Now that the first day of November has finally arrived, it’s time for me to reflect on my participation in this year’s ‘31 Spooks of October’. First of all, I’d like to thank K, from K at the Movies, for allowing me to contribute to their event. I enjoyed reading their thoughts on various short stories and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year’s line-up. As I look at the collection of articles that I’ve published, I can honestly say that I’m proud of what I accomplished. While I didn’t complete everything I wanted to, I did create a variety of posts that are interesting and, hopefully, entertaining. These articles are:
What disappoints me is how I wasn’t able to complete my reading goal. But this experience has taught me a lesson. Before the month of October started, I thought that I would be able to read five books in one month. However, several blog related projects prevented this from happening. I did read more for this year’s Spookathon readathon by reading two books instead of just one! Also, this was my first year taking part in the Sbooktober readathon! After this experience, I think it would be better to focus on reading two books a month. As for the books I didn’t read? I’ll read them this November, especially since I have started Murder on Ice. If I were to participate in ‘31 Spooks of October’ again, I think publishing a post a week is a good idea. That way, I can contribute to the event and complete others projects that I want to publish.
Are you a fan of ‘31 Spooks of October’? Do you have any suggestions for future Halloween themed articles? Please tell me in the comment section!
This is a question that I asked when I saw Queen of the Damned for the first-time last year. I was curious how this particular character was able to afford his lavish lifestyle while balancing his endeavors as a rock-star. The more I thought about my question, the more I thought about the wealth of the other characters from this movie. How did they acquire their wealth? What is their net worth? Since I haven’t seen a post like this on WordPress before, I decided to write an editorial where I attempt to figure out these characters’ net worth. I’m not a historical or financial expert, so my information will be based on guesses and assumptions. I haven’t read any of the source material that Queen of the Damned is based on, so I turned to Vampire Chronicles Wiki only to determine birth dates and the years when these characters became vampires. However, I didn’t rely too much on this site because the film and the source material share more differences than similarities. To determine net worth, I looked at items from the auction website, Sotheby’s, that correlated with these significant years of the characters. All of the items’ prices will be included with its United States Dollar value. Because we don’t know the year when the film takes place, we will assume it takes place around Halloween of 2002, especially since Marius was seen reading a magazine where the back cover says “All Hallow’s Eve”. I also turned to Jen, from the blog, Bookworm, because she has read the books and seen the movie. This means that she would know these characters better than me. Here’s the link to Jen’s blog if you want to check it out!
This post is not only created for the Gothic Horror Blogathon, it also corelates with ‘31 Spooks of October’ and my recent achievement of publishing 125 movie reviews! Before we begin, I just want to let you know that this is probably the longest editorial I’ve ever written. Also, all of the pictures that are featured in this editorial are screenshots that I took with my cellphone.
In the Queen of the Damned film, Khayman is one of members of the Ancients group. According to Vampire Chronicles Wiki, Khayman was Akasha’s chief steward. But this detail was not brought up in the film, so we will assume that this was his occupation before he became a vampire. The reason for Khayman’s negative feelings toward Akasha is unknown in the movie, but it seems like she made a decision that did not sit well with Khayman. On Sothebys, I found three items that shared the date of or around 4,000 B.C.; the approximate date when Khayman was born and became a vampire. The first item, An Anatolian Figure, was sold in 2001 for $6,600. For the sake of this discussion, we will assume that if Khayman owned this item, the aforementioned price will be the worth of the item. Another item that sold in 2001 was a set of Three Stone Mace-heads. This set had a final price tag of $2,700, so this will the worth of the set for this conversation. The last item, an Egyptian Hardstone Jar, has an approximate worth somewhere between $8,000 and $12,000, so we’ll just say that it’s worth $12,000. If we add these prices up, it totals to $21,300. Remember when I mentioned that Khayman was Akasha’s chief steward? Well, let’s say that throughout his career, he received a third of her finances, which would be approximately $11,944. When we include that number with the prices of the previously stated items, Khayman’s net worth totals to the amount of $33,244.
Before starting this project, I had assumed that Akasha would be one of the film’s more wealthier vampires. But Jen, from Bookworm, brought up an excellent point that changed my perspective on Akasha’s net worth. Jen told me that Akasha wouldn’t have any money due to Marius taking care of her while she was in her semi-comatose, statuesque state. In the film, Akasha was seen in this state and stayed that way for the majority of the story. For this editorial, however, we’re going to assume that she was able to keep at least three possessions before she turned into a statue. The first possession would be an Egyptian Cosmetic Case, which sold for $1,693 in 2002. One year earlier, in 2001, a Stone Figure from the 6th Millennium sold for $19,150. An Egyptian Porphyritic Diorite Vase, which has a date of around the time when Akasha became a vampire, is worth $10,000 to $15,000. For this project, we will guess that this vase is worth $15,000. Adding up those numbers together, the total worth of these items would be $35,843. This means that this number represents Akasha’s total net worth.
For the first vampire ever created, this financial amount seems low. But, in the movie, Akasha spent more time in a semi-comatose, statuesque state than she did ruling over Egypt. Because she broke out of this state in 2002 after thousands of years, she probably wouldn’t be able to access the money she had as easily as the other vampires. In fact, she probably squatted the California house that she took Lestat to after taking him from his concert. Jen, from Bookworm, brought up another good point that puts Akasha’s financial situation into an interesting perspective. Even though, in the film, she doesn’t have any known family or children in existence, we would assume that she had a will. But if she did have a will, it wouldn’t be effective when she eventually died at the end of the film. Akasha traveled to Death Valley, California to take Lestat from his concert and she later died in Maharet’s house in the Sonoma area. As Jen told me, there’s a good chance that Akasha did not have any sort of legal U.S. citizenship, so any legal documents relating to finances would likely not be accounted for.
