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Sci-Fi on the Cheap 353

Posted by timothy
from the zombies-are-after-us dept.
lowbudgetfun writes "NYTimes.com is reporting on the Sci-Fi channel's huge investment (28 films for $21 million) for original B movies. Includes quotes from B Movie hero, Bruce Campbell." I especially liked this line from the article: "Shot on budgets ranging from $1 million to $2 million, Sci Fi's movies are made in money-saving locales like Bulgaria, Romania and Missouri."
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Sci-Fi on the Cheap

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:36PM (#13028361)
    I know it's a crappy place to live, but comparing us to Bulgaria? Thats a little harsh.
    • Article Text (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:41PM (#13028398)
      July 10, 2005
      B Movies Invade Your TV!
      By LEWIS BEALE

      "ATTACK OF THE SABRETOOTH." "Bloodsuckers." "The Man With the Screaming Brain." And, most indelible of all, "Mansquito."

      A combination of outrageous genre concepts, low-budget filmmaking and sensationalized titles like the roll call above are all part of the Sci Fi Channel's attempt to establish a presence on Saturday nights, when a good number of potential viewers are out, asleep or watching reruns. The programming strategy has been a major success, with numbers that far exceed anyone's expectations.

      "Alien Apocalypse," Sci Fi's biggest Saturday hit, attracted 2.7 million viewers in March. That may be a pittance for CBS or NBC, but it constitutes a major audience for a niche network. And besides, said Steve Sternberg, a television analyst at MagnaGlobal USA, "Friday and Saturday have become very weak nights for the broadcast networks," which, he explained, "have not been able to draw enough viewers with original entertainment series. Cable networks can flourish with much smaller audiences. Original horror and sci-fi movies seem like the perfect programming for Saturday night."

      "They're good at the 'D' word, demographics," said Bruce Campbell, a star of B movies who also wrote, directed and starred in the "Screaming Brain" film, to be shown in September. "I think they're micromarketing," he said, "which in this fragmented world makes sense. They're saying, 'Who's at home on Saturday night?' "

      The answer might be surprising. Nearly half of Sci Fi's audience is female, and in the highly sought-after 25-to-54-year-old demographic category, Sci Fi is the No. 4 basic cable network on Saturdays, behind TNT, USA and TBS.

      Sci Fi's foray into Saturday night mayhem began in 2002, when network executives realized that cheap, independently made genre pictures, an important element of their programming mix, were hardly being produced any more. So, said Tom Vitale, the Sci Fi Channel's senior vice president for original movies "We had a choice of recycling older movies or going out and trying to create original movies ourselves. We went back to these producers who made genre movies, and asked them if they wanted to make them with us."

      People like Ken Badish jumped at the chance. Mr. Badish's company, Active Entertainment, will have produced nine Sci Fi movies by the end of 2005, high-concept features like "Mansquito" (experiment gone awry creates man-mosquito hybrid!), and "Alien Lockdown" (government science produces horrific slime thing!).

      The most important element of a Sci Fi film, Mr. Badish said, "is a topical film that has relevance to our audience."

      "In a film coming up," he added, "stem cells are key to the plot; in another, it's mad cow disease. Secondly, there's a good story. Like we're shooting a 'Jaws'-kind of movie featuring a giant squid. We make a reasonable use of C.G.I., because the audience wants that escapist thing. And we add emotional content, so the audience can feel for the characters."

      Often that amounts to borrowing shamelessly from works like "Alien," "The Fly" and "The Thing" and then adding ideas gleaned from Scientific American or Wired.

      Shot on budgets ranging from $1 million to $2 million, Sci Fi's movies are made in money-saving locales like Bulgaria, Romania and Missouri. They're cast with B-list celebrities like Luke Perry and Stephen Baldwin, with the occasional big-picture actors - Sean Astin and John Rhys-Davies of "Lord of the Rings" - making an appearance. The network pays $750,000 for domestic TV rights, and the producers make their money back through international and DVD sales.

