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June 28, 2017


This article originally appeared on Column Five.

There are many tools you can use to tell your brand story, and each have their own advantages. We’ve covered many of them, especially data visualization and infographics. These data storytelling formats are useful, but there is another format that is often forgotten: interactive stories. This format brings data to life in exciting and dynamic ways, which is why we love it.

If you haven’t experimented with interactive stories—or even heard of them—here’s what you should know.


Interactive stories, infographics, or visualizations refer to a specific type of content, mostly found online. In its simplest form, interactive infographics are any web-based content that lets you interact with the information or data on screen. Technically, there are two features required to make something an interactive:

  1. Human input: You should be able to control the visual representation in some way. This might be possible through mouseovers, clicks, drop-down menus, checkboxes, or other features to let you interact with the information on screen.
  2. Response time: Your actions should affect the visualization in a timely manner. When you do something, you’ll see something on screen.

In short, it’s the communication of data in an interactive way. (For the most part, we’re referring to online interactive stories, but real-life interactive installations, A/R, or VR experiences also count.)


While there are many different formats for brand communication, interactive infographics are uniquely suited to help brands communicate in specific ways or deliver unique experiences. In general, you are most likely to see them used for data storytelling, fixed-narrative storytelling experiences, entertainment experiences, or practical tools. Depending on your goals, some applications may be better than others.


Good data stories come from good data, but sometimes you have far more data than a single static infographic or white paper can contain. In these instances, interactive infographics are the best way to effectively present what is otherwise overwhelming information. Making that data easier to navigate helps the audience interact with and synthesize that information in a pleasant way.

To deliver these data stories, interactive infographics usually take one of two specific approaches: narrative or explorative. Not every data interactive falls clearly into each category. Some offer a blend of the two, but there are benefits to each.

1) Narrative: This approach guides readers through the data in a linear fashion, delivering a single narrative that conveys context and insight and often gives viewers a specific takeaway.

Example: The Anatomy of a Breach interactive we created for Microsoft guides readers through a data heist, crafting a specific story around the data breach to emphasize how important data security is.

This type of interactive storytelling usually requires fewer resources to create because it is a simple, contained story.

2) Explorative: This type of storytelling puts viewers in the driver’s seat, letting them browse information and extract their own relevant or interesting stories.

Example: Northwestern University Qatar conducted a massive survey on Media use in the Middle East. With so much data—an incredible 10 million cells to be exact—a static infographic would be impossible. We turned the information into a streamlined, colorful, easy-to-navigate experience.

This type of interactive is good for large or complicated data sets; however, because it usually involves large amounts of data, it requires more resources to produce.


Even in the absence of hard data, interactives are still a great way to deliver any sort of information or story. Narratives offer a contained environment, which gives you control over the story. Imagine a simple click-through slideshow or a narrative enhanced with interactive elements, such as animations. This type of storytelling is best used to deliver a specific message.

Example: We collaborated with Good magazine to create an interactive experience that allowed readers to learn about how a hybrid car works by interacting with different elements. 


Viewers crave content that entertains or inspires. When you are looking to create novel experiences or give a piece of content an entertaining spin, interactivity is a fantastic way to do it. Any piece of content can be enhanced by:

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Animation

Example: Our Beyond the Beat interactive tells the story of African-American musicians who made significant contributions to music. Copy, illustrations, and audio samplings bring their stories to life.


Interactive tools can help viewers complete a task, get a specific piece of information, or explore an interesting subject. (They can also be used to help your own company gather data.) For that reason, they provide immense value. Some common applications include:

Example: We collaborated with Mashable to create a quiz that polled their readers about how they pronounce certain tech terms. (The results were later visualized, providing even more content.)


Data storytelling a fantastic storytelling tool, but interactives are particularly well-suited to help marketers communicate with their audiences. Whether you’re trying to increase brand awareness, engage your audience, inform them about a product, or help them make a decision, interactives can give you an advantage.

1) They make valuable information easily accessible: Audiences want content that is relevant, useful, and most importantly worth their time. Delivering information in an easy-to-understand way is a huge service to them.

Providing this type of useful content also shows your audience you care and are interested in helping them access the information they want and need. The same goes for interactive tools that provide utility, such as calculators or product demos.

These unique resources make your audience look more fondly on your brand.

2) They encourage personal engagement: The goal of all content marketing is to establish a relationship with your reader. With interactives, you are welcoming them into the experience and encouraging them to come along with you.

Interactives put your audience in the driver’s seat of the story. Narratives guide them through a set experience, while explorative interactives allow them to set their own pace as they discover information. But both put interaction in their hands, encouraging them to dive in.

