Monday Links: Alice, Box Office, Green Zone

My spring break is now officially over, but for once, it has been fortuitously timed. Next week, I will be going out to Los Angeles for the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference, and thanks to having the break before the conference, I’ve had a chance not only to finish my talk but also to sort through some ideas for future writing projects. I’m not ready to divulge too much, but obviously the topics I’ve been thinking about in my blog are a pretty good clue for measuring what I’ll be writing about in longer form. Now, here are some links, some of them (at least) involving my attempt to peak through the window at this week’s South by Southwest festival and conference:

  • Deadline Hollywood Daily has a discussion of the role of Avatar (and, presumably Alice in Wonderland) in pushing theaters in Europe to convert to digital projection systems capable of showing 3D films.  Given that theaters in Denmark, Slovakia, and several other European countries have been able to charge twice as much for 3D, this isn’t terribly surprising.  What is surprising is that, in some countries, including the United Kingdom, taxpayers are helping to pay for this technological changeover.
  • Jeremy Kay at The Guardian has a thoughtful reading of some recent numbers from the MPAA about theatrical box office in 2009.  Worth noting: nearly 11% of all box office in 2009 came from 20 3D films.  Kay is certainly correct to point out that these numbers should be placed in context with DVD, cable, and VOD totals, but it’s worth noting that DVD revenues have actually declined in relation to theatrical in the last couple of years.
  • Further evidence that Twitter is not just a social media platform but a powerful tool for market research: the new Twitter ap, Trendrr that, according to Mashable, “tracks online conversations by gender, location, sentiment, influence, reach and volume.”  The Mashable article offers a nice breakdown of how the tracking service works, showing a number of screen shots of data on commentary on the 2010 Winter Olympics.  Although I’m generally enthusiastic about Twitter’s status as a media “water cooler,” it’s well worth thinking about how those conversations are archived and monitored by others.
  • Speaking of Twitter, here is a quick pointer to Jason Mittell’s thoughtful response to the recently reemergent debate about the state of film criticism.  I think Jason is right to illustrate the (positive) ways in which critical categories have been blurred due to the rise of film blogging.  He also raises some useful questions about access and audience toward the end of the post, pointing out that we may need to rethink what we value in academia when a widely read film blog can receive many more daily views than a scholarly book or article.
  • I’ll wait until I’ve had a chance to see The Green Zone to comment further, but I have to admit that I find Ross Douthat’s op-ed review of the film fascinating, not because I agree with his politics or his defense of the Bush administration lies about weapons of mass destruction (in fact, I find Daniel Larison’s more thoughtful response from the American Conservative website far more persuasive), but because I’ve been finding myself increasingly intrigued by how Hollywood films get appropriated for political debate.  I’ve discussed these issues quite a bit in terms of video-based satire (as have a number of other sharp-eyed scholars), and quite often the political readings conducted in these sites are pretty shallow, but they do help to set the conditions of interpretation for many people who watch the films (or who watch and participate in politics).

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