Out of Hollywood and into Video Games…

NYT has an interesting article running about movie directors wanting to get in on game direction. They cite the Wachowski brothers, Ridley Scott, John Woo and Peter Jackson all pushing what were previous career (and earning) limits.

The Wachowski brothers are the only ones who have produced a successful movie with matching game, though Peter Jackson is working on a deal for King Kong now…

Some Like It Hot

OK, P2P is ‘piracy.’ But Hollywood, radio, cable TV and, yes, even the music industry all sprang from different forms of thievery. By Lawrence Lessig from Wired magazine. [Wired News]

Thank you Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings!

Sure the real reason is to get confidence cooking in the company, but I am just glad they are seemingly going to produce this. I really enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia books as a kid and would welcome a live action version. I’ve recall seeing an animated version a long time ago and have heard a cool spoof on the radio during a winter episode of the Prairie Home Companion.

The Burbank, Calif., entertainment company’s Walt Disney Studios unit took out color ads scheduled to appear in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among others, announcing a deal to co-finance and distribute a live-action film based on C.S. Lewis’s children’s fantasy classics, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Such announcement ads typically are limited to Hollywood trade newspapers like Daily Variety.

The effort to show Disney’s commitment to a big new fantasy franchise comes as Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Michael Eisner faces one of the biggest tests of his career. After a fierce three-month campaign led by former board members Roy E. Disney and Stanley Gold, at least 30% of shareholders are expected to withhold support for Mr. Eisner at Wednesday’s annual meeting.

Monday, state pension funds in Ohio and Florida joined others in California and elsewhere in announcing they would withhold support from the longtime Disney boss, while the pension fund of New York City said it would support him.

The showdown comes after Mr. Eisner and the Disney board last month rejected an unsolicited takeover offer from cable company Comcast Corp. In a bid to appease shareholders, Disney board members have been talking to Mr. Eisner about the possibility of curbing his powers by removing his chairman title, according to people familiar with the matter.

Detailing its latest project, the studio said it hopes to make several movies from the novels written by Mr. Lewis, who was an English professor and Christian writer — in much the same vein as “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Harry Potter” series. The announcement came a day after “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” swept the Academy Awards, winning 11, and followed the huge box-office success of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.” It also came after talks broke down to extend a lucrative and long-running distribution deal for Pixar Animation Studios’ computer-animated films.

Disney’s partner on “The Chronicles of Narnia,” Walden Media, bought the film rights to the seven-book epic in late 2001. The production company announced a year later that Andrew Adamson, director of the computer-animated hit “Shrek,” would direct the first film. [WSJ.com]

Comcast bids to merge with Disney!

Whoa Whoa Whoa!

Comcast has made a bid to merge with Walt Disney in a stock swap that the world’s largest cable operator said values Disney at $54.1 billion. The merger is hinged on broadband synergies, according to the statement released by Comcast. Comcast said the combination would create the world’s No. 1 entertainment and communications company with a presence in all top 25 markets in the U.S., and would “propel broadband forward.” The combined company would have an “unparalleled distribution platform and an extraordinary portfolio of content assets.”

In an open letter to Michael Eisner of Disney, here’s what Brian Roberts, CEO of Comcast wrote: “In addition to serving over 21 million cable subscribers, Comcast is also the country’s largest high speed internet service provider with over 5 million subscribers. As you have expressed on several occasions, one of Disney’s top priorities involves the aggressive pursuit of technological innovation that enhances how Disney’s content is created and delivered. We believe this combination helps accelerate the realization of that goal-whether through existing distribution channels and technologies such as video-on-demand and broadband video streaming or through emerging technologies still in development-to the benefit of all our shareholders, customers and employees.” [PaidContent.org]

Om Malik Dissects this deal here

The NYT has their coverage here

Jobs blasts Disney

In a conference call with analysts to discuss Pixar’s financial earnings, Steve Jobs blasted Disney for being weak creatively and unwilling to compromise on a distribution agreement… [MacMinute]

VOD over Broadband…

Well – not exactly, but pretty damn close. With the help of a high speed connection and some handy applications it is very possible to download tv programs and movies. Sure this is not new news to many technical users, but in the past week or so, I’ve been experimenting and the results are quite excellent.

