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Subject: rec.arts.movies.current-films Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

This article was archived around: 25 Jul 2000 05:12:38 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: movies/faq
All FAQs posted in: rec.arts.movies.current-films, rec.arts.movies.misc
Source: Usenet Version

Archive-name: movies/faq/current-films
Last change: Mon May 22 11:26:41 EDT 2000 This FAQ is cross-posted to rec.arts.movies.current-films and rec.arts.movies.misc. Copies of this article may be obtained by anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under /pub/usenet-by-group/news.answers/movies/faq/current-films. Or, send email to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with "send usenet-by-group/news.answers/movies/faq/current-films" in the body of the message. Questions include: 1) "Does anyone know this movie?" <plot summary follows> 2) "What stories/movies/tv shows are about X?" 3) How can I get an address &/or a phone number for (some famous star)? 4) "Does anyone want to talk about X?" 5) What is letterboxing? 6) What does the number at the end of the end credits mean? 7) What "ethnic" actors have won/been nominated for Academy Awards? 8) What are all the James Bond films and who played Bond? 9) What are those funny dots that blink on in the upper-right corner of films? 10) How do films, actors, etc., get nominated for Academy Awards? 11) What are the top twenty grossing films of all time? 12) How can I find out where a certain movie is playing? 13) What is a director's cut? 14) Are there any Web sites for movie scripts? 15) What is Roger Ebert's CompuServe address? 16) Is Jodie Foster gay? 17) Is FARGO a true story? Was the "Victim in the Field" really played by the Artist Formerly Known as Prince? 18) When does a movie break even? 19) Why aren't there more G-rated movies released? Topics include: 1) Product placements in movies For the following items, see the rec.arts.movies.past-films FAQ (there is some overlap): 1) "Does anyone know this movie?" <plot summary follows> 2) "What stories/movies/tv shows are about X?" 3) How can I get an address &/or a phone number for (some famous star)? 4) "Does anyone want to talk about X?" 5) Did Audrey Hepburn do the singing in MY FAIR LADY? Did Andy Williams dub Lauren Bacall's singing voice in TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT? How come Julie Andrews did not reprise her Broadway performance of Eliza Doolitle? 6) What movie did the quote: "Badges?? Badges?? We don't need no stinkin' badges?" come from ?? 7) What is the earliest *numbered* sequel? 8) What is letterboxing? 9) Why are clips of old films always fast? 10) What are the Hitchcock cameos in all his movies? 11) What are the references to "See You Next Wednesday" in John Landis's films? 12) What does the number at the end of the end credits mean? 13) What "ethnic" actors have won/been nominated for Academy Awards? 14) What are all the James Bond films and who played Bond? 15) What are those funny dots that blink on in the upper-right corner of films? 16) What is the secret of THE CRYING GAME? (rot13'd) 17) What are the top twenty grossing films of all time? 18) What is a director's cut? 19) Are there any Web sites for movie scripts? 20) What is the poem in FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL? 21) What is the significance of the stones at the end of SCHINDLER'S LIST? 22) Where in THE CROW did Brandon Lee get shot? Did they leave it in? And how did it happen? 23) Is it true that a hanged person (munchkin) is visible in the background of one scene in THE WIZARD OF OZ? 24) What are some movies that were better than the books/stories they were based on? For the following items, see the rec.arts.sf.movies FAQ: 1. Star Trek. 2. The animated LORD OF THE RINGS by Ralph Bakshi covers only the first half of the trilogy. Bakshi did not make the second half. 3. Frequent subjects. 4. Abbreviations commonly used in this group: 5. BLADE RUNNER: the sixth replicant, why voice-overs, and Deckard a replicant? 6. "Can the X beat the Y?" where X and Y are mighty ships or alien races from different space opera movies/series. 7. Is the movie HEAVY METAL out on video? 8. Why is there an acknowledgment to Harlan Ellison in the credits of THE TERMINATOR? or Doesn't THE TERMINATOR have the same plot as a TWILIGHT ZONE episode? 9. What about the relationship between HAL (the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) and IBM? (If you add 1 to each letter in HAL you get IBM.) 10. Who was the voice of the seductive Jessica Rabbit in the film "WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?" 11. What are all of the "cute" gimmicks in the film BACK TO THE FUTURE? 12. What role did Jamie Lee Curtis play in THE ADVENTURES OF BUCKAROO BANZAI ACROSS THE 8TH DIMENSION? 13. When is George Lucas going to make more STAR WARS films? What will they be about?? 14. In OUTLAND and TOTAL RECALL, astronauts exposed suddenly to vacuum promptly explode. In 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, a few seconds' exposure to vacuum doesn't bother one at all. Which is right? 15. What does "FTL" mean? 16. I was told that the director's cut of DUNE was seven hours long, and did a much better job of portraying the novel. Where can I find it? 17. What are the two minutes of new footage on the STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY videocassette? 18. What are the various Quatermass films and the names they go under? Items covered in the rec.music.classical FAQ (cf): Q6. What is that [classical] music in [insert TV show/movie here]? rec.arts.movies.* are newsgroups devoted to discussions of movies. They are high-volume newsgroups and this article is intended to help reduce the number of unnecessary postings, thereby making them more useful and enjoyable to everyone. If you have not already done so, please read the articles in news.announce.newusers. They contain a great deal of useful information about network etiquette and convention. Before we begin, two pieces of net.etiquette. Both of these are mentioned in news.announce.newusers, but since they are so frequently violated, and at least one of them is particularly relevant to this group, we mention them here: SPOILER WARNINGS: Many people feel that much of the enjoyment of a film is ruined if they know certain things about it, especially when those things are surprise endings or mysteries. On the other hand, they also want to know whether or not a film is worth seeing, or they may be following a particular thread of conversation where such information may be revealed. The solution to this is to put the words SPOILER