Sunday, December 30, 2012

12 Big Film News Stories of 2012

Looking back on 2012, records were shattered, hearts broken, dreams were made, and nightmares came to life. From the box-office glory of Joss Whedon's The Avengers to the grim death of Tony Scott, 2012 gave us plenty of highs and lows.

Let's take a look at 12 triumphs and tribulations in movie news from 2012.

12) DreamWorks Animation Leaves Paramount 

for 20th Century Fox 

While certainly not as big as another media acquisition (more on that later... Spoilers!), the end to the seven-year relationship between the animation studio and its distributor, Paramount, leaves the mountain's future looking a bit less solid. Fox, however, has very little risk in this partnership, and should reap some nice rewards with their new five-year pact. While they already own an animation studio, Blue Sky (makers of Rio and the Ice Age franchise), Fox did not shy away from acquiring another animation maker. Release date conflicts are really the only worrisome part to this partnership; however, since Fox will not have to shoulder any of the budget load from DreamWorks Animation films, 20th Century Fox's scheduling headaches should be easily cured with gobs of cash flowing their way.

11) Two Big Film Franchises Come to a Close


While Paramount is left looking to fill a hole in their animation branch, two studios will be looking to make up for losing two of the most lucrative film franchises in the last decade, Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy and the Twilight saga. Love it or hate it, Twilight was a major film franchise and a huge cash cow for Lions Gate Entertainment (distributed under Summit Entertainment). Making well over $3 billion worldwide, believe it or not, Twilight left a mark on cinematic history.
After the Harry Potter franchise ended last year and Nolan's final installment released this year, Warner Bros. Studios must be a bit apprehensive about their future. No longer will they have these two shoe-in cash creators; however, The Hobbit being made into three films should ease their worry. The studio also anxiously awaits Zack Snyder's Superman reboot, The Man of Steel, due out next year, as does every fanboy and fangirl, alongside the DC Entertainment branch. If successful, WB and DC could have a very lucrative film franchise that could open the doors to a long awaited Justice League movie/franchise. Fingers crossed!

10) Two Big Studios Dump Execs

Speaking of studios scrambling to fill giant holes, Disney and 20th Century Fox both showed their respective top dogs the door. After a slew of horrible film financial decisions, Rich Ross, the House of Mouse's Studio Chair, was finally given the boot after the bloated cesspool of awful that was John Carter. While Ross's intentions were good (fewer films with bigger budgets to streamline marketing for franchise merchandise/rides/toy lines), the results were lackluster at best. The now-former Disney exec landed on his feet, though, and is now CEO of Shine America, a production company under News Corp.
Another News Corp. unit, 20th Century Fox, had a serious power-shift as well. It canned its co-chair/CEO, Tom Rothman, after eighteen-years of eyebrow-raising decisions. Failing to secure Fox TV's star, Seth MacFarlane, and his new movie, Ted, and instead, opting for other R-rated comedies that utterly flopped (The Sitter, The Watch) and the absolute mess of a film Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, seemed to be the final nail in the coffin Rothman. Along with failed franchises such as The Fantastic Four and Daredevil, both of which were sold back to Marvel, Rothman's tenure at Fox was tumultuous, at best.

9) Seth MacFarlane and Channing Tatum Hit Adult Comedy Gold

Both of these moderately fresh faces made it big in 2012. MacFarland made his big screen debut with the critical and commercial successful film, Ted. While not quite to the level of Bridesmaids from last year, MacFarlane's foul-mouthed teddy bear certainly helped keep the ball rolling for adult-centered comedies. Speaking of which, Tatum starred in two, Magic Mike and 21 Jump Street. Both were critically praised and the box office numbers showed that audiences loved Tatum's performance as a male stripper and a hapless cop respectively.

8) Tony Scott Commits Suicide

While  2012 brought the laughs, it also came with tragedy. One of these sorrows was the passing of an iconic director, Tony Scott. The Top Gun creator allegedly jumped to his death on the 19th of August. The younger brother of Ridley Scott certainly had no problem stepping out of the shadow of his brother with action hits such as the aforementioned Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and Unstoppable to name but a few. Scott was 68 when he died. He will be greatly missed in the film world.

