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Speakers’ Club April 27, 2019: Star Wars

Darth Vader

Rules:

Word Crimes:

When is Star Wars day?

Moosebutter John Williams Medley:

Long time ago, far, far away
Long time ago, far, far away
Kiss a Wookiee, kick a droid
Fly the Falcon through an asteroid
‘Til the princess is annoyed
This is spaceships
It’s monsters
It’s *Star Wars*
We love it!
Come and help me, Obi-Wan
X-Wing fighter and a blaster gun
Dance with ewoks, oh, what fun!
This is spaceships
It’s monsters
It’s *Star Wars*
We love it!
 
Get in there you big, furry oaf
I couldn’t care less what you smell!
I take orders from only me
Maybe you’d like it back in your cell
Your highness, your worshipfulness
Your highness, your worshipfulness!
No one cares if you upset a droid (Nobody cares if you upset a droid)
That’s because droids don’t tear your arms out of socket (Nobody cares)
I suggest a new strategy: let the Wookiee win
That’s because nobody cares if you upset a droid
 
Now we listen to Luke whining
One more season, one more season, one more season
I was gonna go to Tosche
Station for power converters
Now I guess I’m going nowhere
It just isn’t fair!
 
Wookiee!
(Wookiee noises)
Wookiee!
(Wookie noises)
Wookiee! Wookiee!
Wookiee! Wookiee!
Someone move this walking carpet
Someone move this walking carpet
(Woo-kiee, Woo-kiee)
Someone move this walking carpet
Someone move this walking carpet
(Woo-kiee, Woo-kiee)
Kiss your brother, kiss your brother
Princess Leia!
Well, I guess you don’t know anything about women
(Kissing noise)
(Who’s your daddy? Who’s your daddy?)
Who’s your daddy? Who’s your daddy?
 
Luke, I’m your father
(That’s not true!)
It is useless to resist
(My hand!)
Come with me, my son
We will rule
(I’ll never join you!)
Search your feelings, it is true
So, you have a twin sister who
Obi-Wan was wise to hide
(Is that Leia?)
If you will not turn
Then perhaps she will
Give in to your hate
You are mine
Long, long, long time ago
Far, far, far, far away
Long, long, long time ago
Far, far, far away
Kiss a Wookiee, (kiss a Wookiee)
Kick a droid, (kick a droid)
Fly the Falcon (fly the Falcon)
Through an asteroid!
‘Til the princess (’til the princess)
Is annoyed (she’s annoyed!)
This is spaceships
It’s monsters
It’s *Star Wars*
We love it, it’s true!
(Episode III)
Coming to you!
(2005)
So let’s go (go, go, go to the movies)
Stand in line (buy, buy, buy me some popcorn)
Cause it’s al- (please, I like extra butter)
-most the time! (Join the Dark Side!)
May the Force be with you all!
(John Williams is the man!)

Moosebutter “Star Wars (John Williams Is the Man)”

Tony Dyson on creativity:

What did “Star Wars” change?

Merchandising

Summer blockbuster

Science fiction at the movies: “The Black Hole”

What does it have to do with “Star Trek?”

Other ‘Star Wars links: https://penguinate.weebly.com/star-wars-stories-and-links.html

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Ogden UnCon 2019 Schedule: First Look

The Haunted Mansion Is Creativity cover

I am attending Ogden UnCon as an artist and vendor, which means I will be spending a lot of time at my table with my wife Jenya and author Drue M. Scott selling books and penguins while enjoying the cosplayers and conversations that happen at an event like this. I won’t get much time to do anything more than go to my own panel on Sunday at 11:30 am – “The Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity.”

However, that can’t stop me from enjoying the idea of going to panels and making up an imaginary schedule of the ones I would attend. Since this is a first look, panels are subject to change. Since this is the first time I have ever attended the Ogden UnCon, it’s hard to say what the entry into events and panels will be like, so I will choose one thing that I absolutely must do and work around that event or panel. Also, it’s important to note that rooms will be cleared in between panels, so being in the room at the panel before the one you won’t help. VIPs get “line teleportation” but must show up 10 minutes before the start of the panel.

Friday Panels

On Friday, it looks like the only question for me would be whether I should go to “The Philosophy of Spoilers” or “How to Turn Your Blog into a Book Production Machine.” I’m not exactly sure what will be discussed in the “Philosophy of Spoilers.” It could go so many ways, and that’s its appeal. Blog-into-book would allow me to learn the philosophy of taking blog posts and turning them into books, which, as you know if you’ve seen either “Penguinate! Essays and Short Stories” or “Penguinate! The Disney Company,” could be extremely useful for me. They happen at the same time, so I’m unsure which I would choose, but I’m leaning toward Blog-into-book even though I think Spoilers could be amazing.

