TWENTY-SIX REASONS TO AVOID FOREIGN PRE-SALES For Independent Feature Films

Guest Blog Post Written by Film Finance Attorney, John Cones. With over 23 years experience in Los Angeles, John Cones is a film finance attorney, author and lecturer working in the broad field of film finance with a focus on the legal work associated with investor-financing of independent entertainment projects (primarily independently produced feature and documentary films) and business start-ups. Film finance legal services include investor financing of independent film; film finance contracts, film finance books, film finance articles, lectures and seminars.

In my 30-year practice as a securities/entertainment attorney, working with independent film producers seeking to obtain film finance from private investors, some of these producers have from time to time raised the question (or possibility) of financing some or all of the production costs of their film through foreign pre-sales. This method of film finance has been around for many years and, in fact, is actively (and sometimes aggressively) promoted by certain people in the film industry because it is financially beneficial for them. These people include (1) individuals who work for the banks that make such loans (entertainment lenders), (2) individuals who work for the completion bond companies (since all of the entertainment lenders require completion bonds on films financed in this manner), (3) the foreign pre-sales agents who represent the independent producer’s film package at the film markets (e.g., Cannes in the South of France, the American Film Market in Santa Monica, the European Film Market in Berlin and the Toronto Film Festival and Market, among others) and (4) the territorial distributors themselves. Sometimes, entertainment attorneys and/or producer’s reps may also play a role in helping a film producer put together the pre-sales package designed to attract the interest of these territorial distributors.

All of these folks have a financial incentive to promote foreign pre-sales. They are regularly and actively involved in writing articles and books, along with giving lectures or appearing on film finance panels, promoting how wonderful the foreign pre-sale transaction is for financing some or possibly all of your proposed film’s production budget. They tend to overlook the disadvantages of this form of film finance. It is not in their interest to point that out. And unfortunately, most independent producers are not sophisticated enough or willing to ask the more difficult questions relating to foreign pre-sales. Thus, this article presents the other side of the issue, in an effort to counter-balance this ongoing wave of information, and sometimes misinformation, offered to filmmakers every year by the foreign pre-sale crowd (i.e., you don’t hear much about the downsides of foreign pre-sale financing in film school, or even in Hollywood for that matter, because most people with expertise in foreign pre-sales benefit from such transactions and are interested in persuading filmmakers to pursue this approach to film finance, even though the results do not necessarily benefit the producer, or any others who rely on or participate in the producer’s share of a film’s revenues).

Financial Conflicts of Interest – One of the earliest problems to be encountered by the independent film producer in seeking foreign pre-sales financing for their films is the fact that all of these people want to be paid and, of course, should be paid, but they all get paid before the producer, and anyone else relying on a share of the producer’s profit participation. In other words, all of these people benefit financially from the foreign pre-sale transactions before the film’s producer ever sees a dime in profit participations, so their financial interests are not necessarily aligned with that of the producer. In many instances, they could care less whether the actual release of the film generates any profits, since they’ve already made their money. Thus, all of these people have a financial reason for promoting foreign pre-sales that is quite independent of whether the film deserves to be produced in the first place, or whether the film will result in a profit for the producer.

Development Costs – Secondly, putting together a film package that will attract the interest of territorial distributors typically requires a significant expenditure of money. There may be costs associated with acquiring the underlying rights to a story, or rights to a script. In order to get a professionally-prepared and reliable production budget, a fee may need to be paid to an experienced line producer.

Attachments – The most expensive item of all, however, is the cost associated with attaching elements to the project. It is extremely difficult to attract the interest of territorial distributors in a film project without recognizable names attached, either for the lead roles and/or the film’s director. If these individuals have enough name recognition to add value to the film project, they are also most likely to be at a point in their careers to demand at least a non- refundable deposit in exchange for the commitment of their time. In other words, if they are actually committed to appear in or work on your film, they have to contractually block out a specific time period on their own calendars, and turn down any other work opportunities that conflict with that time commitment. They and their agents want to be compensated for that commitment. And typically, if there is no money at risk (i.e., the producer is subject to losing the non-refundable deposit if the production costs of the film are not ultimately raised) then there is no attachment – no firm commitment), and it is horribly inappropriate to run around Hollywood saying you have some name actor attached, when you really do not.

Most independent film producers do not have the cash on hand to cover these preliminary (i.e., development costs). That’s one of the reasons why we often see wealthy individuals get involved in helping to finance this stage of a film project. They have the money and are willing to assume the risk – at least somebody was able to talk them into assuming this risk. In the alternative, an independent producer could conduct what we refer to as a “development offering” to investors, where the money needed for the development costs, script, budget, attachments and other expenses are raised from passive investors. This allows the producer to avoid having to pay out of pocket for these development costs and tends to spread the risk amongst a larger group of passive investors. Such offerings typically however, involve the sale of a security, and the producer will need to associate with a securities attorney in order to properly conduct such an offering. That’s another article.

Foreign Pre-Sales Agent Expenses – So, let’s say you are able to assemble an attractive film package, with a commercial script (and you have a clean and demonstrable chain of title), a professionally-prepared production budget and a legitimately attached recognizable name director and lead actors (the basics), along with a one-sheet, poster, trailer and/or pitch deck (the additional bells and whistles that may be helpful in marketing your film package to prospective territorial distributors), and you want an experienced and reputable foreign sales agent to represent your film package at one or more of the film markets. That will also cost money. There are fees to be paid to the film market to both attend, and for the right to set up shop at the market and promote your film package, in addition to the expenses to be incurred by the foreign sales agent (travel, hotel, meals, entertainment, etc.) that need to be covered.

Another Conflict of Interest – This is a tricky area. Is it possible that some foreign sales agents who agree to represent the film packages of more than one independent film producer at the same market, will inflate their estimated expenses, or worse, ask each producer to cover 100% of the foreign sales agents expenses, thus creating a situation in which the foreign sales agent is making money by double or triple-dipping into several producers’ pockets for the same expenses? How does a producer prevent either of these problems from happening? And, how does a producer know that the foreign sales agent is making his or her best effort in representing the producer’s film package as opposed to the other film projects the foreign sales agent is also representing, at the same market? Again, we have a conflict of interest – not uncommon in the film industry. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed or not, but the film industry has long been a haven for a lot of sleazy people – scam artists of all sorts and every background (see my book Hollywood Wars – How Insiders Gained and Maintain Illegitimate Control over the Film Industry). So, your best judgment is under great pressure in these circumstances, when you are trying to select a reputable foreign sales agent, and trying to monitor whether he or she is acting in good faith on your behalf. Here’s a tip! Contractual language won’t prevent an unscrupulous foreign sales agent from engaging in such behavior, and your after-the-fact remedies are quite limited.

Ok but let’s assume that you have somehow come up with the money to pay for the development of your film package, you have the script, budget and attachments, and you have avoided the potential problems associated with the foreign sales agent and their representation of your film project at one or more film markets, and your film package is actually getting interest from some of the territorial film distributors in the top ten foreign film markets (i.e., countries). Now, you may be confronted by a whole new set of problems.

Market Fluctuations — First, we have to consider that the market for pre-sales comes and goes as the economies of various foreign territories weaken or strengthen, and as the number of available films in the marketplace in any given year increases or decreases. You cannot rely on what happened last year or the year before in any given territory.

Buyer’s Market — So long as there such a great disparity between the number of films produced and the number and capacity for distributors to distribute, the market will be a so-called buyer’s market for distributors. That tends to give more leverage in pre-sale negotiations to the territorial distributors, and they typically do not hesitate to take advantage of that disparity in negotiating power.