in your header, or in the text of your posting. You can also put a ctl-L character in the *first* column for your readers who are using rn. Some people think that spoiler warnings are not necessary. We don't understand why, and do not want to discuss it. Use your best judgment. REPLIES TO REQUESTS AND QUESTIONS: When you think that many people will know an answer to a question, or will have an answer to a request, RESPOND VIA E-MAIL!!! And if you don't know the answer, but want to know, DON'T POST TO THE NET asking for the answer, ask VIA E-MAIL! If you think a lot of people will want the same information, you might suggest that the person summarize to the net. Even if you don't see an answer posted, and you have the answer, please send it e-mail. The thirty other people who answered may have already sent it, and your site just hasn't gotten it yet. It clogs the net and gets very tedious to see 30 people answer the same question, and another 30 people asking for the answer to be posted. All of that should be done via mail. The net is a highly asynchronous medium. It can take several days for an article to make it to all sites. It is also quite common for followups to messages to reach a site before the original. Please keep in mind two points: 1. Always remember that there is a live human being at the other end of the wires. In other words, please write your replies with the same courtesy you would use in talking to someone face-to-face. 2. Try to recognize humor and irony in postings. Tone of voice does not carry in ASCII print, and postings are often snapped off quickly, so that humorous intent may not be obvious. More destructive and vicious arguments have been caused by this one fact of net existence than any other. It will help if satiric/ironic/humorous comments are marked with the "smiley face," :-) The first part of the list is a compendium of information that has been posted to rec.arts.movies.* many times in the past. If you have received this list through e-mail, without requesting it, this is most likely because you posted one of the questions on the list. The second part of the FAQ list contains a series of topics that are repeatedly discussed, along with a bit of editorial comment on each one. The reason for including this information is merely to provide new readers with some background and context. In no way do we mean for this to preclude anyone from discussing these topics again. While the items listed in part one are (indisputable??) facts, the topics in part two are objects of opinion. As such, they can be discussed ad infinitum without any resolution. Do so if you wish. Remember the first amendment... The last part of the FAQL contains a few further bits of information for readers of rec.arts.movies.*. This includes several other lists that are kept by members of the group, trivia contests etc. Interested readers should seek out the companion FAQ in rec.arts.sf.movies. If you have any questions about this list, or if there is something you think should be added, you can contact me through e-mail at: evelynleeper@geocities.com Now, here are some frequently asked questions... PART ONE: Frequently asked questions, and some answers (and some of them may be right). 0) "What movies has X appeared in/directed/written etc.?" The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) can answer a huge range of movie related questions, so it's always worth checking out before posting to the groups. The IMDb has over 1,000,000 filmography entries for more than 75,000 movies. It includes filmographies for actors, directors, writers, composers, cinematographers, editors, production designers, costume designers and producers; plot summaries; character names; movie ratings; year of release; running times; movie trivia; quotes; goofs; soundtracks; personal trivia; alternative names; certificates; color information; country of production; genres; production companies; sound mix; reference literature; filming locations; sequel/remake information; release dates; advertising tag lines; detailed technical data; box office grosses, language and Academy Award information. Many thousands of movies are covered completely from the major actors to the minor bit players. The IMDb FAQ contains full details and is posted weekly to the many of the groups, alternatively copies can be obtained by anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under /pub/usenet-by-group/news.answers/movies/movie-database-faq or send e-mail to <mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu> with: send usenet-by-group/news.answers/movies/movie-database-faq in the body of the message. Here's a quick summary of how to access the database: (a) Web access: http://us.imdb.com/ (USA) http://uk.imdb.com/ (UK) (b) To use the e-mail interface, send a message with the subject: HELP to <mail-server@imdb.com> and the movie mail-server will respond with a copy of the help file. (c) For local interactive access to the database, the FTP site uiarchive.cso.uiuc.edu has software for several operating systems: Unix in /pub/info/imdb/tools/moviedb-3.2f.tar.gz MS-DOS in /pub/info/imdb/tools/msdos/cb153.arj Amiga in /pub/info/imdb/tools/MovieMUI3_2.lha 1) "Does anyone know this movie?" <plot summary follows> When making this kind of request, ask that all responses be e-mailed back to you. After having found out what it is, then post the correct answer to the net. If you know the answer but are unable to send a message to the requester, wait a few days. It's likely that someone else will post the correct answer, thus sparing you the effort. Do not post messages like "I want to know, too" to the net. E-mail the person who asked the question and request that they send you any information they get by e-mail. Only if you cannot reach the person by e-mail *and* no one has posted about the request after several days should you post. 2) "What stories/movies/tv shows are about X?" When making these kind of requests, ask that all replies be e-mailed to you and that you will summarize. Note that a summary is not just concatenating all the replies together and posting the resulting file. Take the time to strip headers, combine duplicate information, and write a short summary. 