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Why Colonizing Outer Space Is a Bad Idea: 9 Lessons From Pop Culture

Here’s the ultimate good-bad idea: the Dutch aerospace project is planning to send four humans to Mars in 2023 … and keep them there. Permanently. As of yesterday, 20,000 people had applied for a spot on the mission, and 24 to 40 of the applicants will duke it out on reality TV to be among the first humans to colonize a planet. Clearly, they haven’t seen enough space movies to realize that this is a horrible idea. If these applicants just took the time to watch the following movies and TV shows, they’d surely think twice about hopping into a spaceship. … Read More

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James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ Sequels Start Filming Next Year

In case you were worried that Hollywood was lacking in the blue people and motion capture department, news from Slash Film confirms that James Cameron will finally start filming Avatar 2 and 3 next year. Expect to see more eco-drama after the tireless director wraps up his scripts (by February, he hopes) and starts… Read More

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Set Up to Fail: A History of Movies That Debuted Against Blockbusters

As you may have heard — if you have watched a television, been to a movie, visited a website, or looked at the side of a bus in the past two months — there’s a motion picture coming out tomorrow called The Avengers, and it is expected to be quite the big hit. What you might not be aware of this that there are two other movies hitting multiplexes this weekend: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, a comedy/drama from Shakespeare in Love director John Madden (no, not that John Madden) featuring the Anglophile wet-dream cast of Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, and Bill Nighy; and something called A Little Bit of Heaven, a romantic comedy in which Kate Hudson has cancer, Peter Dinklage is a male prostitute, and Whoopi Goldberg is God. No, seriously.

Those two films could be most diplomatically deemed “counter-programming,” that old Hollywood notion of putting out movies designed to appeal to audiences far different from those of the big blockbusters. The problem is, a movie like The Avengers defies counter-programming; it’s a movie that cuts across demos and marketing quadrants. Everybody wants to see that movie. (I, for one, know far more young women who are interested in seeing The Avengers than another goddamn Kate Hudson movie.) What you often end up with instead are kamikaze movies — films whose release opposite a major, hype-driven blockbuster indicates a competing studio is just giving up and burning off a movie that they have to release sometime (maybe even for contractual reasons), so this is as good a time as any.

There’s a long, strange history to be found in tracking the movies that opened against the sure things; we’ll take a look at a few prime examples after the jump. … Read More

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Movies Banned in Foreign Countries for Weird Reasons

Keeping in mind the amount of gratuitous violence and rape that goes on in David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, India’s decision to bar the film from showing there is easy to understand, albeit unfortunate from a creative standpoint. But the highly publicized decision got us thinking about some of the less obvious justifications some countries have used to keep foreign movies from their theaters. We’ve rounded up a handful of the oddest bannings from around the world for your consideration after the jump. … Read More

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Kaleidoscopic Posters Inspired by Contemporary Sci-Fi Films

Today’s sci-fi film posters can be baffling, their shadowy silhouettes lending no clues about the movie’s premise. Artist Dean Walton, aka Mr. Shabba, realized this and set out to create a series of illustrations that utilized the main characters’ outlines in a different, more illuminating way. The result is a collection of five kaleidoscopic works of art that hint at the cinematic narratives of films such as Avatar, The Matrix, and District 9 by recreating scenes from each film’s plot within the main character’s silhouette.  Check out Walton’s visually stunning collection below, and purchase the limited-edition prints over at his website. … Read More

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What’s On at Flavorpill: The Links That Made the Rounds In Our Office

Today at Flavorpill, we weren’t surprised to see that Avatar topped this list of the Internet’s most pirated movies. We were shocked, however, to hear that indie filmmaker Patty Jenkins (Monster) has signed on to direct Thor 2 — maybe this means we’ll see more character development? We examined … Read More

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Open Thread: Are We Done with 3-D Yet?

In an April 1987 essay for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction about the then-hot topic of “colorization” (the repugnant trend of slapping computer-generated color over black and white classics, ostensibly to render them watchable to a younger generation that disliked b&w), science fiction author Harlan Ellison wrote of the process, “We don’t really need it… It’s like going to see a club act in which a whistling dog performs ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever.’ Once, it’s interesting; more than once it’s merely a curiosity. That has very little, if anything, to do with art. And pandering to the corrupted taste of a generation of kids for whom movies are nothing more than a prelude to getting laid is loathsome in every way.”

Can we all agree that we’ve reached that point on the 3-D fad? Three new 3-D movies opened last weekend (two remakes and a sequel, for what it’s worth), and all three tanked at the box office. Spy Kids: All the Time in the World opened in third with $12 million, Conan the Barbarian came in fourth with $10 million, while Fright Night came in sixth (behind the fourth week of The Smurfs!) with just under $8 million. The top spot went to The Help; in second place was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a well-performing summer tent-pole movie that is continuing to bring in audiences with solid word-of-mouth; it’s a genuinely good movie, people are telling each other, with interesting characters and a script that does not appear to have been written by seven-year-olds. You know what else ROTPOTA has going for it? It’s not in 3-D. … Read More

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Mourning for Hollywood: 10 Days the Movies Died

For film fans, the must-read article of the week — to hell with that, the year — is Mark Harris’ brilliant think piece for GQ on the state of the current cinema, “The Day The Movies Died.” Harris, whose book Pictures at a Revolution is the single best piece of film writing of the last decade, despairs of a Hollywood that, in the words of a studio executive, “doesn’t tell stories anymore”; instead, it cranks out endless sequels and adaptations and remakes and reboots, more concerned with built-in brands than quality or craftsmanship.

“As you read this,” Harris writes, “the person who gave the go-ahead to Fast Five, the (I hate to prejudge, but…) utterly unnecessary fifth installment in the Vin Diesel–Paul Walker epic The Fast and the Furious, is sleeping soundly right now, possibly even at his desk. On June 10, 2011, he will bestow on several thousand screens a product that people have already purchased four times before. How can it miss?” … Read More

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