Tag Archives: Stan Lee

It is done!

There are a few issues today and the first one is not really an issue, unless you are a movie producer and you are up against Infinity war. I just learned that it smashed the Chinese box office on Friday with an additional $76 million, which makes it surpass both Black Panther and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows part 2. It is now the 8th most successful movie on the planet in the All Time Box Office and that is before the global Saturday revenues are known. I expect it to crush the first Avengers Movie and settle (during the week) on the 5th position. It is the fastest ascension of any movie ever. That is big news, so as per ‘today’ 40% of the top 10 movies ever worldwide are Marvel Productions. I think that the Legacy of Stan Lee is very safe for all time; in addition, I reckon that the Russo brothers will be walking around with that feeling of pride and accomplishment for some time to come. This will not be some DC Marvel comparing; this is a comic book victory that spans 3 generations, and perhaps the setting of an old truth that a dreamer with only $0.25 can conquer the world (small reference to Walt Disney there).

We watched for all kinds of reasons and none of us were disappointed, not even those who went to see it with the silent promise that they could see that Chris Hemsworth is merely slightly less than half the size of Peter Dinklage. We are not even at the halfway point yet! The pressure on part 2 will be overwhelming with every weekend we get towards that point of release, especially those who recognised the message in the teaser at the very end.

But our worlds do not merely revolve on Marvel Production (some need chocolates too), and if it was only so good, it is not, The independent gives us mere hours ago (updated) that in Iran the Clerics are shown to be as simple as one could expect. With the quote “Iranian senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said during Friday prayers that Western pressure will backfire, threatening that Israel will pay the price.” The holy system of Islamic Republic will step up its missile capabilities day by day so that Israel, this occupying regime, will become sleepless and the nightmare will constantly haunt it that if it does anything foolish, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the hard-line cleric said. The warshippers chanted: “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel“.”, it is their invitation to War, they thought they were clever with their ‘Syrian‘ missile attack, but they now have the impeding wrath of the State of Israel, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia who has had their fill of the Yemeni Issues, as well as Iran’s commitment to terrorism and Hezbollah and now that both parties know that the rest of the world is willing to united behind Saudi Arabia and Israel, now they need to cry and scream like little children. It is in that setting that I see the mention of “Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, asked for the halt to avoid “a new conflagration” in the region following the most extensive military exchange between Israel and Iran“, Iran did not listen for the longest of times, during the entire Syrian slaughter the UN was merely a lame duck, an expensive voice that was not listened to at all. So why should anyone listen now? So when we see “we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the hard-line cleric said. The worshippers chanted: “Death to America,” and “Death to Israel”“, we see a part that they are still in denial of the Houthi situation. Yet now, after the years of their chants, many are sick of the Iranian debacle, option upon option were given, but the two players in charge of Iran, the clerics and the military are soon to be called to put their money where their mouths are and now, the game changes for them, because as far as I see it, they cannot deliver. The fact that I saw the flaw that ends their navy, they will be on an unbalanced setting, they still have plenty of air force and army, but that too falls against the naval settings of what non-Iranians remains in the Persian Gulf and in that setting they have a much larger disadvantage. Iran must rely on the puppets and tools they had and these players are no longer sure of Iran at all. Iran overplayed their hand!

Sinem Cengiz the Turkish political analyst in Arab News gives us: “Turkey will not be taking sides in the crisis as it is already dealing with the effects of the turbulence affecting its other neighbors, Syria and Iraq. So a third neighbor under sanctions will not serve Turkish interests in the region. A nuclear-armed Iran is not in the interest of Turkey either as it would challenge Ankara’s own regional-power position in the Middle East“, she is not wrong, but I personally do not completely agree. You see, Turkey moved itself into a much higher echelon for its own reasons on Kurds and Kurdistan and the setting in Syria remains provocative. Russia wants the middle mediation spot and Iran thinks that they could still push some for certain agreements. Turkey’s actions could push itself into either directly opposing Iran as it wants to soften the setting with European players, or try approach, which was to make Europe more lenient. I do not think either will work, yet with the US in play, they could be pushed into denying certain settings with Iran. Turkey might not want to take sides and for the short term (4-8 weeks) that could be possible, yet both US and the EU want commitments from the Turkish government, but one that is set against Iran (or at least withdraw completely form that setting), it might be one of the few paths remaining to avoid a direct war and in all that, the others want commitments. The path could be delayed when open hostilities against Hezbollah are chosen, because at this point, such actions need to go without any Iranian support, and in that Turkey would be willing to sacrifice Hezbollah for their own needs. Iran will at some point use them as martyrs, which is fine for some as martyrs can no longer hold guns that is the reality of war!