Increased Distribution Costs Make Pre-sales Less Practical — Fractionalized and split- rights agreements have become less practical in recent years because of the increasing relative cost of U.S. theatrical distribution. You might want to check out the list of distribution expenses attached to a distribution deal (see sample film industry agreements at www.filmfinanceattorney.com).

Cost-Value Trends do not Favor Fractionalized Pre-sales – As film production and distribution costs have increased, the percentage of revenue generated through a film’s domestic theatrical release has been reduced in relation to other media or territories. In addition, as the value of ancillary rights has increased, domestic theatrical distributors have been more likely to insist on requiring the domestic ancillary rights as part of any domestic theatrical distribution deal.

Domestic Theatrical Release Creates Value in Other Markets and Media – Also, the domestic theatrical distributors point out that their expenditures on advertising and publicity helps to create value for a film in the other markets; thus, in all fairness, they should be allowed to participate in those markets.

More Offers Means Less Reason to Pre-sell – Theoretically, the more value a film is presumed to have, the higher the offers distributors and ancillary buyers are willing to make to keep their competition from buying the same rights. But the more offers the producer gets for ancillary rights, the more confident the producer can be that the film actually has value and that all rights can subsequently be sold to an important distributor.

Foreign or Fractionalized Pre-sales May Eliminate Domestic Distributors – U.S. theatrical distributors often insist upon all or substantially all rights to help cover recoupment not only of advances to the producer, but also their increased distribution costs. That is, any ancillary right that has significant value will be demanded by the domestic theatrical distributor as a prerequisite of distribution. Thus, the producer who pre-sells any of the rights (e.g., territorial or specific media) to a film runs the risk of pre-selling the film out of a domestic theatrical release. And since these other rights will probably require a domestic theatrical release at a specified level (e.g., number of theatres), if there is no domestic theatrical release, then these pre-sell agreements are likely to be voided.

Pre-sales Bring Lower Prices — We have to recognize that territorial distributors know their market better than the independent producer, or the foreign sales agent. They have a much better idea how much money they could possibly make by distributing your film in their country, but to hedge their bets, they are not going to offer you (the film’s producer) top dollar for those rights. They are going to low-ball you. The reality is that such distributors are considering several films to fill their distribution slots for the year and on the whole, we’re producing way too many films each year. As a result, the price that a buyer is willing to pay before seeing a prospective film will generally be less than that which the same buyer would pay for the same film as a completed motion picture. These territorial distributors want to be assured that they will make a profit off of your film.

Giving Away Your Film’s Upside Potential — Film production companies relying on pre- sale strategies may succeed in reducing but not eliminating their downside risk, while giving away much of a film’s upside potential. Why do we say that? (see Collection Difficulties below)

Collection Difficulties — Pre-sales are based on contingencies, for example, the actual collection of moneys due from the providers of pre-sale contracts have turned out to be difficult in many instances – often more difficult than collecting from domestic distributors. In other words, by agreeing to a minimal distributor advance (payable upon delivery of the completed film to each territorial distributor) that is likely to be all of the money you’ll ever receive from that territorial distributor for that country. So, in effect, by engaging in a foreign pre-sale transaction, you have effectively given away your upside potential for being paid any profit participation for the exploitation of your film in that country – one of the top ten film markets in the world). If you combine that with half a dozen other such territories, you’ve given away a significant part of your potential profit. If you’d like to see many of the reasons why it is difficult to collect profit participations from any film distributor, take a look at the monograph “337 Business Practices of the Major Studio/Distributors”. So, when you are talking to foreign sales agent, ask the question: “Can you refer me to some of your former producer clients who have actually collected profit participations from that particular territorial distributor or in that territory?”

The “A”Picture Dilemma — Many industry observers today suggest that it is difficult to pre-sell rights in major markets around the world without an extremely strong film package, the so-called “A” picture. On the other hand, if a producer has an “A” picture, why should it be necessary to seek pre-sales? Furthermore, the stronger motion picture package will generally require more money to produce; therefore, more pre-sales will have to be made. In addition, the stronger the pre-sale package is, the more money it will take to obtain the firm commitments from talent.

Takes too Much Time — Since it generally takes much more time to contact and negotiate with multiple interested buyers of pre-sold rights in the various media and territories, producers using pre-sales may encounter a lengthier time lag between the start of their pursuit of pre-sales and the start of production than some other forms of film finance. Of course, this further complicates the attachment problem, since you’ve had to commit in advance to a specified start date in order to obtain the firm commitments from talent.

Higher Cost of Capital — Companies relying on pre-sales will inevitably have a relatively high cost of capital compared to some other forms of film finance. For example, in a foreign territory pre-sale, the entertainment lender’s principal, interest and fees are collected out of the distributor advances upon delivery of the completed film. Some completion guarantors charge an up-front fee (based on a variable percentage of all production costs other than the contingency, interest and finance costs) and agree to rebate a portion of it to the producer if no claims are made after the film is delivered. This is sometimes referred to as a “no claims rebate.” Also, as noted earlier, the sales agent’s expenses may have to be advanced prior to his or her attendance at markets and the sales agent’s fee will typically be recouped out of the film’s revenue stream, in addition to the costs and fees of the foreign distributor, before the producer will receive payments, if any, beyond the producer’s advance.

Only Part of the Financing Needed – Generally, foreign pre-sales can only provide a part of the total financing of a film’s budget. Thus, in addition to spending the time and effort developing some expertise in and pursuing this form of film finance, a producer will also have to spend time and effort developing some level of expertise in and pursuing other forms of film finance to cover the entire budget.

Contractual Quagmire — From a contractual point of view, it is difficult to coordinate the various contractual concerns of the bank, the completion bond company, the producer and the various media and territories when negotiating and drafting multiple pre-sale agreements. If you are paying your attorney on an hourly fee basis, this could get expensive.

Default Disaster — If a licensee (i.e., the pre-sales purchasing entity or buyer) sees a rough cut of the film and decides it is so much worse than expected (or otherwise unsatisfactory), the buyer may notify the producer that it will not be paying the balance of the minimum guarantee and will forfeit its deposit, if any. In that event, the bank may demand that the producer repay the loan, and the producer may have to seek payment from the distributor. If the producer fails to repay the loan, the bank might foreclose on the negative if it took a lien as further collateral, or attach the film and its proceeds even if it did not have an original lien.

Simply not Available — As noted earlier, the availability of foreign pre-sales varies from year to year depending on larger economic issues in each of the countries that traditionally offer such pre-sales. As an example, as the marketplace generally is flooded with more and more feature films, it becomes less necessary for distributors in foreign territories to pre-buy the rights. They may opt to simply wait until the films are completed.

Survival of the Weakest — Pre-sales often support projects that perhaps could not and should not otherwise have been made; thus, producers seeking pre-sale commitments may be looked upon with disfavor in some segments of the industry.

Reversion Rights and Library Values — When pre-selling rights to a film in various markets and media, the production company or its attorney must be careful to coordinate provisions relating to the reversion of such rights to the producer following exploitation of the film in such markets and media. If not, the film is likely to have less value as a library asset, and confusion over the status of such rights may make it difficult to include such film in the sale of a production company’s film library.

Macroeconomics — Feature films financed in this manner increase the number of films produced in a given year and thereby increase the demand for, and thus the cost of, various film elements that are theoretically in limited supply (e.g., screenplays, directors, actors, sound stages, etc.). Also, since there are more films produced each year than there are capable and willing distributors available to distribute, the oversupply of films contributes to a significant imbalance in the bargaining strength between producers and distributors.

