You Oughta Be a Picture – WIF @ the Movies

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 True Stories That

Should Be Movies

Reading today’s headlines is undertaken at one’s own peril. The increasingly dire news is filled with a seemingly never-ending glut of brutality, corruption, and disease. Fortunately, there are always the movies to provide a distraction from the wicked, wicked world.

Although the entertainment industry isn’t immune from the chaos and destruction of the coronavirus, sweeping changes are now taking place that includes production safety measures and how movies are being released to the public.

For now, large crowd scenes are gone. The same goes for any steamy sex encounters (unless the actors are already a couple off-screen). However, history remains a valuable goldmine of untold stories that would make great movies — even if they star sock puppets or filmed entirely in clay animation.

10. Un-Brotherly Love

Formed in Manchester in 1991, Oasis would emerge as the kings of Brit-pop (although Blur fans will vehemently disagree) with several chart-topping hits, including “Wonderwall,” “Don’t Look Back In Anger,” and “Champagne Supernova.” The same relentless drive that propelled the band’s success also nearly ended in fratricide.

Throughout their meteoric career, the brothers Gallagher created a legacy marked by booze, brawls, and belligerent banter that usually involved the C-word. One of the more infamous disputes involved a live performance of MTV Unplugged at London’s Royal Festival Hall in 1996. Claiming illness, younger brother Liam pulled out at the last minute only to turn up with ‘refreshments’ in the balcony to heckle his bandmates during the performance.

Although Oasis hasn’t played together in over a decade, rumors have recently swirled of a possible reunion. Music fans probably shouldn’t hold their collective breath. Regardless of whether the lads ever decide to mend old fences, this script has already been written, and you can bet your [bleepin’] arse it’ll be [bleepin’] good theater.

9. Josh Gibson

He was dubbed “The Black Babe Ruth” and widely considered the best player of his generation. However, Negro League star Josh Gibson did something “The Bambino” never achieved: smack a home run out of Yankee Stadium. More impressively, the blast wasn’t even the power-slugger’s most impressive feat.

For baseball fans, stories of Gibson’s diamond heroics abound. Whether or not some of the tales are apocryphal is irrelevant — Josh Gibson possessed the kind of rare talent in which anything seemed possible.

Born in 1911 during the Jim Crow era in Georgia, Gibson’s family later relocated to Pittsburgh, where his prodigious baseball skills were honed. The solidly-built catcher spent his entire baseball career in the Negro Leagues, Mexican and Caribbean Winter Leagues, starring for elite teams such as the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords over a 17-year career.

Gibson routinely out-performed white opponents in exhibition games throughout the 1930s and ’40s. Baseball historians estimate that he hit more than 800 total home runs that includes crushing a ball 600 feet during a 1941 Winter League game in Puerto Rico.

In 1943, Gibson fell into a coma and was later diagnosed to have a brain tumor. He refused medical treatment and continued playing despite suffering from recurring headaches as his condition grew steadily worse. At the age of 35, Gibson died of a stroke on January 20, 1947 — just three months before Jackie Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

Although Robinson’s historic achievement can never be diminished, most old-timers agree that he wasn’t the best African-American player. That honor goes to Josh Gibson, who would posthumously be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. The Winning Ace

Sgt. Keith Chisholm had already earned ace status (five or more kills) and the Distinguished Flying Medal when fate took a near-fatal turn on October 12, 1941. The Australian fighter pilot was shot down over the English Channel and later taken to a POW camp in Germany. Relying on his wits and sheer determination, he would eventually escape. Twice.

Originally from Petersham, New South Wales, Chisholm had trained as a dentist when war broke out and soon joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). He was assigned to Squadron 452, the first Australian squadron formed in Britain during World War II. The Spitfire unit featured several other outstanding pilots, including “Paddy” Finucane (more on him later), and became one of the war’s most successful squadrons.

Chisholm was initially held at Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf in Silesia, which is now part of southwestern Poland. The airman managed to escape after swapping identities with another prisoner to join an outside work camp. Although he was later caught, Chisholm pulled the same stunt again. This time it worked.

For nearly three years, Chisholm cleverly evaded the Nazis while also collaborating with the resistance in Poland and France. His schoolboy athleticism also came to the fore during an incident in which the Aussie used a rugby tackle to push an official into the Vistula River. He eventually made his way back to England and later returned to Australia, earning the Military Cross for ‘his dogged persistence and careful planning’ in successfully escaping from the enemy.

7. Dr. Pat

Irish-born athletes have a long, illustrious tradition with the hammer throw, earning gold in five out of the first six Olympiads. According to ancient folklore, the mythological hero, Cú Chulainn, was said to have hurled a chariot wheel great distances. Fittingly, a modern-day legend became the first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal for the Free Irish State at the 1928 Games in Amsterdam.

In previous years, Irish champions but had been forced to compete for Great Britain or had immigrated to America. But a medical student from County Cork would change that. Although he stood only 5-foot-11, Pat O’Callaghan relied on his explosive power and quick feet to become the best in the world. Four years later, he yearned for another chance at Olympic glory — and would travel 5,000 miles to get it.

