As the movie awards race is presently going in high gear, a recent series of reports state that movie theater attendance in the USA and Canada for the 2014 calendar year has hit its lowest number in attendance in nearly twenty years.
As reported by such trades as The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, and a host of other sources that comment about show biz, some 1.26 billion consumers purchased movie tickets in 2014, down 6% from 2013. The 1.26 billion is nearly the same amount of tickets purchased in 1994 (1.24), and the lowest number since the next year (1995) when that mark reached some 1.21 billion. The trade group The National Association of Movie Theater Owners (NATO) has yet to release the official number of tickets sold to patrons in ‘14. However, the estimated number as THR, Variety, etc. calculated will come close to that amount.
There have been plenty of reasons and theories to why such numbers in attendance levels are going down. Those reasons can be from lousy movies, overpriced admission prices, to the notion that people would rather watch movies at home or generally anywhere else far away from a theater! Whatever the case, people’s movie theater attendance is falling, or at least for the moment.
Yes, it’s somewhat true that going to see a moving picture show in a auditorium type box isn’t what it used to be. Granted, seeing a movie projected on the big screen in a theater has its moments. Watching a flick in a darkened room full of total strangers that laugh, cry, yell, and overall react to what’s going on the screen is something one can’t duplicate at home or some other way one can view moving imagery i.e. “movies”! The emotional appeal is one of the many traits that make movies what they are suppose to do; Entertain the audience that are willing to drag themselves from their homesteads and plop down good money to look at somebody else’s vision of a story plot, full of actors doing their thing donned in costumes designed especially for the film while speaking words written by somebody else (or a team of “somebody elses”), walking through sets and locations that may or may not exist, etc. etc.
However, thanks to a whole lot of other sources, from technology, affordability, or even by way of the moving picture studios themselves, it is now possible to view movies, TV shows, or any type or form of motion based images with a synchronized soundtrack in one’s personal homeroom space with a large screen device (large for the room its housed in) with a booming sound source to go along with the pictures, viewing nearly any and every movie that was created within the last eighty years (assuming that the movie in question still exists), without some of the annoyances associated with post modern theater movie watching. Some of those said annoyances can be from others disturbing those watching the feature from talking through the film (rather loudly), or doing something else instead of sitting quiet and still as the movie runs on the screen. Ditto from using their cell phone to text, talk (rather loud), or to use the built in camera app to snap a shot of the screen, themselves (“selfie”), or anything else found in the theater! (The audience watching the movie!) A few couples might brave it by having a make out session in their seats in plain sight of everyone attending since nearly all modern movie theaters have no balcony–the classic place to “get it on” in the dark!
According to NATO, the average movie ticket price in 2014 was $8.15 compared to $8.13 for the previous year. In major cities such as New York, Chicago, or in Los Angeles, that number can be a lot higher. Depending on where one goes to see a movie in a theater, the price can jack up to as high as $15.00 per person! This is thanks to such things as a 3-D movie “surcharge”, as well as attending a screening of a feature in a high end theater where one can sit in Lay-Z-Boy type chairs, complete with ottomans to raise one’s feet to a backrest that reclines! In addition to sitting in an overstuffed and oversized chair, serving staff wait on patrons taking orders from the concession stand that serve “gourmet” dishes. (Fancy hot dogs, upscale nachos and cheese sauce, and other dishes that can be consumed with one’s hands!) And there is the popcorn. Not just any popcorn, but popcorn decked with such fancy flavorings as blue cheese, cucumber, strawberry, and many other delights! Of course, such concessions aren’t cheap as well! A basic container of popcorn can set one back some $6.00! However, if one has a desire to see a feature in a home-away-from-home setting, one can to pay the admission since its the only way to do such in a overly pampered state.