      But are the films any good? Critics have not found much to praise, though some seem to have tried pretty hard. Virginia Heffernan of The New York Times said "Chupacabra: Dark Seas" (monster runs amok on a cruise liner!) was "founded on broad clichés, overacted and clumsily blocked." But she added that the casting of serious actors like Mr. Rhys-Davies and Gianc
      • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:13PM (#13028578) Journal

        Someone mod this up so those of us without NYTimes logins can read.

        The critics' disfavor doesn't seem to bother the folks behind the films, who have no pretensions to high art. Bonnie Hammer, the Sci Fi Channel president, likes to refer to the pictures as "popcorn movies for those who love the genre," adding, "Viewers come for the ride; it's a guilty pleasure." Jeff Beach, whose Unified Film Organization has made 20 films for the network, calls them "high-concept action-adventure movies with elements that are fun, whether a creature or a disaster."

        I think this is a very good point. There are many among us who will bemoan the fact that the shlock that the Sci-Fi Channel puts out makes our favorite genre look bad. Remember that it's not called The Thoughtful Science Fiction Channel, it's the "Sci-Fi" Channel. It's supposed to be a watered-down "lite" version of science fiction in the same way that "lite" cookies bear only a passing resemblance to a delicious full-fat treat. Yes, the movies they are making are terrible but look at what's out in theaters these days. It seems half the movies are horror films. That entire genre is largely a collection of poorly-executed guilty pleasures used by younger demographics as an excuse to get out of the house and indulge in a guilty pleasure. But, as has been cited on slashdot many times before, the movieplex is becoming an increasingly unpleasant experience. Sci-Fi Channel is simply providing an alternate venue for these low-quality thrillers. I think the Sci-Fi Channel has got a great idea. Now, I'm sure as hell not going to watch any of this crap myself. But that doesn't stop me from being impressed that Sci-Fi has finally started to get its act together.

        GMD

      • ...just 1950s type monster flicks, by the sound of it. Thank you SciFi for taking the Sci out of Fi. Leaving us with Fi. I guess.
        • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:20PM (#13028990)
          The Sci-Fi channel has never been about science fiction, not in the fine tradition of Arthur C. Clarke, George O. Harrison and the other hard science fiction authors. Hell, having that John Edwards "Crossing Over" psychic crap turned me off to them for quite a while, just on principle. "Sci-Fi" channel, my ass. They're a fantasy escapist channel, producing films with a technological veneer to make them palatable to those who don't know the difference. About the only redeeming products they have right now are the two Stargate franchises. Those aren't exactly science fiction either, but they are incredibly well-produced and are very entertaining, and are about the only thing on that channel that I can stomach, besides some of their re-runs of older theater films.
          • I'm pretty much in agreement with you - but I'll add that SciFi buying the rights to air BG2003 and Firefly (and doing it the CORRECT WAY for the latter! although I do wish they'd marathon it) has gone a long way toward redeeeming them in my eyes. Hopefully they'll take the hint when Friday nights become watched again... and nice lineup there ;)

            Then again, there's "Attack of the Sabretooth"

            *cringes*

            Cheers!
            SB
            • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @09:15PM (#13029649)
              Well, I haven't really made the effort to watch Battlestar Galactica ... just don't really have that many hours in the week. Besides, I'm a pretty diehard fan of the Stargate universe, when you get right down to it. The whole secondary story arc going on with the Ancients is remarkable for a TV series. I'm hoping to see more of the Ancient that built the timeship.

              But yeah, Firefly was an exceptional, if short-lived series. I remember how confused I was when I first tuned into it ... I fell in love with it immediately but couldn't figure why the continuity was so screwed up. Then I read that they were showing them in all the wrong order, with no particular justification for it. Weird, if you ask me. All I can say is that Joss Whedon must have pissed off the wrong person, I don't know. It is impressive that the show still managed to qualify as a "hit" even when the first season was aired in apparently random order.

              What I also found impressive is that the actors really seemd to be into their roles from day one. Remember the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation? I really couldn't stand it ... it took a while for the series to mature. Deanna Troi doing this William Shatner-style overacted empath routine, and Worf shooting everything in sight and growling all the time. And Wesley Crusher ... but don't let's go down that road. But Firefly came out of the gate as topflight sci-fi and I was totally involved from the get-go.