3) How can I get an address &/or a phone number for (some famous star)? You *can't* get phone numbers. But you can often get contact addresses (usually an agent or publicist), by calling the Screen Artists Guild at 213-954-1600. They will give you a phone number and/or address for the agent. The agent can provide you an address to write and may send pictures on request or provide the publicist's addresses. Another method (if the star has written a book) is to send mail in care of the publisher of that book. 4) "Does anyone want to talk about X?" If nobody seems to be discussing what you want to talk about, post a (polite) message opening the discussion. Don't just say, "Does anyone want to talk about X" or "I really like X" however; try to have something interesting to say about the topic to get discussion going. Don't be angry or upset if no one responds. It may be that X is just a personal taste of your own, or quite obscure. Or it may be that X was discussed to death a few weeks ago, *just* before you came into the group. (If this is the case, you'll probably know, though, because some rude fool will probably flame you for "Bringing that up *AGAIN*!!!" Ignore them.) 5) What is letterboxing? In case you hadn't noticed, movie screens have a different shape than television screens. This means that when a movie is shown on a television screen, it doesn't fit. Up until recently, this meant that either the left and right ends of the picture were cropped off, or the picture was "panned and scanned" (the camera would seem to go back and forth between the left and right sides, usually done for scenes in which the two characters speaking were at the far left and right of a scene), or that the picture was warped so that everyone looked tall and thin (this was usually done for credit sequences so the full names could fit on the screen, or you would think you were watching "ne with the Wi"). Now some companies are releasing "letterboxed" versions of films on videocassettes and videodisks. These have a black bar at the top and bottom of the screen, allowing the full width of the picture to be included, but resulting in a smaller picture--that is, a character ten inches tall in a non-letterboxed version might be eight inches tall in a letterboxed one. Long answer: From Matthias Walz (b228@mail.fh-wuerzburg.de) Some remarks related to the pan&scan-theatrical-format-confusion in several film-related groups (sorry for being lengthy, but the matter is complicated): Once or twice a week I'm working as projectionist in a repertory cinema, where four (!) different formats are used for projection (1.33:1, 1.66:1, 1.85:1 and CinemaScope, 2.35:1). My job includes assembling the different reels (usually five for 90-100 minutes) of the film before showing it the first time. During this process, the projectionist has to figure out which picture format to use for projection. This is sometimes quite confusing - a few remarks about the topic: 1. Up to the Fifties, all films were shot in 1.33:1 and also intended for projection in this aspect ratio. 2. Since the Fifties, many films were still shot in 1.33:1 (probably for financial reasons), but most of them are intended to be shown in 1.66:1 or even 1.85:1. If you'd show them in 1.33:1, you'd see exciting things like dolly tracks at the bottom or microphones and even studio lights at the top of the picture. Once I used 1.33:1 (by mistake) for Hitchcock's "North By Northwest", with the result that in the forest scene preceding the Mt.Rushmore finale, studio lights as well as the top of the stage decoration depicting the forest became visible. This ruined the effect of the scene completely - the magic was gone. 3. To make things even worse, sometimes different aspect ratios are used in one and the same film - up to three (the reason for tgis? I'm not sure. Maybe the film studios use up film material that's left over from other projects). I can remember a print which contained shots in all three "normal" formats: 1.33:1, 1.66:1 and 1.85:1. In this case, you have to show the print in the widest format (1.85:1), otherwise you'd have a "letterbox effect" on the screen during scenes shot in 1.33:1 or 1.66:1 ! 4. The reason why film companies don't bother about using different formats for the same film lies in the fact that most cinemas use only two different formats for projection anyway (one theater-specific lens in the range from 1.66:1 to 1.85:1, and 2.35:1 for anamorphic projection). Therefore, if a 1.33:1 film is shown in such a theatre, portions of the picture are cropped at the top and the bottom of the screen. Now to the film-on-tv-thing: The normal TV screen has an aspect ratio of about 1.3:1. If the network wants to show the film in the format intended by the filmmakers, it has just the same problems as the poor theatre projectionist dealing with four different formats. If the network doesn't care too much for artisitc subtleties and follows a "full screen"-policy (as some German commercial networks do), you'll see effects like the above-mentioned (North By Northwest). Conclusion: If the film is shown on TV in the aspect ratio it was intended to be shown, it has to be letterboxed, except for the 1.33:1 films. In the case of CinemaScope films, there's definitely nothing hidden by the black bars. In all other cases of letterboxing, there may be something hidden behind the bars - but something you wouldn't care for anyway. I hope this brings all this nonsense (B. Faber et al.) about censorship by letterboxing to a well-deserved end in cyberhell. Letterboxing is the only way to show a film on TV as it was meant to be shown. 6) What does the number at the end of the end credits mean? The Motion Picture Association of America (the MPAA) is responsible for assigning these numbers. It is part of their film rating service. Any film can be submitted to the MPAA for rating (the G/PG/PG13/R/NC-17 ratings Americans are familiar with), for a small fee. Any film rated by the MPAA is issued a unique number. Any film can be submitted, but many aren't, including most adult sex films, many foreign films, industrial films and other training and educational films, television films, and some independently made films. The rating service (and the numbering associated with it) was started in 1968. There is no publicly available list of films and numbers, and the MPAA information office does not have the title of the film issued certificate #1 readily available. [Joshua Kreitzer, gromit82@hotmail.com, pointed out after this was written that cccording to Mark A. Vieira's SIN IN SOFT-FOCUS, the first film to receive a certificate under the Production Code was John Ford's THE WORLD MOVES ON (1934).] Films before 1968 were assigned numbers based on their agreement to the Production Code, instituted July 1, 1934. Under that scheme, the film SHE, released in 1935, has number 985. Rod McKim (Rod@usenet.despot.com) reports that THE SCARLET EMPRESS, released in 1934, has number 16, the lowest by far that he has seen. Reports of any other low number spottings would be appreciated. Given that the current number is in the 30,000, I believe the current numbers are