“If you think about visualizations as a mass medium, something made for huge audiences, interaction turns them into very personal tools,” says interactive expert Dominikus Baur. “Interaction enables people to adjust a visualization to their own needs and ask it different questions.”

This is a powerful way to create an intimate experience that helps form relationships.

3) They can provide real-time storytelling: Unlike static formats, an interactive with a dynamically updated dataset allows viewers to access real-time data that is always up-to-date. Static visualizations may need to be manually updated or adjusted, but a dynamic interactive just requires uploading the new data.

This convenience helps you provide accurate information quicker, giving you a competitive edge.


Before you dive into interactives, make sure you have a story that can be told through an interactive. Learn more about the 7 ways interactive infographics can tell your story and ask yourself these 5 questions to find out if you really have an interactive story.

If you’ve decided that you’re ready to hit the ground running, you might want to take a look at these 101 fantastic infographics to get a little inspiration and try these 5 tips to help your interactive infographics get the most traffic.

If you’re curious to see more of our work, head on over to our portfolio to see the many interactive infographics we’ve created for brands and publications. You can also get more tips on creating great interactives by checking out these posts.

Source: Visual News

June 27, 2017

Emmys’ Generation Gap: Digital Short-Form Series Contenders Wonder If Older Voters Even Know They Exist


Digital producers cheered last year when the Television Academy expanded its short-form programming categories. But then they saw the nominees and winners.

Most of last year’s short form contenders didn’t come from digital-first producers or platforms, but came from traditional networks and talent. Adult Swim’s “Childrens Hospital” led all nominees, followed by the History channel’s “The Crossroads of History” and AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462.”

“Childrens Hospital” ultimately won the Outstanding Series category, which included just one independent contender: “Her Story,” about two transgender women living in Los Angeles. Besides “Crossroads of History” and “Flight 462,” the two other nominees were behind-the-scenes looks at popular TV shows: “Hack into Broad City” and “UnREAL The Auditions.”

In the short form nonfiction or reality series, another marketing series won, FX’s “Inside Look: The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

That wasn’t quite what the Academy hoped for when digital studios campaigned to expand the categories. “It’ll be great to see someone like [YouTube star] Tyler Oakley win an Emmy,” Brian Robbins then the CEO of AwesomenessTV, told Variety last year.

But with content on platforms like YouTube Red still mostly shut out, that ultimately left a bad taste in the mouth of the rapidly growing short-form digital production community. Moving to multiple categories was a big win for that world, but they have a way to go.

READ MORE: IndieWire’s Full Emmy Coverage

“I was a little bummed to see that most of the winners ended up being ancillary content from existing IP or TV shows,” said New Form CEO Kathleen Grace. “I do think we need some education and communication around what a digital short form series is.”

New Form is a studio behind 17 series found on mobile, OTT and on-demand platforms such as the YouTube Red romantic comedy “Single By 30,” starring Harry Shum Jr. (“Glee”) and Go90’s high school comedy “Mr. Student Body President.”

There’s no shortage of digital studios making waves: Judy McGrath’s Astronauts Wanted has the talk show “Tawk with Awkwafina” competing in the short form variety series category, and “H8ters” in the short-form comedy category, among others. AwesomenessTV produces the Go90 thriller “T@gged.” Rooster Teeth’s large stable of offerings includes the apocalyptic drama “Day 5.” And that’s just a brief sampling of the hundreds of eligible shorts.

“Awards are great for marketing,” said Kulap Vilaysack, whose “Bajillion Dollar Propertie$” was produced for Seeso.

Young-skewing linear networks like Freeform (“My Boyfriend is a Robot”) and The CW’s CW Seed (“I Ship It”) have also gotten into the game.

“You’re going to see linear TV brands are eventually going to have to adapt and be more digital and therefore theyre going to have variable length content and suddenly they’re going to really care about short form,” Grace said. “They need to do that to drive traffic to their OTT platforms that they’re going to need to build because this audience is not going to wake up one day and start watching television linearly. Sorry, guys.”

But right now, Grace said digital producers looking to getting noticed by Emmy voters are still hampered by the fact that the TV Academy is still mostly an older demographic.

“They don’t know the stuff,” she said. “They don’t know that these series stand on their own and they’re not just add-ons and they’re not just derivative. The majority of voting members are not in the demo that consumes a bunch of Snapchat, or not in a demo that is embracing YouTube Red or Go90 as viewing platforms. They are not necessarily in the demo that is watching a ton of content on their phone.”




Grace is part of a new digital committee set up to build education and awareness about digital producers and series.

“As someone who has been in the world of digital for a very long time I do sometimes get impatient that I’m still explaining to people that the internet exists and people are watching content on it,” she said. “But at the same time, the world changes so fast and slow and I’m willing to ride that wave because ultimately this is where the audience is.”