The 1932 Olympic Games in Los Angeles featured plenty of sunshine and glamour at its modern Roman-style Coliseum. Athletes from 37 nations participated in the Summer spectacle while hobnobbing with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. and his equally famous actress wife, Mary Pickford. But the real drama would star a shamrock-clad Irish doctor in search of gold.

Unbeknownst to O’Callaghan, the arena’s throwing surface was unusually hard and ill-suited for his long spiked shoes designed for grass. He struggled as a result until a teammate helped him perform minor surgery with a hacksaw and file down the doc’s spikes. Despite trailing throughout the competition, O’Callaghan unleashed an enormous effort on his final throw to grab victory and raise the Tricolour once again.

While in LA, MGM boss Louis B. Meyer offered O’Callaghan the role of “Tarzan” which the good doctor turned down. After all, he had patients to see back home in Ireland. But that didn’t stop “Dr. Pat” from celebrating his well-deserved win in Prohibition America.

As the story goes, O’Callaghan had smuggled a few bottles of poitín (Irish moonshine) in his suitcase for the long voyage ahead. Upon arrival, a customs official had questioned him about the clanking bottles. The fast-thinking Irishman replied, “Medicine. I’m the team doctor.”

6. Golden Eagle

Lilli Henoch didn’t merely win — she dominated. Coming of age in Berlin during the 1920s, she displayed a natural all-around talent in several sports, making her accomplishments even more impressive considering the few opportunities available for female athletes at the time.

Henoch joined the Berlin Sports Club (BSC) in 1919 and wasted no time making an impact. She helped pioneer their women’s athletics program and became the first female to receive the “Golden Eagle” — the prestigious club’s highest award. Between 1922 and 1926, the superstar set five world records in athletics and won ten German championship titles, competing in the shot-put, discus, long jump, and BSC’s 4 x 100-meter relay.

Unfortunately, she was denied competing in the Olympics during her prime because Germany wasn’t allowed to send athletes in 1920 and 1924 as punishment for WWI. She would also be persecuted for being Jewish — a crime that eventually resulted in fatal consequences.

As the Nazi war machine kicked into high gear, Jews were forcibly removed from their homes, and all non-Aryan schools became shuttered. Despite her status as a national icon and well-respected coach, Henoch soon found herself laboring as a harvest worker outside of Berlin. In early fall 1942, she and her mother, Rose, were put in a livestock railcar and deported to Riga, Latvia.

The journey from Berlin lasted three days. Records show them listed as “missing” on September 8, 1942. They were most likely murdered by Einsatzgruppen death squads and buried in the mass graves outside of Rumbula.

The memory of Lilli Henoch has been honored with various landmarks around Berlin, including a small brass-plated stone known as a Stolperstein (“stumbling block”). The tribute is one of the 60,000 similar engraved memorials placed across 21 countries in Europe that serves as a poignant reminder of Nazi crimes.

5. Spitfire Paddy

As the Battle of Britain raged during the summer of 1940, the Allies were in desperate need of courageous pilots and a bit of luck to stop the German onslaught through Europe. The Royal Air Force (RAF) would get both with “Paddy” Finucane (pronounced FIN-NEW-KIN), who quickly emerged as a top ace and eventually became the youngest wing commander in RAF history while flying his shamrock-adorned Spitfire.

Born in Dublin in 1920, Finucane later relocated with his family to London as a teenager. He joined the RAF at the minimum age requirement of 17 and a half and went on to record 32 kills in operations over the English Channel and Nazi-occupied France. He also earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with two bars and the Distinguished Service Order and was personally decorated by King George VI at Buckingham Palace. The Irishman’s story is even more remarkable when considering his father once fought against the British during the Easter Rising of 1916.

Fearless, personable, and good-looking, Finucane became a worldwide celebrity when the war’s outcome still hung in the balance. He even found time for romance and became engaged to an attractive young woman named Jean Woolford, who lived on the same street as the Finucane family. Sadly, the ace pilot’s story and the ‘girl next door’ would end tragically when his Spitfire crashed in the English Channel in 1942 and vanished into the sea. He was only 21.

An outpouring of grief spread across the globe as military personnel, friends, family, and admirers mourned the loss. A gathering of over 2,500 people attended his memorial at Westminster Cathedral, and Finucane’s name was later inscribed among ‘The Few’ on the Battle of Britain Memorial on London’s Embankment.

4. Noir Christmas

The perennial holiday favorite, “White Christmas” sung by Bing Crosby remains the world’s best-selling single, selling more than 50 million copies. Although the song’s lyrics evoke memories of more innocent and happier times, the popular crooner real life reveals a much different tale replete with gunsels, dames, and dimly lit, smoke-filled rooms.

At the peak of his fame, Crosby was easily one of the most beloved — and well-paid — entertainers in the world. But his wholesome image as a golf-loving, family man stood in stark contrast to a darker side plagued by his addiction to gambling and alcohol.