Losing in the Long Term — Over the long term, the relatively few films that are highly profitable for a producer using pre-sale strategies are likely to be insufficient in number or in degree of success to recoup the losses of the firm’s many non-profitable projects. In other words, the thinner potential profit margins of pre-sold films make it less likely that such a production company will financially succeed in the long run (see the study by David Royal, “Making Millions and Going Broke, How Production Companies Make Fortunes and Bankrupt Themselves”, American Premiere, November/December 1991).

Conclusion – So, what sort of conclusion can we possibly draw from these counter-points to the constant promotion of foreign pre-sales as a film finance method? One friend, in his peer review, suggested that he was relieved to learn that there are only 26 reasons to avoid foreign pre-sales, when there are 43 ways to finance his feature film. In effect, however, this article is written as a response to the suggestions made from time to time by some of the people involved with foreign pre-sales, that there are a lot of problems with investor financing of independent films. As my book points out, there are advantages and disadvantages to every form of film finance and none are easy. But, if you are bound and determined to pursue the foreign pre-sales, at least, this article may serve as a checklist of problem areas that need to be addressed and hopefully resolved. Good luck!

* This article is partly based on a section in my book 43 Ways to Finance Your Feature Film, Third Edition (Southern Illinois University Press).

Feedback – As you might expect, I did get some push-back on the above article. Here are a couple of the points made in defense of foreign pre-sales:

Point 1: First, I’ll quote one of the responses: “For most independent producers it is nearly impossible to fund 100% of the budget with equity”. This is the same sort of film industry myth that the foreign pre-sales promotion group has used for years. It’s the reason I wrote the above article. It is wildly speculative. We have no idea what “most independent producers” are capable of. On the other hand (and as a matter of fact), 62 of my independent producer clients have done exactly what this person claims is “nearly impossible”. They raised 100% of their feature and documentary film funding from investors (equity financing) for film budgets ranging from $100,000 on the low end to $20 million on the high end. Secondly, nobody said that 100% of these budgets have to be raised from investors, after all, the same tax incentives that are available to be combined with foreign pre-sales are also available to be combined with investor financing.

Point 2: Another responder suggested that knowledgeable filmmakers seeking a foreign pre-sale based production loan do not rely on after-the-fact profit participations. That instead, they inflate the budget of the film for purposes of obtaining the loan, then figure out ways to produce the film for less and pocket the balance as producer profit. Of course, he does not consider whether this amounts to bank fraud, or if some passive equity investors are also involved for a portion of that same budget, whether such misleading information rises to the level of securities fraud. Good luck with that.

Mr. Cones’ film finance related consulting concerns the choice of finance method as well as the choices relating to: form of production company, investment vehicles for raising investor funds, the advantages and disadvantages of securities versus non-securities offerings (passive investor versus active investor), federal and state securities law compliance, proper marketing of the offering, use of the Internet and expanding the pool of prospective investors for private placement offerings. In addition, he works with producer clients in developing the associated financial projections for such offerings, in preparing and submitting state and federal notice filings, creating the selected entity, box office comparables and other disclosures required to be included in the securities disclosure document (PPM, offering circular or prospectus).

In addition to the above, Mr. Cones has prepared film finance offering disclosure documents for feature film development, packaging, production, completion fund and distribution activities. His experience extends as well to live stage plays, infomercials, television pilots, music projects and other business start-up and project financing needs. Lastly, his work encompasses the preparation of film finance business plans for active investor solicitations, as well as the conduct of limited liability company, limited partnership and corporate stock offerings.

His producer client film finance offerings have successfully raised the investor financing to produce some 57 feature and documentary films (see Filmography).

He is also the author of seven books relating to film finance and distribution (see Books) and numerous articles on related subjects (see Articles). For 15 years, he has also answered thousands of questions from independent filmmakers all across the country at his question and answer website focused on Film Finance: Investor Financing of Independent Film (see Finance Forum).

Mr. Cones typically works on a modest flat-fee project basis with more than half of the fee deferred to be paid out of the offering proceeds. Filmmakers may request information relating to film offering disclosures, an engagement letter and fee schedule at jwc6774@gmail.com.

John Cones is a member of the California and Texas Bar Associations.

Presented with permission from John Cones. http://www.filmfinanceattorney.com/

Little Known Actor Aaron Pedersen, In a Slew of Great Mysteries

In 2013, I came across a wonderful Australia actor named Aaron Pedersen who played outback detective Jay Swan in a marvelous little independent film written and directed by Ivan Sen. There was a followup sequel in 2016 called Goldstone and a new TV Series based on the films, also called Mystery Road, broadcast in 2018 ( and, I hope, many more seasons to come).

Mystery Road Aaron Pedersen

The biggest compliment I can give him as an actor is that he seems so genuine in all the characters I’ve seen from him that it actually feels like he is not acting but just happens to be the real character come to life  that has stumbled onto the movie or TV set and is trapped by the cinematographers lenses and now inhabiting the world we see on film. He’s wholly authentic in spirit if not in flesh and blood. I never see him acting, or looking like he’s reciting lines written by a screenwriter…he just is.

I have since watched all 3 Jack Irish movies featuring Guy Pearce along with Pedersen and the 2 seasons of Jack Irish available on Acorn Media– all of them marvelous and engaging mysteries. In the US, we don’t seem to have any more mysteries written in film or TV, and we have to look to the UK or Australia for great stories in this genre. 

Pedersen has worked with some fantastic actors over the years with some of them being my all time favorites with Hugo Weaving from Mystery Road, Guy Pearce in Jack Irish and award winning favorites, Jacki Weaver in Goldstone and Judy Davis from the Mystery Road TV Show. We should starting seeing him in more prominent features and shows and hopefully someone in Hollywood will offer him a juicy part sometime very soon!

Goldstone (2016) Movie Trailer Aaron Pedersen Jacki Weaver

Goldstone (2016) Movie Trailer Aaron Pedersen Jacki Weaver – Indigenous Detective Jay Swan arrives in the frontier town of Goldstone on a missing person inquiry. What seems like a simple light duty investigation opens a web of crime and corruption. Jay must pull his life together and bury his differences with young local cop Josh, so together they can bring justice to Goldstone.

Posted by Unofficial: Movie Trailers on Thursday, December 13, 2018
https://www.facebook.com/unofficialmovietrailers/

Shazam or Captain Marvel? Will The Real Captain Marvel Please Stand Up?

I’m going to take a moment to mention something that falls into the category of, “It’s just a damn shame”. My brother is sick of me complaining about this, but I think it’s just a damn shame that Captain Marvel lost his name! It makes me sick really when people today call him Shazam! Shazam was the Wizard’s name! People today don’t understand, but here’s what happened…

After the success of National Comics’ new superhero characters Superman and Batman, Fawcett Publications started its own comics division in 1939, recruited writer Bill Parker to create several hero characters for the first title in their line, tentatively titled Flash Comics. Besides penning stories featuring Ibis the Invincible, Spy Smasher, Golden Arrow, Lance O’Casey, Scoop Smith, and Dan Dare for the new book, Parker also wrote a story about a team of six superheroes, each possessing a special power granted to them by a mythological figure.