              I did loosen my wallet last year and bought the boxed DVD set of all the episodes, including a couple of unaired ones. Did my own marathon: took a couple of days off from work and watched them front to back, in the proper order. Such a cool show. Can't wait to see the movie.
      • Re:Article Text (Score:4, Informative)

        by spike hay (534165) <blu_iceNO@SPAMviolate.me.uk> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:12PM (#13028941) Homepage
        "They're good at the 'D' word, demographics," said Bruce Campbell, a star of B movies who also wrote, directed and starred in the "Screaming Brain" film, to be shown in September. "I think they're micromarketing," he said, "which in this fragmented world makes sense. They're saying, 'Who's at home on Saturday night?' "

        I love Bruce Campbell.
    • Yes, but think how much money you will be able to save on make-up for your extras. Dental damage appliances in particular.
    • by wankledot (712148) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:09PM (#13028558)
      And some might say that comparing Bulgaria to Missouri is harsh.
    • Yes, to Bulgaria. :)
    • I agree with parent. Is there really a need to compare Bulgaria to Missouri? I have been to Bulgaria and it really is not that bad such that you need to compare it to Missouri.
    • I agree, Bulgaria cant be that bad.
  • Was that not an old slashdot article, apparently that works for sci-fi movies
  • Couldn't read the article. Most are made by Nu Image and UFO films and are nothing to write home about.

    Although Mansquito was awesome in its sheer stupity.

  • by Scott Lockwood (218839) * on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:37PM (#13028371) Homepage Journal
    It's the perfect place to shoot a remake of, "The Day the Earth Stood Still".
  • MST3000 (Score:4, Funny)

    by datadriven (699893) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:38PM (#13028374) Homepage
    Great we can get new episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000
  • by zeridon (846747) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:41PM (#13028399) Homepage
    Hello lowbudget ... although the article matybe is interesting (as for the news is) i kinda don't like attitude. What is the funny thing about bulgaria. I LIVE here and i am proud. I have net and probably win more money compared to our standards than you. What makes you think you are better than me. I don't intend this to be flame ... but i feel outraged
    • Re:Bad Attitude (Score:2, Informative)

      by jurt1235 (834677)
      The sale price of SF network is in dollars, so this way they can get better actors/sets/environment in another country where the prices are lower, and sell it in their own high priced dollar country. It does not make you backward, but probably more realistic. The high incomes in the US are not realistic compared to the skills of the people. The low incomes for the experts in Bulgaria are also not realistic (should be higher), but for now you can higher an expert in Bulgaria for about 25% of the price of the
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:46PM (#13028425)
      What is the funny thing about bulgaria?

      Q: What's the difference between one dollar and one lev?

      A: One dollar.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Huh, a lev is worth two dollars?

        Wow, didn't know the bulgarian economy was that strong!
    • Bulgaria is not funny. Bulgaria is dead serious. Vulgaria [imdb.com] might be amusing, mind you, and Romania "just makes sense". The densely-forested-small-European-nation is quite cliche.

      The real funny part is Missouri.

    • Don't feel too bad. When it comes to films anyplace that is not California or New York city is cheap to film in. Basicly the insult is at worst is Bulgaria is not California...
  • I Wish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FS1 (636716) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:45PM (#13028420)
    I wish they would focus on producing more original series to replace the ones they dropped. I also think they should pick up popular sci-fi shows dropped by other networks. Farscape was one of the best Scifi shows on TV. While I didn't really care for Firefly, it has a proven audience. Scifi should be all over this property once the movie is released.

    I also wish that they would throw some of that money at JMS, and let him make "The Memory of Shadows" for TV.

    They should also focus less on topic such as ghosts and horror movies. IMHO these do not qualify as real scifi.
    • by stfvon007 (632997)
      The sci-fi channel has picked up firefly, but only the old episodes already made. It would do new episodes except that the movie contract with universal prevents it.
    • Re:I Wish (Score:2, Funny)

      by GimliGloin (642963)
      I think they made a big mistake cancelling "Black Scorpion".. That was a great show... GSG
    • The problem with SciFi picking up serieses is that they tend to like to kill off the original casts and replace them with their own actors -- which, while good, are usually missing a bit of the magic that the original cast had.
      • Yeah...like when they did that with "SG1." Oh wait...