At 1:00, Jack Stauffer who was on the original “Battlestar Galactica” will have a panel. I have met Dirk Benedict at Malta Comics and Pop Culture Expo and Richard Hatch during a Salt Lake Comic Con press conference. Seeing Stauffer on stage would allow me to fill out my BSG check list if I had such a thing. Maybe I should dig out my Viper from the ‘70s.

At 3:00, I would head to “Aim to Misbehave: Firefly/Serenity.” Utah has historically had a large contingent of dedicated Browncoats. This panel is sure to be a blast.

If I can get from the Firefly panel to the Star Trek panel featuring Tracee Lee Cocco at 4:00 pm, I would do so. They are in the same venue and close to each other. I don’t think I would have to choose between the two; it might be possible to check out of the Browncoats rally early to experience the Next Generation.

OMG! “Land of the Lost!” This is one of those shows I grew up with but left my memory until Ogden UnCon reminded me of it. With all of the celebs for this panel, this is the one must-do of the day. There shouldn’t be any problems getting there unless I stop for food. It’s scheduled for 6:00 pm.

Saturday Panels

At 10:30 am, Mort Castle is scheduled to present “The Story of a Story: Imagination + Reality.” I’m interested in hearing his thoughts on imagination because a lot of what’s out there, academically speaking, is tied too closely to creativity. It seems like imagination is often the forgotten ingredient in creating.

At 11:00, “The Land of the Lost” panel gets a second engagement. If I missed the one from the night before, I would definitely hit this one.

What I assume is the major draw for this UnConvention, the “Black Sails” panel is at 1 pm. I haven’t seen any episodes, yet, but I’m going to get Netflix to help me change that, so I’d have some context.

“Run, Holly, Run!” is at 4 pm and will have Kathy Coleman talking about her acting experience and her book. It’s a book I’ll have to pick up, even if I’m not going to the panel. Anyone know where I can get a copy?

Sunday Panels

Sunday would be my packed day. With so many great panels competing for my attention, I would certainly miss out on something. The panels I would go to are dependent on why I was at the UnCon. At 10, “The Bestiary of HP Lovecraft” is competing with Phil Paley’s presentation on creating a safe haven for Monarch Butterflies in your backyard. I used to cover conventions as a social activism journalist, but I enjoyed “The Call of Cthulu.” It’s a toss-up, and they both compete with the 10:30 starting “How to Become an Author of Change” panel, which butts up against “Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion: 50 Years of Creativity” at 11:30.

So, while I would love to attend the Author of Change Panel, I’m leaning toward Monarch Butterflies, which gives me enough time to get to my own panel.

I’ve got stiff competition during the same time as my panel. Tracee Lee Cocco of Star Trek fame is at 11:30. Chris Kattan is at noon as is the “new Lost in Space” panel. How do you choose? I’ll miss those because I’ll be presenting on the Haunted Mansion and creativity.

This is my bare bones UnCon schedule if I were to go as a fan. As a reporter, I would stuff the schedule more. Of course, there are a lot of panels, things to do, artists on the floor you should visit, and I haven’t covered most of them. So, which panels would you attend? And which artists, vendors and activities are looking forward to the most? Leave your comments below.

You can get tickets to Ogden UnCon here (takes you off site). Don’t miss out on penguins or books, preorder your swag from our table here and have it waiting for you at our table. Remember, members of our Patreon Penguinators get a discount at our table at all the events we attend.

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The Problem with ‘the Single’ in Disney’s Movie Business

Disney movie tie ins

In his examination of Disney’s “Dumbo,” “Forbes” writer Scott Mendelson laments the Disney Company’s penchant for releasing big budget films that have already been made, including the live-action remakes of animated classics and the multiple sequels that Disney has released over the course of roughly the last decade, and while he acknowledges that the studios are in part to blame, he also lays the blame on movie goers. “The studios can’t responsibly green-light what they know audiences will not go to see in theaters.”

The Dollars and Sense of It All

In 1984, when Michael Eisner became CEO of the Disney Company, the top grossing movie was “Beverly Hills Cop” with almost $235 million and $316 million worldwide. Disney’s movie releases were in the tank and not making what they should be with a few exceptions. In 1984, Touchstone’s “Splash” opened at No. 1 on the chart and grossed over $69 million (Box Office Mojo) by the time it finished its run; it cost $8 million to make. The film was a huge success at the time, and it brought in about $62 million profit.