Not much is known about this particular character. Even in the movie, the only information that’s shared about him is that he’s an Ancient. But, according to Vampire Chronicles Wiki, Mael was born and became a vampire in 10 A.D. By taking a look at three items from this time period, we can guess his potential net worth. Two of these items are manuscripts. One of them is a Collection of Large Papyrus Documents, which has a worth of about $4,908 to $8,180. For this discussion, this collection will be worth $8,180. The other one, a Collection of Egyptian Papyrus Manuscripts, is worth $31,034 to $46,551. We’ll just say that if Mael owned this collection, it would have a worth of $46,551. The last item is a Roman Black-ware Miniature Amphora. For the sake of this project, let’s just say that this one item is worth $1,200. When these numbers are added up, Mael’s total net worth would be $55,931.
On the Vampire Chronicles Wiki website, it says that David was born in the 20th Century. Since his age is never mentioned in the movie, we are going to guess that David is 43 years old during the course of the film. The reason for choosing this age is because that’s how old Paul McGann, the actor who portrayed David, was in the year when the movie was released. As we can see in the film, David has a prominent position in a detective agency known as Talamasca. In fact, the Vampire Chronicles Wiki website clarifies his position is a “superior general”. Because salary was never brought up in the film, we’re going to assume that it would mirror the typical salary of an investigator. Since David’s standing in the Talamasca is pretty respectable, the assumption is that his salary is on the higher end of the spectrum. According to the website, SalaryList, this would be $189,592. Over his 43 years, David would probably have collected family heirlooms. For this project, we will highlight three items that could belong to him. The first item would be a Set of Danish Silver Dinner Plates. This collection is worth $12,000 to $18,000, so we’ll just say that the worth on the plates is $18,000. The next item is a Heriz Carpet, which has the exact same worth as the aforementioned dinner plates. Again, we’ll assume that this particular item is also worth $18,000. The final item is a Library Table, which has a worth of $20,000 to $30,000. Let’s make a guess that if David inherited this item, it would be worth $30,000. All of this means that David’s net worth is likely $255,592.
The Queen of the Damned movie reveals very little about Pandora. Even the Vampire Chronicles Wiki website doesn’t clearly state when she was born or when she became a vampire. After doing the necessary math based on what was written on the previously mentioned website, I assume that Pandora was born in 10 B.C. and that she became a vampire in 21 A.D. Though not mentioned in the film, the Vampire Chronicles Wiki website shares that her father was a Roman Senator, who happened to be wealthy. We’re going to assume that, after Pandora’s father died, she inherited $1,000,000. We’re also going to assume that she was able to hold on to some possessions she might have had before she became a vampire. One of these items would likely be a Conch Pearl Necklace. According to an article from Sotheby’s, “the Romans prized pearls as the ultimate status symbol”, so Pandora having pearls in her collection of heirlooms would make sense. This particular necklace has a worth of $305,784 to $407,712, so we’ll say that it’s worth the latter for this project. Speaking of jewelry, the next item would be a set of Lazuli, Beads, and Pendants from the 1st Millennium, when Pandora was born. This collection’s worth is between $3,000 and $5,000, so we’ll guess that it’s worth $5,000. The final item would be a Roman Marble Fragment, which has a worth of $19,288 to $32,147. In this discussion, we’ll just say that this item is worth $32,147. When we add these values, Pandora’s net worth ends up being $1,444,859.
As Pandora indicated in a deleted scene for the Queen of the Damned film, Armand was taken under Marius’ wing and became his vampire son. Because of this, there’s a chance that he would receive at least half of Marius’ net worth, which would be $3,959,059. Before becoming a member of Marius’ vampire family, Armand was born in 1480. After Armand was taken in by Marius, he became a vampire in 1497. Because we know very little about Armand’s biological family, we will guess that Armand was able to keep at least one item from them. This item, for the sake of this project, will be a Northern European Brass Pot. The brass pot is worth $2,000 to $3,000, so we’ll say that it’s worth $3,000.
In the film adaptation of Queen of the Damned’s predecessor, Interview with the Vampire, Armand owned the building where Theatre des Vampires, a group of performers who are also vampires, hosted shows. Armand was also the leader of this group. To determine the revenue that the theater possibly generated, I searched for theaters that had a similar date and location to Armand’s. The one I chose for this editorial is Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique, which, ironically, faced a similar fate to Armand’s theater. Before we talk about that, let’s go back to the discussion of revenue. In the 1800s, when Armand’s part of the story takes place, the cost of a theater ticket was around 30 cents. If there were 1,250 seats in Armand’s theater, the same number of seats that Théâtre de l’Ambigu-Comique had at one point, that means that the total sale of tickets for one show would be $375. If Armand’s theater hosted 36 shows throughout a single year, the total revenue would be $13,500. In the Interview with the Vampire film, Armand’s theater burns down and Armand becomes the only survivor of that situation. He even references this event in the aforementioned deleted scene. Because insurance has been around since the 2nd to 3rd millennia B.C. and because accident insurance existed in the 19th century, we’ll assume that Armand received an insurance settlement of $1,000,000. After all this is said, Armand’s net worth is revealed to be $4,975,559.
