24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Michael Bay

Hamilton Awards to 'Super 8,' 'Transformers,' 'Cowboys & Aliens'

November 7, 2011 |  4:21 pm

JJ Abrams, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards

Three titans of sci-fi/action movies –- J.J. Abrams, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau –- found some time to chat backstage Sunday night at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards. It was all light talk and photo ops until the ceremony began, when the filmmakers wandered in separate directions, pulling pieces of paper out of their pockets –- speeches they had written for presenting awards to collaborators on recent projects. Abrams asked to borrow a pen from a publicist, making some final revisions. Favreau stood some feet away, mouthing his speech to himself.

The awards, presented by the Hamilton Watch Co. and Los Angeles Confidential magazine, honored several filmmakers for their work this year. There also was a lifetime achievement award for Vic Armstrong, best known as Harrison Ford's and Christopher Reeve’s stunt double. At the event held at the Conga Room at L.A. Live, presenters were filmmakers and actors who had collaborated with the honorees on various projects.

Abrams presented the film editors award to his longtime collaborators Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, who were honored for Abrams’ summer hit “Super 8.”

“I found two collaborators who could do it all,” Abrams said in his speech. He went on to explain that he wanted to work in the film industry not just to make movies “but to make movies with people like this.”

The two editors were also appreciative and sincere about the director when they talked with 24 Frames on the event's red carpet. Markey said, “I don’t think we would be here without him. I certainly feel we owe a lot of our success to him."

Bay was at the event to support Scott Farrar, who received the visual effects supervisor award for Bay’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” which shot to No. 4 on the list of highest-grossing movies of all time.

Host Isaiah Mustafa introduced Bay as a man whose films have “grossed over 400 kajillion dollars,” and the director paid tribute to Farrar with a story about a Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. conference when a reporter asked him if he ever wanted to make an art movie.

“I said, 'Bumblebee is art. Do you have any idea how many hundreds of artists it takes to make these movies?’” Bay recalled.

Favreau presented Russell Bobbitt with the property master award for his work on “Cowboys & Aliens.” Bobbitt talked about his first conversation with Favreau about the film: When he learned that it would be a western, plus it would have aliens, his mouth dropped. He gave the audience a silent, gaping stare and said, “That was what my response sounded like.

“And opening day,” Favreau quipped, taking the opportunity for a self-deprecating jab about the movie’s ultimately poor box-office performance.

“Twilight” star Robert Pattinson also poked  fun at himself, though with a, well, different approach than the filmmakers who had been reviewing their speeches backstage an hour or so before. The actor presented Chris Weitz with an award for directing “A Better Life.”

Following Mustafa’s introduction of Pattinson (in which he claimed the room’s occupants would be screaming were it filled with teenage girls instead of industry VIPs), Pattinson said, “I’d prefer to have the room be full of screaming girls -– then no one could hear how bad I am at speeches.”

Pattinson, whom Weitz directed in “Twilight: New Moon,” began to launch into an explanation of what an artist Weitz is, then cut himself short, saying, “I feel ridiculous. The last time I talked with Chris I was like, ‘Want to go to Coachella and do some mushrooms?'”

Weitz’s first words upon walking up to the microphone onstage were an emphatic “Mushroom soup.”

Armstrong’s lifetime achievement award was presented by Ford, who said he felt like one of the luckiest men in Hollywood when “30 years ago I was hired to do Vic’s dialogue.” The stunt coordinator and stunt double’s award at the event came about five months after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voted against creating an Oscar category for stunt coordinators. Armstrong was also given a lifetime achievement award in 2005 by the Taurus World Stunt Awards.

Sunday’s event also honored Yasmina Reza for writing “Carnage” and Agustín Almodóvar for producing “The Skin I Live In.” See below for full list of award recipients.