        How many shows have they even picked up? The only ones I know about are SG1 and Sliders, and the biggest thing about Sliders is that quite a few of them were big-budget movie stars, AND the show was already reaching the end of popularity after many successful seasons. They couldn't afford them.
  • by Y-Crate (540566) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:47PM (#13028434)
    Here you have one very good reason why SciFi as a genre, is not taken seriously by most people over the age of 12.

    I enjoy a good number of B-Movies (and even a few C and D-list films), but I get worried when the predominant type of movie being produced is deliberately low-brow and sets the bar so low in fact, a first year film student could trip over it.

    The idea that SciFi can be well-written and produced with some care is hard for many people to accept these days, as all they see is schlock put together on the cheap as fast as humanly possible to give the channel in question a quick cash infusion

    In a day when even comic books and fantasy novels are taken seriously by the masses due to the amount of effort put into adapting them to the screen, it nearly brings a tear to my eye to consider that the bargain-bin product coming from The SciFi Channel is pretty much the cream of the crop these days.

    I really don't know what I would do if a studio announced they were hiring an extremely adept filmmaker and screenwriter to put The Foundation series into theatres.

    Probably cry.
    • The idea that SciFi can be well-written and produced with some care is hard for many people to accept these days, as all they see is schlock put together on the cheap as fast as humanly possible to give the channel in question a quick cash infusion

      I posted some comments above [slashdot.org] which address some of your statements. But I'll take this moment to make another point: I don't think most people are really ready for serious science fiction right now. I understand that sounds very elitist. What I mean is not

      • I don't think most people are really ready for serious science fiction right now. I understand that sounds very elitist. What I mean is not that people aren't smart enough for it; they just want to see some escapist entertainment.

        But that's exactly what's wrong with the dreck SciFi channel produces. It's not entertaining at all. I have no problem with cheap, no problem with unrealistic, no problem with low-brow stories. The problem is they're boring. I've never been able to sit through more than 15 or

      • by zerocool^ (112121) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @09:35PM (#13029715) Homepage Journal

        See, here's the thing though... I like star trek: TNG. Why? Because, it suggests that sometime in the future, mankind will unite, currency will be replaced by an understanding of needs and a willingness to participate in society, all the earth will stand as one. A place where we explore, not invade, a place where we bring peace, not capitalism to other cultures.

        Maybe TNG isn't as Sci-Fi as the elitests would like, but it's comforting in a time of uncertainty.

        • I like star trek: TNG. Why? Because, it suggests that sometime in the future, mankind will unite, currency will be replaced by an understanding of needs and a willingness to participate in society, all the earth will stand as one. A place where we explore, not invade, a place where we bring peace, not capitalism to other cultures.

          See, and this is why people refer to it as "science fantasy".

      • they just want to see some escapist entertainment. We are in a time where many people are very uncertain about the future. I don't what to sound like Jon Katz here but events like 9/11 have really affected people deeply.

        Get a grip, only 3000 people died on Sept 11. Forty million or so in WWII, upwards of 5 million in Vietnam; not to consider the deadly ever-present threat of nuclear war for most of 1950-1990 at least. As for economic uncertainty; try the Great Depression for size. All those periods prod

    • enjoy a good number of B-Movies (and even a few C and D-list films), but I get worried when the predominant type of movie being produced is deliberately low-brow and sets the bar so low in fact, a first year film student could trip over it.

      Most first-year film student movies I have seen have been worse than anything that makes it near regional TV, much less national.

      The idea that SciFi can be well-written and produced with some care is hard for many people to accept these days, as all they see is sc

      • Almost half a dozen names instantly come to mind, of excellent stuff they've done. Dune. Battlestart Galactica. Farscape. I'm probably missing a few...