7)  Violence in Media Under Scrutiny

In some of the nation's most tragic moments in history, two shootings left everyone stunned and utterly shocked at what had occurred. Closely related to the film industry, the film theater shootings in Aurora, CO dramatically decreased theater attendance. While security at the theater was never an issue in the first place, a madman decided to change all that. 70 people were shot and wounded; 12 died due the random act of violence.
The media's obsession with violence and the violence in film were again dragged front and center in the aftermath of the Newtown, CT Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. 20 children were killed, along with 6 adult staff members. While currently no direct correlation with violence in the media, NRA leader, Wayne LaPierre blamed films such as American Psycho and video games such as Grand Theft Auto for the increased gun violence in America. Pretty much everything was blamed but guns. I stayed away from posting about this, as this blog isn't meant to cause political waves.

6) The Artist wins Best Picture

With the 2013 Oscar season heating up, it's easy to forget who won big in 2012. Winning five of the ten awards The Artist was up for during the Academy Awards, this homage to the silent film era was simply outstanding. The four winners after Best Picture were Michel Hazanavicius (Best Director), Jean Dujardin (Best Actor), Best Original Score, and Best Costume Design. Not to be overlooked, the spunky, budding young actress Peppy Miller was played extraordinarily well by Berenice Bejo. One of the coolest technical aspects of this film is that it was shot in 22 fps, slightly slower than the 24 fps standard. This definitely adds to the look and feel of the black-and-white silent film.

5) Tech Hype and 48 fps

Speaking of frames per second, Peter Jackson's decision to shoot The Hobbit in 48 fps caused quite a stir in the film world. While I  haven't seen the new technology in person, I have heard mixed reviews. Certainly, the higher frame resolution should decrease the obnoxious blur and choppiness seen more prevalently in 3D; however, the fear that the film will look "too real" reared its head. Love it or hate it, higher frame rates are here to stay. In fact, James Cameron, who has long been an advocate for digital media and higher frame rates, wants his next installments of Avatar (yes, plural) to be shot entirely in 60 fps. 

4) James Bond Comes Back with a Vengeance

After a pathetic follow-up to Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace failed to wow audiences and critics alike. The lackluster box office performance and criticism coupled with the financial instability of MGM studios, the future of 007 was murky. However, after the release of Skyfall, the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the suave British spy went much better than expected. Drawing in the audiences with the best opening weekend for any Bond movie and already the highest grossing Bond film, as well as being heaped with critical praise, it looks like James Bond is back.

3) The Avengers Destroys the Box Office

Joss Whedon is really good at his job. And while critically and commercially successful, I'm not talking about Cabin in the Woods. No, this is all about The Avengers. While no one doubted the superhero flick would be a hit, no one thought it would be as big as this. It shattered oodles of box office records and is currently sitting at number 3 on the highest grossing films of all-time. Not only was this movie a commercial hit, the critics heaped Whedon with praise on how he masterfully wove together the superhero team with such grace.
The success of The Avengers bodes quite well for the future of Marvel Studios and Disney. Now set to initiate Phase 2, Marvel is well poised to keep pumping out superhero blockbusters for many summers to come. Here's to hoping Whedon decides to stay on the job.

2) Women Kick all kinds of Butt

From Jennifer Lawrence's spectacular performance as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games to Anne Hathaway's sleek, sassy, sexiness in The Dark Knight Rises to Rebel Wilson's fiery hilarity in Pitch Perfect, Girl Power reigned supreme this year in cinema. Pixar even pitched in with their first ever female lead in Brave. Not only were these girls's performances and movies successful with the critics, they swooned over audiences with their awesomeness. Look out guys, it looks like the age of the damsel in distress has finally stepped into the light of the 21st Century.

1) Star Wars is Bought by Disney

Disney has had no problem wooing young girls to their product line with the princess power it possesses. However, they just weren't reeling in the boys. Even after acquiring Marvel for a small fee of $4.24 billion, Disney wasn't satisfied. For a little over $4 billion, Disney bought Lucasfilm and with it, the Star Wars franchise. While this caused many a nerd to quiver at the thought of Darth Vader with Mickey Mouse ears, the Star Wars franchise seems to be in good enough hands. Oh yeah, and a Star Wars VII is going to happen. Love it or hate it, Disney wants a film by 2015. Also, VIII and IX are in talks. Well. That's interesting.

Feel free to add your own opinion in the comments!

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