The dangerous combination would lead to alleged connections to the mafia that required a bailout from his Rat Pack pal, Frank Sinatra. Crosby’s shadowy shenanigans would result in the FBI keeping tabs on him, files that later revealed ties to mobster Bugsy Siegel, and two of Al Capone’s top henchmen, Frank Nitti and Jack “Machine Gun” McGurn.

Following Crosby’s death from a massive heart attack in 1977, the song and dance man’s reputation received another black eye with the release of a tell-all memoir by his oldest son, Gary. The scathing book, Going My Own Way, depicts his father as a physically and psychologically abusive tyrant — the polar opposite of the benevolent priest character that earned the elder Crosby an Academy Award for Best Actor in the 1944 film, Going My Way.

3. The Human Howitzer

More than ever, America needs heroes as a reminder of the sacrifice that made the country great. Men such as Al Blozis, an athlete-turned-soldier, who stood 6-foot-6 and weighed 250 pounds of solid muscle. His larger-than-life persona would even warrant three nicknames: “The Human Howitzer,” “Jersey City Giant,” and “Hoya Hercules.”

The son of Lithuanian immigrants, Blozis grew up in New Jersey, where he broke 24 high school records in track and field. He later accepted an athletic scholarship to Georgetown University and also starred on the football team while establishing several world records in the shot put.

As the nation’s top thrower, Blozis set his sights on winning gold in the Olympics. Worldwide conflict, however, would lead to the cancellation of both the 1940 and 1944 games. He made several attempts to enlist but was turned away due to height restrictions. Instead, the multi-talented sportsman signed with the Giants and enjoyed immediate success in the NFL as an All-Pro defensive end.

He eventually convinced Army officials to lift their size ban and reported to Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia. There, the modern-day Hercules added to his legend by tossing a grenade nearly 95 yards. Before shipping out to Europe, Blozis joined his Giant teammates in the 1944 NFL Championship against the Green Bay Packers at the Polo Grounds. It would be the last game he ever played.

The Army assigned him to the 110th Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, near the Vosges Mountains in France’s Alsace region. During an evening snowstorm on January 31, 1945, Lt. Blozis went looking for two soldiers from his platoon after the men had failed to return from a scouting mission earlier in the day. Despite facing a well-entrenched enemy, pitch-black darkness, and freezing conditions, he set out alone to find them. The towering champion never returned and was later declared KIA.

A simple white cross memorializes 1st Lt. Al Blozis at the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint -Avold, France. The serene, lush grounds of Europe’s largest US WWII cemetery sits peacefully in a region now known as the Grand Est (The Big East) — a fitting tribute to a true American hero.

2. Bird is the Word

When news broke in 2009 that former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher, Mark “The Bird” Fidrych had died in a farming accident, the sporting world mourned the loss of one of its most unforgettable characters. His brief, injury-prone career lasted only five years, but his first year in the Bigs is the stuff of legend.

The year is 1976. Rocky tops at the box office. The American bi-centennial is on full display everywhere. And a gawky right-handed pitcher for the Detroit Tigers became an overnight sensation en route to winning Rookie of the Year. His triumphs on the mound and boyish charm made him a massive fan favorite, a budding superstar who freely admitted that if it weren’t for baseball, he’d be pumping gas back home in Northborough, Massachusetts.

With long, shaggy hair, the free-spirited hurler thrilled the Motor City with his quirky on-field theatrics that included talking to the ball during games. During one remarkable stretch, he won back-to-back 11-inning, complete-game victories. Astonishing. He was later named the American League’s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game and finished the season 19-9.

In 1977, he started the season strong and appeared poised to continue his success until experiencing the first of several arm injuries. An un-diagnosed tear to his rotator cuff would ultimately derail his promising MLB career that ended in 1980.

Fidrych then retired to Northborough, where he and his wife raised a family on their 107-acre farm. Over the years, he occasionally appeared at old-timers games in Detroit, but preferred his quiet, rural lifestyle and being just another blue-collar worker, husband, and father.

Perhaps more than any other sport, baseball is heavily steeped in nostalgia and enduring memories that slowly fade but manage to endure the test of time. That said, true aficionados will never forget that magical summer of ’76 and still hear the crowd’s echoes, chanting “We Want The Bird, We Want The Bird.”

1. Non Stop Go-Gos

The eponymously titled 2020 documentary, The Go-Gos, explores the rise and fall of the first chart-topping, all-female band to write their own songs and play their own instruments. While informative and engaging, interspersing old footage with recent interviews by all the band members, the presentation is missing a crucial element that only a feature film could properly deliver: drama. And more specifically, the topsy turvy rollercoaster ride of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll taken by these legendary ladies.

The story opens in the late ’70s in LA, where a teenaged girl named “Dottie Danger” aspires to be a singer in a punk rock band. She later meets a few other like-minded gals and starts gigging in local seedy bars and clubs. While hanging out at the infamous ‘Rock and Roll Denny’s’ on Sunset Blvd., the group settled on the name “The Go-Gos” and soon broke away from their punky persona to a more radio-friendly, power-pop sound.