Grace said she hasn’t seen much campaigning by digital producers this year, and that could be because they may have been discouraged by last year’s results.

“I think they’re sitting back this year and seeing what’s going to happen,” she said. “It felt challenging given the resources we have in digital to fight against ‘The Walking Dead.’”

But it’s also a financial concern: “It costs just as much to put an hour-long pilot on the Emmy For Your Consideration website as it does to put up 10 minutes,” she said. “The 10-minute show certainly didn’t have the same budget that an hour-long drama did.”

That may be why reaction appears to be mixed with producers regarding the Emmys. While many say they’re submitting, College Humor’s Spencer Griffin is less bowled over.

“We have a giant comical prop trash can in our office that’s called the awards trash can, where we put a lot of our awards,” he said. “Because we’ve been a website since 1999 and there are so many awards you can get. With the Streamys and the Webbys and the [he jokes] Awardees. I can’t imagine any one is in it for the awards.”

READ MORE: TV Academy Adds Music Supervisor, Reality Casting Emmy Categories; Restructures Interactive Awards

Separately, the TV Academy this year added more interactive categories, expanding to Outstanding Interactive Program; Outstanding Original Interactive Program; Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within a Scripted Program; and Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Within an Unscripted Program. Most entrants are digital extensions of TV shows, although Turner’s Super Deluxe will compete with its series “Live Telenovela.”

“This project we’re pushing and the stuff we’re doing in general, I’m not surprised the categories are different because the type of work we’re doing didn’t exist a year ago,” said Super Deluxe executive producer Cyrus Ghahremani. “It’s reassuring to see that [the Emmys] are evolving in the same way that we and the medium is.”

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Source: IndieWire Digital TV

June 27, 2017

Less, But Better: 4 Practical Ways To Create Enough Engaging Content

This article originally appeared on Marketo.

“Brands need to be pushing out new content all the time.

That’s what marketers have been hearing for the past few years—and many of us have bought into this thinking.

In response to this, and to fill the need of an “always on” content operation, there’s been a push for content teams to function as publishers. That push for more content is so intense that some brands are using the 24-hour newsroom approach to create more and more content in an attempt to be relevant.

This is understandable, but it’s not always the most efficient approach. Maintaining high-quality production without a break is hard. And, if the quality of your content starts slipping to the point where it’s not engaging, it’s not worth it. Weaker content brings down the quality of your overall content efforts. According to a 2016 Content Marketing Institute report, 60% of marketers say “creating enough engaging content” is their biggest challenge.

More Content Is Not the Answer

It seems, for some, that “creating enough engaging content” has been wrongly interpreted as “creating tons of content.” This is the core problem: many marketers are overly focused on the word “enough.” Instead, marketers should put a greater emphasis on the word “engaging.

Good content means creating better and more engaging content. Simply put: Quality > Quantity.

Here are four ways to focus on creating engaging content and not just pumping out content to fill your editorial calendar:

1. Put More of Your Eggs in Fewer Baskets

This may sound counter-intuitive, but I’ve learned over the years that putting more of your eggs in fewer baskets often makes the most sense—at least for our team. Why is that, you may ask?

Well, say you had a plan to produce and buy media for 12 three-minute videos over the course of the year. That’s a lot of videos, and it will be hard to maintain momentum and quality. And this route may not make the most sense.

Instead, consider doing four videos throughout the year—and making each one the best possible video you can produce. Better yet, make each one you put out better than the one before. And then, after the release of each video, make sure that it makes sense to keep producing videos. If it does, then keep making them, and keep making them better. If it doesn’t, then consider stopping or reducing the volume of work you’re planning. Most brands have limited time and resources, and it’s better to allocate these things where they make the most sense.

Also, consider this: people will remember one beautiful video that you spent a lot of time fine-tuning and perfecting. People won’t remember a bunch of video pieces you rushed through production because the editorial calendar ruled supreme, and if they do remember them, it’ll likely be for the wrong reasons.

If, however, producing a lot of video content is a non-negotiable priority for your marketing team, consider the idea of scaling up gradually over time. It’s smarter to increase your investment gradually, and to develop momentum over time, than it is to come out of the gates at a pace that’s difficult to sustain.

Content marketing is a marathon not a sprint. And, there’s no finish line. That can sound daunting, but I personally prefer to be realistic so that I can plan accordingly.

2. Constantly Sanity Check Why You’re Creating the Content You Planned

Are you creating content because you have reason to believe that it will work (based on previous successes)? Or are you creating something simply because you decided to do so months ago?

Content strategy is iterative (everyone’s figuring it out as they go), and you need to make sure that you are always making room for changes in plans that are based on what’s working and not working.

