The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13
Greg Linch § Matching cuts / 2014-09-16 18:18:15
Inque § Matching cuts / 2014-09-05 13:27:23
Gavin Craig § Matching cuts / 2014-08-31 16:33:56
Tim Maly § Sooo / 2014-08-27 01:35:19
Matt § Sooo / 2014-08-25 02:10:30
Tim § Sooo / 2014-08-25 00:49:38
Robin § Sooo / 2014-08-21 20:47:35
Doug § Sooo / 2014-08-21 20:40:50
Tim § Sooo / 2014-08-21 18:23:13

The Dinosaurs Should Just Have Gotten Bigger
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20060226_mars.jpg

Last week I saw Roving Mars, the IMAX movie about Spirit and Opportunitywith actual giant images from Mars. And it reminded me: It is really hard to make a bad IMAX movie. The experience is just so overwhelming that even a so-so documentary becomes visceral — and a good one becomes enthralling.

But of course the big thing now is that a lot of mainstream movies are making the leap to IMAX; this is part of the company’s new strategy, which is less Roving Mars and more Return of the King. Indeed, I saw Return of the King on IMAX. It was rad. And profits seem to be up.

Now, the next big thing for the format might be James Cameron’s return to narrative film. Inspired by the canvas (he’s done a bunch of underwater documentaries in IMAX) and spurred on by the game-changing special effects in Peter Jackson’s movies, he is trying to do a live-action, CGI-infused 3D IMAX (!) movie based on the Battle Angel manga. I predict that, if made, it will be totally awesome.

It’s an interesting dynamic: As our millions of little living room theaters get better and better, the only public venues that can compete are the ones that completely blow the doors off the moviegoing experience. Forget stadium-style seating; you need a stadium-sized screen.

I think this thesis is generalizable, too: In the new media galaxy, it’s good to be on the low end (Rocketboom on my TiVo) or the high end (Return of the King in IMAX). But the middle (studio movies, network sitcoms) is the prehistoric desert landscape where you get killed.

7 comments

Dude, Robin, I read the title of your post, then was continually confused and thrown off during the entire reading of the post, then got to the end and was like, “what about the IMAX about the dinosaurs?”, and then finally got it. That’s not fair.

Snarkmarket makes ya’ think like that.

I too was hoping for news of IMAX footage of dinosaurs. Preferably furry dinosaurs.

I don’t know how many Snarketeers already know this, but on HBO’s initially-retarded-but-eventually-surprisingly-entertaining-and-compelling original series “Entourage,” a good chunk of the second season revolves around a James Cameron-directed Aquaman movie. Now that would be a pretty good IMAX action-adventure movie. On the other hand, I saw Batman Begins twice, first on a regular screen and again (when my brother and sister-in-law came to visit) in IMAX, and it didn’t work quite as well as I would have thought in the larger format.

Now, Batman Begins was a good, entertaining effects-driven superhero movie, but more reliant on suggestion, shadows, and atmospherics than, say, Return of the King. It’s a popcorn-eating widescreen movie, but not really an IMAX movie. I haven’t seen it on DVD yet, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t work as well on that small(er) format either, let alone a PSP or iPod.

So if huge and tiny formats become the only profitable game in town, what happens to movies — really good movies — that don’t play so well in either? Those in all likelihood go the way of the dinosaur too.

I guess I’d classify Batman Begins as ‘big’ — maybe not IMAX big, but that could just be because it wasn’t created with that format in mind. I’ll bet you could do some spooky, subtle shiz on that canvas if you planned it that way from the beginning.

Reminds me of the one horrible IMAX experience I had, though: “Beauty and the Beast.” It’s my favorite animated Disney movie, but horrible on the huge screen — you could suddenly see all the little flaws in the linework, the squiggles and mismatches.

How does this track with the theory that the age of the blockbuster is over? Bigger and fewer screens to accommodate bigger and fewer movies? There’ll be like three Ridley-Scott-helmed, Colin-Farrell-starring historical biopics every year that all good Americans are required to see? Shudder.

I haven’t had these unsoiled wondrous experiences with IMAX movies. I saw Shackleton’s Antarctic Adventure in IMAX, and if I hadn’t fallen asleep in the middle of it, I probably would have gotten motion sickness from it. But IMAX ROTK was crazelicious.

I think part of what we’re actually seeing is the “middle” between iPod and IMAX is moving from the movie theaters to the home theaters. Giant screens and Blu-ray discs in every living room. Mash those up with the cheapening of super-high-quality digital effects, machinima, Garage Kubricks, the end of work and more buzzwords. Then what?

You’re right about the moving middle, I think — the real shift is that the benefit of seeing a movie at the mall’s AMC instead of in your living room is getting to be less than the cost of driving to the mall.

The IMAXification of movies is definitely a move to protect the corporate content lock, too — Garage Kubricks can work in HD, maybe, but probably not IMAX. Not yet.

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