Eisner looked at the situation and decided that Disney and its movie making companies would make smaller budget films that would make money rather than hope for a summer blockbuster that could fail. They were going to hit singles rather than try for homeruns. In 1986, “Ruthless People,” “Down and Out in Beverly Hills” and “The Color of Money” were released with grosses of $71, $62 and $52 million making them the 9th, 11th and 12th highest grossing movies of the year. Eisner’s strategy was successful, and Disney carved out a niche with these low budget, over-performing types of films.

Flash forward to 2018 and the surprise hit (not Disney) “A Quiet Place.” With a budget of $17 million dollars, this is the type of film Disney would’ve happily made in the 1980s. The movie made $340 million dollars worldwide ($323 million profit). Marvel’s “Black Panther” cost about $200 million to make and brought in over $1.3 billion; domestically, it was the top grossing film of the year. It would take about three “A Quiet Place” size releases to make the same amount of profit as “Black Panther.” However, “Black Panther” was a surprise in its own way.

Marvel’s sure thing for the year was “The Avengers: Infinity War” – a sequel, which according to the just over $2 billion box office gross, you’re probably familiar with. The estimates for the cost of the film run between $300 million and $400 million. Even on the high side of the estimate, the film brought in $1.6 billion, or the rough equivalent of five “A Quiet Places.”

I understand these numbers aren’t exact. There are marketing costs to consider as well as what the actual theaters make, which is different depending on the country. However, the point is it doesn’t make any sense for a company that brings in $12.6 billion (2018 net income) to worry about $10 or $20 million, the budget of “A Quiet Place” for a return of only $323 million. As Mendelson pointed out, Disney had taken risks with “Tomorrowland” (profit at a scant $20 million), “The Finest Hours” (losses estimated at $20 million), and “The Queen of Katwe” (estimated loss of $5 million). These movies didn’t return enough profit to justify their existence.

Other Sources of Income

When “Star Trek” dolls were released and the series ended, the sales of the toys dried up as well. There wasn’t anyway to remind people about the purpose of the toys without the show. When “Star Trek: The Next Generation” returned the Star Trek universe to television, toy sales skyrocketed.

In 1983, Funimation released “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” after Reagan deregulated children’s programming. The show was designed to sell He-Man action figures. Once it made it on the air and He-Man sales sky-rocketed every toy company got involved in Saturday Morning Cartoons: “Transformers,” “Go-Bots,” “M.A.S.K.,” “Jem and the Holograms,” and “G.I. Joe” to name a few. Whether the show or the action figures came first is of little consequence, what mattered was that some of the cartoons were pulled from the air not because of the cartoons’ popularity, but because the toys lacked sales.

Disney’s synergistic approach to marketing means the media giant isn’t looking just at the movies. It’s also looking at what it can make from tie-ins. Dumbo’s new movie release, regardless of how it’s received, sells more stuffed Dumbos. Marvel’s movies sell more superhero action figures, Lego sets, and whatever else they put their characters on. These things all bring in more money. Disney princesses outsell Barbie now are a multi-billion-dollar market segment. Their inclusion in “Ralph Breaks the Internet” keeps them fresh, updates them for this generation and keeps the product moving. The Disney company not only needs to create movie sequels and remakes because they are smaller financial risks, but also because they sell more toys, products and Disney park experiences.

What’s It All Mean?

There’s no incentive for Disney to green-light smaller film projects, even if they become the next “A Quiet Place.” The movie industry can only stand so many new films before there aren’t enough movie-goers to see them all. Worse, people say they want new stories, but they only think they want new stories. Audiences still flock to their favorite characters and movie franchises because its an acceptable risk. To spend $10 to $15 on a movie that you may not like or know nothing about doesn’t make much sense when you know that Marvel (or DC or Pixar) has a release right around the corner.

Moreover, Disney can make more money from product friendly franchises that it can tie into its theme parks than it ever could from a movie that has to stand on its own two legs. This all becomes more problematic with Disney’s recent acquisition of 20th Century Fox, and it’s looming control of 40 to 50 percent of the box office. The studios will have to schedule movies so they don’t cut into each other’s profits, which will mean fewer movies and fewer opportunities for a smaller film to get made.

For more on the Disney Company, preorder “Penguinate! The Disney Company.