How do you determine whether your content is working? You measure it, regularly. One of the ways that we sanity check our content plan is to talk about it, a lot. We have bi-weekly brainstorms to come up with new ideas and kill ideas that we don’t love (if we can’t make them better). Search plays a big role in our marketing efforts, so we do a comprehensive KPI check-in on a monthly basis. This enables us, on a rolling basis, to determine what type of content works and what doesn’t. This intel then shapes our brainstorming sessions and helps us to determine what to create in the future.

Then, at the end of each quarter, we do a debrief and we discuss a) what worked, b) what didn’t work, and c) what could work if we did things better/differently. This helps us ensure that we’re not spinning our wheels and just creating content because it sounded like a good idea months ago and we have the people and time to do it.

3. Slow Down and Iterate Until You Get Things “Just Right”

There’s a saying that I love: “Doing something right is better than doing something fast.”

Obviously, you don’t want to procrastinate so much that you never actually get anything done. On the contrary, the first draft or version of most things usually needs to be polished. Also, doing things right tends to take more time than you initially thought… this is just the nature of the beast; so, whenever possible, set more conservative timelines for the work that your team produces.

In an ideal scenario, this means giving yourself the time and space to create something great every time you set out to create a piece of content. Not doing this is counter-productive. Why kill yourself to hit a deadline, if what you ultimately put out is not something you’re proud of? You’re going to hate it, and it’ll dilute your brand.

While this can be difficult when you are on a limited timeline, it gets easier when you really pursue a quality over quantity approach with your content, whereby you’ve got more of your eggs in one basket, and you are constantly sanity checking what you’re working on.

4. Do You; Don’t Focus on the Competition

It’s good to be aware of what your competitors are doing, but you can’t let your marketing efforts devolve into a competition with other brands.

IMO, the best brands are the ones that know who they are, what they stand for, and stay true to this. Conversely, weaker brands follow the crowd, constantly looking for the next novel thing to tinker around with.

While it can sometimes be difficult, and it always takes a lot of dedication, you need to do what is right for you and your audience. They are ultimately the most important consideration when it comes to what you’re doing with your content efforts. Also, it’s important that you stay true to your brand because, chances are, people (read: customers) were drawn into it and don’t want it to change.

The best way to know if what you’re doing is working for the people you’re trying to reach? Ask them. Conduct surveys. Email your customers. Take them out to dinner. Whatever feedback mechanism works best for your business, do that.

Focus on the Right Thing

If you remember one thing from this post, I hope that it’s that people don’t care about how often you post, they care about what you post; they crave content that is useful, relevant, and valuable. Keeping this in mind is key to developing a content approach that prioritizes quality over quantity.

Source: Visual News

June 26, 2017


This article originally appeared on Column Five.

Data storytelling is one of the best ways to create unique, original, and credible content marketing, but you need some solid data sources to start.

Good marketers are well-suited to extract and communicate great data stories because they know who they’re talking to, what interests them, what their pain points are, and how to speak to them. (That’s where data scientists often struggle.) So there’s no reason not to dive into data—unless you don’t know where to look. here is plenty of data all around, both in your company and on the online.


There is plenty of data all around, both in your company and on the online. Here are 9 great data sources to help you uncover your next great data story.


Surveys are one of our favorite data sources because they let you tap right into the thoughts and feelings of specific groups. They can be short or lengthy, surveys can always provide great fodder for stories whether they come from your own company or an industry survey.

Example: We helped Newscred visualize the results of a content marketing survey in an animated infographic.  


This information has long been used to help companies create a better experience for their customers, but it can provide valuable insights into your customers’ wants, needs, or knowledge gaps—and help you identify how your content can address those issues.

An added bonus: This information helps you build stronger audience personas (psychographic maps of different audience segments), which you can use to vet any and all content marketing ideas going forward.

Example: To celebrate Number26’s first year in business, we created an infographic to show their success, using insights from customer data.


Data storytelling offers a chance to shed light on many different aspects of your company. Even better, all of that data is right in your hands. Think of ways that information might be used to educate people about what you do or who you are.

Example: We partnered up with The World Bank to create an interactive data visualization that allows users to explore the different ways the company is funding new educational initiatives worldwide. 


You have access to a ton of info, from how many visitors your website has to how your efforts are performing. There are plenty of great stories in this data. When you know what people respond most to, you can determine what stories they’d be most interested in. Sometimes even your own marketing efforts can become the story.

Example: We published an article that told the story of how we revamped our marketing strategy and increased our leads 78% in only 6 months. We shared the data and offered tips to help others improve their own strategy, too.


Reports, white papers, and case studies all contain valuable information that can easily be turned into data storytelling. Even better, the data contained in these reports can be published on social as microcontent, helping to further promote the original piece of content.

