'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' overtakes 'Avatar' as highest-grossing film in US history


“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” just pushed James Cameron's “Avatar” aside as the top-grossing film in North America. In just 20 days of release, the seventh installment in the space opera saga has earned more than “Avatar’s” $760.5 million lifetime gross.

From Variety:

One important caveat is that this massive haul does not account for inflation. When pricing increases are factored in, “Gone With the Wind” remains the highest-grossing film in history with $1.7 billion and the first “Star Wars” is runner-up with $1.5 billion. “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is in 21st place behind classics such as “The Sound of Music,” “E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial” and “Titanic.”

Globally, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” ranks as the fourth highest-grossing pic in history, having earned $1.5 billion worldwide. It opens this weekend in China, the world’s second-biggest market for film. Depending on how enthusiastically it is received in the People’s Republic, “The Force Awakens” could shoot past “Avatar’s” record $2.8 billion global haul.

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Kodak introduces a new Super 8 film camera


Some people prefer vinyl LPs over MP3s. And it's likely that some people would rather make films instead of videos. That's one reason why the Eastman Kodak Co. announced it will make a Super 8 film camera again. Kodak launched the first Super 8 camera at the 1964 New York World’s Fair and continued to make them until 1982, when camcorders took over.

Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke says the new camera, which will have a digital viewfinder, will be used by pros and film school students who like the unique qualities of analog recording. It will arrive in the fall, and cost between $400 and $750. Processing will cost between $50 to $75 per cartridge.

From WSJ:

Mr. Clarke said Kodak has received expressions of support for the new camera by many Hollywood directors, including Steven Spielberg and “Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams, who directed a 2011 film called Super 8 and was famously hired by Mr. Spielberg as a 14-year-old to work on the older director’s Super 8 film archive.

Great news. Let's just hope Kodak doesn't emulate Vivitar's advertising campaign:

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Fan edits "Inside Out: Outside Edition," excising all internal scenes

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Pixar's "Inside Out" alternates between short scenes of the life of a girl called Riley, with increasingly longer, action-packed scenes from inside her psyche (as one Internet wag has it, Pixar movies follow the "_____ have feelings" template, starting with toys, cars and bugs, and they've arrived at the logical conclusion: "feelings have feelings"). Read the rest

Watch Dead Kennedys' Jello Biafra's acting reel

Punk icon Jello Biafra's acting showreel, used as a resume-of-sorts in the TV/movie business, features his moments in Portlandia, Death and Taxes, Tapeheads, The Hipster Games, and others. (via Dangerous Minds)

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Of Oz the Wizard: all the dialog in alphabetical order


This alphabetized version of the Wizard of Oz, edited so that everything from the titles onward is presented in alphabetical order, dates from 2004. It makes a good companion to other alphabetized classics like The Well Sorted Bible and that alphabetical edition of Joyce's Ulysses. (via Kottke) Read the rest

Tax havens hold $7.6 trillion; 8% of world's total wealth


Cass Sunstein reviews The Hidden Wealth of Nations, a new book by UC Berkeley's Gabriel Zucman; and a new documentary, The Price We Pay, both of which map out the scale of international tax-havens, which are used by criminals and corrupt one percenters to hide money from their governments; and by corrupt governments to hide money from their citizens -- the havens are a critical part of the secret, parallel US tax system that lets the rich pay less of their income in tax than the poor. Read the rest

Die Gstettensaga: a science fiction movie about the Google Wars


Johannes writes, "'Die Gstettensaga: The Rise of Echsenfriedl' -- our award-winning feature-length post-apocalyptic agitprop nerd comedy extravaganza -- is finally online on Vimeo! Free (as in lunch)! Enjoy!" Read the rest

How much money top movies made charted by days since release


How quickly Star Wars Episode VII is achieving escape velocity is the obvious thing, but look how fast most of these movies made their money then plateaued. Read the rest

EFF's roundup of internettish TV, movies and books from 2015


What Is EFF Reading? Books, Movies, and TV Shows of 2015 : a media diet for Internet freedom activists. Read the rest

Why Dick Van Dyke is the coolest 90-year-old in town


In 1968, I think, my grandmother offered to take me to the movies. I would have been 10 at the time, and my grandmother was cool: she took me to see Planet of the Apes and The Poseidon Adventure when they first opened in the big movie theaters on Broadway. But on this day in 1968, the two enormous side-by-side theaters were playing Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang and Oliver!

Oliver! got great reviews (written by adults, of course). Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang was based on a book of Ian Fleming's that I'd read a few years earlier and this was the movie kids were excited about. It got not-so-great reviews. But it starred Dick Van Dyke, with songs written by Richard and Robert Sherman. It had the scent of Mary Poppins about it (and would have had Julie Andrews in it if she hadn't been stubborn). It was also made by the folks behind the James Bond films.

As we stood in front of the theaters, my grandmother asked, "Are you sure you want to see Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang? Oliver! is supposed to be very good." This meant, of course, that she wanted to see Oliver! I was not to be deterred: Dick Van Dyke and an amazing flying car was what I wanted to see.

If you're a Disney fan, or a fan of the brothers Richard and Robert Sherman, then the terrific score for Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang will be no surprise to you. Lots of great tunes, including the title number, "Toot Sweets," "Hushabye Mountain," "Me Ol' Bamboo," and so on. Read the rest

Review—Star Wars: The Force Awakens

As a huge Star Wars fan (previously), I went in expecting to love The Force Awakens, and was not disappointed. But I think you are going to love it, too, because this film is pretty much the opposite of the reviled prequel trilogy.

Ring-themed J-horror doughnuts


Leeds's Lou Lou P's Delights made these Ring-themed J-horror doughnuts in honor of National Donut Day. (via Seanan) Read the rest

Uncanny Valley, a short film about VR "addiction" with a sting in its tail

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The short movie Uncanny Valley is a beautifully made, effects-heavy science fiction film about virtual reality "addicts." It starts a little slowly, but just as soon as you think you've got the gag, the movie veers off into some extremely interesting territory. (via JWZ) Read the rest

Giant hats were the cellphones of the silent movie era


Silent movies were preceded by stern/comic etiquette messages reminding viewers to take off their hats before the show, lest they interfere with other viewers' enjoyment. Read the rest

Kickstarting a stop-motion black-light movie inspired by dark rides


Screen Novelties' Witch Doctor kickstarter is looking to raise $60,000 to finish a gorgeous-looking, tiki-themed stop-motion black-light movie inspired by classic dark rides. Read the rest

Empowered female heroines work hard


A classic Mallory Ortberg humor column sets out a day in the life of an "empowered female heroine," a fictional staple on whom society (and literature) project a huge amount of aspirational demands. Read the rest

Watch this film about living with Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS) by a filmmaker who has it


Don't miss this amazing film.

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