As to the quality of films? That is, are they are worth the price of admission to see even at budget prices? That’s a whole other issue! Although a majority of movies that’s been hitting the theaters within the last three or so months are very good (in theory anyway), they are that way because voting members of many of the guilds and related movie based groups and associations that fob off awards for those within their craft have a tendency to lean toward titles that look good, act good, sound good, and are overall a masterpiece for what they are. However, when it comes to being something as entertaining, that’s another issue! If one uses box office tallies to determine what’s popular and what’s just “good”, then one has to turn toward the summer season where the biggest money makers tend to be found. They may not necessarily please those voting members, but since the majority of movie attendees do not officially vote for any film for any awards, they just just watch movies for the sheer fun of it–the way that movies are supposed to be looked at!
However, 2015 promises to be another so-called blockbuster year, where the big screens will explode with titles that promise to be another movie going experience! OK…perhaps those features may provide more explosions, gunfire, and a lot of CGI created effects, along with comedies that are “blue” humor wise, and a whole load of animated selections that tend to please both kids and adults, or kids with adult minds and vice versa! One thing is for certain, as long as Hollywood exists, so will its movies, even if those same pictures come from Hollywood, Burbank, Universal City, Century City, Culver City, or from far away places as the UK, Canada, Australia, and other locations that are cheap to film in! And the “filming” is not on motion picture negative stock, but as digital files captured onto a hard drive! Then again, that’s show biz!!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
Theatre Palisades opens their 2015 season of plays with THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, the stage adaptation of one family’s attempt to survive while living in their homeland through harsh political rule, as seen through the eyes of an adolescent girl.
The girl is Anne Frank as portrayed by Sigi Gradwohl. She’s a thirteen year old young lady living in Amsterdam, Holland whose family consisting of her father Otto (Phillip Bartolf), mother Edith (Sabra Miller), and elder sister Margot (Courtney Long). The story opens around the summer of 1942 where the family fled their native Germany due to the uprising of the Nazi party, and the fact that the Franks were of the Jewish persuasion. However, they were not so safe in Holland as the German forces were overtaking that nation. In order to keep safe, the family hides in a loft dwelling within an office building. Sharing the unit are the Van Daan family consisting of Mr. Van Daan (Craig Stevens), her wife (Elise Falanga) and their teen aged son Peter (Garret Camilleri). They too, are in hiding because of their persuasion. Otto instructs everyone to keep a low profile during some hours, such as limited water use (noisy pipes may cause unwanted attention), as well as keeping voices rather low for the same reasons. In spite of the rather sparse living quarters, the families living there do their best to adapt to their dwelling space, always keeping abreast in what’s going on the outside. Living in these ways has their complications, such as the limited amount of staples smuggled in, as well as having another person, Mr. Dussel (Art Roberts) hiding out as well. But young Anne keeps a diary to make herself busy, passing the time away with her intimate journal. She documents about her feeling about hiding, how the others survive not only from the Nazis, but with each other! And her feelings about Peter as Anne is entering her “growing” years. It was this innocent diary that made all of the differences for her and the times she went through.
This play, adapted by playwrights Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett, was created shortly after Otto, the only surviving member of the Franks, had his daughter’s journal published a few years after the end of World War II when it was found among piles of refuse at the then former hiding place. It shows a written capture of a family in hiding as eye witnessed by a girl who was like any other young lady of her era; A girl who has her hopes and dreams, only to have it all end through powers not of her creation.
Sigi Grandwohl performs her role as Anne as a girl that never lost her faith in her family, her companions, as well as herself, thanks to the journal she kept at bay. The fellow players in this same program holds just as well. Otto, as the unofficial head of this group as portrayed by Phillip Bartolf, is a man that is stern, but in somewhat of a loving way. He, too, knows he is as risk as much as everyone else. This is the reason why he makes attempts to keep things as safe as they could be. The cast’s performance as such is the real reason why this stage piece works so well. It contains an ensemble of robust performers as noted above (also featuring Jessica Brydon as Miep-seen in a prologue, and Phil Apoian as Mr. Kraler) that work well with one another. Sabrina Ann Lloyd directs this production with a moody sense of joy, hope, and wonder, in spite of the sober circumstance that would eventually occur, but never depicted.