Belinda Carlisle, having ditched “Dottie” for her real name, now fronted the new lineup, featuring Jane Wiedlin, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock, and Charlotte Caffey. After signing to a major record label, the band released their debut album in 1981, Beauty and the Beat. Hit singles followed, including “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” — both smash hits that helped propel the album to number one.

Shortly afterward, the real fireworks began. Fame and boodles of money quickly led to non-stop partying and lurking troubles. While cocaine was clearly the drug of choice for Carlisle and the others, lead guitarist Caffrey developed a crippling heroin addiction. Nonetheless, the band managed to soldier on, selling-out arenas worldwide to frenzied crowds. Along the way, Carlisle also became romantically involved with the LA Dodgers’ first baseman, Mike Marshall. Home run!

But alas, what goes up must come down. The band’s third album, Talk Show, underperformed as the band slowly imploded (aka “creative differences”). By 1985, nasty in-fighting fuelled by jealousy and increased drug abuse eventually took its toll, and the Go-Gos called it quits and went their separate ways.

Carlisle would have a successful solo career despite continually powdering her nose for nearly 30 years. Incredibly, she even took part in a late 1980s anti-drug commercial — which is kinda like a pathological lying narcissist making a public service announcement about the virtues of honesty and humility.

Fortunately, the story does get a Hollywood ending. The group later buried the hatchet and got back together to perform and record new material. Also, Head Over Heels, a musical featuring the songs of the Go-Go’s, enjoyed a recent successful run on Broadway at the Hudson Theatre.


You Oughta Be a Picture

WIF @ the Movies

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 195

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 195

…In the back of her tainted mind, lurk the words of her father telling her to set the scene for a mock sexual assault…

But, as the other girls are swallowing her stories whole, wishing that that young space cadet across the room were with them, Dashing Deker is probably telling his own tales of romance and upcoming conquest to his buddies.

“She’s a little on the immature side,” Deke relates to his friends, “kind of spoiled maybe, I don’t know. But she is fun to hang out with and you have to love those boobs!”

It’s a good thing nobody in the girl-gaggle can read lips.

The rest of the night falls more into the lines of expectation, when nearing the end of the night some serious posturing is taking place on the dance floor. The frenzied techno-muzic is reduced to belly rubbing ballads; where pelvis-grinding is an art form and tonsil-hockey the standard form of communication.

Deke McKinney’s hormones are not completely dormant, though his thoughts are about the approaching ranch where Braden King has set out the hors d’oeuvres and programmed the gaming system.

Susannah Grisbaum is not entirely pleased with the nonfictional version of her evening with Deke, or the pace at which her fantasies are coming true… or not. Her fib-flaunting talk among the girls is not exactly a replacement for the “real thing”; like a Coca Cola without the carbonation.

She is about to add some hot fizz.

“I’m going to get out of this dress.” She helps herself to the bathroom and slips on an oversize, off-the-shoulder t-shirt.

In the back of her tainted mind, lurk the words of her father telling her to set the scene for a mock sexual assault. It won’t be so hard to make it sound like Deke is trying to take advantage of her underage assets. So while he touts the deli tray, she dials her father’s voicemail and the speakerphone is set to “deceptive”.

“Can we sit on the couch and watch a movie, like an on-demand dusty like Les Miserables or Twilight; yeah Twilight and you can be my Edward.” She refers to the teen movie classic.

“I like Bella, sure we can do the vampire thing,” he pounds the remote keys with the skill of a video master. “Here we go. I cannot remember the last time I saw the original.”


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 195


page 181

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 88

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 88

…So what does shy and conservative Roy Crippen do next? He utilizes an isolated corner of Colony Mission Control to plant a very intentional kiss on Francine’s unsuspecting lips!…

 

“T-minus 00:05.00 and counting all systems go in the launch of the deep-space New Related imageMayflower. The sky is high and we have two important people waiting for us.”

Braden next-to-last call illustrates the emotional nature of the coming mission and the dedication of the space program as a whole.

“What do you say we find ourselves a front row seat,” Roy puts an arm around her, “I know the guys in the box office.”

She rests her head against his cozy clavicle and together they walk away from the smoky mess back on the tarmac, like two teenagers fresh from a movie midnight double feature.

double-feature-001

The several hundred yards, indulgingly used to unwind, has eaten most of the time left in the fast-ly fleeting midnight launch of the New Mayflower. As they and their military entourage re-enter Colony Mission Control there is a trifling two minutes remaining until liftoff.

So what does shy and conservative Roy Crippen do next? He utilizes an isolated corner of Colony Mission Control to plant a very intentional kiss on Francine’s unsuspecting lips!

No inhibition, no resistance, and no time left to speak. Actions always speak louder than words.t-minus-to-launch-001

“T-minus 00:00:30 seconds, gantry is clear,” green and go…. ”we have liftoff of the New Mayflower rescue mission to Mars with Commander Rick Stanley at the helm.”