Fawcett Comics’ executive director Ralph Daigh decided it would be best to combine the team of six into one hero who would embody all six powers. Parker responded by creating a character he called “Captain Thunder”.  (For some interesting info about other “Wannabees” of Capt- check out the history at http://www.marvelfamily.com/potpourri/Wannabees/)

The first issue of the comic book, printed as both Flash Comics #1 and Thrill Comics #1, had a low-print run in the fall of 1939 as an ashcan copy created for advertising and trademark purposes. Shortly after its printing, however, Fawcett found it could not trademark “Captain Thunder,” “Flash Comics,” or “Thrill Comics,” because all three names were already in use. Consequently, the book was renamed Whiz Comics, and Fawcett artist Pete Costanza suggested changing Captain Thunder’s name to “Captain Marvelous,” which the editors shortened to “Captain Marvel”. The word balloons in the story were re-lettered to label the hero of the main story as “Captain Marvel”. Whiz Comics #2 (cover-dated Feb. 1940) was published in late 1939.

Visual inspiration for Captain Marvel came from a number of sources. His appearance was modeled after that of Fred MacMurray, a popular American actor of the period, though comparisons to both Cary Grant and Jack Oakie were made as well. Fawcett Publications’ founder, Wilford H. Fawcett, was nicknamed “Captain Billy,” which inspired the name “Billy Batson” and Marvel’s title, as well. Fawcett’s earliest magazine was titled Captain Billy’s Whiz Bang (which is also mentioned prominently in The Music Man by Robert Preston during the crusade against the pool hall), which inspired the title Whiz Comics. In addition, Fawcett took several of the elements that had made Superman the first popular comic book superhero (super-strength and speed, science-fiction stories, a mild-mannered reporter alter ego) and incorporated them into Captain Marvel. Fawcett’s circulation director Roscoe Kent Fawcett recalled telling the staff, “Give me a Superman, only have his other identity be a 10- or 12-year-old boy rather than a man”. (NOW REMEMBER THIS PART AS IT’S VERY IMPORTANT)

As a result, Captain Marvel was given a 12-year-old boy named Billy Batson as his alter ego. In the story of his origin printed in Whiz Comics #2, Billy, a homeless newsboy, is led by a mysterious stranger to a secret subway tunnel. An odd subway car with no visible driver takes them to an underground tunnel with seven statues depicting the Seven Deadly Enemies of Man (Pride, Envy, Greed, Hatred, Selfishness, Laziness, and Injustice): the lair of the wizard Shazam. (See! The Wizard is Shazam!) The wizard shows that he has observed the hardship of Billy’s life, and grants him the power to become the adult superhero Captain Marvel, just before a stone suspended above Shazam’s head crushes him. His ghost says he will give advice when a brazier is lighted.

In order to transform into Captain Marvel, Billy must speak the wizard’s name, an acronym for the six legendary figures who agreed to grant aspects of themselves to a willing subject: the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the stamina of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the courage of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury. Speaking the word produces a bolt of magic lightning which transforms Billy into Captain Marvel. Speaking the word again reverses the transformation with another bolt of lightning.

Captain Marvel wore a bright red costume with gold trim and a yellow lightning bolt insignia on the chest. The body suit originally included a partial bib front but was changed to a one-piece skintight suit within a year (the partial bib would be restored to Captain Marvel’s costume much later in the character’s history, in 1994). The costume also included a white-collared cape trimmed with gold flower symbols, usually asymmetrically thrown over the left shoulder and held around his neck by a gold cord. The cape was inspired by the ceremonial cape worn by the British nobility, photographs of which appeared in newspapers in the 1930s.

Through much of the Golden Age of Comic Books, Captain Marvel proved to be the most popular superhero character of the medium with his comics outselling all others, including those featuring Superman. In fact, Captain Marvel Adventures sold fourteen million copies in 1944 and was at one point being published bi-weekly with a circulation of 1.3 million copies an issue (proclaimed on the cover of issue #19 as being the “Largest Circulation of Any Comic Magazine”). Part of the reason for this popularity included the inherent wish-fulfillment appeal of the character to children, as well as the humorous and surreal quality of the stories. Billy Batson typically narrated each Captain Marvel story, speaking directly to his reading audience from his WHIZ radio microphone, relating each story from the perspective of a young boy.

Detective Comics (later known as National Comics Publications, National Periodical Publications, and today is known as DC Comics) sued both Fawcett Comics and Republic Pictures for copyright infringement in 1941, alleging that Captain Marvel was based on their character Superman. After seven years of litigation, the National Comics Publications v. Fawcett Publications case went to trials court in 1948. Although the judge presiding over the case decided that Captain Marvel was an infringement, DC was found to be negligent in copyrighting several of their Superman daily newspaper strips, and it was decided that National had abandoned the Superman copyright. As a result, the initial verdict, delivered in 1951, was decided in Fawcett’s favor.

National appealed this decision, and Judge Learned Hand declared in 1952 that National’s Superman copyright was in fact valid. Judge Hand did not find that the character of Captain Marvel itself was an infringement, but rather that specific stories or super feats could be infringements, and that the truth of this would have to be determined in a re-trial of the case. The judge, therefore, sent the matter back to the lower court for final determination.

Instead of retrying the case, however, Fawcett decided to settle with National out of court. The National lawsuit was not the only problem Fawcett faced in regard to Captain Marvel. While Captain Marvel Adventures had been the top-selling comic series during World War II, it suffered declining sales every year after 1945 and by 1949 it was selling only half its wartime rate. Fawcett tried to revive the popularity of its assorted Captain Marvel series in the early 1950s by introducing elements of the horror comics trend that gained popularity at the time.

Feeling that this decline in the popularity of superhero comics meant that it was no longer worth continuing the fight, Fawcett agreed to permanently cease publication of comics with the Captain Marvel-related characters and to pay National $400,000 in damages. Fawcett shut down its comics division in the autumn of 1953 and laid off its comic-creating staff. Whiz Comics had ended with issue #155 in June 1953, Captain Marvel Adventures was canceled with #150 (November 1953), and The Marvel Family ended its run with #89 (January 1954).

NOW FOR THE IRONY…When superhero comics became popular again in the mid-1960s in what is now called the “Silver Age of Comic Books,” Fawcett was unable to revive Captain Marvel, having agreed never to publish the character again (as part of the settlement of the lawsuit). Carmine Infantino, the publisher of DC Comics, licensed the characters from Fawcett in 1972, and DC began planning a revival. Because Marvel Comics had by this time established Captain Marvel as a comic book trademark for their own character, DC was forced to publish their book under the name Shazam!. Infantino attempted to give the Shazam! book the subtitle The Original Captain Marvel, but a cease and desist letter from Marvel Comics forced them to change the subtitle to The World’s Mightiest Mortal with Shazam! #15 (December 1974). As all subsequent toys and other merchandise featuring the character was also required to use the “Shazam!” label with little to no mention of the name “Captain Marvel”, the title has become so linked to Captain Marvel that many people took to identifying the character as “Shazam” instead of “Captain Marvel”.

So now, the company that forced Captain Marvel to lose his trademark name owns him and can’t use the name themselves! Here’s where you go, “It’s just a damn shame!”, because Captain Marvel is so much cooler than Shazam! Now I wish they would just go back to his original name of Captain Thunder. Anyway, enough of my tirade…back to the blog. Regardless, I’m very excited about both the upcoming films for Shazam! and the new Captain Marvel!

