Chip Rosenthal's blog

2009 in Review: Biggest Regret


Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan movie posterI'm sick to death of studio fanboy marketing. It pisses me off when some studio jerks throw out clips -- or, even worse, a first reel --  of some upcoming movie. We're supposed to get all excited and spread good word of mouth to build marketing demand for their film. And then -- the coup de grâce of this sucker play -- we get to pay full admission to see the entire film once it's released.

No thanks.

One of my favorite studio marketing ploys happened a couple years ago, when the first season of Star Trek was remastered with new optical effects and released on high-def video. To promote the box set, the studio did limited theatrical showings of "The Menagerie," the two-part episode that recycled footage from the unaired (and Kirk-less) Star Trek pilot. Sure, it was a marketing event to support the boxed-set release, but it was well worth the price of admission to see old Trek on the big screen.

That's why, when Alamo Drafthouse announced a special screening of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan early in 2009,  I was all excited. I own the DVD, but I'd love to see the movie again on the big screen -- especially the ground-breaking "Genesis Device" sequence. Also, the Star Trek reboot movie was scheduled for release that summer, which I was eagerly awaiting. This seemed like a great lead-in for the new Star Trek movie.

Austin Film Society featured in Grant Promo


A new video spot produced by the City of Austin features the Austin Film Society After-School Film Program. The video promotes the Grant for Technology Opportunities (GTOPs) program. GTOPs is a City of Austin program that provides matching-fund grants to local groups that create digital opportunities and promote digital inclusion.

The city currently is accepting applications for the 2010 GTOPs cycle. For more information, visit

Prospective GTOPs applicants can attend a free seminar today -- Wednesday, Oct. 21 -- at 3 pm. The seminar will explain how the GTOPs program works, and provide assistance for writing a successful grant. Advance reservations may be made at

See 'RiP: A Remix Manifesto' for Free


The famous Isaac Newton quote about standing on the shoulders of giants is about how we create better science by using the works of people that come before us. But when it comes to art, some say that's not better art -- it's stealing.

Remix culture is creating new forms in video and music, but traditional copyright holders are often hostile to these efforts. New movements such as Creative Commons try to find a balance between the rights of original content creators and those who want to build on their works.

The documentary RiP: A Remix Manifesto explores the movement towards remix culture ... and you can see this movie in Austin tomorrow night. The free screening is sponsored by ChannelAustin.

Local Fest about Non-Profit Issues Seeks Submissions


Lights. Camera. Help. FestivalThe first annual "Lights. Camera. Help." film festival, scheduled for July 31 here in Austin, is soliciting entries from non-profit and grassroots organizations. The deadline for entry is June 30, less than a month away.

The event organizers say:

This festival is the first of its kind in the nation and reflects the spirit of Austin, a prominent city in the non-profit, grassroots and activism communities. These organizations, along with filmmakers, will use the festival to spread the word about their cause, develop a community of followers, and expand the film-for-a-cause genre.

In a recent blog post, organizers highlighted some of the submissions received so far. They include a short doc entitled Prostitution: Beyond the Myths, a training video to help cancer patients, and a video showing a day in the life of a Nicaraguan musician.

You can keep an eye on this event at the festival's website,

Austin's Digital Television Divide


Digital TV Coupons by ThisIsIt2 on FlickrWhen it comes to things digital, we like to think of Austin as a national leader. And we mean "leader" in the good way. That's why it's so surprising that according to a report by Nielsen published last week, Austin is the fourth least prepared city in the nation for the upcoming digital television transition.

On Friday, June 12, 2009 – less than two weeks from now! – all full-power television stations will cease "analog" transmissions and will broadcast only a "digital" television signal. This affects all households that receive over-the-air television via rabbit ears or rooftop antenna. Preparing for DTV is usually pretty easy. Older televisions can receive digital signals with the addition of a low-cost digital converter box.

As it currently stands, 30,000 central Texas households could lose their television reception when the transition occurs. The City of Austin regards this as a serious public safety concern. Rondella Hawkins, Manager of the City's Office of Telecommunications and Regulatory Affairs noted, "Television is a primary source for news, weather and public safety information for many Austinites."

To help remaining residents across the digital television divide, the city has scheduled a Walk-In DTV Help Clinic that will be open June 3-12.

Time is running short, but it's not too late. For more information about the DTV transition, visit or

Photo credit: "Digital TV Coupons" by Gary Hunt. Found on Flickr and used under Creative Commons license.

When's an IMAX not an IMAX?


Texas State History MuseumControversy has been brewing about IMAX movie theaters this week, and what constitutes an official "IMAX" theater.

When we go to a movie theater that has the IMAX name on it, we expect to be immersed in a gigantic 72-foot image. Except IMAX has been lending its name to some Regal and AMC theaters that don't do that. The "IMAX-D" theaters have screens that are only slightly larger than usual, with digital projection and sound. That's nice, but that's not what people expect when they pay higher ticket prices for an IMAX experience.

On Tuesday, Aziz Ansari posted a blog entry complaining that the IMAX corporation is ripping people off. He says:

Basically IMAX is whoring out their brand name and trying to trick people. These new "IMAX" theatres are really just nice digital screens with good sound, but they ARE NOT IMAX, in that they don't have the huge 72 ft gigantic screens which people would expect. However, they still charge $5 more for tickets as they would for the regular IMAX.

Prop. 8 Controversy Hits Austin: The Boycott Cinemark Movement


The backlash to California Proposition 8 is sweeping the country. Here in Austin, last weekend, thousands of people gathered at City Hall in large protest against the recently passed California constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Now the protest is moving into movie theaters.

What's come out in the days since the election is the extent to which religious followers across the nation donated to the "Yes on Prop. 8" effort. One of those donors was Alan Stock, CEO of the Texas-based Cinemark movie chain, who donated $9,999 to the Prop. 8 advocates.

Some moviegoers are very upset. A national call to boycott Cinemark theaters has been growing, and there is evidence that Austinites are responding. A Boycott Cinemark group has formed on Facebook, and I'm seeing Austin friends join the group. Missives to boycott are flying through the Internets' tubes, such as this posting to Craig's List Austin.

There are five Cinemark movie theaters in the Austin area.

Today: Last Chance on AFF Discounted Badges


Matthew Smith over at Austinist notes:

Hurry up! Today is your last chance to get an Austin Film Festival badge at early-bird rates. If you're buying the fanciest badge (the Producers Badge), you can save yourself $65 by purchasing before midnight tonight.

Jette noted the other day that Oliver Stone's W. will be the opening night film.

Read the full article here: Last Chance for Discounted Austin Film Festival Badges

Tim League Interview on KUT


Hellboy 2 screening

Tim League, co-founder of the Alamo Drafthouse, recorded a half-hour interview with John Aielli of KUT this morning. They talk about the upcoming Fantastic Fest. The interview highlights some of the movies scheduled to screen. You can listen to it at the KUT site.

[Photo of Guillermo del Toro and Tim League from Alamo's Hellboy 2 preview screening, courtesy of Jette Kernion]

UPDATED: Cloverfield Sneak in Austin


­Here is your chance to be part of the biggest movie marketing hype since Snakes on a Plane. There will be nationwide sneak previews of ­Cloverfield next Tuesday, January 15. The Austin Chronicle is giving away free passes­ that will entitle you to stand in line for many hours, with some chance you'll actually get to be shoehorned into a movie theater to see it before anybody else. For free!

Act now if you are interested. Deadline for signup is 4pm, Tuesday, Jan. 8.

[Updated by Jette on Jan. 10 to note that has announced ­another pass giveaway on Sunday night at Elysium on Red River.]­

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