A distinct sense of pride washes over Roy as he and Francine watch the deep-space shuttle knife its way into the night sky. To pull this together is such a short period of time is a feather in everyone’s cap. Amid the exhilaration of a successful gantry getaway, each and every person has stowed their prayers in its cargo hold, a petition that includes keeping the McKinneys alive long enough to benefit from NASA’s hasty rescue mission.


THE RETURN TRIP

First Kiss by Jeffrey Koss

Episode 88


page 83

THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 60

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THE RETURN TRIP – Episode 60

…No Tom Hanks that I can see. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Robinson Crusoe is long gone and we don’t have enough food to invite the Martians over to dinner…

Castaway by 88grzes deviantart.com

Castaway by 88grzes deviantart.com

meanwhile-caption-001In the moments following that breathtaking {not in a good way} flash of light high above the Martian atmosphere, several seconds elapsed before the ominous explosion could be felt. It was as thunderous as any blastoff of an old Atlas rocket.

Image result for tree blowing in wind

Tree Blowing In The Wind by Janell R Colburn

If the cornea singeing light and the eardrum piercing sound were not enough, the shock wave that swept down to the surface got Tycho to rockin’ as if it were a 150 yr. old oak tree in a tornado. Sampson had all he could handle in stabilizing the lander during the 20 second maelstrom.

Even after these unpredictable twist and turns, light and darks, the real scope of their predicament does not sink in until after the dust settles. It is Celeste who verbalizes the obvious, My dear God Sam, we are castaways!”

During those ensuing minutes, Sampson was giving pause to that very topic. “Yeah shit happens,” he is ultimately logical and is sifting through the best path to survival. “We can’t leave the surface, we’d waste fuel, we cannot produce enough gain to get a decent signal out past Deimos and we have to conserve oxygen for life-support.; other than that we’ve got it made.”

No Tom Hanks that I can see. This isn’t Gilligan’s Island. Robinson Crusoe is long gone and we don’t have enough food to invite the Martians over to dinner.” He assembles movie humor in the face of unspeakable despair.

“Ancient pop culture will not help our options… which are?”

“If I know Crip, he has the Mayflower on the pad, ready to go and if he is on top of things, he will give that buggy a boost… I left him with some propulsion improvements to work on, while we were out here in the peace of deep space.”

“How long do we have and when can they get here?”

“We should be able to hold out for a month or two. Fortunately we grabbed that extra fuel and food meant for those amateur lab-rats… I mean colonists of Mars City. I believe the New Mayflower can get here days before we have to go out and forage for food. And surprisingly, we can manufacture enough water and oxygen with what we have to work with outside our door.”martianpotatoes

“I knew I should have packed more Mark Watney Potatoes for a longer stay.”

“The way down was slick, it’s the return trip that will be the bitch.”

Humor is a self-defense mechanism.


THE RETURN TRIP

Episode 60


page 57

“Mommy, what’s a movie theater?” – WIF @ The (Failed) Movies

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Movies That Were

Box Office Duds

Despite what Disney and Marvel would have us believe, there’s no magic formula for making box office gold. Everyone who makes a movie fully expects it to succeed and do well, but sometimes that’s not in the cards. While there are some movies that are critically maligned and do poorly overall, when a high-budget movie fails miserably the losses can be staggering.

10. The Adventures of Pluto Nash – Lost $96 million

If you don’t recall Eddie Murphy’s The Adventures of Pluto Nash you’re in good company. The 2002 film cost over $100 million to make and it was a massive science fiction comedy extravaganza. Or at least that’s how they described it, since barely anyone actually went to see it. It grossed a paltry $7 million at the box office.

The movie is so bad that even its star Eddie Murphy claims trying to watch it causes him to weep openly. It’s one thing for critics to savage a movie, and Pluto Nash has a dismal 4% on Rotten Tomatoes, but it’s quite another when even the star admits that the whole movie was absolutely terrible.

Because movie budgets are a little tricky to wrap your head around, and they also factor in things like marketing costs on top of it as well as adjusting for inflation, at least one source claims that the total loss for Pluto Nash tops $130 million.

9. Stealth – lost $96 million

In 2005 anyone probably would have thought a movie in which Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx have to tangle with artificially intelligent killer fighter jets would have been a good idea, right? That’s a big yes and no.

The studio that financed the movie for $135 million definitely thought it was a good idea. Audiences who didn’t actually go see the movie did not.  With a healthy marketing budget that was really trying to push it, when it managed to pull in $77 million at the box office it wasn’t as small a loss as the budget makes it seem. All told, it’s estimated that the movie lost about $96 million.

Stealth sits at 13% on Rotten Tomatoes, and Roger Ebert called it a dumbed-down Top Gun. If you recall, no one ever claimed Top Gun was very smart in the first place.

8. 47 Ronin – Lost $98 million

The Keanu Reeves movie 47 Ronin is what is known in Japan as a Chushingura. It’s a fictionalized account of the real-life events surrounding 47 master-less samurai, known as ronin, who sought to avenge the death of their master.