When he makes his debut in the Queen of the Damned film, Marius tells Lestat that he’s “a noble by nature”. Since we don’t exactly know what he meant by this statement, we’ll just assume that he was a literal noble before he became a vampire. If this were the case, it would make sense. One of the benefits of being a noble is having access to at least one estate. Through Lestat’s journalistic flashbacks, we see that Marius has a very large home on a private island. This estate would likely be valuable. In fact, I looked toward another structure that was built around the time when Marius became a vampire; 10 A.D., in order to determine the house’s worth. This structure is ‘Pyramid of the Sun’ from Mexico. One of the materials that was used to build this pyramid was limestone, so we’re going to assume that this material was also used to build Marius’s island home. In an article from History Channel, limestone was used to cover the pyramid’s walls. Also, according to Sotheby’s, a Limestone Head is worth somewhere between $6,706 to $10,730. Because one side of the pyramid is 733.2 feet, we’re going to multiply this number with the higher end of the price spectrum of the Limestone Head, which equals $7,867,236. This is the value that we will put on Marius’s island home for the sake of this discussion.
Marius’s house is not the only thing he owns that would be worth a lot of money. One of these items is likely be a pair of Egyptian Glass Eye Inlays, which is worth $7,715 to $10,287. For this project, we will say that this pair is worth the latter amount. Throughout the movie, we see Marius as an artist, creating a few paintings at various moments. Because of his status as an Ancient, let’s just guess that Marius is the Michelangelo of the vampire world. One work of Michelangelo’s, “Profile of a Man” has a worth of $1,504 to $2,257. Let’s say that Marius sold ten paintings for $1,504 each. This means that he collected a total of $15,040. Remember when I talked about Akasha’s net worth? Well, when she and Lestat got “married”, that marriage was not made legitimate. This is because their marriage was based on “he said, she said”. In one of Lestat’s flashbacks, Marius explains that he keeps Akasha and her husband in their statuesque states in his house. After she died, it would make sense for Marius to receive Akasha’s net worth. So, overall, Marius’s net worth rounds out to $7,918,119.
Another wealthy Ancient is Jesse’s aunt, Maharet. On the Vampire Chronicles Wiki website, she lived around the time of Akasha, becoming a vampire in 4,000 B.C. I found three items that share this date that we’re going to guess Maharet would own. The first item is a Porphyritic Diorite Vase that is similar to Akasha’s. Because I already talked about this vase’s worth, we’re going to restate that it’s worth $15,000. The next item is a Stone Figure, which is worth $15,000 to $25,000. For this article, we are going to say that it’s worth $25,000. The last item is a Basalt House Figure, which is worth six to nine thousand dollars. But because this item sold in 2001 for $19,150, let’s say that this is the worth of this figure.
The Queen of the Damned film never reveals how Maharet acquired her wealth. But the Vampire Chronicles Wiki website shares that she “could communicate with spirits”. I’m guessing that this is the equivalent to a “medium”. So let’s say, before she became a vampire, Maharet ran a business where she used her talents to help others. We’re going to assume that the price of these “communication sessions” cost a total of $10. If she conducted four of these sessions throughout a month, she would make $40. Now if she ran this business for a year, she would make $480. If she ran her business for 2,000 years, her total revenue would be $960,000. In the movie, the climax takes place at Marahet’s house, which is located in California. On realtor.com, there’s a listing for a house in a location and with a style similar to the one in the film. It’s listed at $6,700,000. If this was the worth of Maharet’s house, it would be included in her net worth of $7,719,150.
Shortly after meeting Marius for the first time, Lestat tells him that he’s the “lord of a great man”. Like what Marius said about being a “noble”, we’ll just assume that Lestat was being literal about being a lord. On the website, Prestige Property Group, I found two houses that look like a property that Lestat’s family could have owned. One of them has a price tag of $984,500 and the other one has a price tag of $2,267,100. For my editorial, we will guess that Lestat’s family home would be worth $3,251,600. Toward the beginning of the film, we see that Lestat has a run-down house in New Orleans, where his soon-to-be band mates are seen practicing. I found a listing for a house on realtor.com that could resemble the house in the film. In this listing, the New Orleans house is listed for $4,995,000. For the sake of this project, we will assume that this price is the worth of Lestat’s house. We’ll also assume that Lestat held on to three personal possessions from before he became a vampire. The first of these items is a Louis XV Giltwood Mirror, which is worth $3,000 to $5,000. We will say that this mirror has a worth of $5,000. A Louis XVI Tapestry is the next item, with an approximate worth of twelve to eighteen thousand dollars. In this discussion, we’ll just assume that the tapestry is worth $18,000. With a worth of $12,000 to $18,000, a George I Cabinet on Chest is the last item. Like I said about the tapestry, we’ll say that the worth of the cabinet is also $18,000. Because, in the film, Marius turned Lestat into a vampire, he could receive half of Marius’ net worth of $3,959,059.