Shazam! (2019) Movie Trailer Zachary Levi Mark Strong

Shazam! (2019) Movie Trailer, Zachary Levi, Mark Strong

Posted by Unofficial: Movie Trailers on Saturday, July 28, 2018

What’s Up, Doc? Behind the Scenes With Barbra Steisand, Ryan O’Neal and Peter Bogdanovich

I would venture to say that the best screwball comedy of all time would be the film, What’s Up, Doc? with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal, directed by Peter Bogdanovich.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s some behind the scenes:

Behind the Scenes Stunts for Whats Up Doc Movie

Behind the Scenes and Stuntwork for the Movie What's Up, Doc? with Ryan O'Neal and Barbra Streisand and directed by Peter Bogdanovich

Posted by Best Movie Stunts on Monday, July 9, 2018

And the following trailer has some great behind the scenes footage:

Whats Up Doc Movie Trailer Peter Bogdanovich Barbra Streisand Ryan O'Neal

What's Up, Doc? Movie Trailer Barbra Streisand Ryan O'Neal Peter Bogdanovich

Posted by Unofficial: Movie Trailers on Monday, July 9, 2018

We also feature a wonderful Blog post about the origin of this film and screwball comedies in general, click here to read more.

Why is No-one Talking About Logan Marshall-Green in Upgrade?

I don’t single out actors very often…rather as often as I should, but sometimes a performance is so perfect that it screams to be talked about. Logan Marshall-Green has one of the finest performances in a genre picture than I have seen literally in years. And because it’s a genre picture…meaning sci-fi horror action (not award season bound) it’s never going to be given the proper praise it deserves.

Logan Marshall-Green is BRILLIANT as Grey Trace, who is a self-described technophobe in a future version of earth that is FILLED with technology. His world gets literally turned upside down when his wife is killed by a group of military assassins and he is left paralyzed from the neck down. He sets his mind to solving her murder when he is given a second chance at life, and revenge, when an experimental chip, called STEM is implanted in his spine, giving him the ability to walk again. But along with that ability comes a whole computerized litany of technology-based abilities that he uncovers over the course of the mystery.

To see how incredible Logan Marshall-Green is in the role, you just have to go to the very first scene of his investigation to find his wife’s murderer, when he breaks into the house of one of the men who ambushed them. I won’t be a spoiler here or anywhere in this article by revealing any surprises or plotlines– but just know that it’s off the hook from here on out. The BRILLIANT part of his acting is to see his face react one way–while his body does the exact opposite. It’s a tour-de-force of acting that I simply have never seen before– and so good that you don’t realize what the actor had to do to be THAT natural and realistic. He reacts EXACTLY as we do as the audience–in complete awe.

My only word for it is BRILLIANT (obviously) and I truly hope that this film does well and that Logan Marshall-Green is finally noticed as a top-tier A-list actor. He’s becoming one of my favorite actors to watch, and I can’t wait to see what he has coming up next. You’d probably recognize him from Prometheus, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Devil or a slew of TV shows. Logan, if you ever read this– keep up the good work, man, I love it!

Upgrade, is written and directed by the fantastic Leigh Whannell. Everything he touches benefits from his contact. Leigh, you just released my favorite movie of the year. Great job.

Upgrade (2018) Movie Trailer Leigh Whannell Logan Marshall-Green

Upgrade (2018) Movie Trailer Leigh Whannell Logan Marshall-Green – Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.

Posted by Unofficial: Movie Trailers on Thursday, August 2, 2018

 

Top 15 Comedy Road Trip Movies

Road Trip movies are some of the most unexpected gems over the past decades, as they usually sneak up on you–but they are definitely at the top of my list as some of the greatest comedies of all time.  Here’s my list for the top 15:

15 – Oh Brother Where Art Thou (2000)

A Coen Brother’s classic, you probably wouldn’t think about this being a road movie…but it is.  It’s also based on, arguably the biggest literary road trip…Homer’s The Odyssey!  Although Homer is given a co-writing credit on the film, Joel Coen and Ethan Coen claim never to have read “The Odyssey” and are familiar with it only through cultural osmosis and film adaptations. The title of this movie didn’t come from the book at all, but rather another movie. “O Brother Where Art Thou?” comes from the title of the movie-within-a-movie in Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels (1941). John Turturro has called this movie “a hillbilly musical comedy adventure.”

14 – Sideways (2004)

You would probably be surprised to find out that Paul Giamatti and Thomas Haden Church had to audition for their roles in the film. You’d be even more surprised to find out that for the scene that Thomas Haden Church read for during the audition, it called for the actor to strip naked, which he did and was later surprised to find out that out of all the actors who auditioned for the same part with the same scene…he was the ONLY one to strip naked. And it got him the role. George Clooney campaigned for the part of Jack, but Alexander Payne thought Clooney was too big a star. However, Clooney got to play the lead in Payne’s next full feature, The Descendants (2011). Paul Giamatti admitted to faking every bit of wine knowledge, and not understanding why anybody would care about it. He also claims he was shocked that he was cast in a lead role and initially thought it was a practical joke. Paul Giamatti admitted in interviews that he doesn’t like wine.

13 – Kingpin (1996)

The Farrelly brothers bowled a strike with this one. It came out the same year as the Big Lebowski and I have to admit liking this one just a touch better. As is the case with most of his films, Bill Murray ad-libbed virtually every line he spoke. He would read over the script, get the “general” idea, and then discard it. The Farrelly brothers, on the DVD commentary, said that they’re very glad he did because it was funnier. Turned out, Bill was also a very good bowler. Bill Murray really bowled three strikes in a row in the scene where his character, Ernie McCracken does the same. The crowd’s reaction is genuine and is actually for Murray. Woody Harrelson, on the other hand, was a terrible bowler and according to the Farrelly brothers maybe got one or two strikes throughout the filming.

12 – Little Miss Sunshine (2006)

Steve Carell, at the time he was cast for Little Miss Sunshine (2006), was a relative unknown in Hollywood. According to an article in Entertainment Weekly, the producers of the film worried that he wasn’t a big enough star and didn’t have much acting experience. However, between the time the film was shot in the summer of 2005 and its release in the summer of 2006, Carell became a huge success as the star of the high-grossing film The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005) in August 2005 and the leading character of the popular NBC Emmy-winning television series The Office (2005), which premiered in March 2005 and for which Carell won a Golden Globe in 2006 for best lead actor in a comedy television series. In the span of just one year, Carell had become such a star that the producers had gone from protesting his casting to tapping him to do prominent promotion for the film. Bill Murray was the original choice to play Frank. The second choice was Robin Williams.  Thomas Haden Church turned down the role of Richard Hoover, a decision he said he later regretted.

11 – It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (1963)

Stanley Kramer, who was known for doing serious films like Inherit the Wind (1960) and Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), set out to make this the ultimate comedy film. It became well known that Stanley Kramer was casting nearly every comedy performer he could think of. Some famous stars actually contacted Kramer to volunteer for the project, or to inquire as to why they had not been contacted. When this film was made there were about 100 stunt performers in the US. About 80 of them worked on this film. When the cast first assembled for a meeting with director Stanley Kramer, they were shown the stunts and second unit footage that had already been shot. Buddy Hackett was so impressed that he went to Kramer and asked, “What do you need US for?”

The film was so crammed with action that each leading actor was given two scripts: one for the dialogue and one for physical comedy. For one particular stunt, a billboard that the twin-engine Beechcraft flies through was made of thin balsa wood, except for a thicker frame for support. Stunt pilot Frank Tallman had to fly the aircraft directly through the center of the billboard or the thicker frame would shear off a wing. The billboard was located in Irvine, at what is now the intersection of Interstate 405 and Hwy. 133 (Laguna Canyon), near Lion Country Safari, just east of John Wayne Airport. They had practiced with paper signs but used balsa wood for the actual movie stunt. The wood stopped one engine and the other was sputtering enough that the plane barely made it back to John Wayne Airport.

