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Posts Tagged ‘Roger Ebert’

Roger Ebert Blames Theaters for Poor 2011 Box Office Showing

Hollywood box office numbers are down significantly from 2010. Movie attendance is at its lowest rate in 16 years. Piracy and file-sharing seems to be getting plenty of blame. But Roger Ebert isn’t buying it. Nor is he buying this Fishie’s contention that a glut of crap movies is at fault. On his blog, Ebert argues that while 2011 lacked an Avatar to boost box office numbers, the theater experience is to blame for Hollywood’s poor showing. Which is interesting, because the spate of 3-D movies that came out this year were supposed to be about improving the theater-going experience–providing something viewers couldn’t have at home.

But Ebert says 3-D ticket prices are gouging audiences. That, combined with concession gouging, and inconsiderate idiots with cell phones in the theaters are keeping people home. But all that could be overcome, Ebert argues, if theaters just took a chance on the American viewing audience and started screening decent films.

Writes Ebert:

Box-office tracking shows that the bright spot in 2011 was the performance of indie, foreign or documentary films. On many weekends, one or more of those titles captures first-place in per-screen average receipts. Yet most moviegoers outside large urban centers can’t find those titles in their local gigantiplex. Instead, all the shopping center compounds seem to be showing the same few overhyped disappointments. Those films open with big ad campaigns, play a couple of weeks, and disappear.

The myth that small-town moviegoers don’t like “art movies” is undercut by Netflix’s viewing results; the third most popular movie on Dec. 28 on Netflix was “Certified Copy,” by the Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami. You’ve heard of him? In fourth place–French director Alain Corneau’s “Love Crime.” In fifth, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”–but the subtitled Swedish version.

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Dennis Hopper Biographer Rides Wave of LA Times Publicity

Thanks to a massive amount of interest sparked by this weekend’s LA Times profile piece by Nita Lelyveld, North Hollywood author Peter Winkler is suddenly sitting pretty. The disabled first-time writer, who because of rheumatoid arthritis tapped out his tome about Dennis Hopper one chopstick-touch at a time, has discovered just how much of an impact a supportive tweet and Facebook post by Roger Ebert can have.

“The first run [of 1,500] is almost sold out now via Amazon and Barnes & Noble,” Winkler tells FishbowlLA via telephone. “I’ve also talked to some LA bookstores and they’re already down to their last, or no, copy. My publisher is now planning a second print run of 3,000.”

Alongside Ebert, other celebrities who tweeted out a link to the LA Times article included Dana Delaney and Maria Shriver. The story was also social media fodder for journalists at the New York Times, the Houston Chronicle and elsewhere.

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‘Two Thumbs Up!’ Now Essentially a Hand-Me-Down

Remember those halcyon days when a “Two Thumbs Up!” quote from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel was the kiss of life for a Hollywood studio publicist? The only way it could be better was if the iconic pair threw a “Way” into the middle of the expression.

Well, those days are long gone. When At the Movies rebooted at the beginning of the year under the banner of “Ebert Presents,”  with AP film writer Christy Lemire and newcomer Ignatiy Vishnevetsky sitting in the balcony, a big part of the deal was their ability to use the Ebert-trademarked phrase. But as a sign of both the weak imprint of the new show and the general splintering of film criticism, the expression now carries far less weight than it once did.

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Roger Ebert Recalls His Very First Newspaper Gig

In case you missed it—and a lot of people seem to have done just that—Roger Ebert recently teased his upcoming memoir Life Itself by sharing on his Chicago Sun-Times blog the intoxicating, breathless intro.

The book comes out September 13, and there’s no doubt it will be stupendous. Ebert seems to have an almost photographic recollection of his spur-of-the-moment life’s journey, right down to his very humble beginnings as a newspaper baron in Urbana, Illinois, supported by the ancient mechanics of an hectograph:

You could impress the hectograph on perhaps a dozen sheets of paper before it grew too faint. With this I wrote and published the Washington Street News, which I solemnly delivered to some neighbors as if it existed independently of me. I must have been a curious child.

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Roger Ebert Stands By Controversial Tweet

Roger Ebert has been taking some heat for the Tweet above, which alludes to the death of Jackass star Ryan Dunn. Dunn died in a high speed car accident Monday morning, after an night of drinking with friends. Many felt that Ebert’s Tweet was salt in the would for those grieving Dunn’s death.