        I enjoy Stargate Atlantis as well. Airs back to back with Battlestar Galactica on Friday. It would be fun if they could stick Firefly in there (if Fox ever lets it go back to TV) once Stargate SG-1 is too played out.
    • Sturgeon's Law (Score:3, Informative)

      by StrawberryFrog (67065)
      as all they see is schlock put together on the cheap

      Know your sci-fi: Sturgeon's Law [jargon.net] - Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud.
  • by MrLint (519792) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:50PM (#13028446) Journal
    Every time I see a commercial for one of these cinematic disasters (and I don't just mean the actual disaster films) I cringe, and ask myself why are they wasting money on this crap. To this say I miss 'The Invisible Man' the series. I donno if they ran out of money or budget, but it was clever deep and well written, instead we get another snake of the week movie.

    On top of this, SciFi is cutting out the Stargate opening credits [gateworld.net] to get more advert time. I know *I* want sci fi to stay 'on air' so i can keep watching Stargate and BSG, but I feel like I'm getting the poo from a 1 million Genetically modified monkeys on typewriters thrown at me with these movies.

    PS. Dear SciFi. the idea of mutant screenwriting monkeys is available for a modest sum.
    • by flyingsquid (813711) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:04PM (#13028538)
      PS. Dear SciFi. the idea of mutant screenwriting monkeys is available for a modest sum.

      Well, my idea is to combine two Steven Spielberg movies: dinosaurs attacking and killing humans (Jurassic Park) with aliens attacking and killing humans (War of the Worlds). See, there are these dinosaurs who have been hanging out in the Amazon and now they've gotten pissed off about the destruction of the rainforest and they're gonna take over. But just as they go on the rampage, alien robots come down from space, and they want to take over the planet too!

      So the dinosaurs and aliens start fighting, but then decide that's pointless. They decide to settle their differences with a contest: a kill-a-thon. Whoever can kill more humans during 24 hrs. of carnage and rampage can rule the entire planet. Dinosaurs plus robots? It's like Spielberg, squared... minus his directing ability of course. There are two running body counts on the screen, one for dinosaurs and one for robots.

      Title: "DINOSAURS VS. ROBOTS"

      Budget: 2 million.

      Plus, I already have a concept for the sequel: it's called "DINOSAURS VS. ROBOTS... VS. ZOMBIES!".

    • I-Man was great! Who cares if they cut the opening credits? What purpose do they serve? I have been wondering about this lately, why do shows(networks) spend so much time on branding themselves(shows)? People will watch what they watch, word-of-mouth is better advertising than the most exciting 'making-of' shot. And by exciting, I don't know what I mean, who watches a making of? Seinfeld wasn't successful because of the porn music, just funnier. This holds true for most watchable television, the opening s
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @05:53PM (#13028473) Homepage Journal
    If only the SciFi Channel followed the original formula for B movies that made them so great: low budget affects the special effects, and even the acting, but not the quality of the story. 99% of the stuff I see on that channel (as I channelsurf) wears all its small budget on its CG.
  • Fantastic (Score:4, Funny)

    by gunner800 (142959) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:06PM (#13028543) Homepage
    We didn't have enough Tremors movies.
  • Too bad MST3K went off the air. Fresh meat.
  • These guys [worldwidefx.net] make the CG effects for some of the Sci-Fi movies. I bet the end result is much cheaper but at the same time with comparable quality. Outsourcing at its finest.
  • So much to say (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:21PM (#13028625) Homepage Journal
    Damn, this one hits so many of my buttons...

    First of all, some Brucelore... In Albuquerque, "The Man With the Screaming Brain" showed this weekend, and then is showing again in a couple days, with Bruce being present but those tickets all sold out long ago, so... if you snoozed, you losed. Also, Bruce will be at Page 1 Bookstore autographing his book. Of course, I'm sure he's on a whirlwind tour and visiting other cities, so wherever you are: pay attention and you'll get to meet the man, the myth, the legend.

    Second: about B movies. In the last few years I've become aware of some local low-budget filmmakers, and I even got to be a zombie extra a little while back. (Maybe calling these "B" movies is a stretch, as they would go ape at the thought of a budget anywhere near the magnitude of a million dollars.) Of these people's work, one thing I've noticed is this: you can't show this stuff on TV. People, you are not seeing the "cream of the crop" on SciFi channel, because the best cheap movies have sex in them. No, they're not porn, but they're not prude either. (Oh, and they tend to be gorier than what even American TV tolerates.) Now, don't get me wrong: these movies aren't great. But they're better than the SciFi channel stuff, and they'll get some sincere laughs out of you if nothing else. Find your local cult video store if you have one, and start talking to people. Find your local filmmakers, and check out the crazy shit they're doing. SciFi channel's movies will bore you to tears after you do that.