Award winners:

Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey, film editors, “Super 8”

Mark Ricker, production designer, “The Help”
Russell Bobbitt, property master, “Cowboys & Aliens”

Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer, “The Tree of Life”
Evelina De Gaudenzi, short film competition winner
Scott Farrar, visual effects supervisor, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Janie Bryant, costume designer, “Mad Men”

Yasmina Reza, screenwriter, “Carnage”

Agustín Almodóvar, producer, “The Skin I Live In”

Chris Weitz, director, “A Better Life”

Vic Armstrong, lifetime achievement in stunt choreography


'Cowboys & Aliens': Five lessons to take away

'Super 8' seeks an audience among the summer tent poles

Indiana Jones, Superman and Bond: Vic Armstrong’s life in stunts

-– Emily Rome

Photo: J.J. Abrams, left, Michael Bay and Jon Favreau at the Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards, presented by Los Angeles Confidential magazine and the Hamilton Watch Co., at the Conga Room. Credit: Todd Williamson / WireImage

'Transformers: Dark of the Moon': Is 3-D back or is it just, well, an illusion?

July 5, 2011 |  7:33 pm

Photo: A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Credit: Paramount In the run-up to "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," many of those associated with the film tied its fortunes to the overall fortunes of 3-D. Paramount executives privately said this would be a test for how much consumers like the technology, which is used to unusually splashy and in-your-face effect in the robot threequel.

Director Michael Bay even sent out letters imploring viewers to see his film in 3-D, and asked projectionists not to skimp on bulb quality. "Let's make the audience believe again," he wrote to theater operators.

When it finally opened last weekend, the Shia LaBeouf action vehicle seemed to provide an affirmative answer to those who question the z-axis's future. "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" took in 60% of its receipts in 3-D in this country and 70% internationally. Those figures offered a sharp contrast to 3-D filmgoing of some other recent movies ("Green Lantern" collected just 45% of its receipts from 3-D locations, for example) and prompted both pundits and Paramount to proclaim an, ahem, bright spot for the format.

Rob Moore, vice chairman of Paramount, acknowledged the recent domestic backlash against the technology but said "Transformers" had overcome it. "In the U.S., we had to win a lot of people back to 3-D," he told my colleague Amy Kaufman.

The totals indeed suggest that an appetite for 3-D hasn't completely evaporated. But there are also a number of factors that argue that 3-D may still not be nearly as healthy as this weekend’s numbers imply. Here's a quick rundown on why skepticism may still be in order.

--The 60% figure is a percentage of receipts, not admissions. And 3-D tickets cost an average of about 45% more than 2-D tickets do. So while the percentage suggests a heavy skew toward 3-D, the actual number of Americans who chose to see "Transformers" in 3-D compared to 2-D is roughly even.

--The figures don't take into account how many theaters were showing the movie in 2-D in the first place, a decidedly shrinking number (given that more theaters are converting to 3-D and studios are pushing theaters for as many 3-D screenings as possible). So there's no way to know from the percentages how many filmgoers actually wanted to see it in 3-D -- and how many preferred 2-D but weren't given the chance.

--These numbers speak only to how people chose to see the movie, not what they thought of it once they did. A sizable number of filmgoers may have come to see 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon" in 3-D. But the measure of the format's long-term popularity is not box office but the post-screening grading system CinemaScore. And CinemaScore doesn't break down grades by format, so there's no concrete way of demonstrating whether all the people who came to see it in 3-D actually enjoyed the experience more than their 2-D-viewing counterparts.

--Even if they did enjoy it, "Transformers" is a movie that Michael Bay took the time to conceive of and shoot in 3-D, and with the top-line cameras developed by James Cameron ("Avatar") to boot. Not every filmmaker has shown that commitment (and in any event, not every filmmaker has the budget to do so). Which potentially makes this win for the format more of a one-off than a trend.


Transformers, a U.S. hit, soars even higher abroad

3-D in the movies: Getting in too deep

Hollywood sequels bite into a new crust

--Steven Zeitchik


Photo: A scene from "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." Credit: Paramount


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