Example: We helped HighFive turn insights from their “Workplace Culture and Communication” report into an engaging infographic. 


Not every company has the resources to commission large studies, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find an original angle in other people’s data. (In fact, studies from larger entities may get you access to data you wouldn’t otherwise have.) Look for ways to pull interesting insights out of these studies and turn them into useful content.

Example: We turned data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Report into an interesting infographic about the ages that entrepreneurs are most likely to pursue their business. For Clarity, a company that connects startup entrepreneurs with business experts, it was a perfect subject. 


Beyond the standard legal requirements and financial disclosures, annual reports include a wealth of interesting data. Creative data storytelling can really bring this info to life as infographics, interactive infographics, motion graphics, and more.

Example: We turned the Krochet Kids intl. 2013 annual report into an interactive experience to let visitors explore the data and the company’s mission.

For more annual report inspiration, check out 40 examples of incredible annual report design.


Your coworkers and company culture can also make for interesting or entertaining data storytelling. This is especially great fodder for social media, where you can really show off your brand personality.

Example: As data geeks and lovers of our Beer Friday tradition, we tracked a day’s worth of company liquid consumption and turned it into a fun little infographic.


The Web is full of interesting data sets from reliable sources, such as government agencies, educational institutions, and non-profits. You can mine these to uncover data stories or use them to supplement stories you already have. To start, check out our roundup of 104 free data sources.

Example: For Earth Week, NBC Universal used data from the Natural Resources Defense Council to create a video encouraging Americans to reduce food waste.


No matter what data story you’re telling, the key is to make sure your story is credible, interesting, and delivered effectively. To help you do that:

Source: Visual News

June 26, 2017

Submit Your Film to the 2018 SXSW Film Festival

The SXSW Film Festival is now accepting film submissions for 2018.

For nine days in March, creatives of all stripes gather for the acclaimed SXSW Film Festival program to celebrate raw innovation and emerging talent both behind and in front of the camera. SXSW Film Festival is well-known as a place for discovering new voices and emerging talent, but we can’t do that without you.

Please review the submission deadlines below and read in-depth information in our Film Submission FAQ page for more insights about submitting your film for the 2018 SXSW Film Festival. Visit sxsw.com/festivals/film beginning Monday, June 26 to submit your film.

2018 SXSW Film Submission Deadlines

August 25, 2017: Early Deadline for Feature Films, Short Film, Virtual Cinema, Texas High School Short Films, Title Sequences, Episodics, and Music Videos

September 22, 2017: Regular Entry Deadline for Feature Films, Short Film, Virtual Cinema, Texas High School Short Films, Title Sequences, Episodics, and Music Videos

October 20, 2017: Late Entry Deadline for Feature Films, Short Film, Virtual Cinema, Texas High School Short Films, Title Sequences, Episodics, and Music Videos

December 15, 2017: Final Deadline for Texas High School Short Films and Title Sequences

2018 Application Fees and Deadlines

Submit your film early and save! Stay tuned for more information about Film Submissions including how to’s and tips. Mark your calendars for Tuesday, August 1 when 2018 SXSW registration and housing open.

Director Jennifer Brea at 2017 SXSW Film, Unrest – Photo by Cal Holman

Related News:

The post Submit Your Film to the 2018 SXSW Film Festival appeared first on SXSW.

Source: SxSW Film

June 25, 2017

Diverse Casts Lead to Beaucoup Bucks at the Box Office, Says Extensive New Study

Hollywood fat cats often point to box-office potential as one reason why their films don’t feature more diverse casts. A new study from Creative Artists Agency debunks that theory, according to a Los Angeles Times report, and the results are fairly definitive: “The average opening weekend for a film that attracts a diverse audience, often the result of having a diverse cast, is nearly three times on average a film with non-diverse audiences.”

READ MORE: Why Diversity In the Entertainment Business Will Save Us From Stupid, Offensive Mistakes

CAA’s Christy Haubegger Talitha Watkins put the Motion Picture Diversity Index together. Haubegger stated the results plainly: “One of the interesting things that the most successful movies share is that they’re broadly appealing to diverse audiences,” she said. “People want to see a world that looks like theirs.”

After crunching the numbers — nonwhite people make up 38% of the population but accounted for 45% of theatrical audiences last year — they looked at 413 different movies released between 2014 and 2016. Again, the results were clear: “At every budget level, a film with a cast that is at least 30% non-white — CAA’s definition of a ‘truly diverse’ film — outperforms a release that is not truly diverse in opening weekend box office.”

READ MORE: Marvel Executive Says Comic Readers ‘Didn’t Want Any More Diversity’ or Female Characters

That can be seen in smaller movies like “Get Out” and “Hidden Figures” and in blockbusters like “Rogue One” and “The Fate of the Furious.”