One of the biggest factors of the Queen of the Damned film is Lestat being a rock star. This definitely plays into Lestat’s total net worth, even though he is a member of a five-person group. In the film, the band’s concert took place in Death Valley, California. The layout was different from that of a typical stadium, which sets separate prices based to where the seats are located. Also, this was the only concert that band was hosting, because Lestat didn’t want to repeat his performance. This means that tickets for this concert might have been very valuable. In an article from Princeton University, it was reported that “in 2001, the average concert ticket price was about $40, with the average high-end cost close to $60”. But because of what I just said about the aforementioned concert, we’re going to make a guess that the range of prices for this concert’s tickets were $50 and $100. Now, let’s say that 1,000 people attended the concert. Half of them bought the $50 tickets, while the other half purchased the $100. When we multiply the first half, we get a total of $25,000. The total of the other half would be $50,000. While the overall revenue would end up being $75,000, it’s important to figure out what Lestat’s piece of the pie would be. Not only do we see at least one music video from this band, we also see several pieces of advertising about the concert. Let’s say that some of the concert revenue went towards paying the music video’s filming team and covering the cost of marketing, which we’ll keep at 10% each. Divide this number with $75,000, this payment would be $7,500 each. This leaves the $60,000 to split between five people, which now means that Lestat would walk away with $12,000. If you think this is a low number, consider that Lestat’s band also made at least one CD. Based on an article from Electronic Musician, which reported in early 2002 that CD prices could be lowered to $9.99, we’ll assume that in the Queen of the Damned film, a typical CD costs $10. We’re also going to assume that a million copies of this CD were sold. When those numbers are multiplied, we get a total of $10,000,000. But remember, there’s five members in this band, so Lestat would end up receiving $2,000,000. After all of this information is accounted for, Lestat’s total net worth is likely $14,258,659.
The Vampire Chronicles Wiki website says that in the Queen of the Damned movie, Jesse was “in her early twenties”. So, for the sake of this discussion, we’ll guess that Jesse was 25 years old. This was the age of Marguerite Moreau, the actress who portrays Jesse, in 2002, so this is why I have chosen this age for this project. As we can see in the movie, Jesse works for the same Talamasca that David is the superior general of. But, since her position is that of an “apprentice”, her salary would be on the lower end of the spectrum. Going back to the website, SalaryList, it would likely be $39,370. Remember, Jesse is Maharet’s niece, so it’s possible that she would receive half of her aunt’s net worth. This number would be $3,859,575. Receiving this money would have allowed her to live in London, travel to California, and attend Lestat’s concert. Speaking of Lestat, he was the one that turned her into a vampire toward the end of the movie. This means that she could have access to half of Lestat’s net worth, which is $5,149,800. While the exact state of the Lestat and Jesse’s relationship is unknown, it is assumed that they decided to pursue a romantic relationship at the end of the film. Jen, from Bookworm, told me that vampires do not marry, but it’s possible that Lestat and Jesse would have come up with a financial agreement if their relationship grew stronger. Overall, the grand total of Jesse’s net worth is going to be $9,048,745.
Welcome to my very first blogathon, Siskel and Ebert at the Blogathon! For five days, blogathon participants will share a variety of topics related to Gene Siskel and/or Roger Ebert. All of those posts will be listed on this community post, separated by the categories that were established in the announcement post that was published back in May. Every participant worked very hard on their article, so be sure to check out as many posts as you’d like!
Found in cardboard boxes at garage sales. Seen on shelves at a used book store. Appearing on Amazon’s and Ebay’s pages. Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbooks, or sometimes known as Roger Ebert’s Movie Home/Video Companion, are records of years gone by. Showcasing movies that have already premiered, the books feature reviews and other movie related material from Roger Ebert himself. From the mid ‘80s to the early 2010s, these yearbooks provided an overview of any given movie year. They correlated with Roger and Gene Siskel’s show, At The Movies. But for the majority of the 2010s, a movie yearbook has not been published. Also, it seems like this concept is not as talked about as it once was. Is this idea that Roger created still relevant anymore? Does it still have a place in our current day and time? This editorial will explore the arguments for and against the revival of the movie yearbook. I will also share my thoughts on the argument as a whole. Since today is the first day of Siskel and Ebert at the Blogathon, let the blogathon begin!
How Roger’s Movie Yearbooks Are Still Relevent
What do putting up Christmas trees, going trick or treating, and watching the ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s have in common? All of these activities are rooted in tradition. Because these activities have become cherished for many people, they are put into practice year after year. For approximately three decades, Roger Ebert shared his thoughts, opinions, and insight about movies and other subjects related to that topic through his movie yearbooks. Throughout his career and reputation, Roger gained the likeability and respect of his audience. Because he became a cherished figure in the movie community, the publication of his movie yearbooks turned into a tradition. What helped was having continuous segments on his shows with Gene Siskel, such as episodes dedicated to the best and worst movies in a given year. Because these segments took place every year, it helped the show’s audience associate tradition with Roger Ebert.
When I think of a “yearbook”, I picture a hardcover book given at the end of a school year, filled with pictures and short, but thorough explanations about those photos. As I conducted my research about Roger Ebert’s movie yearbooks, I discovered that they did not fit my definition of a “yearbook”. These books are a collection of reviews, interviews, and essays. Despite this, a traditional “yearbook” and Roger Ebert’s movie yearbooks do share one major similarity: they are a collection of records and reflections. A typical school yearbook focuses on the memories and events of a particular school year, reflecting on things such as various school subjects or graduating classes. This publication is usually more visual, where photos are used to tell the story and express ideas. In Roger Ebert’s case, he chose a more verbal approach when it came to the creation of his movie yearbooks. Since movies are a visual medium and images like movie stills and award winners can be found in other publications, pictures are not necessary for these particular books of Roger’s. All of these books discuss the movie year prior to the book’s release. For example, Roger Ebert’s movie yearbook from 1999 will talk about movies from 1998. Like a school yearbook, Roger’s movie yearbooks are a singular place where his collective story can be presented.