The story has been made into a film no less than six times but never was the story as big and extravagant as when Keanu starred in it back in 2013. It had a staggering $175 million budget, the highest ever for a debut director. And in a very telling sign, the movie sat on the shelf for two years after it was produced. That’s never good.

47 Ronin lost an estimated $98 million and the blame has been put, in part, on Carl Rinsch and his first time directing chops. It only has 16% on Rotten Tomatoes and many critics accused it of being both boring and cliche.

7. Lone Ranger – Lost $190 million

There are a number of movies that have been called cursed over the years. Poltergeist was one such movie, famously said to be cursed from the first installment through to the third of the series. The Lone Ranger is another film which definitely deserves to be considered for that honor, assuming you believe in such things.

The production of The Lone Ranger was hampered by numerous problems. It suffered delays as well as massive budgetary issues. At one point the budget had reached almost $300 million, and Disney had to shut down production to retool everything. That resulted in some cuts to special effects and other parts of the budget until it was scaled back to a lean, mean $215 million.

There were accidents on set with the stunt people involved, and a crew member even drowned during the production. Disney was fined $60,000 for safety violations and some inclement weather destroyed sets and cost even more money on the budget.

When the film was finally released and the bad reviews rolled in, the result was Disney chalking the movie up to $190 million loss.

6. Mars Needs Moms – Lost $111 million

In 2011, Mars Needs Moms seemed like a sure thing. The legendary Robert Zemeckis, who was responsible for iconic movies like Forrest Gump and Back to the Future, produced the motion-capture animation. The film itself was based on a book by writer and cartoonist Berkeley Breathed. It almost seemed worth the $150 million budget.

When you factor in marketing it’s believed that Disney probably invested about $200 million in this movie. Which is why when, on its opening weekend, it only pulled in $6.9 million people started to get worried. The final gross of the film was about $39 million, which means lost anywhere from $111 million to $161 million, depending on which numbers you want to work with.

Rubbing salt in the wound, when it was released overseas it somehow made even less money: only $2.1 million throughout 14 countries. The question needs to be asked then, how did the movie that had so much talent behind it end up failing so miserably? The problem may have been in the execution.

Mars Needs Moms used motion capture technology, the kind of stuff we as audiences really took a shine to with characters like Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, or the Na’vi from the movie Avatar. The problem was the way it was used in Mars Needs Moms was less cool, and what at least one person described as creepy.

5. Titan AE – Potentially Lost $120 Million on a $85 Million Budget

On paper, the animated film Titan AE looked bulletproof. Director Don Bluth, who created classics like The Secret of NIMHThe Land Before Time, and An American Tail was helming a sci-fi animated film featuring the voice talents of Matt Damon, Drew Barrymore, Bill Pullman and many other well known stars.

Behind the scenes, things were pretty ugly during the production of the movie. For starters, Don Bluth was not the original director. The film was already $30 million into the production before the original director was fired and Bluth was hired alongside Gary Goldman. According to Goldman, the initial $30 million was used to do some pre-production art and nothing else.

The movie blended traditional 2D animation with 3D animation, which didn’t seem to be a conscious choice from the get go. According to Goldman, they just abandoned the 2D idea halfway through production and finished it with 3D because that’s what was new and cool at the time.

The movie ended up losing somewhere between $70 million and $120 million on an $85 million budget. It also saw the head of Fox Studios fired by Rupert Murdoch, and the closing of their Phoenix Animation Studio, which had produced two major bombs including the earlier animated film Anastasia.

4. Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas – Lost $125 million

Proving that there are no guarantees with animated movies no matter how much effort goes into them, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas bombed like a case of Molotov cocktails. The film was produced by DreamWorks Studios, and featured voice acting from Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Michelle Pfeiffer. That all sounds great in theory, but the reality was not.

For unknown reasons, Sinbad was turned into a Sicilian in this movie, completely ignoring the source material, which was just one of several issues. According to DreamWorks, the budget for Sinbad was $60 million. That number should be looked at with a bit of skepticism, as the former head of DreamWorks David Geffen said in an interview that the movie actually lost the studio $125 million. No amount of advertising budget can more than double the losses of a movie, so DreamWorks may have been playing a little fast and loose with their numbers, or their co-founder Geffen just had no idea what he was talking about.

The movie had extensive marketing tie-ins with Baskin-Robbins, Hasbro, M&Ms and more. When it debuted, it didn’t even out-gross Finding Nemo, which had already been in theaters for six weeks.

3. Cutthroat Island – Lost $147 million

It’s not often that a movie does so poorly it kills an entire genre of film, but that’s what Cutthroat Island seemed to do. The Renny Harlin directed movie, starring Geena Davis in a swashbuckling adventure, did so poorly Hollywood didn’t make another pirate movie for over a decade.