“The hope is that seeing real numbers attached to the success of the inclusion of more voices and diverse casts will be further motivation for studios, networks and others to be really conscious of the opportunity,” said Richard Lovett, president of CAA. More on the study here.

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Source: IndieWire film

June 25, 2017

That Super-Sad ‘Toy Story’ Video About Andy’s Dad Has Been Debunked, Thankfully

The internet was abuzz with a video explaining the sad, sad backstory to “Toy Story” yesterday; unfortunately — or maybe not, given what a bummer it was — the video has been debunked by Pixar’s Andrew Stanton, who co-wrote all three movies in the series. “Complete and utter fake news,” he tweeted. “Everyone go back to your homes. Nothing to see here, folks. #Iwasthere”

READ MORE: Pixar’s Sequel Problem: Studio Tells Audiences Not to Worry About Franchises in Its Slate — SF International Film Festival

Still, it’s a good story. According to Mike Mozart, who served as a toy consultant on the original film, Pixar’s former head writer Joe Ranft (now deceased) confided in him the tragic backstory of Andy’s dad. The long version can be found in the video below, but here’s the gist of it: Andy’s father, also named Andy, had polio as a child. Woody was a one-of-a-kind toy he’d gotten from a cereal box, and he passed it on to his son shortly before dying of Post-Polio Syndrome.

READ MORE: Review: ‘Cars 3’ Is the Best Entry In Pixar’s Weakest Franchise

Slinky and Mr. Potato Head are also gifted to Andy, who finds the three toys in a box that his father gave him the key to on his deathbed; to their toy minds, this Andy is the same one from all those years ago. Watch below for the whole tragic story and be glad that it isn’t true.

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Source: IndieWire film

June 25, 2017

Guillermo del Toro Reveals the One Movie He Wishes He Hadn’t Turned Down — Watch

For every movie Guillermo del Toro makes, there are two or three that he doesn’t. That’s just one topic the Mexican auteur touched on during a 90-minute masterclass at the animation-themed Annecy Festival, which found him in self-deprecating mode: “My statistics are very bad,” he said. “I have written 24 screenplays. I’ve made 10 movies.”

READ MORE: Cannes: Guillermo del Toro Talks Real-Life Monsters in Political-Leaning Speech

That just makes those that do get made all the more special, however: “Every movie I have made was made because I would die to have it made.” He’s done more than just features, of course, including creating the Netflix show “Trollhunters” — an experience del Toro speaks highly of.

“They put out the show we made,” he said of working with the streaming giant. “I’ve made movies that are sold as exactly the opposite of what they were. The show was sold beautifully as what it was and that’s fantastic.”

READ MORE: Guillermo del Toro’s Guide to Creating the Perfect Movie Monster: ‘No Element Must be Accidental’

As for regrets, he’s had a few. “I’ve had the most incredible opportunities to say no to big movies,” said del Toro, but there is one he wishes he hadn’t turned down: “Harry Potter.” Considering what his friend and countryman Alfonso Cuarón did with his take on “Azkaban,” it’s hard not to share that regret. Watch his full masterclass below.

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Source: IndieWire film

June 25, 2017

‘The Big Sick’ and ‘The Beguiled’ Rescue Indie Box Office, Top All 2017 Specialty Openers

Things are looking up at the specialty box office as two festival hits, Sundance breakout “The Big Sick” (Amazon/Lionsgate) and Sofia Coppola’s Cannes director-winner “The Beguiled” (Focus Features) both beat all the 2017 limited openings to date. With $87,000 and $60,000 per theater averages respectively, they both accomplished something only one platform film (“Cafe Society”) achieved all last summer. And they did so the same weekend in some of the same theaters.

This shows that core specialty audiences are starving for cinematic nourishment they aren’t getting from mainstream studio fare.

The two new films join “Beatriz at Dinner” (Roadside Attractions), which expanded well in its third week. A box office rebound for specialized non-mass-audience film is finally under way.


The Big Sick (Lionsgate) – Metacritic: 87; Festivals include: Sundance, South by Southwest, Seattle 2017

$435,000 in 5 theaters; PTA (per theater average): $87,000

Amazon strikes again with its $12-million Sundance acquisition marking the biggest limited opening of the year, at a high end for any release period. Bolstered by strong reviews and released by Lionsgate, these are stunning results.

Pakistani-American comic Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote (with wife Emily Gordon) and stars in this autobiographical romance about the inter-family crisis that ensues when his ex-girlfriend (Zoe Kazan) contracts a mysterious illness and he interacts with her parents (Holly Hunter and Ray Romano).

Rave reviews alone don’t explain how well this authentic family drama/culture clash connected with audiences: a 27 percent Saturday increase shows that initial word of mouth is strong.