Another important component to a yearbook, whether it be a movie yearbook or one from school, is how it creates a shared experience amongst its audience. Because the subject of movies and school is so broad, readers are able to find something in the text that they can relate to. Within the movie yearbooks, Roger Ebert reviews a variety of films that were theatrically released. Different studios and genres are represented throughout the publication. Because of the yearbook’s broad range of movies, there’s a chance that the material is appealing to almost everyone. On his shows with Gene Siskel and in his movie yearbooks, Roger would talk about whether he liked or disliked a particular film. Since they talked about movies that were theatrically released, meaning they are easily accessible for the majority of their audience, a shared experience was allowed to talk place. Just one example is when both Gene and Siskel reviewed the movie, Jurassic Park. This is a movie that a large number of people have seen, so it feels like people watching or reading their review can join a shared conversation.
During the run of Siskel and Ebert’s television shows, as well as their careers, both Gene and Roger created a legacy that outlasted their lives. By reviewing films and making those thoughts accessible to their audience, who also happen to be potential movie-goers, they helped create the concept of movie related entertainment. Gene and Roger also showed that anyone could articulate their thoughts and opinions on film. This contribution has been appreciated by fans and members of the movie community, even encouraging them to become movie critics themselves. Roger’s movie yearbooks make up a part of his legacy, proving to be an essential piece of movie related literature. This concept of looking back on a given movie year through text is something that would continue to be beneficial to movie fans and fellow critics. It may even help make the movie community a better place.
How Roger’s Movie Yearbooks Are Not Relevant Anymore
The last movie yearbook to be published was Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook 2013, which covers the movie years of 2010 to mid-2012. This is because Roger Ebert passed away on April 4th, 2013. Because of this, the movie community lost one of the most unique perspectives in film critic history. It also means that new movie related content from Roger can never be created, since the work would not come directly from him. Making a book called “Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook” and not having Roger involved in the project kind of defeats the purpose. Carrying on one of Roger’s long running book series without his consent also seems disrespectful. Sure, we could guess what Roger would think of movies released after April 2013. But it’s better to know than take a guess.
When Roger Ebert passed away six years ago, the world lost one of the faces of the movie community. The other face of the movie community, Gene Siskel, passed away twenty years ago. This means that the movie community currently does not have any one person that represents them. Gene and Roger earned their titles through their appearances on their television shows. Since their first show, Sneak Previews, premiered in 1975, there were not as many voices in the movie community as there are today. Because more people have joined this community, it would be difficult to choose a new representative. How would this person be chosen? What credentials would give this person the title? Who would nominate this person? So many factors would play a role when trying to make a decision like this. But the one question that should be asked is “Does the movie community really need a new representative”?
With the invention of the internet and social media, more people have been given the opportunity to share their thoughts on film. Blogs, websites, and even Youtube channels have provided platforms for more voices to be heard. These inventions helped the movie community grow, gaining more members now than when Gene and Roger first appeared on Sneak Previews. If the concept of the movie yearbook were to come back, it would be difficult to determine whose opinions get included. Do you choose the people who are associated with movie related companies or Youtubers with smaller channels? What about bloggers, would their thoughts be incorporated in the yearbook too? The website, rogerebert.com, is a place where multiple film critics can share their thoughts in one place. Would these people have a say in who’s cinematic thoughts are welcome? The very first movie yearbook from Roger Ebert, titled Roger Ebert’s Movie Home Companion, was released in 1985. Because the internet and social media weren’t big factors like they are today, the people associated with coordinating Roger Ebert’s movie yearbooks didn’t have to think about these things. But the landscape of the movie community has expanded in the 21st century.
Not only has the internet and social media provided a platform for more members of the movie community, they’ve also presented information in a shorter amount of time. Today, movie reviews are uploaded to the internet days, sometimes even weeks, before a movie’s premiere. Some quick searching will lead any movie fan to a wide variety of reviews and other movie related content from multiple authors. Our digital age has produced e-books, making it easier for readers to download many different stories. With these new elements that the movie community has gained, the idea of putting a movie yearbook to print comes into question. Why not just create an e-book version of this project? Wouldn’t it be easier to put all this content on a website? Another concern that needs to be addressed is whether people would pay for a collection of information when they can receive it for free in places that have internet access. When Roger Ebert’s movie yearbooks were published, most of his audience didn’t have the internet. They relied on his books, articles, and television programs when they wanted to hear what he had to say. Today there’s rogerebert.com, a website that provides reviews and movie related articles at a faster pace. They give this information straight to their audience, eliminating the process of company publishing and book binding.
My Thoughts on Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbooks
There’s no denying that Roger Ebert played a huge role in the movie community’s foundation. His thoughts and opinions on film helped many people become film critics of their own, instead of simply accepting the role of movie consumer. Something that made this goal a reality was the publication of Roger Ebert’s movie yearbooks. These books allowed Roger’s audience to reminiscence over films they’ve seen or heard about, as well as reflect on the topics of the featured interviews and essays. After the publication of Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook 2013 and Roger Ebert’s death, the world stopped receiving the wise and knowledgeable insight that could have easily been taken for granted. The concept of the movie yearbook is an interesting one, beneficial for all members of the movie community. I, as a movie blogger and member of the movie community, would love to see this concept brought back into publication. However, before this idea could be executed again, several important questions would need to be answered. From selecting the people who would contribute to the yearbook to which medium would host the project, these factors could affect the return of Roger Ebert’s long running series. A series that became a tradition because of one cherished individual. But all traditions start somewhere, and if they’re worth it, should be put into practice for many years and generations to come.