continued from those, rather than restarted in 1968. A word or two more about MPAA ratings. The ratings are assigned by a board composed of "ordinary citizens", largely parents, as the intent of the rating system is to protect the tender minds of children from harm. The board watches the film and collectively assigns a rating. If the producer doesn't like the rating, s/he has a couple of options. The rating can be appealed to the MPAA official in charge of rating films. On a few occasions, the appeal has been successful. Not too surprisingly, appeals by large studios tend to have a better success rate than appeals by smaller studios. Alternately, the producer can recut the film and resubmit it. The MPAA rating board will tell a filmmaker what caused a film to get a rating, but they never actually tell a filmmaker that if this scene is cut, you will get that rating. Somehow or other, though, the information tends to get to the filmmakers, so that Alan Parker, for instance, somehow knew that cutting a few seconds of Mickey Rourke humping Lisa Bonet while blood drips from the ceiling changes ANGEL HEART from a film no child should see to a film merely requiring parental presence. While we're at it, what is the MPAA? It's an industry organization for the American film production business, particularly for the major studios. Its members are Disney, Columbia, MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers. These companies pay fees to the MPAA that are used as the primary source of financing for the organization. In addition to the ratings, the MPAA performs other services for their members, including lobbying the government. (They prefer to refer to this service as "working on issues important to the film industry.") Jack Valenti, the head of the MPAA, is a prominent spokesman who speaks for "Hollywood" as a whole, generally on issues important to all the studios, like film piracy, trade disputes with other countries, and censorship. The MPAA was founded in 1922, so it's been doing this sort of thing for quite a while. [Thanks to Peter Reiher, reiher@ficus.cs.ucla.edu, for this answer.] 7) What ethnic actors have won/been nominated for Academy Awards? (This question seem to come up every year at Oscar time.) "Actors of ethnic extraction other than European/Mediterranean who have been nominated for Academy Awards" (so we don't start quibbling over Omar Sharif). I'm not a big fan of groupings by race, but it has its educational values in a situation like this, showing Hollywood's record in honoring minority contributions. In borderline cases, we have gone by the "as generally perceived" standard--thus no Ben Kingsley, who seems thoroughly British despite the fact that his father was Gujrati, and none of the many American actors who proudly say they're "part Indian" when they mean 1/16 or 1/32. With that ponderous preamble out of the way, here's the list: BLACK Hattie McDaniel 1939 supp Gone with the Wind WON Dorothy Dandridge 1954 lead Carmen Jones Sidney Poitier 1958 lead The Defiant Ones 1963 lead Lilies of the Field WON Juanita Moore 1959 supp Imitiation of Life Beah Richards 1967 supp Guess Who's Coming to Dinner Rupert Crosse 1969 supp The Reivers James Earl Jones 1970 lead The Great White Hope Paul Winfield 1972 lead Sounder Cicely Tyson 1972 lead Sounder Diana Ross 1972 lead Lady Sings the Blues Diahann Carroll 1974 lead Claudine Howard E. Rollins Jr 1981 supp Ragtime Louis Gossett Jr. 1982 supp An Officer and a Gentleman WON Alfre Woodard 1983 supp Cross Creek Adolph Caesar 1984 supp A Soldier's Story Whoopi Goldberg 1985 lead The Color Purple 1991 supp Ghost WON Margaret Avery 1985 supp The Color Purple Oprah Winfrey 1985 supp The Color Purple Dexter Gordon 1986 lead Round Midnight Morgan Freeman 1987 supp Street Smart 1989 lead Driving Miss Daisy 1994 lead The Shawshank Redemption Denzel Washington 1987 supp Cry Freedom 1989 supp Glory WON 1992 lead Malcolm X Jaye Davidson 1992 supp The Crying Game Laurence Fishburne 1993 lead What's Love Got to Do with It? Angela Bassett 1993 lead What's Love Got to Do with It? Samuel L. Jackson 1994 supp Pulp Fiction Cuba Gooding, Jr. 1996 supp Jerry Maguire WON Marianne Jean-Baptiste 1996 supp Secrets & Lies Denzel Washington 2000 lead The Hurricane Michael Clarke Duncan 2000 supp The Green Mile ASIAN (including Polynesian) Miyoshi Umeki 1957 supp Sayonara WON Sessue Hayakawa 1957 supp The Bridge on the River Kwai Mako 1966 supp The Sand Pebbles Jocelyn LaGarde 1966 supp Hawai`i Haing S. Ngor 1984 supp The Killing Fields WON Noriyuki "Pat" Morita 1984 supp The Karate Kid [whatever your term is for] PRE-EUROPEAN NORTH AMERICAN Anthony Quinn 1952 lead Viva Zapata WON Anthony Quinn 1956 supp Lust for Life WON Chief Dan George 1970 supp Little Big Man (Squamish) Graham Greene 1991 supp Dances with Wolves (Oneida (Iroquois)) HISPANIC Rita Moreno 1961 supp West Side Story WON Norma Aleandro 1987 supp Gaby--A True Story Andy Garcia 1991 supp The Godfather Part III Rosie Perez 1993 supp Fearless Fernanda Montenegro 1999 supp Central Station Note that John Singleton is now the first black to be nominated as best director (1991, BOYZ N THE HOOD). (Although Anthony Quinn is often listed as Hispanic, comments by him about his ancestry on "The Actors Studio" lead me to list him as "Pre-European North American." I will not entertain arguments about whether Montenegro is Hispanic or not--there are at least several definitions that would include her, and I'll fall back on "generally perceived.") [Thanks to Jon Conrad, conrad@sun.acs.udel.edu, for bulk of this answer. John Cawley, johnmike@news.delphi.com, maintains a list of Native American actors and their tribes.] 8) What are all the James Bond films and who played Bond? "Casino Royale" episode of CLIMAX TV series 1954 Barry Nelson Dr. No 1962 Sean Connery From Russia With Love 1963 Sean Connery Goldfinger 1964 Sean Connery Thunderball 1965 Sean Connery Casino Royale 1967 David Niven* You Only Live Twice 1967 Sean Connery On Her Majesty's Secret Service 1969 George Lazenby Diamonds Are Forever 1971 Sean Connery Live and Let Die 1973 Roger Moore The Man With the Golden Gun 1974 Roger Moore The Spy Who Loved Me 1977 Roger Moore The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It 1977 x Moonraker 1979 Roger Moore For Your Eyes Only 1981 Roger Moore Octopussy 1983 Roger Moore Never Say Never Again 1983 Sean Connery The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. 