    Third, about micro-marketing. I amazes me that TV execs are actually asking questions like, "Who's at home on Saturday night?" That is so twentieth century. I have had my Tivo for nearly five years now! Is routine time-shifting (by "routine," I mean even more effortless than VCRs which have been around for decades) still not commonplace? If not, it's making me wonder if I can make money selling fully configured MythTV boxes or something, because people who watch TV need this technology whether they know it yet, or not. ;-) Timeslots, what an obsolete concept.

    • People, you are not seeing the "cream of the crop" on SciFi channel, because the best cheap movies have sex in them. No, they're not porn, but they're not prude either.

      Yes, they are porn. More sex than you can show on TV = porn, even if you don't write it that way. (Note that FX has a show that's practically all about sex, and several times has shown sex, albeit on a PG-13 style with everything covered.)

    • Lots of good points there. Good show.

      I met The One True Bruce at Page One last time he zipped through ABQ. Helluva nice guy, that Bruce. I, of course, was a jibbering dork. (Nice to see things haven't changed.)
  • by marcybots (473417)
    Missouri is in the same bag as bulgaria and romania, two nations hit hardest by the collapse of communism. What is hilarious is that this is a red republican state, as are most of the states with the largest percentage of poor people and lowest incomes....they vote against the welfare and social programs that would help them the most...talk about getting what you deserve for considering abortion and gay marriage more important than harsh economic realities.
    • I just looked up some facts. Percent of people living in poverty: Missouri 10.1 % Now some blue states Oregon 11.7 Washington 11.4 California 12.9 Illinois 11.8 Michigan 10.8 DC 17.3 Rhode Island 10.7 New York 14.2 Hawaii 10.7
    • Median Income Data Mirrors Red State-Blue State Divide

      This map of the most recent census data (for 2003) shows an interesting divide: Blue States are those whose median income for a family of four exceeds the U.S. median of $65,093, while Red States are those whose median income is less than the U.S. median:

      US Map Income

      Note the eerie similarity with the 2004 presidential election map:

      Source:
      http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2005/05/me dian_income_d.html [typepad.com]

      Red States Feed at Federal Trough, Blue
  • Important (Score:3, Insightful)

    by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:29PM (#13028659) Journal
    This is really important if you want Sci-Fi to stick around. SciFi really is not cost effective. You'd get the same amount of viewers for a reality show for less than a 10th of the cost. If they pull this off we still have chance to see some shows we might actually like rather than more shows about celebs we don't care about.
  • $21 mil (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 1eyedhive (664431)
    Put that $21 million into the 3 big shows, $7 mil tob each and watch the ratings jump!
    • Or better yet put it into one show and make it really good. Farscape and SG1 both cost about that for one season. Not sure about Atlantis, but I'm sure it's similar.
  • by creimer (824291) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:35PM (#13028693) Homepage
    Sci-Fi Channel is turning the monsters-and-oversexed-teens formula into a cliche. I was watching their Saturday lineup (e.g., snakes, bigfoot, sabertooth tigers), it was all the same. If I wanted to see the same crap over and over again, I would watch the Friday The 13th DVDs that have oversexed teens who are better screamers.
  • by kilocomp (234607) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:35PM (#13028697)
    They should have just hired the slashdot editors. They have proven before that they are capable of remaking articles for next to nothing.
  • by johnpaul191 (240105) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @06:41PM (#13028750) Homepage
    they make a better return on the slew of low budget movies. people will watch them. there is that certain acceptance of lo-fi effects and whatever of a low budget movie... where as with Spiderman or something really expensive people always expect more.

    it is also way cool because they get to give money to unknown people to create these movies. there is a lot less risk. i think the coolest effect of this is that they will bankroll projects that may never happen otherwise. some of the movies might suck, but that happens anyway. even brilliant filmmakers have to start somewhere. this can be the launch pad to a lot of writers, directors, actors etc etc etc. it keeps more people working on new stuff.