Have fun at the blogathon!
If you would like to check out this editorial’s references, here are the links:
If you’ve read my list of the Top 10 Worst Hallmark Movies of All Time, you would know that Good Witch: Spellbound is in the Top 3. I disliked this movie so much, that I chose to stop watching the Good Witch television show. But something caused me to tune in to the most recent episode. What was this, you ask? Well, it was the inclusion of a royal character. This was the first time when a royal character has ever been featured on any of Hallmark’s television shows, so I was curious to see who would portray this character and what kind of subplot they would be given. However, I was hesitant about getting my hopes up. The third season of Good Witch and Good Witch: Spellbound left a bad taste in my mouth, due to the screen-writing that, in my opinion, was terrible. Still, I gave this episode a fair chance and hoped that the creative team behind this show would do something special with this particular “first” in Hallmark history. There were even factors leading up to this episode that led me to believe that this aspect of the episode would be handled with special attention. As you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why I would talk about this, despite the fact that I no longer watch Good Witch. I feel that my experience is one that can be relatable among my readers and followers. We’ve all felt disappointed, at least once in our lives, about “wasted potential” within a creative project. This post is about just that; me being disappointed about the creative decisions found in this episode of Good Witch. Because this is not an episode re-cap, I will only talk about the subplot involving the royal character, which will include spoilers. I will also document the factors that made me believe that this specific story would be handled better than it was. Now, let’s discuss this episode and the royal disappointment it was.
Recently, when I was visiting Hallmark Channel’s website, I saw an advertisement for the latest episode of Good Witch on their main page. My level of excitement came to fruition when I saw that this episode was called “The Prince”. As I’ve already stated, this was the first time a royal character had ever been featured in any television show from Hallmark. So, I was looking forward to watching Hallmark Channel history in the making. In the commercial for this episode, the actor who was to portray the prince was nowhere to be found. I figured this was because of one of two reasons: a.) because the story would be an afterthought compared to the other stories within the episode or b.) the actor portraying the prince was such a big deal, that the creative team behind Good Witch wanted to keep his identity a secret in an attempt to surprise their audience and fans with their choice of casting. I chalked this decision up to the latter, especially considering the factors that I’m about to share. Leading up to the episode, the actor portraying Henry, who is the titular prince, was not listed on Good Witch’s IMDB cast list. This actor’s name was also not mentioned in the episode’s official synopsis that was featured on Crown Media Family Networks’ website. Speaking of the synopsis, whenever Henry was mentioned in the episode description, the statement was always brief. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:
From the official Good Witch episode guide on Hallmark Channel’s website: “Cassie plays host to Henry, a dashing stranger…”
From the Crown Media Family Networks’ website: “Cassie hosts a guest with a surprising secret”
“When shocking news emerges about the visiting royal, though, he risks hurting someone he’s grown to care for”
Based on everything I’ve just said, I predicted that Henry’s “secret” was that he was Cassie or Abigail’s long-lost brother. That way, the show could have introduced a male family member to the Merriwick family and Grace could have had a new uncle become a part of her life. If this was where the story went, it, possibly, would have encouraged me to give Good Witch a second chance. But, if you remember what I said in the introduction, I was disappointed by the “wasted potential” that was actually featured in this episode.
Because of the screen-writing associated with Good Witch’s third season and Good Witch: Spellbound, I had a feeling that the screen-writing in “The Prince” would probably be less-than-stellar. I also predicted what would likely happen on the episode. However, I was hoping that the creative team behind this show would prove me wrong. I watched this entire episode with an open mind and I gave it the fairest of chances. When Henry and his story were introduced on-screen, however, I was, unfortunately, proven right. Everything about this story was a blatant rehash of every single royal themed movie that Hallmark has ever made up until this point. You had the same generic British guy from the same generic, fictional European country that has a name ending with the letter “a”. You also had the same generic, romantic relationship between generic British guy and small-town, American woman. As for Henry’s “secret”, it was the same kind of secret that has been included in almost every Hallmark royal themed film: he’s a prince who didn’t want to be treated differently because of his royal title. There was even a part of the subplot about Henry wanting to go against tradition because he fell in love with a woman that’s not from a royal family. As disappointed as I was by this lack of creativity, I honestly can’t say that I’m surprised. This story felt lazily crafted, like the creative team behind Good Witch didn’t even try to apply any amount of creativity or imagination to this story. The entire execution of this concept was very poor, especially considering that this was a “first” in Hallmark television history.
I love Hallmark, hence the reason why I talk about it on 18 Cinema Lane. I want their movies and shows to be the best that they can be. However, when a Hallmark project doesn’t reach its full potential, I will be honest about my feelings and opinions related to that project. This was my intention for bringing up my experience of watching this episode of Good Witch. Henry and his story could have been really good, with the potential for this story to be revisited in future episodes. Unfortunately, all of the potential this particular story had was wasted on a script that was poorly written. It also doesn’t help that it was also competing with about five other subplots. This example of “wasted potential” represents a pattern that has been common among Hallmark’s various projects. It’s understandable that Hallmark has an image that they’d like to uphold. But it feels like Hallmark puts so much focus on upholding this image, that they’re afraid of taking creative risks and thinking outside the box. I’m hoping that the disappointing results of this subplot from “The Prince” encourages the various creative teams at Hallmark to go out of their way to go against the grain and move out of their comfort zone. This doesn’t have to be frequently done, but enough to keep stories on Hallmark interesting and engaging.
