Steven Soderbergh on why it costs so much to release a movie

It turns out that the movie studios basically have no idea how much money they’re going to make from a given release, so they just throw money at the problem. End result: more blockbusters with massive budgets and fewer “singles and doubles.”

So then there’s the expense of putting a movie out, which is a big problem. Point of entry for a mainstream, wide-release movie: $30 million. That’s where you start. Now you add another 30 for overseas. Now you’ve got to remember, the exhibitors pay half of the gross, so to make that 60 back you need to gross 120. So you don’t even know what your movie is yet, and you’re already looking at 120. That ended up being part of the reason why the Liberace movie didn’t happen at a studio. We only needed $5 million from a domestic partner, but when you add the cost of putting a movie out, now you’ve got to gross $75 million to get that 35 back, and the feeling amongst the studios was that this material was too “special” to gross $70 million. So the obstacle here isn’t just that special subject matter, but that nobody has figured out how to reduce the cost of putting a movie out. There have been some attempts to analyze it, but one of the mysteries is that this analysis doesn’t really reveal any kind of linear predictive behavior, it’s still mysterious the process whereby people decide if they’re either going to go to a movie or not go to a movie. Sometimes you don’t even know how you reach them. Like on Magic Mike for instance, the movie opened to $38 million, and the tracking said we were going to open to 19. So the tracking was 100% wrong. It’s really nice when the surprise goes in that direction, but it’s hard not to sit there and go how did we miss that? If this is our tracking, how do you miss by that much?

New Grand Theft Auto V Trailers Introduce Three Protagonists (NSFW)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taBCnff2Jrk]

Though news of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V featuring three protagonists is months old by now, new trailers released today shed some light on the personalities of the grime-ridden shoes that players will walk in when they step into GTAV on September 17th.

The three trailers, cut above into a single convenient movie by VG247, showcase Michael, Trevor, and Franklin. Each character has his own motivations for chasing the almighty dollar, and their interactions within missions are bound to break up the traditional GTA style of largely taking on missions alone. They seem to have no qualms about the seedy actions they’re set to take on, which already sets the game above GTAIV in my mind. Having to hear Nico shout about ripping hearts out minutes after professing he wants to get out of this life made for a real sense of ludonarrative dissonance that turned me off from wanting to finish the game.

Also, take note of the character models and facial animations in the trailers. Rockstar has definitely stepped up their game as they slowly seek to climb up the other side of the Uncanny Valley. I’m interested in seeing what they can do once they start working with next-gen hardware.

Sources Out New Respawn Shooter for Next-Gen Xbox

Details hit the web today via Kotaku about Respawn’s next-gen shooter, said to be an always-online asymmetrical multiplayer shooter. The studio, headed by former Infinity Ward studio chief Vince Zampella, has apparently signed an exclusive deal to produce the game solely for the new Xbox platform, codenamed Durango.

From Kotaku:

The new game from Respawn is a futuristic multiplayer-centric online shooter, one of our sources says. The source describes the game as a battle of Davids and Goliaths. The Davids are heavily-armed foot soldiers. The Goliaths are the giant exosekeltons—Titans—that these soldiers can pilot. These Titans are big mech-style walkers that move with an agility not seen in games like Mechwarrior or Steel Battalions.

Seeing as how Zampella was one of the big guns behind Call of Duty, this is a game worth paying attention to. As noted in the story, the details behind this new title also point to the Durango requiring an internet connection to function. While this may segment the market for the new system given the fact that broadband in North America hasn’t nearly reached the level of penetration that nations like South Korea enjoy, it does give Microsoft a way to help regulate piracy. Given the issues that have arisen with games like Sim City requiring an online connection to function, it’ll be interesting to see how this new console generation plays out.

Foursquare’s Fine Details

As pointed out by Bill Couch on Twitter, when pulled down far enough, Foursquare‘s pull to refresh functionality on iOS ends with a neat little illustration of a girl with a Foursquare balloon.

It’s little things like this, baked into apps that make me love both iOS and technology as a whole. Awesome touch. Check it out and try it out for yourself by downloading Foursquare from the Apple App Store.

“Sonia Sotomayor knows how many joints you can roll with 1.3 grams of weed”

Good News! You Can’t Be Automatically Deported for Sharing Three Joints | VICE United States:

What’s most surprising about the decision is that noted straight-edger John Roberts and his colleague Antonin Scalia, who’s still pissed about the 1960s, joined the four liberals and moderate Anthony Kennedy in reversing the mandatory deportation of Adrian Moncrieffe. Adrian is a Jamaican citizen who came to the US when he was three and was caught with 1.3 grams of marijuana during a traffic stop in Georgia in 2007. For his crime, the Department of Justice sought to deport him. How much pot is 1.3 grams? According to Sonia Sotomayor, the author of the Court’s opinion, it’s “the equivalent of about two or three marijuana cigarettes.” The more you know!