1983 George Lazenby+ A View to a Kill 1985 Roger Moore The Living Daylights 1987 Timothy Dalton Licence to Kill 1989 Timothy Dalton "Diamonds Aren't Forever" episode of ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS 1989 George Lazenby= Goldeneye 1995 Pierce Brosnan Tomorrow Never Dies 1997 Pierce Brosnan The World Is Not Enough 1999 Pierce Brosnan * Woody Allen plays his nephew, "Jimmy Bond" + Only a cameo--Lazenby drives an Aston Martin with license plate "JB" in this made-for-television movie and is clearly supposed to be Bond, though he is never called by name. = Lazenby plays "James ... [sic]" x Bond does not appear, but "Miss Moneypacket" drives a car with a "JB 007" license plate. (Many people say that CASINO ROYALE is not a real Bond movie, but rather a parody. NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is a movie not made by Broccoli & Co, but otherwise has the usual look. "The Strange Case...," "The Return of ...," and "Diamonds Aren't Forever" are also not part of the "main line" of Bond films.) (Michael Golan mentions also CANNONBALL (1976), but in that Roger Moore is explicit that he is *Roger Moore*, not James Bond, in spite of all appearances. Still, some may want to count this. "M" and "Miss Moneypacket" appear in "The Strange Case of the End of Civilisation as We Know It," a 1977 British television production starring John Cleese; they were played by Kenneth Benda and Charlotte Alexandra respectively.) Bruce Long (bruce@asu.edu) says, "The 'Hostage'" episode of 'The Master' (series starring Lee Van Cleef) has George Lazenby and David McCallum as guest stars. Each of them are obviously supposed to be his famous character (but McCallum is the villain, as though Kuryakin had become cynical in his later years)." 9) What are those funny dots that blink on in the upper-right corner of films? These are cue marks, or "reel-change dots," signaling the projectionist that it is time to change reels. There is actually a set of dots. Four consecutive frames are marked with a little circle in the upper right-hand corner of the frame. The first set (4 frames) of cue marks (the motor cue) is placed 198 frames before the end of the reel. (198 frames is 8.25 seconds, or 12.375 feet.) There are 172 frames between the first set of cue marks and the second set of 4 frames, the changeover cue. There are 18 frames between the changeover cue and the runout section of the trailer (or foot) leader. The projectionist threads up the next reel of film so that he has about nine feet of leader between the lens and the start of the film. At the first cue mark, he starts the motor on the second projector. This gives the projector time to get up to to speed and for the speed to stabilize. On the second cue mark, he throws the switches that change the picture and sound sources. In some old films on TV, you'll see long changeover cues since some projectionists were paranoid that they would not see the marks. Video versions usually do not have these dots because when the transfer was made, the original negative was used, or a postive that was made from the original negative was used. Sometimes an interneg is used. In any event, only prints that make it to the theatre have the change-over dots. For older movies, sometimes the only available print is a release print, which means the dots will appear. (Paul Parenteau [dog@sequent.COM], Ron Birnbaum [ron@osf.org], Harris Minter [harris.minter@datadim.com], Jeffry L. Johnson [ac717@cleveland.freenet.edu], and Mike Brown [vidiot!brown%astroatc.UUCP@spool.cs.wisc.edu]). 10) How do films, actors, etc., get nominated for Academy Awards? The general model is that the Academy members who work in the particular specialty make the nominations. Thus, the Academy's actors nominate the performers (no sex differentiation - actors/actresses both nominate actors/ actresses), directors nominate directors, writers nominate writers, etc. All Academy members get to nominate films. In the categories of foreign language film, documentary, and short film, the Academy does things a bit differently. (See below.) All Academy members get to vote on all awards, except for the foreign language film (and possibly the documentary and short film awards). Only members who have seen the nominated films get to vote on the foreign language film awards. Foreign language films are nominated by a complicated [and totally ineffective] process. Each nation of the world (except possibly the United States) [though there was a Puerto Rican entry a few years ago] can submit one film per year for consideration. The film must have had its first run in that country that year, and there are a variety of other arcane, frequently changing rules to determine eligibility. (A few years ago, the Dutch film "The Vanishing" wasn't eligible because of a rule that stated the film had to be almost entirely in the language of its native country to qualify; "The Vanishing" had much more French than Dutch. That rule was changed. Recently, a supposedly Uruguayan film was removed from consideration because the Academy determined that the Uruguayan participation in it was insufficient to make it truly Uruguayan.) The national film boards of the various countries select the film they will submit, and there is room for controversy here, too. A couple of years ago, the German national film board caused a major fuss by refusing to nominate "Europa, Europa" for the award. Both German and American filmmakers protested, but to no avail. The nature of the nominating process is such that, some years, two great films will come from one country, but only one can be nominated. In some cases, the producers of the other will use various tricks to get it submitted by another country. For example, "Close To Eden" was a French financed film, but was made in Russia by a Russian director, and hence could be submitted by Russia. More controversially, "Black and White In Color", a French film largely in French, by a French director, but set in Africa, was submitted by the African nation where it was filmed. A board of "experts" [and Lord only knows what makes them experts!] then reviews all submitted foreign films to select five to nominate. In the case of documentary and short films, anyone can send their film to the Academy for consideration. The film basically has to have been made for theatrical purposes (this issue is very fuzzy, but an obvious television episode is not eligible), and has to have had its first release that year. There are separate boards for documentaries (full length and short) and short films (dramatic live action and animated). They review all submitted films and select at most five for nomination. [And apparently they often don't view each film completely.] The animation board frequently chooses only three films, rather than five. These boards are generally made up of volunteers who may or may not work in the particular fields. This