I use Poisoned, which beats the pants off most P2P apps I’ve tried as it lets you use giftd, FastTrack, Gnutella and OpenFT all at the same time. I have not heard of a few of these but searching them all at once in one app is great. I’ve grabbed episodes of The Simpsons, South Park and Larry David, Curb your Enthusiasm and am pulling down a bunch of the more recent episodes of Alias as well. I actually forgot to record last nights key episode and am currently searching it out…

I’ve been trying to use Bit Torrent now as another source which is great if you can figure it out. Bit Torrent seems to be intentionally complex which makes it less desirable to use, though the content that seems to be available is amazing. The way it works is you search on google for Torrents – there are sites with trackers for these as well as single files. These are like bookmarks to the real files on the network. By opening them with Bit Torrent, you then connect to a few sources like in a usual P2P manner and download the file or files.

While Quicktime can handle the usual .Mov or .Mpg files I highly recommend VLC which will more easily play .Avi files encoded in Divx which many of these files are. VLC works like more like the Apple DVD Player than Quicktime, with a floating controller and a playlist manager. You can easily load up a few episodes in succession and watch them all in a sitting. VLC is a very slick free piece of software…

The more I’ve used this system, if you can call it that, the more I’ve realized how much a video iPod would be a killer unit. Sure, you don’t get the instant gratification like you on iTunes since the files usually take a fair bit of time to download, the end result is the same.

I should add, that what I am doing is a bit gray legally speaking. In my mind, however, I could capture the video myself with a DVR or a VCR and transfer things to my computer. I could even use a computer based DVR top make the transfer process much faster. The point is that I don’t need to since many others have already taken the steps for me. I can focus my time on searching for the files instead, which suits me just fine.

The Matrix Revolutions

With The Matrix Revolutions, the Wachowski Brothers have cemented their place in the pantheon of science fiction movie masters. While some people have been disappointed by this capstone of the trilogy, I thought it delivered on the promise of the last two movies very well, and will hold up in time. [Blogcritics]

One word: IMAX

I won’t reveal anything here… I’ll let you enjoy it on your own.

If you have access to see this one in IMAX, I would highly recommend it. It was by far the coolest way to check out the action. The screen was so massive and the action totally intense. It never hurts when the crowd is fully engaged and quiet as well – a rarity in NYC.

Times They Are Surreal in Bob Dylan Tale

As a movie, “Masked & Anonymous” is an unholy, incoherent mess. As a Bob Dylan artifact, it is endlessly, perhaps morbidly, fascinating. [New York Times: Arts]

The intent seems to have been to capture the feeling of one of Mr. Dylan’s surreal, shaggy-dog ballads on celluloid (not to be confused with cellulose): not an especially good idea, perhaps, but certainly an interesting one. Filmed in picturesque, run-down corners of Los Angeles, the movie fuses Coen Brothers Americana with Gabriel García Márquez magic realism. (It also, speaking of the Coens, reunites John Goodman and Jeff Bridges, who speak lines that might have been dreamed up by their characters in “The Big Lebowski.”)

Music Movies…

Last night I caught Scratch which covers the entire Turntable and Hip-Hop movement from the initial scratch on Herbie Hancock’s Rockit

SCRATCH is the critically-acclaimed, award-winning, feature length film about hip-hop DJs and the turntablist movement. From the South Bronx in the 70’s to San Francisco today, the world’s best scratchers, diggers, party-rockers and producers celebrate beats, breaks, battles, and the infinite possibilities of vinyl…

This morning I happened to catch Hype, which covers the “Seattle Scene” and provides insight from the music makers.

They are both directed by Doug Pray and have a very similar quality to them. Both seem to running on cable this month on Showtime, so set your Tivo.

X Factor

Caught X2 this rainy afternoon and it rocks. Much stronger than the first, which is saying a lot. I like how it picks right where the first left off and immediately swings into action. A definite winner.

If you want the good

If you want the good stuff, or at least want it first, you will have to pay. Star Wars trailer – buy Quicktime. Two Towers trailer, login to AOL. Good thing I have an account!

AOL previews second Tolkien film. America Online says it will debut the promotional trailer for “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” in a move to draw traffic to the online service. [CNET News.com]