The Morning Read: ‘The Hobbit’ gets underway while ‘Avatar 2’ hits a snag

Welcome back to The Morning Read.

As if a trip to Area 51 and a film festival wasn’t already disruptive enough to my regular schedule, I managed to get a sinus infection that has laid me flat for the past few days and that has been one of the most painful experiences of my adult life.  Then there was a flooding incident that ruined my office in the house yesterday and most of my books, so I lost an entire day to trying to salvage what I could from all of that.  Even so, I’ve been working through most of it, and we’ll have some great video interviews for “Sucker Punch” and “Source Code” coming up this week, as well as the rest of my South By Southwest coverage.

First, though, let’s jump back in and see what’s going on out there on the rest of the Internet.  It’s been a tumultuous couple of weeks, and there’s a lot of ground to cover.  There has been casting news I’ve missed during the festival, but it all feels vaguely anti-climactic to me.  It’s momentarily interesting to hear what role Joseph Gordon Levitt might be playing in “The Dark Knight Rises,” but how much do I really want to know about that film this far away from its production, much less its release?  And I’ll be writing more about “Hunger Games” later today, so I’m glad to hear Jennifer Lawrence is officially onboard as the lead, but that’s hardly the entire puzzle, so I’m not feeling the breathless excitement I’ve seen in some of the reporting of it.  And while I’m glad to hear that production has finally started on “The Hobbit,” and it’s nice to Peter Jackson up and around and looking healthy, it’s familiar and a return to something.  It doesn’t electrify me the way something genuinely new does.  It’s just a nice confirmation of something that’s been in the works forever.

So what is going on out there?  What’s going to shake me from my stupor so I can start this week the right way?

RT @creepypuppet if u carry the most important data/info and your digital-DNA on a disc, would you go around throwing it? #tronlegacy

Coming Attractions has a piece up today
about the way the aftershocks from the recent Japanese quake 9.0 quake could force a fairly significant change in James Cameron’s plans for both research and photography on “Avatar 2.”  Obviously, this isn’t a tragedy compared to anything that’s happened over there, but it is just one of what I assume will be many major revisions of plans for films both from American studios and, of course, from any of the Japanese production companies.  To pick up in the wake of this, to even think about this sort of industry… I don’t know how you begin to do that.  Cameron can always find some other part of the world’s oceans to do his work, or he can revise his plans and make a film somewhere else.

I’ve talked several times about my theory that movie marketing is slowly evolving into a real-world equivalent of the way Disney handles its rides and the long lines for them, turning the queue into a separate experience that is fun and engaging and that, hopefully, gets you warmed up for the thing you’re about to see.  I like that Disney continues to polish their rides and the way they work on visitors, and they’re in the midst of updating the Haunted Mansion queue, which has always been one of the most fun in either of the American parks.  Check this out:

Okay… can I go ahead and wish on every star in the sky that David O. Russell actually does make it through development and into production with his Russ Meyer biopic that Fox Searchlight is looking to be involved in?  Please?  Because that seems like the kind of material that would set Russell free and that would also probably be about as much fun as you’re allowed to have with your pants on.  Until home video.

And, look, you can be on top of the industry and things can still flame out for one reason or another.  Tom Hooper, who of course just won his Oscar for “The King’s Speech,” was hoping to make a film version of the musical “Gypsy” with Barbra Streisand starring as Mother Rose, one of the great monsters of modern musical theater.  But now, according to Arthur Laurents, who wrote the book for the 1959 Broadway original, it’s not going to happen, and it’s for a very interesting reason.  I like it, although I’m Streisand and Hooper don’t agree.

Damn straight we worked things out this time around
.  You think anyone in LA wants another strike, all of us standing outside in this I’m-pretty-sure-it’s-radioactive rain we’re getting right now?

Hey, C. Thomas Howell, I’m pretty sure you weren’t supposed to tell everyone that Spider-Man is fighting the Lizard in the new movie.  It wasn’t exactly a secret, but Sony still hasn’t publicly identified the villain for the new movie because they were hoping to do that in a very big and splashy way, I’m guessing.  I don’t think Marilyn Ghigliotti’s podcast was exactly where they were hoping to launch the news.

Oh, Tom Arnold, I love it when you talk about “True Lies 2.”  A dream is a wish your heart makes, buddy.

There are all sorts of redefinitions of the paradigm of movie marketing going on, large and small, that it’s hard sometimes to notice them as they’re going on.  This weekend’s Groupon/Fandango deal for “The Lincoln Lawyer,” though?  That’s one.  Definitely.  And my guess is we’ll see a lot more of this, soon.

Don’t think it would have helped “Mars Needs Moms,” though.

It is one thing for a publication to call itself on what it sees as a breach of ethical trust with its readership, and then make a course correction.  What I find ridiculous is when you try to create your entire identity online out of little more than trying to course correct others, particularly when those others don’t need the help.  Is that vague and passive-aggressive enough?  Because that seems to be the only way things get handled these days.

RT @ErikDavis My take is you don’t work with pubs, so don’t try to write intelligently about the people who do, because you come off like a douchebag.

You realize, of course, that everyone performing for Cirque du Soleil is the devil, right?

You know how I know I’m a nerd?  Because I could watch this stuff all day:

5.6k Saturn Cassini Photographic Animation from stephen v2 on Vimeo.

This really is the future of how we’re going to be fed our information, isn’t it?

I’m amazed how there are people I know… reasonable, normal people… who are fixated on “The Real Cancun.”  No positive review I ever gave at AICN got me screamed at more frequently, yet there is a building cult that seems to appreciate it in the same “Oh my god, you poor idiot kids” sort of way I did when I reviewed it, and it cracks me up.

This piece by Todd Brown about how the PG-13 screwed up the ratings system more instead of solving anything is a great one.  So worth a read.

Tell me again why we don’t license parents?

I love how there’s a recurrent poster here at the site who, because no one has ever thought to do this before, signs in anonymously using a oh-so-clever variation on my last name, and then does nothing but remark on how much he hates me.  It is a tale as old as my time on the Internet, and anonymity really brings out the A-game in these emotional children.  I wish everyone who commented here needed to use a registered account, because those who have the courage to sign their own name also more frequently actually have something to say.  Slate wrote a good piece on it.  Of course, notice how many of the comments below it are anonymous.

And finally today, I’m going to share a short film with you by Ruairi Robinson, a very talented guy who is probably best known for the film he didn’t make, the live-action adaptation of “Akira.”  Instead, when that didn’t happen, he went and made this malicious, delicious little film about a boy and his robot.  Meet “Blinky.”

Blinky™ from Ruairi Robinson on Vimeo.

Okay, I’m going to cut this one short this morning.  Lots more to write and post today, and I need to get to it.  But it’s good to get the Read back in the rotation, and I hope you guys are onboard for for all the good stuff we’ve ot planned all week.

The Morning Read appears here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Except when it doesn’t.