10 – Midnight Run (1988)

The boxcar scene where Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) and John Mardukas (Charles Grodin) discuss whether or not they could ever be friends, was almost entirely improvised on-set. As regards Grodin’s famous, “You ever had sex with an animal, Jack?” line, he was told by Director Martin Brest to come up with something that was guaranteed to make even Robert De Niro laugh. The scene where John Mardukas (Charles Grodin) falls off a cliff was shot in the Salt River Canyon in eastern Arizona. However, the conclusion of the scene, the shots of Mardukas and Jack Walsh (Robert De Niro) crashing through the river rapids, was shot in New Zealand, because the water was too cold in Arizona. I have to pause here…too cold. In Arizona.

9 – Paper Moon (1973)

I talk about this movie in a post about Madeline Kahn, you can read it here: KAHN  Ryan O’Neal and daughter Tatum O’Neal are both excellent as well as Madeline Kahn, in this. Tatum O’Neal was 10 years old when she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in this movie, making her the youngest person ever to win an Oscar in a competitive category. As of 2018, she still holds this record. She was four years younger than her rival nominee, Linda Blair, in The Exorcist (1973). Some Hollywood insiders suspected that Tatum O’Neal’s performance was “manufactured” by Peter Bogdanovich. It was revealed that the director had gone to great lengths, sometimes requiring as many as fifty takes of some of her scenes, in order to capture the “effortless” natural quality for which Tatum was critically praised. Either way, Bogdanovich maintained later that working with the young actress was “one of the most miserable experiences” of his life.

Prior to finalizing casting, Peter Bogdanovich says he met with Ryan O’Neal and Tatum O’Neal at their Malibu home. When Ryan invited Bogdanovich to start an exercise regimen of running on the beach, Tatum countered he wasn’t the type. When she explained to Bogdanovich she said that because he wouldn’t take his shoes or shirt off, he told Ryan, “She’ll do.” Peter Bogdanovich didn’t think the movie would make much money or would be very successful. He certainly didn’t think Tatum O’Neal would win the Oscar.  The film spawned an unsuccessful TV series Paper Moon (1974) starring Jodie Foster.

8 – Cannonball Run (1981)

I talk about Cannonball run at length at a post you can read HERE. In one of the earlier scenes in the movie, J.J. McClure (Burt Reynolds) said “Could get a black Trans Am”, and then answers himself, “Naw, that’s been done.” This is a reference to Smokey and the Bandit (1977) and Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), which starred Reynolds, and was directed by Hal Needham, who directed this film. DeLuise co-starred with Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit II (1980).

7 – The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

According to director Stephan Elliott, he took the three leads out in drag prior to the beginning of filming. None of them were recognized: Guy Pearce took the opportunity to be outrageously rude, Terence Stamp eventually forgot he was in drag and started hitting on girls, and Hugo Weaving got super-drunk and lay under a table for hours, tapping his finger in time to the music. This last detail was incorporated into the film in the hotel room scene.

6 – Dumb and Dumber (1994)

Harry and Lloyd are named after the (silent) comedy star Harold Lloyd. The feature film debut for Peter Farrelly and Bobby Farrelly. They said years later that the main reason they got the job was that Jim Carrey’s breakthrough film role in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994) had been directed by someone who had never done a feature film before (Tom Shadyac) and after a positive first meeting with the Farrellys, Carrey decided to give them the job in hopes of replicating that success. According to the Farrelly brothers, Jeff Daniels wasn’t wanted for the film, but Jim Carrey wanted him in it. In order to ensure a no from him, they offered Daniels $50,000 for the role. He accepted without any hesitation nor did he attempt to negotiate, despite insistence from his agent the film would “kill his career.” By 1994, the film was Daniels’ most successful.

5 – It Happened One Night (1934)It Happened One Night (1934) became the first film to perform a “clean sweep” of the top five Academy Award categories, known as the Oscar “grand slam”: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Screenplay. This feat would later be duplicated by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) in 1976 and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) in 1992. However, It Happened One Night is the only one not nominated in any other category. According to Frank Capra in an interview with Richard Schickel for “The Men Who Made the Movies”, “We made the picture really quickly–four weeks. We stumbled through it, we laughed our way through it. And this goes to show you how much luck and timing and being in the right place at the right time means in show business; how sometimes no preparation at all is better than all the preparation in the world, and sometimes you need great preparation, but you can never out-guess this thing called creativity. It happens in the strangest places and under the strangest of circumstances. I didn’t care much for the picture, ] it turned out to be ‘It Happened One Night’.” Is often credited as the very first screwball comedy.

4 – Tommy Boy (1995)Rob Lowe played the supporting role of Tommy’s stepbrother and is uncredited. The reason for this is because Rob was contractually obligated to Stephen King’s The Stand (1994) at the time, so he took the part simply as a favor for friend Chris Farley. According to David Spade, he and Chris Farley got into a physical altercation on the set. Spade had gone out for a drink with Rob Lowe the night before. Farley had become very jealous and angrily repeated: “How’s Rob Lowe?”. David got so fed up with Chris hounding him on the subject that he threw his Diet Coke on him, to which Chris responded by throwing David into a wall and down the stairs. After the fight, Spade walked off the set and refused to continue filming. The pair would sometimes go for hours without talking to each other, talk to each other through the director, etc.

3 – The Blues Brothers (1980)During filming one of the night scenes, John Belushi disappeared and could not be located. Dan Aykroyd looked around and saw a single house with its lights on. He went to the house and was prepared to identify himself, the movie, and that they were looking for Belushi. Before he could, the homeowner looked at him, smiled and said, “You’re here for John Belushi, aren’t you?” The homeowner then told them Belushi had entered their house, asked if he could have a glass of milk and a sandwich, and then crashed on their couch. Situations like this prompted Aykroyd to affectionately dub Belushi as “America’s Guest”. John Candy orders three orange whips. This line was not scripted; Candy just improvised. While also a cocktail, Orange Whip provided refreshments for the crew, and Costumer Sue Dugan was daughter of the Director of Sales for Orange Whip, Kenny Dugan, who asked the brand be mentioned in the film.

2 – Smokey and the Bandit (1977)A majority of the lines and quotes spoken by Jackie Gleason character, Sheriff Buford T. Justice were improvised. Jackie Gleason reportedly modeled his character, Sheriff Buford T. Justice, after Burt Reynolds’ description of his father, a Florida police officer and Chief of Police. Among the character traits that came from this was the use of “sumbitch”, a colloquial pronunciation of “son of a bitch”. Jackie Gleason said the cafe scene with himself and Burt Reynolds was not in the original story, it was Gleason’s idea. Adding the Junior Justice character was Jackie Gleason’s idea. “I can’t be in the car alone,” Gleason said. “Put someone in there with me to play off of.”

Hal Needham was better known in the film industry as a stuntman and had great difficulty in getting any producers interested in this project. Only when his close friend Burt Reynolds agreed to star in the film did he manage to gain studio attention. Hal Needham asked Jerry Reed to write a theme song for the film. A couple of hours later, Reed presented “East Bound and Down” to Needham. With an acoustic guitar, Reed started to play it and Needham immediately stopped him. Thinking Needham didn’t like it, Reed offered to re-write the song. To which Needham replied: “If you change one note, I’ll kill you!” The song went on to become one of Reed’s biggest hits.