In addition to the performing ensemble, Sherman Wayne’s set design of the hiding place is a two tier set consisting of side rooms seen on both wings of the stage, as well as a upper tier depicted deeper within the stage foreground, complete with an attic window (stage left) that shows the building’s industrial structure, more suitable as an artist’s hideaway rather than a family’s hiding place from evil forces.
Anne Franks’ diary is perhaps the most famous and well known personal journal ever created. The story it tells has been depicted in nearly every medium, both on paper and through electronic means. It’s been studied through various levels of academia. It also makes a quality stage show, And this production as presented by Theatre Palisades makes the grade as well. It’s a piece that is suitable for all. Its subject matter can still influence audiences, heightened by what they already know of its account.
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK, presented by Theater Palisades, performs at the Pierson Playhouse, 941 Temescal Canyon Road (off Sunset Blvd.), Pacific Palisades, until February 22nd. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM. For more information, call (310) 454-1970, or visit online at http://www.TheatrePalisades.com
Santa Monica’s Morgan-Wixson Theatre presents for their second production in their 2014-15 season, Yazmina Reza’s GODS OF CARNAGE, a dark comedy of a meeting of two pairs of couples as they gather to settle a dispute conducted between their kids, leading into difficulties that are just as harsh.
Randy Brown and Dalia Vosylius are Alan and Annette Raleigh. They are in the living room of Michael and Veronica Novak’s apartment in a tawny section of Brooklyn, NY, as played by Matt Howell and Annalisa Erickson. These couples are not gathering for a social call, let alone being friends with one another. It seems that their two kids, Benjamin and Henry both eleven years old, got into a little spat in a neighborhood park that became violent, where one struck the other with a stick, causing some damage to one of the boy’s teeth. These four meet to make some kind of settlement over this episode. But this settlement that’s meant to be served as a diplomatic gesture, begins to make a turn for the not so best! For starters, these four people hold a personality that clashes with one another. Alan is a big deal lawyer currently setting a case between a pharmaceutical company and is constantly on his cell phone speaking with his client. His spouse Annette is in “wealth management”–a term she uses that describes her comfortable living off her husband’s rather high income. Michael runs a wholesale hardware/houseware company, while Veronica is a writer who specializes on African culture. As the time progresses, their settlement meeting deteriorates into this quartet getting caught in disputes that become rather ugly. They insult one another, get drunk, while Annette eventually becomes sick only to barf all over the Novak’s coffee table and the rare coffee table books sitting upon it! Although they seem to be in peace over their kid’s actions, they are joining in on some form of war, acting more childish that their “tweener” aged boys!
This play, originally written in French and translated by Christopher Hampton, is a prime example on how two pairs of people can clash among one another due to irrational concepts, prejudice beliefs, and self inflicted egos working overtime! The characters depicted on stage as played by Randy Brown and Dalia Vosylius as Alan the cut throat attorney and Annette as the “housewife” of privilege, aren’t lovable or even likable! They could be somebody’s friends, assuming that the friends in question are just as annoying! Michael and Veronica, as played by Matt Howell and Annalisa Erickson, are a bit more down to earth. Matt could be a guy one could find at a local sports bar, and Veronica could be a pleasing “mom” type cheering for her son on the sidelines at the neighborhood soccer field. The humor presented is funny is a stressed out manor that takes advantage on each character’s traits and flaws. If what was observed on stage did occur in so-called “real life”, these four would battle it out by some way of the law–either through the court system, or taking the law into their own hands! (Somebody getting shot perhaps?) Michael Rothhaar directs this one act play into a fashion where their are no “good couples” nor “bad couples”. The audience just views two pairs of folk that should not mingle nor mix with one another; A prime example of those living in post modern domestic times.