process has come under fire in the last few years, particularly as regards documentaries. Many of the best known and best reviewed documentaries of the past five years [as of the writing of this] ("Roger and Me", "The Thin Blue Line", "Paris Is Burning", "Brother's Keeper", and "A Brief History of Time", to name a few) have not been nominated. There are periodic calls to do something about it, but, basically, the Academy doesn't give a damn about these categories, and, in fact, is trying to drop the short film categories. (In the interests of, in the words of one commentator, "more smoke and dancing girls" at the Awards ceremony.) Short films received a one-year reprieve in 1993, but may be dropped from future Award ceremonies, or perhaps be treated like the scientific and engineering awards. [Though even in 1993, the winners were merely announced; they did not get to come up and accept the awards, or give a thank-you speech.] Special awards (like those recently given to Audrey Hepburn and Federico Fellini) are handled specially. They are chosen by the Academy's board, and they are not necessarily given every year. I'm not sure what the procedure is for the special and scientific awards. I suspect that the Academy has committees that handle these. [Thanks to Peter Reiher, reiher@ficus.cs.ucla.edu, for this.] 11) What are the top ten/twenty grossing films of all time? This data can be found at: http://us.imdb.com/Charts/usatopmovies (for USA box office), http://us.imdb.com/Charts/intltopmovies (for non-USA box office), and http://us.imdb.com/Charts/worldtopmovies (for world-wide box-office). http://mrshowbiz.go.com/reviews/moviereviews/numbers/top100adjusted.html is a constantly updated list that is adjusted for inflation. 12) How can I find out where a certain movie is playing? There are many web sites for this, including: http://www.moviefone.com/ http://movies.yahoo.com/showtimes http://movies.excite.com/ In many areas, there is also a phone service to help you. Call 777-FILM (*) and follow the instructions (you punch in the first three letters of the film title and your ZIP code) to find out the theater closest to you with a particular film, and the remaining show times. You can also order tickets by credit card through them. (*) In some areas it's 444-FILM or 222-FILM or possibly something else. For something more esoteric (like films that play at universities, libraries, etc.), you're out of luck unless you know the distributor and call them. 13) What is a director's cut? Contracts under the terms of the Hollywood Director's Guild allow about six weeks for a director to assemble a cut without studio interference. This is fully edited and has a synchronized sound track, however, it is usually not color-corrected nor density-corrected and may not have the final music and effects track. In more recent times due to an expanding video aftermarket, the term director's cut has acquired a popular meaning that implies a finished final print, different from the theatrical release, that the director has complete artistic control over. [muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au] Bob Morris (morris@sce.carlton.ca) believes the first widespread use of the term was with the 1989 re-release of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. 14) Are there any Web sites for movie scripts? The following is one WEB site i know of: http://pobox.com/~drew/scripts.htm. There are probably others. There may be also scripts at sites with archives related to specific films or sub-genres. Don't forget that most scripts are copyrighted. Scripts may be obtainable by stores dealing in movie materials or books; see the rec.arts.books FAQs on bookstores for some suggestions. 15) What is Roger Ebert's email address? As advertised in the CompuServe Roger Ebert Forum as the "talk to Roger" address, it is 76711.271@compuserve.com. The Sun Times lists 74774.2267@compuserve.com. 16) Is Jodie Foster gay? Yes. 17) Is FARGO a true story? Was the "Victim in the Field" really played by the Artist Formerly Known as Prince? No and no. The actor's name is J. Todd Anderson, who has been a storyboard artist on this and other films for the Coen brothers. The "symbol" credit for him was a joke; note that in the credits, the Prince symbol appears on its side. [Answer provided by Joshua Kreitzer (j-kreitzer@nwu.edu).] 18) When does a movie break even? There are multiple answers to that question, and it differs for every movie, not just because they had different production costs. Assuming we're talking about genuine profits (as would be recognized by most of us), and not the contractual definitions that keep net profit participants from collecting a cent on even the biggest grossing films, here are some rules of thumb, and a few important exceptions. First off, we're talking about major Hollywood films that are distributed by the studio that made them. That's important, because the distributor takes a big cut off the gross. If the distributor is the same studio as produced the film, then, from an outsider's point of view, it all ends up in the same pockets in the end. If the film was produced by someone else, then you have to lop off the distribution fee before determining if the film was profitable. Also, let's ignore for the moment co-productions, and certainly ignore low budget independent films. The capsule answer, as a rough rule of thumb - if a film's domestic gross equals its negative cost, it will be profitable. Thus, for example, if we accept a negative cost for "Titanic" of $200 million, a US/Canada gross of $200 million would probably lead to a profit. Now let's talk about why this is a reasonable rule of thumb, then why it sometimes isn't. Films make their money from three basic sources - domestic gross (counting only the US and Canada), foreign gross (box office receipts from everywhere else), and other sources. The largest component of the latter is video, but cable, pay-per-view, and broadcast sales are also often significant, and lesser revenue streams like in-flight movies, rentals to colleges and art houses, and others also chip in. For certain films, merchandising adds hugely to this figure. For others, it adds nothing. Still speaking roughly, the current breakdown is that these three revenue sources are approximately equal. Not quite. In the last couple of years, foreign box office has slightly exceeded domestic, for example. And there are many exceptions, which I'll get to later. But for rough calculations, equality is around right. There are other important considerations. First, the costs usually bandied about for making films are the negative costs. The negative cost of a film is the