1 – Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987)John Hughes, in an interview on the “Those Aren’t Pillows” DVD, said he was inspired to write the film’s story after an actual flight from New York to Chicago he was on, was diverted to Wichita, Kansas, thus taking him five days to get home. John Hughes wrote the first draft of the screenplay in three days. His average writing time for a screenplay in those days was about three to five days with twenty-some re-writes. Steve Martin was convinced to join the production after favoring two scenes he had read from the script; the seat adjustment-scene in the car, and the F-word tirade at the car rental desk. John Candy and Steve Martin’s favorite film that they have made. Although John Hughes was in a bad mood throughout the filming, as his life was falling apart, John Candy and Steve Martin had a great time together during production.

Top 15 Kevin Costner Movies

Kevin Costner has so many great movies, it was difficult in paring down the best ones to a minimal 15, but I did it to the dismay of all Bull Durham fans out there–it was on the bubble and I had to cut it. With that being said, here’s my top 15 Kevin Costner movies:

15 – No Way Out (1987)Many people consider Tom Farrell in No Way Out as the performance that launched Kevin Costner’s career as a leading man.  No Way Out was a remake of The Big Clock (1948 – Great movie by the way) starring Ray Milland in the Costner role and Charles Laughton in Gene Hackman’s role. This is a fantastic thriller and some, though not all, scenes supposedly inside the Pentagon were filmed there. The most notable on-location scene occurred inside the actual office of the Secretary of Defense.

14 – The Guardian (2006)The opening story of the helo rescue gone bad was loosely based on a real event that occurred August 7, 1981. The crew of CG1471 from Airsta Kodiak was responding to a distress call of a fishing vessel near Prince William Sound. As the crew attempted to hoist the survivors of the boat, a wave hit the tail of CG1471 causing the helo to crash into the seas. A painting named “So Others May Live” hangs on CG Airsta Kodiak depicting the rescue. In real life, actors Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher are both members of the Delta Chi fraternity. Interestingly, in this film, Clancy Brown portrays “Captain William Hadley” and in “The Shawshank Redemption” he portrays “Captain Byron Hadley.”

13 – The Postman (1998)The second post-apocalyptic feature film which Kevin Costner stars in the lead role as a drifter with no name. The other film is coming up on this list at number 10. People are probably freaked out that I picked this movie over Bull Durham or Wyatt Earp or Message in a Bottle, but I simply loved this film more than those.

12 – Open Range (2003)Robert Duvall was the only actor that Kevin Costner had in mind for the role of Boss Spearman. Robert Duvall accepted the role of Boss Spearman within twenty-four hours of reading the script. Costner said if Duvall had turned down the part, he might not have made the movie at all. Originally, the studio had Kevin Costner top-billed over Robert Duvall, but Costner asked the studio to top-bill Duvall instead. At only two hours and nineteen minutes, this is the shortest of the three movies Kevin Costner self-directed. They average three hours each.

11 – Dances With Wolves (1990)Michael Blake wrote a spec screenplay in the early 1980s. When Kevin Costner came across the project in 1986, he suggested to Blake that he should turn it into a novel, thereby increasing his chances of getting it made into a film. Blake did so and after many rejections found a publisher in 1988. Costner immediately snapped up the movie rights with an eye to directing it himself.  The studio wanted the final cut to be 2 hours 20 minutes. They had to settle for Kevin Costner’s cut of At 236 minutes, the director’s cut of “Dances with Wolves is the longest of Costner’s three self-directed movies, which average 3 hours.

10 – Water World (1995)Kevin Costner insisted that his friend Kevin Reynolds be given the director’s position as they had previously worked on Fandango and Robin Hood together. Later, Costner had a falling out with Reynolds over the film’s direction, but they would come together again after this movie to film the Hatfields and the McCoys.  Despite reports, on the contrary, Costner worked extremely hard on this film and was on the set 157 days, working 6 days a week. Kevin Costner and Kim Coates became good friends after this movie and later worked together on Open Range which was directed by Costner.

9 – For The Love of The Game (1999)After pitching his perfect game at Yankee Stadium, Kevin Costner’s character carries John C. Reilly to his hotel room, where Reilly says to him, “you’re the cream in my coffee.” In Costner’s movie JFK (1991) a woman on the street comes up to him asking if he remembers singing with her at a party to which he responds, “oh right, we sang ‘you’re the cream in my coffee'” as he walks away. The movie’s production and release coincided with the fact that two real life perfect games were pitched at Yankee Stadium during that time frame. David Wells of the Yankees threw a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins at the Stadium in May 1998, six months prior to the filming of game scenes there. David Cone, also of the Yankees, would pitch a perfect game at Yankee Stadium against the Montreal Expos in July 1999, almost exactly two months prior to the film’s release.

8 – The Bodyguard (1992)

This film was originally proposed in the mid-’70s, starring Diana Ross and Steve McQueen, but was rejected as “too controversial”. The film concept was to be attempted again in the late 1970s, with Ryan O’Neal and Diana Ross cast as the leads. The project fell through after only a few months because of irreconcilable differences between O’Neal and Ross, who had been dating. Kevin Costner said that he based his portrayal of Frank Farmer on actor Steve McQueen. He even went as far as to get McQueen’s trademark haircut for the role. This was Whitney Houston’s first movie role. Kevin Costner was one of the movie’s producers. He campaigned to have Houston play Rachel. Whitney Houston would give Kevin Costner singing lessons on set in exchange for acting advice. It was Kevin Costner’s idea for Whitney Houston to start “I Will Always Love You” a capella. Originally I Will Always Love You” wasn’t in the movie – the big single was “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted.” When that song was used in Fried Green Tomatoes (1991), Kevin Costner suggested: Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” It would become Whitney’s signature song.

7 – JFK (1992)

Oliver Stone was given a copy of Jim Garrison’s book, “On the Trail of the Assassins“, by a friend to read on the plane to the Philippines during the filming of Platoon (1986). After reading the book, Stone knew he’d found a new film project. After reading Jim Garrison’s book, Oliver Stone immediately bought the rights with his own money. Donald Sutherland and Kevin Costner both have very long monologues in the movie. According to Oliver Stone, both of them memorized these speeches (Kevin Costner had thought that one take was necessary for his speech). Reportedly, after starring in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Kevin Costner wanted a year off making films. Director Oliver Stone brazenly sent Costner’s wife a copy of the screenplay for JFK (1991), so she persuaded him to star in the film.

6 – Silverado (1985)

Cook Ranch, twenty-five miles from the heart of Santa Fe, New Mexico, served as the site for the town of Silverado. Production Designer Ida Random and Set Designers Bill Elliott (a.k.a. William A. Elliott), Chas. Butcher, and Richard McKenzie had the challenging task of completely creating the forty building western town. From a vast body of historical reference, Random and her team, and a construction crew of one hundred forty, designed and built such structures as the Midnight Star Saloon, a hotel, and a church. Construction Coordinator Clarence Lynn Price, and his able crew, completed the town in twelve weeks, in less than desirable conditions, below freezing temperatures, and winds as high as sixty miles per hour.  The town of “Silverado” has since been used in such movies as Young Guns (1988), Wyatt Earp (1994) (also starring Kevin Costner), Last Man Standing (1996), Lonesome Dove (1989), All the Pretty Horses (2000), and Wild Wild West (1999) (also starring Kevin Kline). In the latter film, as a reference to director Lawrence Kasdan, “Kasdan Ironworks” can be seen on the side of one of the buildings.