Dumbo (2019). Men in Black International. Poms. Dark Phoenix. These are a few examples of movies that have, recently, lost their battles in the Cinematic Colosseum. When a film underperforms or doesn’t reach expectations, people always look for reasons why this happened. It is a way of providing a sense of closure to the situation. Some say that the reason why 2019 has seen more cinematic failures than successes is because of an absence of original and innovative ideas. Others say that the creative teams behind these projects put more emphasis on politics than the story itself. Another reason that has been discussed is having too many remakes, sequels, and franchise continuations competing against each other within a short amount of time. Whatever the reason, I think we can all agree that these films probably failed because, simply, movie-goers just weren’t interested in the overall product. This seems very different from the time-period of 1934 to 1954, when the Breen era not only existed, but also thrived. During this particular stretch of time, it feels like more films were both successful and memorable for the right reasons. Take 1939, for example. Within this year alone, movie-goers were given three films that cemented their place in cinematic history; Gone with the Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and The Wizard of Oz. The fact that these very distinct films placed in the Top 10 at that year’s box office proves that during the Breen era, there was something for everyone at the cinema. With the Breen Code absent in today’s cinematic world, an interesting media company that, I feel, has embraced Joseph I. Breen’s way of thinking is Hallmark. The more I’ve thought about the Breen Code and its impact on film, the more I see the similarities within the kinds of movies that Hallmark creates. Even though these films are featured on either television or digital services, it proves that there is hope for the Breen Code to make a comeback.
Before discovering the blog, Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, I had never known about Joseph I. Breen and the Breen Code. In fact, I had always believed that the MPAA (the Motion Picture Association of America) was the “end all, be all” when it came to judging a film’s content. It wasn’t until I watched the video, “Why You Shouldn’t Listen to the MPAA (Podcast Excerpt)” from the Youtube channel, Rachel’s Reviews, that I started to change my views about this particular rating system. In this video, Rachel and her friend, Conrado, talk about why movie-goers should form their own self-censorship than solely rely on the MPAA. When I came across Pure Entertainment Preservation Society last October, while looking for upcoming blogathons to participate in, I was introduced to who Joseph I. Breen was as well as the Breen Code itself. In preparation for this article, I read as much as I could about Joseph and his Code. Tiffany and Rebekah Brannan, the creators of Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, have done a wonderful job at educating their readers and followers about the Breen Code and advocating its return to entertainment. Their articles are very informative and interesting to read. After learning all of this information, I feel that a newer and stronger code for judging a film’s content needs to be put in place. While having the MPAA is better than having nothing at all, its rules and guidelines seem to be more on the relaxed side. In the previously mentioned video, Rachel and Conrado discuss some of the ways that a film receives a particular rating. One example is the use of blood within the film’s context. Rachel brings up the example of The Hunger Games receiving a PG-13 rating due to the absence of blood while “contestants” are dying during the event within the story. She feels that because blood isn’t shown during these moments, the film is “dehumanizing the situation”. Had The Hunger Games been created during a time when something similar to the Breen Code existed, either this film would have never seen the light of day or the “contestants” would have died off-screen.
The movies and shows from Hallmark make up a large percentage of the content on my blog. Sometimes, I review films from Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Hall of Fame. In some of my Word on the Street posts, I’ve talked about movie news related to upcoming Hallmark projects. I also conduct two re-cap series for When Calls the Heart and Chesapeake Shores. Hallmark has created a reputation as being a family-friendly company in both appearance and content. As I mentioned in the introduction, things within the Breen Code sound like the type of material that Hallmark creates and distributes on their networks. Within the Hallmark entertainment spectrum, there are three television networks that air movies; Hallmark Channel, Hallmark Movies & Mysteries, and Hallmark Drama. Each network has their own unique and consistent tone, while still maintaining the company’s created image. Hallmark Channel features films that primarily contain light-hearted, romance stories. However, the relationships featured in these movies are wholesome. In the Breen Code, it states that “pictures shall not infer that low forms of sex relationship are the accepted or common thing”. Typical Hallmark Channel films do not feature or talk about sex. The only two films that I can think of that either mention sex or imply that a couple was having sex are A Family Thanksgiving and Audrey’s Rain. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries has a darker tone than Hallmark Channel, as the majority of the network’s content is mystery related. The type of mystery that is common in these movies is the murder mystery. However, this aspect of the story is always handled in a very tasteful way. Not only is a small amount of violence shown, but a limited amount of blood is featured on-screen. The Breen Code contains a whole section about featuring murder in film. One of the points in this section says that “methods of crime should not be explicitly presented”. Sometimes, these films show how a victim is murdered. This is included to introduce the mystery and present the seriousness of the situation. Toward the end of the movie, the guilty party reveals how and why they committed the crime. But the guilty party is never “presented in such a way as to throw sympathy with the crime”. Even though Hallmark Drama has only been around for two years, it has been a network where Hallmark’s more dramatic films can be seen. These types of films are either from Hallmark Hall of Fame or from Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries that haven’t be aired in recent years. Some of these projects were created before Hallmark embraced the image they have today, even before the Hallmark Channel was introduced back in 2001. One of these films is Ellen Foster, which is a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that was released in 1997. In this film, there is one scene where Ellen is being physically abused by her father. If this exact same movie were released by Hallmark today, that scene would never have been featured in the film. The subject of child abuse would have only been implied through the use of dialogue and subtle visual references. This suggestion would fit with the Breen Code and Hallmark’s current image, as the Code itself states that “excessive and inhuman acts of cruelty and brutality shall not be presented. This includes all detailed and protracted presentation of physical violence, torture, and abuse”. Despite this aforementioned detail, Hallmark Drama still features content that is family oriented.