price paid from the moment the project was thought of to the instant that the studio owns one complete, finished negative of the movie. There are still big bucks to pay for a major Hollywood release, however. The biggest bucks are for advertising and distribution, with a significant cost to make all the prints. (If you put out 2000 prints, a not-uncommon run for a big film nowadays, at, say, $10,000 a print, you can see it adds up.) Advertising and distribution varies quite a lot. People used to assume that the total print and advertising costs for a big film were approximately equal to its negative cost, but $100 million plus negative costs blew that estimate out of the water. I doubt if anyone ever spent $100 million advertising a single film. For a large scale film, $50 million for prints, adevertising, and other distribution costs (like shipping 2000 really heavy sets of boxes containing the prints all over the country) is not an unreasonable estimate. A second consideration is that theaters take a share of the gross. Again, things are complex. The short rule of thumb is that the theaters take half. But the way the contracts actually work, the theaters' cut is on a sliding scale, with the studio taking a much larger percentage in early weeks, and the theaters gradually getting more and more as the run continues. Thus, the attendance pattern of a film makes a big difference. So far, "The Lost World" and "Men in Black" have grossed in the same general ballpark, something like $250 million. However, "The Lost World" made a vast amount of money in its first week, and dropped off quickly, while "Men in Black" did very well its first week, but has held audiences longer. The distributor thus ended up with more of the gross from "The Lost World" than from "Men in Black." Assuming you're not a professional or obsessive, live with the 50% estimate. A third factor. For many big films, there are gross profit participants. These folks, typically the really heavy hitters like Steven Spielberg, Harrison Ford, and Michael Crichton, get a percentage of all money collected by the distributor. In some cases, the contracts allow the distributors to deduct certain costs off the top, in others they don't. The dollars that go to gross profit participants cannot fairly be considered as contributing towards the studio's recoupment or eventual profit, since they don't get those dollars. In some cases, like "The Lost World," we're talking serious chunks of revenue, perhaps 20% total or more. Let's not worry about that, for the moment, but don't forget it completely. A fourth factor. Foreign theaters keep a larger percentage of the profits than US theaters. So, while the foreign gross is slightly larger than the domestic gross (averaged over all films), the domestic box office still returns more dollars to the studios. Also, the distribution costs mentioned above only covered US distribution. You'll need to advertise it in other countries, too, and perhaps even come up with ad campaigns customized to each country. More costs. Overall, let's just factor everything here together and say that studios end up with 50% of the foreign gross. Not too accurate, perhaps, but we'll balance it against an inaccuracy in the opposite direction from other sources. A fifth factor. There are distribution costs associated with the other, non-box-office revenue streams. It costs something to stamp out a videocassette, and to ship it to the store, and to advertise it. Some of the other revenue streams have lesser costs (like selling to cable), some have significant ones. For airline screenings, you typically have to recut the film, for example. Let's again assign a 50% return of gross here. It's probably a bit higher, but we'll balance that against our earlier overestimation of foreign returns. Finally, as a general rule the domestic box office is the engine that drives the other revenues. There are many exceptions, but foreign gross and video sales (and other revenue streams) are largely predictable given domestic gross. OK, let's review the bidding. The studio spent the negative cost plus maybe $50 million on prints and advertising. Speaking roughly, they'll get 50% of each of the three reveune streams. Roughly, again, that means that for a $200 million negative cost film, they need to have around $250 million roll in various doors before they've really shown a profit. Thus, if the film makes $500 million domestic, it's shown a profit before any other revenues are considered. For a bare profit, that $200 million film then has to return $85 million or so in domestic box office. (Since that would translate to another $170 million in money from other sources.) $85 million + $170 million = $255 million, slightly above the $250 million negative plus advertising plus distribution cost we'd estimated. But, remember, we're only getting half the money, so for an $85 million domestic return, we need a $170 million gross. That's not quite its negative cost, but it's in the ballpark. If you assume they'd have to spend more on advertising such a big film, or you're going to strike a whole lot more prints, the revenue requirement goes up a bit. This is already an obscenely long posting, so I won't go into the exceptions in detail. But action films will do better overseas, dramas not so well, films with local tie-ins to major foreign markets (Japan, UK, Germany, France) may do significantly better there, children's films (especially animated ones) will kick butt on video, and comedies based on dialog will bomb outside English-speaking countries. There are many other exceptions - Disney would be ill-advised to predict any revenues on "Kundun" from China, for example. Sometimes, for completely unpredictable reasons, a film does a whole lot better in some foreign market than in the US or anywhere else. Actually applying this all to "Titanic" gets complicated, unless you are willing to accept all the rules of thumb and ignore all the exceptions. For example, "Titanic" was a co-production of two studios, one of which had a cap on its share of production costs, and owns only the US gross. The other had no cap, and has all other rights. So the right thing to do, really, is to figure the two studios' profits separately. Also, Cameron is one of those heavy hitters I mentioned earlier. He undoubtedly started the exercise with large gross profit participation. However, due to his severe budget overruns, it's possible (but not certain) that he traded back or lost some of his gross points. And what about merchandising? Will every parent in America buy his kid a Titanic toy that sinks in the bathtub while an internal waterproof music box plays "Nearer My God To