The significance of a top festival film opening theatrically and so well (Amazon is a critical supporter of traditional release patterns) can’t be underestimated. Will this click nationally? Lionsgate has the capacity to maximize it as they did with Oscar-contender “La La Land.” And this comes at a time when the general public is not responding to a series of pricey franchise releases.

The mastermind behind Amazon’s theatrical marketing and distribution is Bob Berney, who has steered his share of runaway indie hits, including “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” 15 years ago. This has a long way to go before match that success, but it’s off to a great start.

What comes next: A big city limited expansion this week with the 1,600 or more national break in mid-July.


“The Beguiled”

The Beguiled (Focus) – Metacritic: 76; Festivals include: Cannes, Los Angeles, Provincetown 2017

$240,545 in 4 theaters; PTA: $60,136

Sofia Coppola’s sixth film boasts the strongest initial PTA of any of her previous openings. The previous two (“Bling Ring” and “Somewhere”) also opened in only a handful of theaters, with her latest, a Southern Gothic Civil War melodrama easily besting earlier results.

The timing clearly helped, weeks after not only Coppola’s Cannes prize but the “Wonder Woman” increased awareness of female directors. But these numbers is nearly double of any other 2017 earlier week opening (though below “The Big Sick”) prove that Coppola has established herself as a marquee auteur.

A cast led by Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst helped as well, and its outside-the-box story added to its appeal.

One initial concern is that the numbers fell nine per cent on the second day (the opposite of the initial response to “The Big Sick”). That is due partly to the director’s first-day appearances at two New York theaters.

What comes next: Focus will aggressively expand this as soon as this Friday, much more quickly than “The Big Sick.”

The Bad Batch (Neon) – Metacritic: 62; Festivals include: Venice, Toronto 2016; also available on Video on Demand

$91,074 in 30 theaters; PTA: $3,036

Ana Lily Amirpour’s second feature after her acclaimed vampire thriller “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night” opened both streaming and in multiple major cities. The numbers for a day-and- ate release in this many theaters are positive, although the theater role is mainly to give the film exposure for its home purchases.

What comes next: VOD will be its main arena.

Food Evolution (Abramorama) – Festivals include: DOC NYC 2016, Seattle 2017

$3,311 in 1 theater; PTA: $3,311

An issue-related documentary about the dangers of food modification opened in New York to modest results.

What comes next: As is increasingly common from Abramorama, this will be more of a special event/one day screening release rather than full-week bookings with outreach to interested audiences.

“My Journey Through French Cinema”

Courtesy of Cohen Media Group

My Journey Through French Cinema (Kino Lorber) – Metacritic: 87; Festivals include: Cannes, Telluride, New York 2017

$11,000 in 3 theater ; PTA: $(est.) 3,667

This nearly four-hour documentary from director Bertrand Tavernier about his predecessors in French cinema opened in three New York/Los Angeles theaters. Its length tempered audience response, but it more than doubled its figure of Saturday, which is a positive sign.

What comes next: Niche dates ahead in appropriate cinephile locations before a likely long library and at home viewing opportunities.

International releases

DJ Duvadda Jagannadham (Big Sky) – $(est.) 950,000 in 190 theaters

"The Book of Henry"

“The Book of Henry”

Week Two

The Book of Henry (Focus)

$936,995 in 646 theaters (+67); PTA: $1,450; Cumulative: $3,094,000

Though still below its hoped for result, the second weekend for Colin Trevorrow’s mother/precocious son thriller dropped a respectable third with a small increase in theaters. Look for it to eke out some more time at the best of these though still falling short of expectations.

Maudie (Sony Pictures Classics)

$93,610 in 28 theaters (+4); PTA: $3,343;  Cumulative: $2,793

This Canadian/Irish rural love story expanded in its U.S. dates (it has played up north for weeks) to a respectable $80,033 in 12 locations. The older appeal could help it in broader dates, with word of mouth in these initial dates crucial for its future.

“The Journey”

The Journey (IFC)

$(est.) 15,000 in 18 theaters (+16); PTA: $(est.) 833; Cumulative: $(est.) 51,000

The initial New York positive response to this Northern Ireland political drama didn’t repeat itself as IFC went to other top theaters.

Score: A Film Music Documentary (Gravitas Ventures)

$13,000 in theaters (+1); PTA: $6,500; Cumulative: $21,000

Los Angeles opened this documentary about composing movie scores after its initial New York date. The latter stayed steady, with its west coast date also showing some initial positive response.

Hare Krishna!: The Mantra, the Movement and the Swami Who Started It All (Abramorama)

$8,334 in 2 theaters (+1); PTA: $4,167; Cumulative: $37,386

The strong core of interested viewers in Manhattan for this documentary (where it grossed over $22,000 in a single theater) decreased but it still drew an at least average crowd for a niche topic with a Los Angeles date added.