The previous paragraph contains some examples of how the Breen Code can be found within Hallmark’s movies. I could provide more examples, but that would mean this article would be longer than it already is. Hallmark’s commitment to providing family friendly content to their audience shows that the Breen Code, or some form of it, can return to the entertainment world. It will most likely happen in a process of events rather than a quick succession. However, this is proof that Joseph I. Breen’s intentions still have a place in our world. In the article, “The Production Code of 1930’s Impact on America” from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society, it was said that “films are merely rated but not censored”. Since this is the case, we, the movie-goers, need to take the initiative to discover a film’s content, understand why a rating was given to a particular film, and form our own choice to view or not view a film. Until the day when Joseph I. Breen’s dream can come true again, this is the only option that movie-goers currently have.
For my two Breening Thursday suggestions, I would like to recommend Wild Oranges and The Trouble with Angels. Wild Oranges is a silent film from 1924 that I reviewed when I received 95 followers on my blog. The Trouble with Angels is one of the films that I reviewed during the Rosalind Russell blogathon earlier this month. It was released in 1966.
Have fun at the movies!
If you want to check out the references I mentioned in this editorial, you can type “Why You Shouldn’t Listen to the MPAA (Podcast Excerpt)” into Youtube’s search bar or visit Rachel’s Youtube channel, Rachel’s Reviews. You can also visit these links:
One day, while I was on the internet, I came across some episodes of Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s show, At the Movies, on Youtube. As I was watching these episodes, I wondered why there wasn’t a show like this on television anymore. But, when I asked this question, I realized that there kind of is. Though not on television, I can think of several channels on Youtube dedicated to talking about film. There’s also lots of blogs related to movie criticism, especially on WordPress. As a movie blogger myself, I know that the growth of the movie review community might not have been possible without Siskel and Ebert. So, in honor of the Grandfathers of Movie Criticism, I have decided to dedicate my very first blogathon to them! Siskel and Ebert at the Blogathon will take place from September 20th to the 24th. If you would like to participate, you can sign up in one of the following categories:
A. Siskel and Ebert Themselves – This category is for blog entries about Gene Siskel and/or Roger Ebert. Articles about their life, legacy, or career are most certainly welcome. If Siskel and/or Ebert have written any books, editorials, or articles, blog entries about that can be submitted to this category. If you do write an entry for this specific category, all I ask is that you please be respectful when writing about Siskel and/or Ebert. If your post is about how you disagree with their opinion, that’s fine. But please don’t be disrespectful or negative toward anybody.
B. Movies that Siskel and/or Ebert have reviewed or talked about: This category is pretty straight forward. Any movie that Siskel and/or Ebert have reviewed/talked about or that was covered on any of their shows is fair game. To find out which movies would be allowed for this category, you can find episodes of At the Movies on Youtube or search “At the Movies” or “Sneak Previews” on IMDB and look through the listed episodes section.
C. The Show Itself: For this category, you can write about anything related to Siskel and Ebert’s shows. Do you have a favorite episode of Sneak Previews or any version of At the Movies? Share it in your post! Was there a particular host that you were fond of? Feel free to talk about them in your article! Did the show play an important role in your life? Tell your story on your blog! Other topics that would be allowed in this category are trivia about the show, specific segments, and the show’s history, just to name to few.
D. Something movie related that has to do with Chicago: Because Siskel and Ebert were film critics in Chicago, this category is a creative way to honor the Grandfathers of Movie Criticism. For this category, you can talk about movies that either take place or were filmed in Chicago. You may also write about film festivals or movie related events that have been hosted in the Windy City. If you’ve had a movie-going experience in the city of Chicago, feel free to share your story!
The Official Blogathon Rules
As I’ve already mentioned, please be respectful not only when writing about Siskel and Ebert, but also to other bloggers.
If you plan on publishing your post(s) earlier or later than the allotted time-frame (September 20th to the 24th), please let me know in advance.
Only new posts will be allowed for this blogathon.
Three participants at a time are allowed to write about a singular topic. For example, if four people wanted to talk about Roger Ebert’s book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, only the first three participants would be able to write about the book.
Each participant is allowed to publish a maximum of three entries.
All entries must be original work.
If your interested in participating, please share your idea(s) in the comment section below.
Creativity is encouraged.
Pick one of the five banners and spread the word about Siskel and Ebert at the Blogathon!
The List of Participants
Sally from 18 Cinema Lane – (Editorial) Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbooks: How Relevant are they Anyway?
Ruth from Silver Screenings — (Review) Roger Ebert’s book, The Great Movies
Edirin from Retro Movie Buff — (Editorial) Roger Ebert’s book, Your Movie Sucks
UpOnTheShelf from The Movie Shelf Reviews — (Discussion piece) Siskel and Ebert’s appearance on “The Critic”
Le from Critica Retro — (Review) Z (1969)
Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews — (Review) Prizzi’s Honor (1985)
J-Dub from Dubsism — (Review) Casino (1995)
Quiggy from The Midnite Drive-In — (Review) The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Rebecca from Taking Up Room — (Review) Straight Talk (1992)
Tiffany and Rebekah from Pure Entertainment Preservation Society — (Review) A Star is Born (1954)
Rob from MovieRob — (Review) About Last Night… (1986), Opportunity Knocks (1990), and Rookie of the Year (1993)