And with such theater works is to note upon what is seen on the stage itself. Paige Bossier’s set design of the Novak’s living room consists of a pair of cubed shelf like units with various props as stylish vases and important looking books placed upon each cubed space lined in a minimal fashion, suggesting that these shelves serve as a massive wall that stand behind the couch and coffee table where the couples carry on their unsatisfactory behaviors. Ruth Talley’s costuming shows how these four sit within their personal worlds, and William Wilday’s lighting shines when it reflects (no puns intended) upon the four characters at appropriate moments.
Although there is no “carnage” depicted in this stage piece, GODS AND CARNAGE also proves their isn’t much of any “gods” present either! Perhaps the moral to this story is for parents and/or caregivers to keep their kids in line! But this isn’t a play about quality parenting. That notion is left for another playwright to compose, another theater to present the stage piece, and another theater review to publish that criticizes its results!
GODS OF CARNAGE, presented by the Morgan-Wixson Theatre Guild, and performs at the Morgan-Wixson Theatre, 2627 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, until February 8th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM.
For ticket reservations or for more information, call (310) 828-7519, or visit online at http://www.Morgan-Wixson.org.
The MWT can also be found through all the standard social media platforms. (Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.)
The Santa Monica Playhouse located in Santa Monica presents ANNABELLE AND THE SNOW QUEEN, a delightful musical tale of one girl’s journey home for the season, and the lesson she learns from a group of amusing characters that guides her toward a warm setting.
Katy Erin Corbell is Annabelle, a woman in her teens that is attending a boarding school in New York. She’s heading home for the winter holidays aboard a train bound for Montreal. Although her family will welcome her back with a big holiday meal, she’s not looking forward to her visit. She feels she will face her family and friends asking too many questions on how her life has been going while at school, as well as dreading on what should be a humble season that has been too commercialized. Perhaps she will take part in the festivities by feasting on the meal to fall asleep, bypassing everything and everyone. But Annabelle meets some others on the train who all know that her coldness in rejoining her loving family must be taken by heart. On board there’s Ellie (Sandra Diana Cantu), Mac (Molly Gilman), Queenie (Cydne Moore) and her sidekick Trixie (Mary Ann Pianka), as well as the conductor (Xavier J. Watson). Queenie (who is in reality The Snow Queen) faces Annabelle and tells her that there are too many cold hearts in the world, and she must be the one to have that warm heart toward the ones she loves and the ones who loves her back. But as the train heads up north, the air becomes icy and before long, they are beckon to be where it’s cold all of the time. What can save this bunch? Through zany magic, a songbook full of darling musical numbers, as well as the comical appeal of those on board, Annabelle learns a lesson that there’s more to life than having doubts over people and things that mean more to your own self.
This musical, conceived and written by the team of Chris DeCarlo & Evelyn Rudie, take nod to the tale of The Snow Queen and tuns it into a musical that will captivate those of all ages. Although this is billed as a family showpiece, it’s not really “children’s theater” per se, although it’s very family friendly and its focus is to express those of a very young age a simple lesson of life. (It’s meaning is to show that having a warm understanding toward the ones you have appeal over takes prime focus, and it’s never too soon nor too late to believe in one’s self!) It contains a bright and lively score (music and lyrics by Evelyn Rudie with Matthew Wrather) that is charming, witty and has that “grown up” sound to it all with touches of appealing dottiness. The cast is an amusing troupe that works together. It’s lead character Annabelle performed by Katy Erin Corbell is sweet by modern teen standards, yet holds her own ground minus any obnoxious. The rest of the ensemble is just as sweet, but shows more comic relief. Donning costumes as designed by Ashley Hayes is a pleasant mix of victorian era outfits sporting ruffles and plume feathers, changing with sparkling icy notches that holds a “warm” appeal than a “cold” one. This brings out the cartoon-esk persona that fashions this musical as its shine as an icicle glimmering upon a cold winter’s morn!
Perhaps the most important notion that this kind of show is not only appealing for the younger set, but will also charm bigger and much older kids (read: adults) in a way that not something only for growing minds. This show doesn’t talk down to kids, but presents a simple life lesson without the preachiness that some selected “children’s theater” tries to offer. This piece actually speaks to all ages, complete with references to post modern technology. The character Mac as performed by Molly Gilman is a kooky yet lovable “high tech” person that kids could relate to. (Young people know more that those so-called grown ups might realize!)