In this we see support from the Courier Mail, who makes mention of ‘Russia reeling in Iran’, which might prevent worse, which is partially true. The issue is not any of the outside players; the issue is that the Iranian clergy and military have been prepping for the longest time. Now they want to move in and look good, yet the starting signal was not given at the right time, so now their entire strategy is falling upon the floor with no one wanting the visibility of picking that trash up. In this CNBC has its own view (at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/09/trump-iran-sanctions-give-saudi-arabia-and-russia-more-clout.html). With “Saudi Arabia said it will help meet world oil demand if President Donald Trump’s Iran sanctions create shortfalls, but analysts say it will do so only in conjunction with Russia, and the world may have to get used to higher prices as a result” they are correct, that is indeed the midterm play that we all face, increasing oil prices and the energy companies will try to cash in on this as soon as possible, even as they have been enjoying cheap oil for years. This strategy works for both Saudi Arabia and Russia on several fronts, there will be no opposing party ready or able to pick up that slack. Their only way to prevent worse is the action offered by Israel, If the Syrian president tells Iran to go home, it would relieve tensions. The question becomes if Syria willing to do just that? There are still scores of Russians there and perhaps Turkey has an option to show willingness to increase troops, which works for them on all but one front, Iran will see this as an act of desertion against the Iranian settings. Iran’s actions or responses cannot be predicted as present. Even a Syria has had issues with the Turkish ties towards the Muslim Brotherhood and as such, it might be the best option, but not one President Assad is willing to consider (personal speculation). It is a Gordian knot of complications at best, cutting it might be the best, but that too might not be seen as a solution for any of those players.

So where is the option to remove the pressures? I am not certain if there are any left, the issue is the pressures are coming from Iran and they are not willing to change for the time being.

For desert

The end of this should be something light and frothy, there is nothing lighter and frothy than a good game and in light of the upcoming war, is that such a bad deal? We have seen all kinds of allegations and leaks. Now that we see a few announcements, and now that we have seen a few things that Sony will be bringing, I am now at a loss how Microsoft will get anywhere with the uphill battle they face this year. It seems to me that the upcoming Book of the dead is doing to PS4 what the initial the Last of Us did to the PS3. It was overwhelming. In addition when we see the Last of Us 2, Ghost of Tsushima, Spiderman, Death Stranding and Book of the dead, realising that at least three of these titles will be released in 2018, one is extremely unlikely to come before 2019 (Death Stranding) and one remains an unknown at present, and that is merely the exclusives. Sony has remastered the Spyro trilogy which will entice a new generation and satisfy the ones who played it on the original PlayStation. There are loads more coming, but this is at present what Nintendo and Microsoft are up against, which in light of the results of God of War is not a good thing to be up against. Now that the Sony gamers have heard that the release of Subnautica on PS4 is more and more imminent; an unknown title (to many) that is merely one of the best survival adventures I ever played and original from beginning to end. So in that view, we see that the other brand has a diminishing level of unique games left and that was never a good thing for any console. In my personal view, there is now only one reason why I still have the Xbox One. It is the one game, the game that I revered ever since I got my fingers on the demo that was added to the PC Format disc, al little over 20 years ago. Take a look at the update of the remastered and remade System Shock (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKfnTnZuC5E) where you can see the game in progress and even as it is announced to come to PS4, it is for the time being a lot earlier on Xbox One and PC.

The advantage Microsoft once had is now pretty much gone.

