THE GREAT WALL

The Great Wall is a flop.  That’s according to broadly accepted conventional wisdom in the film industry.

As the most recent and prominent U.S.-China co-production, the Hollywood Reporter called it “a disaster for all concerned” and said that The Great Wall lost “at least $75M.”

Yet, according to Boxofficemojo.com, as of April 2017, the movie earned $332M internationally, including $171M in China and $11M in Russia.

Other sources put the global figure at over $350M.  A take-out in Mashable reads:  “The Great Wall is an international hit, just not in the U.S.”

Admittedly, its U.S. earnings were disappointing at just over $45M, but the worldwide box office figure isn’t too bad when you consider its budget was estimated at $150M.

The box office take doesn’t include ancillary earnings like Blu-ray and DVD sales and rentals, streaming revenues, etc., and whether or not marketing costs were included in the budget can’t be readily determined.

The film, helmed by legendary Chinese director Zhang Yimou, is still pulling in those secondary revenues.

Perhaps this wide-spread thumbs-down judgment is tempered by overall box office results in China—in 2015 box office growth in China was at 49%, but in 2016 it was down to 4%.

Chen Yiqi of Sil-Metropole says that’s not a decline but a healthy adjustment, so you could look at The Great Wall’s $171M Chinese revenues as a 2017 antidote to the 2016 slump.

Hong Kong Director Stanley Tong: “We need to learn from Hollywood on how to take on a global market.”

But it seems the movie must’ve enhanced that knowledge considerably, as its non-China, non-U.S. market hit at least $116M.

Chen Yiqi adds: “We should explore more co-production opportunities and learn from them.  It will help the Chinese film industry to grow and mature in the long run.”

by Fred Bailey

 

International Co-Production is one of many topics to be covered at the 2nd annual Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival, Nov. 9-11.  To find out more, please visit:

www.HETFest.com

CO-EVOLVING with AI

James Cameron offered some thoughts on Artificial Intelligence in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter.  He’s the director of the first two Terminator movies, Titanic, Avatar, and he’s now filming four Avatar sequels—plus a reboot of the Terminator series.

Terminator was about Skynet, a self-aware artificial super-intelligence out to exterminate the human race.

Here are some quotes from the director of the two highest-grossing movies ever made:

  • I look at what’s happening now with the emergence of artificial intelligence equal to or greater than [that of] humans, and you’ve got Elon Musk and Stephen Hawkings saying that this could be really bad for the survival of the human race.  What was science fiction in the ‘80s is now imminent.  It’s coming over the horizon at us.
  • Technology has always scared me, and it’s always seduced me.  People ask me, “Will the machines ever win against humanity?”  I say, “Look around and see how many people are on their phones.  The machines have already won.”
  • We are co-evolving with our technology.  We’re merging.  The technology is becoming a mirror to us as we start to build humanoid robots and start to seriously build AI.  Some of the top scientists say that’s 10 to 30 years from now.
  • One of the scientists we met with recently, she said, “I used to be really, really optimistic, but now I’m just scared.”  Her position on it is probably that we can’t control this.  Putin recently said that the nation that perfects AI will dominate the world.  So now everybody’s got the justification to essentially weaponize AI.
  • At the very least, [AI] will reflect our best and worst natures because we make them and we program them.  And if you’re doing it for business, you’re essentially taking a machine smarter than a human and teaching it greed.  Or it’s for defense, in which case you’re taking a machine smarter than a human and teaching it to kill.  Neither one of those has a good outcome in my mind.

by Fred Bailey

AI is one of many topics to be covered at the 2nd annual Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival, Nov. 9-11.  To find out more, please visit:

www.HETFest.com

MOBILE GAMES on the rise

According to Newzoo, one of the leading internet info providers, the global smartphone gaming market is bigger than console gaming.

The overall game market is currently close to $110B annually.  By 2020, mobile gaming will take in about $65B on its own.

TechCrunch says mobile gaming is inherently casual, and its success as a serious medium for serious games depends on developing more power for smartphones.  Hardware issues like small screens and low processing power hold the smartphone back, and yet the trend continues to boom.

Mobile gaming also boasts equal popularity between men and women.

Nix Hydra is a VC-backed game company with an interesting angle—it was specifically created to attract young women, hence expanding an entire demographic.

That’s the epitome of the prevailing consensus—that mobile game designers need to develop their products not just technologically but also in ambition.  The industry needs to diversify to grab hold of its projected audience.

Games don’t have to be simple puzzles.  Pokemon Go, for example, asks for a greater level of commitment from the player, and it was enormously successful.

In the future, facial and voice recognition and 3D Scanning will boost mobile gaming by creating characters that look like the players, even going so far as using your facial expressions, by scanning 78 different points on your face to assess emotions.

And advancements in micro-controllers are now able to recognize your voice more easily.

AMD graphic cards coupled with 4K display could render gaming worlds with higher image quality, with AR providing data overlay in real time.

And finally, cloud computing will allow more storage space than ever before, and it’s faster and more reliable.

by Fred Bailey

 

The 2017 Hollywood Entertainment Technology Festival, Nov. 9-11, will feature a Mobile Games panel session, with Speakers from Nix Hydra, Firefly Games, & Scopely.  For more information, visit:www.HETFest.com