    by making 28 films for $21million they realized they are making a far safer bet than making 3 $7million movies. they also are going right on TV and i guess to DVD. they also have the ability to promote them endlessly to their core fans. they will own the broadcast rights forever. it's a brilliant business model.
  • It's part of that vast flyover territory between New York and LA know alternately as "Red State America" or "Jesusland." The experience of a place where the locals watch NASCAR, go to church, and believe in patriotism, and where you can't find seared ahi tuna or a decent pesto sauce on a Sunday night is so alien to their life experience that it might as well be in another country. After all, some of the people in places like Missouri actually voted for Bush, something that seems unfathomable to many who wor
    • by the_weasel (323320) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:43PM (#13029111) Homepage
      Had it occured to you that maybe all they were saying is that it can be cheaper to film in Missouri than it is in Hollywood, just like the same is true of Bulgaria and other mentioned Nations.

      Had it occured to you that thats a GOOD thing for your economies?

      Perhaps all the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the comparison is brought about solely because of the inferiority complex you are imposing on your self?

  • My friend is in one of these B SciFi Channel movies. His part should air in about a month or so. He gets shot by Campell. Good times.
  • Also coming to SciFi, Junk Yard Wars meets Burt Rutan. "Master Blasters" punches holes in the sky with all kinds of cool junk. Reality TV with "Who broke Mach 1" instead of "Who got voted off".
  • Could someone explain how they can make 28 movies at a cost of $1-2 million a piece for $21 million. They must have some impressive accountants or something.
    • $21M/28 movies comes to $750K per movie. Which is exactly what the article says the SciFi network paid for each of these movies, with the producers expecting to recoup the remainder of the costs to be recouped via other sales (international, DVD).
  • If we are lucky, maybe this will lessen to a degree the SciFi Channel's total disdain for their own genre. The endless diet of reality shows, critter/bug flicks, and psychic trailer trash shows that they either do not understand science fiction, or hate it. If the network bosses love that kind of lowbrow/trash/schlock fare, let them take it somewhere else. Showing them on the SciFi channel seems a bit like bait-and-switch.
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar.gmail@com> on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:34PM (#13029069) Homepage Journal
    They lost the rights to Star Trek to Spike TV. They cannot afford to pick up Doctor Who reruns, or any other BBC SciFi (Red Dwarf, Blake's Seven, Star Cops, etc). They canceled FarScape and Lexx, WTF? Those where good shows and they flushed them down the toliet!

    They remade BattleStar Galactica into a Space Opera, more emphesis on Opera than Space. Cyclons look and act human now, they stole^H^H^H^H^H^Hborrowed that from "The Terminator". A few characters got their gender changed.

    SciFi had a chance to pick up "Space: Above and Beyond" one of the best SciFi shows made on network TV, and they refused.

    Stargate SG1 wasn't lame enough, so they made a Stargate Atlantis, and now they recognize the lameness and are trying to change the actors with some who were on FarScape in an effort to jumpstart the show. Yet it jumped the shark long ago.

    Now SciFi is buying movies that I can rent for $1 at the local video stores because they are B-Movies that hardly anyone wants to see, so they got marked down. Some are two for $1. At least the video rentals of those movies won't be edited for TV with all the good parts taken out.
  • <soapbox>I'm incensed by the notion that the Sci-Fi channel is anything approaching true science fiction. These cheesy creature-feature marathons and medieval fantasy based shows might draw in a few viewers, but sci-fi is lucky to break a 2.5 ratings share. The article hits it on the head - sci-fi is driven by demographics and marketing, not by any commitment to the genre. In fact, you can get as much scifi off Sci-Fi as on. If not for a few key brands (Battlestar Galactica, Stargate SG-1/Atlantis) th
  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:35PM (#13029073)
    From the article:

    The most important element of a Sci Fi film, Mr. Badish said, "is a topical film that has relevance to our audience. In a film coming up," he added, "stem cells are key to the plot; in another, it's mad cow disease.