Even as some are all about the gifting a game hype, from my personal experience most people have never given me anything correct when it comes to gaming. Now, in some cases it is indeed nice, but most people prefer to go to shop and get a physical copy of the game. We acknowledge that backward compatibility is a nice setting; there is no denying that, yet over the next year do you want to replay a few good games, or play amazing new games? Backward compatibility is nice to have and an asset, no one denies that, yet the setting of no amazing new games is not something you want to rely on. The Verge actually almost nails it with “The Xbox One is the best console if you don’t care about exclusive new games“, I do agree with the setting, but those exclusives that Sony has is just beyond amazing and Microsoft has nothing to counter that, that is the setting that does matter. Nintendo upped the setting even more with the leak of Pokémon Switch coming this year; this will get millions of 3DS players now update to Switch much faster than initially expected. It gets to be interesting when you consider that Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon sold in excess of 7 million copies. With Pokken on Switch (originally a WiiU title) already out and now the new Pokémon’s coming (I expect at least two), we see that Nintendo is upping the score and the pressure on both Microsoft and Sony.

So even as Verge was almost correct, they missed it that the gamers love exclusive titles and the fact that the Sony players are getting the Switch on the side matters as well, apart from them not getting the XB1 on the side. With 26 titles announced by August 2018, the games list is also impacting the other two. Bethesda is giving Wolfenstein 2 a ‘switch’ over in 7 weeks, The Crash Bandicoot fans get to do it all over again on Switch as well and Capcom is breathing life to Streetfighter with a 30th anniversary edition this month on Switch, yes, my prediction that I made a mere two weeks ago is coming to pass, the worst nightmare for Microsoft is coming, Nintendo and Sony have upped their game and as it is less likely that Microsoft can equal that during the E3; by no more than late August will we see the setting whether the total Nintendo Switch sales will surpass Xbox One total sales by Christmas 2018, it is now becoming increasingly likely that Microsoft Xbox One will grace third position in the console race before December 31st 2018. Microsoft will have to produce a miracle by the end of the year and it better be a lot better than there marketing department hiding behind “All Xbox One games and Microsoft Store PC games are now eligible for digital gifting“, because when I look at AC Origin Gold (AU$145) and Shadow of War Gold (AU$158), I wonder if the people know that these games are around 40Gb to download and a 100% larger if you have 4K capabilities. So not only is it a massive download, the fact that these XB1 consoles have no more than 1TB is also a consideration. Nothing on any of this is a ‘pro’ gamer setting, merely a maximum exploitation setting from Microsoft. And that is even before you realise that a new Shadow of War Gold edition (with Steelbook) is a mere AU$99.95 at EB Games, so, do you still think I am kidding when it comes to Microsoft dropping the ball three times over? Are you kidding with downloading a game at a price that is 50% higher than a physical version in the shops?

Like Iran, Microsoft overplayed their hand way too soon and they are also in the venue of not being able to counter what comes. A setting that they should have avoided, in that light we can compare the Microsoft marketeers with the Iranian clerics, they shout from the highest peaks, but without the support of actual product you end up merely irritating people, which is how I personally see this all.

A desert that was a little less light on the bowels, but in all this we see that some games over the next month will be shown to be not up to the fight against reality and consumerism. Because both rely on smooth sailing and those who have never been hit by internet congestion have for the most never ever used the full setting of it. Until very recently, Sydney NBN users had 4 hours a week of congestion, now consider having to fetch your Sex in the city, the latest movie, download games, watch reality (kitchen) TV and focus on the big footy games. So how welcome was that digital download game to the internet welfare of the family in the end?

 

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The successful and the less so

What makes success? We have always wondered that question, what makes ‘me’ a success? At times it is the drive that you have within yourself. Sometimes it is propagated through the outside factors like marketing and media. At times there is no control, it is imaging towards third parties and they make sure that you are the popular choice to make. I have been to the movies 3 times in the last two months. One I paid for, the other two was a free double pass that I converted into two tickets. So let’s take a look at the three movies. The first was Black Panther, it was awesome to watch, I was curious because it is one of the Marvel comics I never saw. I played him on Marvel: Ultimate Alliance on the Xbox 360, which was basically a comic book revamp of the legendary game Gauntlet, now with the option to evolve certain powers. Black Panther was unlocked by finding his 5 statues. So I knew that little on Black Panther and I was curious to see him in action (beside the scenes in Captain America: Civil War). It was an awesome movie and it was no surprise to see the movie become the 9th most successful movie on the planet reeling in well over a billion dollars. It is still grossing cash, so there is a chance for the movie to get to 8th place before the end of May (I reckon in 2-3 weeks). The movie has so far made $1,323,739,011. So with a budget of $200,000,000, it made well over a billion, it is making some serious real cash.