Ebert explained his position in his latest column:

I don’t know what happened in this case, and I was probably too quick to tweet. That was unseemly. I do know that nobody has any business driving on a public highway at 110 mph, as some estimated — or fast enough, anyway, to leave a highway and fly through 40 yards of trees before crashing. That is especially true if the driver has had three shots and three beers. Two people were killed. What if the car had crashed into another car?

Ebert’s Facebook page was also taken down this morning in response to anonymous complaints, likely from those angry over the Dunn controversy. Ebert’s page has since been restored, but it serves to further Facebook’s flawed policy of “Censor first, ask questions later.”

Elvis Mitchell Hooks Back Up with the New York Times

It’s truly amazing how journalist and bon vivant Elvis Mitchell manages to hopscotch from one great professional opportunity to another. In the past few months alone, he has jumped from Roger Ebert‘s At the Movies reboot, to Jay Penske‘s Movieline reboot, to now, LACMA’s screening series reboot.

The kicker is that in the case of LACMA, another one of his former employers, the New York Times, will be the presenting sponsor when the museum’s “Film Series” relaunches in the fall. Future generations of media analysts will be able to fill a tar pit with the artifacts of Mitchell’s professional progression. Per today’s press release:

Mitchell will be a full-time staff member at Film Independent and will be working closely with its programming department and LACMA’s curatorial staff to cover a breadth of film that promotes a cinematic dialogue and showcases artistic achievement… He will be starting on July 11 and relocating to Los Angeles.

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LA Times, Roger Ebert Win Big at Society for Features Journalism Awards

The Society for Features Journalism announced the winners of its annual “Excellence-in-Features Writing Competition” today, and the LA Times did quite well for itself. Charles McNulty took first prize for “General Commentary” while his colleague David L. Ulin took honorable mention. Other nods from the Times: Catharine Hamm‘s travel section won third place for “Reader Engagement;” Christopher Goffard took third prize in the “General Feature” category; and the Booster Shots health blog and Daily Dish both earned distinctions in “Blogging.” Roger Ebert, incidentally, took home first prize in that category for his work on the Chicago Sun-Times website.

Full list of winners at Romenesko.

Roger Ebert Finally Wins New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest

Our feel-good story of the day!

Two years ago, Roger Ebert wrote this on his Chicago Sun Times blog:

I have entered the New Yorker’s cartoon caption contest almost weekly virtually since it began and have never even been a finalist. Mark Twain advised: “Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.” I have done more writing for free for the New Yorker in the last five years than for anybody in the previous 40 years.

It’s not that I think my cartoon captions are better than anyone else’s, although some weeks, understandably, I do. It’s that just once I want to see one of my damn captions in the magazine that publishes the best cartoons in the world. Is that too much to ask?

Finally, today, the New Yorker announced that Ebert’s caption has been picked! Behold:

Congratulations! And he’s not done yet — we hear he has already submitted a new caption.

Movieline Now Has Two Chief Film Critics

Can a movie website have two “chief film critics?” Apparently so.

Just eight months after former Salon.com contributor Stephanie Zacharek was announced as chief film critic at Movieline.com, the website is proudly sharing the news today of Elvis Mitchell‘s appointment as… chief film critic. Mitchell is of course the former New York Times staffer who was briefly lined up for Roger Ebert‘s relaunch of At the Movies and currently hosts weekly chat program “The Treatment” on KCRW.

“Movieline.com represents the future of film journalism and I love what they have been doing,” says Mitchell. “Any place smart enough to bring Stephanie Zacharek to the party is definitely a site I want to be a part of.”

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Ebert Revamps At the Movies, Again

Elvis Mitchell has left the At the Movies building.

In a somewhat cryptic blog post last night on the Chicago Sun-Times website, Roger Ebert makes no mention of Mitchell, previously announced as co-host of this month’s At the Movies PBS reboot alongside LA-based AP reviewer Christy Lemire. Instead, it’s now all about a 24-year-old Russian immigrant:

Born in the Soviet Union, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky (pictured) moved to America when he was not quite nine… He is a critic and essayist for MUBI.com, a new multi-national streaming site calling itself an online cinematheque… He is also a contributor to The Chicago Reader. Prior to becoming a film critic, Vishnevetsky, who is multi-lingual, worked as a translator for Novoe Literaturnoe Obozrenie, Russia’s premier literary journal.

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