    No, no, no, no!

    The MOST important element of a SciFi film is STORY.

    Topicality is about last on the list. I can not express how fucking sick and tired I am of shows that decide to do a "war on drugs" episode, or "child molester" or "euthanasia" or "terrorist" or "ebola" or "flesh-eating mold" or "song lyrics/video game inspires teens to kill" show. They are either totally dull, or so wacked out beyond reasonable that there is no way to willingly suspend disbelief.

    If you must do topical, do something that hasn't hit mainstream consciousness yet. Be pre-topical. At least that way, chances are that the BS you make up for the story won't be so obvious.

    Otherwise, just focus on the story and give me something to think about, not something that makes my bullshit-detector go off so loud that I can't concentrate on the show.

    Please?
  • by NDPTAL85 (260093) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:43PM (#13029108)
    Lets just be glad that the Sci-Fi channel has gotten back to real actual science fiction, crappy though it may be, instead of the Crossing Over psuedo-mystical fantasy bullshit they were so enamored of before.
  • why not..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @07:44PM (#13029114) Homepage
    Why not make one great movie for $21 million.

    The original dune series was compelling, and wonderfuly great considering the circumstances under which it was made. Acting was OK. CG was OK, but the story was a wonderful adaptaton of the novel.

    How about something by asimov? Maybe make a film out of one of the Terry Pratchett novels (and have the side effect of it being hilarious). How about a decent 2001 remake with some new spin on it?

    I'm convinced that War of the Worlds could have been a good movie if it wasn't directed by speilberg and didn't have a sky-high budget.

    But please. No more B movies. From what I recall, Dune made a mint for SciFi. I doubt they'd recover the costs of all these B movies.
    • On one hand you want them to spend a huge budget on one movie verses a lot of movies. On the other hand, you realize that big budget movies suck.

      I'm more of the latter opinion. I don't think you need a lot of money to make great Sci-Fi. One of my favorite Sci-Fi movies is Pi. Aronofsky probably could have made a hundred great movies for what Spielberg paid for War of the Worlds.

      And let's not forget the Twilight Zone. That was a great Sci-Fi show, but the budget for a year of those shows probably woul
  • Perhaps had they allocated a little bit of that money to good writer, they wouldn't come out with the formulaic crap they have. If it's not an oversized or mutated or genetic hybrid animal then it's a post-apocalyptic crapfest about a ragtag group of authority-hating commandos that save the future. The worst part is that the suckage has started to bleed over into shows like stargate atlantis, with their half-ass borg-zombie-vampires.
  • Besides the insane rants by the staff of "Aint it cool news," I have yet to meet anyone who has seen the new Battlestar series who was "Jizzing" on themselves about how great it is. American Sci-Fi is absolutely horrible these days, bar none and Sci-Fi channel is flooding the market with even more crappieness. Why does American Sci-Fi HAVE to always have incredibly good looking people that can only half-ass act? Why does there ALWAYS have to be romance involved between the main characters? Everyone and t
  • by Zobeid (314469) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @09:27PM (#13029695)
    What really gripes me is the themes -- they are so trite and sensationalistic. Seriously. . . I can't see how it costs that much more to make a movie with an intelligent premise, as compared with an ignorant one.

    I can understand the limitations of a tight budget, and I can forgive a lot. I can forgive cheesy sets, cinematography, props, acting. . . But I have a hard time time watching movies that are just flat-out blindingly stupid. I also have trouble watching movies that are inferior knock-offs of other movies that were blindingly stupid.

    If only they would dig through SF literature, I'm sure they could find a lot more original and plausible ideas to work with. But I think part of the problem is, these guys are fans of B-movies, they come from a B-movie making background, and the only experience they have to draw inspiration from is other B-movies. So we get the same tired, silly, often downright embarrassing stuff rehashed over and over. They're too inbred.
  • by John Meacham (1112) on Sunday July 10, 2005 @09:42PM (#13029743) Homepage
    They should sponsor individuals just out of film/writing school with a vision who would be willing to work on a small budget to get their chance. Sure they might end up with some failures, but they also might produce some gems. All in all I think it would be a better investment than consistant crap.

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