The second movie in this is Ready Player One, an absolute diamond by Steven Spielberg. It blew me away! I grew up in the world we see (partially) depicted, so every second I saw more and more references towards gaming, movies and even books. Some were clear references to other games (like JRPG) and some Manga characters I knew existed, but never watched the cartoon, so there were question marks for me in that regard. The movie had that approach that the movie Paul had (a Simon Pegg gem), part of the fun is seeing the references and I am certain that is what I will be doing for days after the Blue Ray and 4K edition is released. So here we have the legendary Steven Spielberg, who was born 36 weeks after the British government nationalised and took control of the Bank of England, after 252 years. It was in 1975 when he completed Jaws, the man became a revered god of cinema. His movies were a direct expectation of awesome film watching and his stature grew even more with the movie Close Encounters of the third kind, the movie that followed Jaws. The list would not stop for decades and he went all out in Ready Player One and it was awesome! He started the Jurassic Park, Jaws and the Indiana Jones franchise; he was involved as a producer/executive producer in so many other successes. So when I went to see Ready Player One (RP1), I expected to see a good movie and I was blown away, it was that perfect. Yet financially it merely made a little over half a billion. It surprised me that it had not caught on to such a degree. As we look at the $523,175,886 it made, we also need to realise that it merely made 25% from domestic US viewing, making it an interesting setting. The entire US culture of gaming and movies is a lot more appealing on the international field. When we consider that the production budget was $150,000,000, we see that the Domestic side does not make it a ‘success’, the international sales did that and it should be seen as a success as well.

Now, as per yesterday I saw the Avengers: Infinity War (my second free ticket), and again I was blown away, watching that movie was ‘perfection’. It was like watching a real life comic book with all the massive fights and superpowers in action. The Stan Lee medium of the now! For a second I was worried that so many super heroes and villains would clutter the screen, but it did not. Like watching a mix of goofy, cool and mental explode all at the same time worked, it made it a symphony of sorts. It gave the width of the Secret Wars (or Infinity Wars) comic books with the action of a level of heroes we have never seen before. It was overwhelming and absolutely amazing, with the mandatory extra scene at the very end that will make the people in the know (when it comes to comic books) go: ‘Are you fucking kidding me?‘ and that is how it felt, part one is a mega spectacle that is merely the introduction to the second part which will now expected to be even more overwhelming than the first part was. I have not felt that was since I had to wait for the second Lord of the rings movie (being a Tolkien fan for decades). Blown away three times in a row!