Robert Scoble: Google Glass Biggest Thing Since the iPhone

Robert Scoble has posted his thoughts on Google Glass on Google+:

I’ve been telling people that this reminds me of the Apple II, which I unboxed with my dad back in 1977. It was expensive. It didn’t do much. But I knew my life had changed in a big way and would just get better and better. Already this week I’ve gotten a new RSS app, the New York Times App, and a Twitter app. With many more on the way.

This is the most interesting new product since the iPhone and I don’t say that lightly.

I would have never have guessed that Scoble would have been so emphatic in his support for Google Glass. Say what you want about Scoble but he does consume and use a lot of new technology. He’s got a good understanding of what he likes and doesn’t like and when he says he’ll use this technology for the rest of his life, you’re kind of inclined to believe him.

I just don’t know with Google Glass. I haven’t tried it, obviously, but it does excite me. I’m intrigued and interested to see what the longevity of this kind of product is. If, as Scoble notes, the use of technology like this can become widely popular and thus become perceived as the norm, it will be ok. Otherwise, I can’t help but feel it’ll be like Siri. You’ll use it once or twice, find it cool, then never use it again. Scoble is right. It depends on the price. The price decides whether this goes mainstream and becomes the technology of the future, or stays as a fad within the geek community.

CNET puts words in the mouth of Intel CEO, then hides it

CNET, yesterday:

Intel CEO Paul Otellini last week said touchscreen PCs could debut at prices as low as $200 in the coming months. At the time, he didn’t specify what operating system those products would run.

But Dadi Perlmutter, Intel executive vice president and chief product officer, told CNET on Wednesday that notebooks priced at the $200 level will predominantly be Android products running on Intel’s Atom mobile processor. Whether Windows 8 PCs hit that price largely depends on Microsoft, he said.

CNET last week, originally:

Windows 8 touch laptop prices are headed south. Way south, according to Intel executives.

The price of Windows 8 touch devices, including laptops, will sink to price points that penetrate inexpensive tablet territory. These new “innovative” designs will be based on Intel’s upcoming quad-core “Bay Trail” chip, Intel executives said today during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call.

CNET last week, updated:

Touch laptop prices are headed south. Way south, according to Intel executives.

The price of Intel-based touch devices, including laptops, will sink to price points that penetrate inexpensive tablet territory. These new “innovative” designs will be based on Intel’s Atom chip, Intel executives said today during the company’s first-quarter earnings conference call.

CNET’s update note on that article:

Updated on April 19 at 1:05 p.m. PST: adds discussion about inexpensive Android devices. Updated throughout.

The editors at CNET did a pretty good job of covering up that fact that their writer basically quoted the CEO of Intel saying something he totally didn’t say.

Nordic Games Picks Up Darksiders, Red Faction, More Through THQ Auction

Though we reported last month that Crytek had plans to pick up the Darksiders IP after THQ announced it would be selling off all of its assets, it looks like Nordic Games has made the winning bid. With the $4.9million check comes many other IPs, such as Red FactionSupreme Commander, and Titan Quest.

From Joystiq:

“First and foremost we are very happy about this deal which also turns over a new leaf for the entire Nordic Games Group. In the long term, we either want to cooperate with the original creators or best possible developers in order to work on sequels or additional content for these titles,” said Nordic Games CEO Lars Wingefors. “A very important point for us is not to dash into several self-financed multi-million dollar projects right away, but rather to continue our in-depth analysis of all titles and carefully selecting different financing models for developing new instalments (sic) of acquired IPs.”

This is what I hope for when old IPs get sold to new publishers. A commitment to working with the original creative team that made that property successful in the first place has the potential to bring fans the content they expect. Of course, being open to picking the right studio for the job, as Nordic seems willing to do, can also lead to a new, fresh take on an established franchise that might be the shot in the arm it needs to be financially feasible again.

It’s also commendable that Nordic isn’t looking to make a quick turn over on their capital investment by rushing out some product. The year leading up to a new console generation is probably one of the most critical times for any industry player. Making the wrong move at the wrong time could be costly. It’s an exciting time to be covering this stuff, for sure.

 

Electronic Arts Lays Off More Employees

Gamesbeat revealed today that EA has completed another round of layoffs as part of its organizational restructuring. From EA.com:

In recent weeks, EA has aligned all elements of its organizational structure behind priorities in new technologies and mobile.  This has led to some difficult decisions to reduce the workforce in some locations.  We are extremely grateful for the contributions made by each of our employees – those that are leaving EA will be missed by their colleagues and friends.

These are hard but essential changes as we focus on delivering great games and showing players around the world why to spend their time with us.

What those new technologies could be is anyone’s guess. Playstation 4 development? Whatever Microsoft is cooking up? Some unique use of the WiiU hardware? A change to Madden that actually matters? And what about their new mobile focus? Is this related to more app tie-ins for their console and PC releases, or new content that isn’t just a $14.99 port of an existing game?

While it’s always depressing to hear about layoffs in the industry, this restructure might actually put the company in a good place to remain competitive as the marketplace sets to change when the new console generation releases within the next year.