Directed by Chris DeCarlo, Serena Dolinsky, and Evelyn Rudie, ANNABELLE AND THE SNOW QUEEN is a family show that is for all ages to enjoy and marvel. Kids over the age of two will find is appealing. And adults will also find some allure to it as well. The notion that it’s never too late to believe that keeping a warm heart toward the ones you love rings true. It may not solve all of the world’s difficulties, but it will help one step at a time. All aboard!!
ANNABELLE AND THE SNOW QUEEN, presented by and performs at The Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th Street (off Wilshire Blvd.), Santa Monica, until March 29th. Showtimes are Saturday afternoons at 2:00 PM, and Sundays at 12:30 PM. For more information and for ticket reservations, call (310) 394-9779 x 2, or via online at http://www.SantaMonicaPlayhouse.com
The Broadcast Film Critics Association held its 20th Annual Critic’s Choice Awards program on January 15th, taking place at the Hollywood Palladium in Hollywood and was hosted by Michael Strahan, a former football player for the NY Giants and presently a television personality.
Among the many awards presented, Michael Keaton won the best actor award for the feature Birdman, Julianne Moore won for Best Actress for Still Alice, Richard Linklater was awarded best director for the feature Boyhood, as that same title won for best picture.
Special achievement awards were presented to Kevin Costner with the Lifetime Achievement Award celebrating more than thirty years of film appearances spanning many genres, Ron Howard was awarded the Critics’ Choice LOUIS XIII Genius Award for his contributions in films in many aspects (actor, director, and producer), and Jessica Chastain was presented the Critics’ Choice MVP Award for her noteworthy rise in feature films.
The Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA) consists of those who report and review feature films on either broadcast media, or through internet based applications. (Disclaimer: This writer is a member of the BFCA)
For a complete listing of nominees and winners, visit the official Critic’s Choice Awards web site at http://www.CriticsChoice.com
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) announced their nominations for the 87th Annual Academy Awards on January 15th.
The following titles and names received the nomination for the following:
Bradley Cooper-American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch –The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne-The Theory of Everything
Marion Cotillard-Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones-The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore-Still Alice
Rosamund Pike-Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Iñárritu-Birdman
Wes Anderson-The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum-The Imitation Game
American Sniper (Warner Bros.)
Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (Fox Searchlight)
Boyhood (IFC Films)
The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight)
The Imitation Game (The Weinstein Company)
The Theory of Everything (Focus Features)
Whiplash (Sony Picture Classics)
Neil Patrick Harris will host the awards ceremony, taking place on Sunday, February 22nd at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center-Hollywood, and airs on ABC.
For a complete listing of nominations, visit the official AMPAS web site at http://www.Oscars.com
On January 13th, The Golden Raspberry Foundation (RAZZIES) announced their list of nomination for the worst in feature films released in the previous calendar year.
The following titles and names has been selected for the worst in the following categories:
Nicolas Cage-Left Behind
Kirk Cameron-Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Kellan Lutz-The Legend of Hercules
Seth MacFarlane-A Million Ways to Die in the West
Cameron Diaz-The Other Woman and Sex Tape
Charlize Theron-A Million Ways to Die in the West
Gaia Weiss-The Legend of Hercules
Michael Bay-Transformers: Age of Extinctions
Darren Doane,-Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas
Renny Harlin-The Legend of Hercules
Jonathan Liebesman-Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Seth MacFarlane-A Million Ways to Die in the West
Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Left Behind (Freestyle Releasing)
The Legend of Hercules (Summit Entertainment )
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Paramount)
Transformers: Age of Extinction (Paramount)
The Razzie Awards will take place on Saturday, February 21st at the Montalban Theatre located in Hollywood
For a complete listing of nominations, visit the official Razzies web site at http://www.Razzies.com
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