I expect that Infinity War will bring the profits in on a scale almost never seen before; it should have no issues surpassing Black Panther, upping the ante by a lot. The question is why does it matter? I never cared for how much a movie made, it was good enough that it made a real profit and since when is half a billion not a real profit? More important, both RP1 and Infinity war are extreme examples of excellence, entertainment and awesomeness. So why are we watching the numbers? I never cared for that in the past. I actually started watching that around the Dark Night. For some reason the passing of Heath Ledger, the most amazing Joker ever, made me wish that the Dark night would surpass the billion dollar mark and it did in the end, yet I am not getting any of those coins, so why would I care beside that it was a financial success? You see, why is it about the cash? For a part we know that when it is a success it will give us optionally a sequel, or optionally we will see those actors again, and whilst we know that there will be more marvel movies, Steven Spielberg is all about new and different. So why does it matter, because we know it does, we have seemingly become that Americanised. It is no longer about the art, it is about the return on investment, we set ourselves in that light, we are set upon KPI’s that demand we become a return on investment. When did we lose the need to be that awesome technical support agent, and moved into merely to become the most profitable one? Because being the most profitable one is not a scale of excellence, it is merely the rubber stamp that we are allowed in our workplace the next quarter. It is merely a sliding scale of monetary excellence. So even as we see that Avengers: Infinity War will be heading towards an easy $2 billion, optionally surpassing the present number 3, the 2015 movie Star Wars Ep. VII: The Force Awakens, who made $2,058,662,225 globally, should it not be about being the best and most awesome movie ever made? Because the RP1 results do not support that, even as it was as awesome as a movie could be, it was not heralded as such. Now we can blame that none of us are nerds, you merely have to see the 2.2 billion gamers many of them online, who could all identify the Planet doom scene, splattered with millions of avatars, groups all looking like the Master Sergeant of HALO, to see that we will identify. We will identify many characters and we should realise that they have references to the creative excellence of Atari Interactive, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda Softworks LLC, Blizzard Entertainment, Capcom , CBS Television Studios, Disney Enterprises, Electronic Arts, Gearbox Software, Hasbro, The Jim Henson Company, Kodansha, Konami Digital Entertainment, Mattel, Microsoft Corporation, Mifune Productions, Mojang AB, Nickelodeon & Viacom Media Networks, Paramount Pictures, Rare Ltd., Sanrio Company, SEGA Holdings Co., Sesame Workshop, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Columbia Pictures, Square Enix Holdings Co., Legend Pictures, Tatsunoko Production, Toho Company Limited, The Topps Company, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Valve Corporation and Wizards of the Coast. This is merely a grasp because there was so much more to see, so many more avatars and characters. A list this large and if you played anything even more than an hour, it is likely to be in the movie. A movie that is a three decade reference to gaming, gamers, movies and the buffs they have. The movie is sheer excellence and I wished everyone had watched it, merely because there is something in there for us to identify with, a mere moment when we were introduced to a moment of awesome, delight and/or amazement. So as we realise that the revenue does not reflect that, I started to wonder why that is.

One source told me that gamers do not care, but with 2.2 billion gamers and a fair amount deep into multi-player gaming, I am not able to accept that. I think we do care, we care a lot, we aren’t all into movies, so there is that, but I think that it has something to do with the marketing. Digg (at http://digg.com/2018/spielberg-carls-jr-ready-player-one-feud) gave their view and even as I have not been confronted with it, I am uncertain how it should be perceived. Yet, they are not the only source. Screen rant (at https://screenrant.com/ready-player-one-movie-trailer-marketing-wrong/) gives us “Warner Bros. Have Been Marketing Ready Player One All Wrong”, which shows it all a little better with “all set to a rousing cover of the classic song from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, “Pure Imagination.” It is, in no uncertain terms, a great trailer. Why hasn’t the marketing been like this so far?“, so did marketing create a $400 million plus shortfall? If that is so, I should have been in marketing and take 10% of the optionally delivered $400 million (it would solve a few problems for myself as well). with “Proof of this lies in the second trailer, which, while a significant improvement over the first, lacks the impact it could have had because of the damage done by the initial teaser“, that would be cruel and revealing all at the same time, so the excellence of Steven Spielberg got undone by the marketeers they trusted? That would be a new level of Cruel and it required some extra life option to reset that. It does add up as the trailers of Marvel have been utter perfection in many ways and all of us expecting and seeing Stan Lee, the generalissimo himself in a cameo moment is always good for a laugh and a check-mark to make when watching any Marvel movie. There is no denying this and the fact that the one expected line missing in the first movie is still hopefully made in the second movie. The moment that Iron Man (Robert Downey JR) and/or Dr Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) state (optionally in unison) “No shit, Sherlock!” will certainly give cheers from the audience, that same audience when everyone in the cinema literally cheered when Thor entered the battle scene. People care that much, they are that connected to the movie, and as such I believe that people would be that connected to Ready Player One on near similar levels.

So ask yourself, when does the lack of revenue set the stage for ‘less successful’, it should not, but it does and that is literally a crying shame because Ready Player One is every bit a result of excellence as Black Panther is and Infinity War will prove itself to be. So I believe it should also be financially as successful (just go with it). I accept that my expectation is warped, but should it be? Art and excellence are their own platform, setting this scale to a metric dollar scale is dangerous, I accept that because true excellence is not set in $ signs, it is set in amazement, a currency of its own and we do not always get that currency depicted, it gets depicted less and less which is a shame, because we optionally deny ourselves access to truly great achievements.

That would be a much larger defeat than merely being seen as ‘less successful’.

 

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