Lost in Paris (Oscilloscope)

$4,000 in 1 theater; PTA: $4,000; Cumulative: $10,562

Though not a standout gross, this French comedy (with the late Emanuelle Riva) fell only $500 from its opening New York weekend total.

“Beatriz at Dinner”

Ongoing/expanding (Grosses over $50,000 in under 1,000 theaters)

Beatriz at Dinner (Roadside Attractions) Week 3

$1,818,000 in 491 theaters (+414); Cumulative: $3,011,000

Miguel Arteta’s drama about a clash of two dissimilar West Coast worlds continues to show strength, with an eleventh place overall showing though under 500 theaters. This hasn’t reached crossover status yet, but is positioning itself to go wider.

Paris Can Wait (Sony Pictures Classics) Week 7

$612,057 in 408 theaters (-39);  Cumulative: $4,192,000

In what is certainly the first time mother and daughter directors have had two feature films in release at the same time, Eleanor Coppola’s tale of Diane Lane meandering through Paris. This continues to look like it will end up somewhere above $6 million, or 50 per cent better than any SPC release in over a year.

READ MORE It’s a Coppola World: Inside the Filmmaking Co-op that is Sofia, Eleanor, Roman and Francis

The Hero (The Orchard) Week 3

$324,663 in 81 (+54) theaters;  Cumulative: $582,627

Sam Elliott’s portrayal of an aging actor expanded well as core older audiences seem to be responding to its gentle story.

My Cousin Rachel (Fox Searchlight) Week 3

$200,000 in 163 theaters (-368);  Cumulative: $2,431,000

Despite its director/star pedigree and on paper appealing gothic/romantic period story, this has been a significant disappointment. Losing the large majority of its theaters in its third week, this won’t even reach $3 million despite wider than usual initial release.

Christopher Plummer in “The Exception”

The Exception (A24) Week 4

$138,134 in 48 (+34) theaters; Cumulative: $250,468

Pre-World War II German political intrigue with Christopher Plummer as the exiled Kaiser hit most top cities with continued modest results. Its strong Saturday jump suggests it is reaching some of its target older audience.

The Women’s Balcony (Menemsha) Week 17

$92,811 in 32 theaters (+5);  Cumulative: $631,082

This Israeli film continues its lengthy slow release with continued success.

Gifted (Fox Searchlight) Week 12

$50,000 in 76 theaters; Cumulative: $24,419,000

Still in play and setting the mark for “The Big Sick” and “The Beguiled” to try to match among top limited releases this year.

Also noted:

The Wedding Plan (Roadside Attractions) – $31,400 in 34 theaters; Cumulative: $1,352,000

Chasing Trane (Abramorama) – $19,821 in 7 theaters; Cumulative: $323,678

Dawson City – Frozen Time (Kino Lorber) – $12,000 in 6 theaters; Cumulative: $47,000

Kedi (Oscilloscope) – $10,500 in 10 theaters; Cumulative: $2,745,000

Source: IndieWire film

June 25, 2017

Oliver Stone’s Vladimir Putin Interview Criticized by Pussy Riot Member

It isn’t just Megyn Kelly who’s taking heat for interviewing Vladimir Putin. Oliver Stone’s two-part, four-hour “The Putin Interviews” has been divisive as well, with the Oscar-winning filmmaker receiving criticism for his sit-down with the Russian President. Among the critics is Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who says Stone “comfortably forgot” to ask Putin any difficult questions, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

READ MORE: Oliver Stone Defends Vladimir Putin In Bizarre, Seemingly Edited ‘Late Show’ Appearance

Stone also defended Putin in a recent “Daily Show” appearance, much to the bewilderment of many.

“He’s a well-known leftist and some Western leftists, unfortunately for me because I’m a leftist, think the enemy of your enemy is your friend,”Tolokonnikova continued. “I think he’s part of the global oligarchy and it’s pretty weird to me that a person who is supposedly supporting the left like Oliver Stone would interview Vladimir Putin.”

Tolokonnikova says she met Stone, who was “upset” at the fact that she doesn’t count herself among Putin’s supporters, six months ago. “It was very obvious that [Stone] is very comfortable in this position and he doesn’t want any critics, so there wasn’t really any ground for discussion.”

READ MORE: Pussy Riot Brace for First Days of Trump Presidency in ‘Make America Great Again’ Video — Watch

She isn’t a fan of Trump, either, in case you were curious: “I don’t even like to say his name because he really likes when people say his name, this guy that’s the president, it’s like the C-word but it’s the T-word.” More details at THR.

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Source: IndieWire film