It can’t be overstated just how awful this movie’s whole legacy is. The budget for Cutthroat Island was $115 million back in 1995. Its box office take was $10 million. This was so bad, it actually made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the greatest financial loss in film history at the time. When you adjusted for inflation today, you’re looking at a loss of $147 million.

The IMDb facts page for the movie reads like a rogue’s gallery of bad ideas and terrible mistakes. One actor was fired for getting drunk and mooning Geena Davis. Star Matthew Modine explained that some of the budget went for the shipping of dozens and dozens of cases of V8 for the director to drink on set. They had to be shipped from the United States to Malta, and apparently an entire room of the vegetable juice was left at the end of filming. On top of that, three cameras were used to film every single shot which resulted in massive amounts of unused film at the end of production.

Harlin is said to have fired the chief camera operator from the set, which resulted in dozens of other crew members quitting in solidarity. The blame can’t solely be put on Harlin’s shoulders though, as he tried to quit production realizing just how bad the movie was going to be, as did Geena Davis. The studio refused to stop production.

2. Gemini Man – Lost $111 million

Betting on Will Smith is usually a smart choice when it comes to Hollywood. Many of his early films were massive blockbusters, like Independence Day and Men in Black. Everyone has a miss once in a while though, and Smith definitely missed the mark with his 2019 sci-fi flick Gemini Man.

Estimates place Gemini Man‘s losses at around $111 million. A number of factors seem to have come together to make the movie fail so badly. For starters, it was filmed at 120 frames per second for a 3D release. High frame-rate movies like that have a curious effect on audiences.

While it seems like higher frame rate and crisper detail should make a movie a more exciting and interesting experience for viewers, what happens is the movie becomes so real and clean looking it removes some of the magic and glamour we expect from movies. While it’s hard to define, the result is that audiences just don’t like the way it looks.

The other problem with the movie was that the story-line was pretty generic and not interesting. It wasn’t necessarily a bad movie, but being so run-of-the-mill and then having so many reviews dominated by the technological aspects of the high-frame-rate meant that no one was really trying hard to sell the movie.

1. Terminator: Dark Fate – Lost $120 million

The Terminator franchise is one of the most unusual in film history. The first one made Arnold Schwarzenegger a star, proved James Cameron as a blockbuster filmmaker, and started the ball rolling on one of cinema’s most famous characters. 10 years later when we got Terminator 2 it became one of those rare times when a sequel surpasses the original. And then things took a turn.

Rise of the MachinesSalvation, and Genisys were all fairly underwhelming at the box office and for critics. But then James Cameron returned to the franchise with Dark Fate and brought series star Linda Hamilton back as well. It felt like a recipe to take us right back to the legendary status of T2: Judgment Day. Or at least that’s what it seemed like at first.

Dark Fate opened at $29 million at the domestic box office. Respectable numbers for a low budget film, but not for something of this caliber. The budget for Dark Fate was estimated at somewhere around $185 million. In order to break even the movie needed to make about $450 million. That put the movie on track to lose a staggering $120 million overall.

Despite having the original director and cast back, and even being critically praised for being the best film in the franchise since Terminator 2, it seems that audiences had just had enough of Terminator after so many bad movies in a row.


“Mommy, what’s a movie theater?”

WIF @ The Movies

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #314

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #314

… “Damn right, Carolyn! Well actually, I did not know that, but when it came to the rights to Cinderella and of Peter Pan… $500,000 drunken dollars, probably parked next to their whiskey barrel.”…

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Walt Disney holds out his silver cigarette case, as a deal-sealing gesture would look.

“I don’t smoke, thank you.” Carolyn pauses thoughtfully, continuing, “Don’t you think that all the smoke you inhale may have long term health effects?”

“These?” he closes the case, “Clark Gable has been smoking since he was 15 and he isn’t slowing down. 60 damn movies and he lights it up in most of them. Beside that, my doctors say I’m as healthy as Prince Charming.”

“Ah, a Cinderella reference,” she comments, then adding a historical tidbit, “Did you know that Sircigarette-smoke James Matthew Barrie has relatives in Tallahassee?”

“Damn right, Carolyn! Well actually, I did not know that, but he, or rather, his family was a sticky wicket when it came to the rights to Cinderella. And of Peter Pan… $500,000 drunken dollars, probably parked next to their whiskey barrel.” His bitterness boiled to the surface, but settles down, “By all accounts, Barrie himself was a literary genius. Too bad we weren’t contemporaries.”

Lyn Ford nods, easily empathizing with collaboration and will abandon the smoking issue for the sake of consolation. But she does not jump up and down.

“I am Walt Disney, Carolyn!”  No ego here! Am I chopped liver in your world?”

“Not exactly, Walt, more like steak tartar.” She has not made up her mind.

“Oh yes, with a thick slice of Vidalia onion on top. But you seem to be dodging my proposal.” He is used to getting is way. As he will gladly tell you, ‘I am Walt “the man” Disney!

Lyn comes up with a solution. “How about we make a hand shake agreement to start an open-ended project? No hurry, no deadlines. You are in the full flower of your creative bloom.”