Thee," leading to a merchandising bonanza? Who knows? Bottom line, if "Titanic" grosses less than $100 million in the US, folks lose a lot of money. If it grosses more than $200 million, folks get a lot of money. In between, it's variable, highly dependent on whether "Titanic" proves to be one of the exceptions, and generally too close for outsiders like us to call. [Thanks to Peter Reiher (reiher@cs.ucla.edu) for providing this.] 19) Why aren't there more G-rated movies released? [This was originally a response to someone complaining about the bad language added to THE IRON GIANT which made it PG. If anyone wants to write a more concise or general response on this, please do.] As many people have pointed out, no matter how much parents say they *want* G-rated films, they just don't take their children to them (unless the film is from Disney). The IMDB lists 32 theatrical films in 1999 rated G, including THE BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB, THE WINSLOW BOY and THE STRAIGHT STORY. The successful ones were TOY STORY 2 and TARZAN--both Disney. And I wouldn't trust the rating too much. I think that THE IRON GIANT is much better--from every standpoint--for a very young child to watch than THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, in spite of the latter's "G" rating. (Which, by the way, is something that made everyone ask, "What was the MPAA thinking?!!") It's in some ways a vicious circle. If parents can't/don't trust the ratings, they are forced to preview all the films. Since it's too expensive to do this in the theaters, they wait for the videos, then preview it one night and show it the next. I'm not sure what the "cut-off" age between G and PG is, but most children below that age probably don't have a long enough attention span or social skills for a theater, which is another reason parents prefer videos. *If* the MPAA were at least consistent, G-rated films *might* have a better chance in the theaters, but as long as something like THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME gets a G, they won't be trusted. (And their ratings at the other end of the scale are equally bizarre.) For that matter, consider BABE: no bad language, but Babe's mother gets carted off to the slaughterhouse at the beginning in a scene that could easily be very scary for young children. And then there's the mad dog.... (BABE, by the way, is one of the few non-Disney G-rated films that has been successful.) With the new policy of requiring ads to carry explanations of why a film got a "PG", "PG-13", or "R" rating, there may be some improvement. ====================================================================== PART TWO: Frequent Topics and other things we just thought you might like to know. First a few general notes... The readership of rec.arts.movies is in the whole very knowledgeable about a wide range of movies. However, it is my informal assessment that science fiction and fantasy movies are discussed and analyzed far beyond their popularity in most of the rest of the world. This is neither good nor bad, and the reason for it seems fairly obvious to me. The readership of this group reflects the broader readership of USENET. This latter population is top heavy with computer scientists and other forms of science scholars. There is a correlation (though not necessarily a causal relationship) between being in one of these professions, and an interest in science fiction and fantasy. Okay, enough of that. Now, here are some things which come up often, and, while you are free to discuss them, you should be forewarned that some long-time readers may get fairly fed-up with you. PART THREE: Frequently discussed topics: 1) PRODUCT PLACEMENTS IN MOVIES. In many films, the film company will get paid by some companies to use their products. Some readers object to this as a fairly manipulative and distracting presence. Others do not object, commenting that people really do use name-brand products, so using them in films makes sense. Many have commented on the pack of Marlboro cigarettes in DEAD AGAIN, saying this was the best product placement they had ever seen. Other information: There are several lists revolving around film that are kept by netters. These frequently come up. One major project is a list of votes/ratings of a plethora of movies. This list is maintained by Colin Needham (cn@imdb.com), and votes can be cast through the Internet Movie Data Base. The rec.arts.movies.reviews reviews are archived as part of the IMDB. Bob Niland (rjn@hpfcso.FC.HP.COM) has several articles on Laser Disc technology and availability available from his archives. You may request any of these at any time. Recent copies are also available for anonymous ftp on: princeton.edu (, directory pub/Video/Niland) and bobcat.bbn.com (, wsmr-simtel20.army.mil ( Lastly, there are a series of movie trivia contests. Some of these even offer prizes! The initial contest postings generally include information on how to enter. The important point is that you should never post answers, but should send them e-mail. ==================================================================== (Contributions for addition to this FAQL gratefully appreciated. Suggestions for things *I* should write to add to this FAQL are not so gratefully appreciated.) ============================================================================ Copyright Notice This FAQ is not to be reproduced for commercial use unless the party reproducing the FAQ agrees to the following: 1) They will contact the FAQ maintainer to obtain the latest version for their collection. 2) They will provide the FAQ maintainer with information on what collection the copy of the FAQ is in, and how that collection may be obtained. 3) They will agree, in writing, that the FAQ will be included in the collection without modification, and that acknowledgements of contributors (if any) to the FAQ remain in the FAQ. 4) They will agree, in writing, that the collection including the FAQ will be distributed on either a non-profit basis, or have some percentage of profit donated to a non-profit literacy program. Project Gutenberg counts. Information contained in the FAQ is compiled from many sources. No guarantees are made as to its accuracy. To support this, this FAQ is Compilation Copyright 2000 by Evelyn C. Leeper (the FAQ maintainer). =========================================================================== <HR>You are visitor number <IMG SRC="/cgi-bin/counter"> since 1 Jan 2000. Evelyn C. Leeper, evelynleeper@geocities.com -- Evelyn C. Leeper, http://www.geocities.com/evelynleeper I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself. --Mikhail Baryshnikov