that tabloid publications covered the story, drawn to the scent of sex (and l'amour fou) like moths to a flame. But McKinney was unhappy with the results. After the film's release, McKinney sued Morris and the film's producers, claiming that she was misled, coerced, and exploited. Late last year, McKinney's attorneys posted the original complaint [PDF] online for your edification; this week, The Hollywood Reporter covered developments that have taken place since the suite was originally filed. Whether you believe McKinney's claims or not, it's an object lesson for documentarians in keeping your nose clean when it comes to securing consent from subjects.
Is it too early to talk Oscars? Bill Desowitz runs down the contendors for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature at Anne Thompson's blog. His picks? He says Brave, Frankenweenie and Rise of the Guardians look like sure bets for three of five slots … for the moment.
With Wall Street keeping Digital Domain Media Group on the ropes — as blogger VFX Soldier noted, its stock has fallen by more than 75 percent in the four months since it peaked in a wave of post-Coachella Festival buzz over the so-called "hologram Tupac Shakur" (really just footage of a body double with a CG head tracked onto it and projected onto a transparent screen) that it helped create — CEO John Textor filed a document with the SEC indicating that he's considering leading a group to purchase the company. Textor has long held that the company, which has branched out into education, feature animation, production, and overseas partnerships, is dramatically undervalued by investors. A rumor that Digital Domain was preparing a "hologram Ronald Reagan" to address the Republican national convention this week turned out to be untrue, but word got out that a projection of Reagan was actually in the works, just without DD's involvement.
Speaking of troubles in the VFX business, VFX Soldier balanced out coverage of the closing of Australia's Fuel VFX and Hollywood's Matte World Digital by linking to examples of growth in the industry, like new expansions by DreamWorks Animation, MPC Film, Encore, ArsenalFX, and more. A healthy reminder that there are still signs of life despite all the bad news.