5 – Draft Day (2014)

Sonny trades three first-round draft picks (which includes that year’s #7 overall pick) for the #1 pick of the draft. Sonny then trades three second-round picks for the #6 pick of the draft. Then he swaps #6 for his original #7, the future first-round picks he traded away, plus a special teams player. With the picks, he gets the LB he originally wanted at #1 and a RB at #7; essentially trading three second-round picks for the number one overall pick in the draft and a special teams kick returner. The trade Cleveland made in the movie is similar to the real-life trade made in the 2012 NFL Draft, where the Washington Redskins traded their 2012 number six overall pick, 2012 second round selection, 2013 first round selection, and 2014 first round selection for the 2012 number two overall pick to the St. Louis Rams, in order to select Robert Griffin III.

4 – Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

One of the absolute best things in this movie, hands down, is Alan Rickman. He’s just brilliant in this. Alan Rickman turned down the role of the Sheriff twice before he was told he could more or less have carte blanche with his interpretation of the character. Alan Rickman ad-libbed the line about canceling Christmas. Some of the other Sheriff’s witty lines (such as telling a couple of wenches “You! My room, 10.30 tonight. You! My room, 10.45. And bring a friend.”) were devised by Alan Rickman’s friends comedian Ruby Wax and playwright Peter Barnes. He enlisted their help in spicing up his dialogue because he felt the script was terrible. Kevin Reynolds enabled these script alterations by not informing the producers or screenwriters or anyone in the crew. Rickman said in an interview years later that he knew these new lines were having the desired effect when during takes he noticed the crew members covering their mouths, trying not to laugh.

3 – The Untouchables (1987)

Eliot Ness and his role in bringing down Al Capone had been completely forgotten at the time of his death in 1957. No Chicago newspaper carried news of his passing. His heroic reputation only began with the posthumous publication of the Untouchables book he had co-written with Oscar Fraley, and the television series adapted from it…and then this movie, which was a very loose remake for the TV series–and is the best of all. Brian De Palma previously directed Scarface (1983), which was a very, very loose remake of Scarface (1932), which was about Al Capone. Kevin Costner has acted with all three of the main leads of Goodfellas (1990) in three different movies. Costner co-stars here with Robert De Niro. He later worked with Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams (1989) and Joe Pesci in JFK (1991).

2 – Tin Cup (1996)

Kevin Costner and Don Johnson are good friends in real life. And also that Johnson was considered to play Eliot Ness in the untouchables but turned it down and it went to his friend Kevin Costner. Don Johnson and Cheech Marin would go on and star together in the television series “Nash Bridges” later the same year this movie came out. Cheech Marin had said he disliked golf until he joined this film, later having become an avid player of the game. The scene at the end of the movie where Roy hits the shot into the water hazard, again and again, was based on an actual event. Gary McCord, the commentator with the handlebar mustache in the movie, is an actual commentator and pro golfer. In a 1987 tournament, he had a shot similar to Kevin Costner’s. He needed a birdie to win and went for it. He hit the water over and over again and finally made the shot, but it cost him 15 strokes. In the movie, Costner gets it in 12. The scene where Roy wins a bar bet by hitting a golf ball at a pelican also was based on a real-life incident from McCord’s career.

1 – Field of Dreams (1989)

After the movie was completed, test audiences didn’t like the name “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, because they said it sounded like a movie about a bum or hobo. Universal called Director and Screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson to tell him that “Shoeless Joe” didn’t work, and the studio changed the title of the film to “Field of Dreams”. When Robinson heard the news of the change, he called W.P. Kinsella, the author of the book, and told him the “bad” news, but apparently, he didn’t care, saying that “Shoeless Joe” was the title the publishing company gave the book. Kinsella’s original title was “Dream Field”. Ray Liotta had no baseball experience, and batted right-handed, although “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was a leftie. Phil Alden Robinson allowed Liotta to bat with his right, but still put him through several weeks of extensive training with University of Southern California baseball coach, and former Brooklyn Dodger, Rod Dedeaux, in order to be convincing as one of the sport’s greatest hitters. Liotta eventually developed a good swing. The scene where he hits a line-drive straight back at Kevin Costner actually happened. Costner’s fall on the mound was real, and although it was a surprise, he stayed in character.

In the novel, instead of seeking fictional author Terrance Mann, Ray Kinsella seeks real-life 60s author J.D. Salinger. In 1947, Salinger wrote a story called “A Young Girl In 1941 With No Waist At All” featuring a character named Ray Kinsella, and in his most famous work, the novel “The Catcher in the Rye”, one of Holden Caulfield’s classmates is Richard Kinsella. (In the original novel, Ray has a twin brother named Richard.) J.D. Salinger was very offended by the fictional portrayal of himself in W.P. Kinsella’s novel “Shoeless Joe”, upon which the film is based. His lawyers said that they would be “unhappy if it (the story) were transferred to other media”, so the studio created the character of Terence Mann. Archibald “Moonlight” Wright Graham was a real baseball player. On June 29, 1905, with the New York Giants, he played one Major League Baseball game. Following that one game, he continued playing professionally through the 1908 season, mostly in the New York State League, until retiring at the age of thirty.

I read the book after I saw the film and loved both, in the end. I just wish that they had kept the twin brother in the film, being a twin myself. In the novel, Ray Kinsella is reunited with his identical twin brother, Richard Kinsella (a subplot that was discarded for the movie).

Fred Armisen is Amazing at Accents

 

Sometimes a comedian comes around that just takes you by surprise. For me, that happened with Fred Armisen. Now, to be fair, Fred has been around as a comedian and a musician for a long time, but for some reason, he was not on my radar…he doesn’t seem to jump out at you like some of the other people that have come from Saturday Night Live. Whereas, Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy would be the Hot Dog– Fred Armisen would be the condiment, to use a metaphor from my favorite food…for most people, Fred would be the mustard. He just makes the Hot Dog that much better.

My first experience with Fred was very very recent. It was while watching the Netflix special, Fred Armisen: Stand Up For Drummers…and I was mildly entertained for the first 15 minutes or so…quietly enjoying the fact that he’s so unassuming. He comes across as very comfortable and nice and amusing. And then he got to the part where he explains accents and dialects from all around the United States while pointing to a blue map of the US…and he blew me away! He is a MASTER at accents from all around the world, really, I was to learn later. I haven’t ever seen anything quite like it.

Not only can he nail any accent, but he does it down to the city or even suburb… even describing the slight differences in regions of the same place…it’s amazing.  what I love most is that these are not parodies of the accents…but the actual understated minute-detailed versions of the accents. I saw a couple of Interviews pulled from Youtube later that showed when an accent got to be from a certain place that was very big or showy– that he would get uncomfortable doing the accent as it would come across as racist or rude…like when he’s asked to do a Jamaican or Vietnamese accent.

He reminds me of Peter Sellers in his ability to do just about any accent as if it was his natural accent. And it becomes that much more hilarious– because the accent is so real instead of outrageously phony. My train of thought brought me back to the old Pink Panther and the Inspector cartoons of the sixties and I remember the Inspector’s sidekick being a Spanish gendarme who does not comprehend the intricacies of the French language… a Sergeant Deux-Deux, who is diminutive, soft-spoken, timid yet low-key and seldom wide-eyed. Now, I wish Fred was around when the Pink Panther movies were being shot, because they could have easily slipped Fred in as Sergeant Deux-Deux.

Brothers' Ink Productions Official Website