          Another massive cloud of smoke rises into the California air~~~~~~


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #314


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #312

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #312

…The glitz and glamour, the long red carpet and the champagne wishes & caviar dreams, are all there for the taking…

caviar-dreams

Having endured an evening at the Atlanta Civic ballet, at which Sara Fenwick won the “Newcomer of the Year” award, and a stiff headwind at 10,000 feet, Ford finds Hollywood more to his liking. It’s not like he’s not used to the world of celebrity, he and Lyn being quite well known in several circles, but the nickname, “Tinsel Town”, is once again living up to its name, just as it had for Judith Eastman and Mary Pickford 40 years ago. The glitz and glamour, the long red carpet and the champagne wishes & caviar dreams, are all there for the taking.

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Gort

As head screenwriter, Carolyn Hanes is involved in all phases of the production. The cameras are rolling on The Day the Earth Stood Still set and she is being treated like the queen of England. The executive producer has visions of his money quadrupling, the producer knows his company has hooked on with a winner, the director takes the script and makes it his own and the actors breathe life into the dialogue. Even the big dumb silver robot that Lyn had created is assembled successfully, almost exactly the way she had envisioned.

“What were your intentions with this line… here?” points the dashing alien from the flying saucer at a line from the script.

“‘You are on the path to self-destruction.’? Well, you have to understand that even though the aliens defend themselves with force, they also are here to warn humans about the danger of nuclear weapons. They will show a scene from the future that will show Earth’s leaders, of an utterly destroyed, smoldering planet. It is what will happen if we do not control who has and who uses the bomb.”

“Yes, I see now. Not so far from the truth, Miss Hanes?” Actor Michael Rennie is old enough to have been affected by WWII and the weapon of mass destruction that ended it.

       Image result for the day the earth stood still robot   “No, it isn’t, Michael,” then in the same breath, “and how many army guys did you kill today?”

          “None today, the ray gun is in the shop.”

          “I love your sense of humor. I think this is going to be fun!”

          “Tell me Miss Hanes, you seem to know a lot about flying saucers.”           

          “Call me, Lyn and it’s actually Mrs. Hanes-Ford.”

          “Two last names, how nice.”

          “Yes, uses more ink, but I like it.” It does and she does. “Let’s just say that writers often draw from their personal experiences.”

          “Indeed, that would be one hell of a personal experience.”

          “I have a friend who knows far more than me, but unfortunately, she can’t remember a thing.”

          “Can we talk about this later? They’re calling me for a scene, thank you for your insight.”

The Day the Earth Stood Still opened in American theaters late in 1954. It frightens some, dazzles others and entertains all. The flying saucer thing is taking off. People will gaze at the heavens in a different way, wondering, looking up.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #312


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #311

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #311

…”I can’t seem to let the flying saucer thing go.” Carolyn Hanes is fascinated with this new medium. “Writing for the movies is so fun. I can make, what I imagine in my head, materialize on the screen.”…

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“When did you write this and why didn’t I know about it?” A husband is asking his wife about something she chose not to share with him.

“The Clipper story is in the can and with you out flying, I get bored. With Constance on the shelf, I needed a challenge, something new. So, when Robert Wise approached me, I couldn’t turn him down. I wanted this to be a surprise.” Carolyn Hanes is pleading guilty for the crime of omission.

“Surprise? The Day the Earth Stood Still?” This is really far out.”

Science_Fiction

“What do you mean? My fiction can hardly keep up with our reality. I can’t seem to let the flying saucer thing go.” She is fascinated with this new medium. “Writing for the movies is so fun. I can make, what I imagine in my head, materialize on the screen.”Image result for hollywood

“I know our story of the Pacific Clipper wasn’t all that exciting for you, but I have to hand it to you Lyn, you really know how to make up for it. Hollywood? Wow!”

“I was hoping we could visit Sara in Atlanta before going out to the left coast. It’s opening night of the ballet festival and I promised to be in the front row, cheering her on.”

“Geez, Lyn, the ballet? I’d rather be sitting in a dentist chair. Isn’t my tuxedo at the cleaners? I hear my mother calling me. I was going to grease the muffler bearings tonight.”

 “Robert Ford!” That works every time.


Alpha Omega M.D.

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Episode #311


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #248

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #248

…”The new movie we’re producing for MGM is titled, Mutiny on the Bounty,” Pickford states proudly…

Mutiny on the Bounty

Clark Gable playing Fletcher Christian in “Mutiny on the Bounty.” Charles Laughton plays Captain Bligh.

“Is that gorgeous husband of yours in it?”

“No, Frank Lloyd signed up a couple of young unknowns like Charles Laughton and Clark Gable. Competition for the really good actors is downright fierce.”

“I am sure they will carry the day, Mary. And it is so nice actually hearing their real voices.” Mary Pickford spent the bulk of her career moving her lips, which produced nothing but lines of text at the bottom of the big screen; a shame considering that she has deeply sexy voice, betraying her diminutive stature.

“It is time to make your way to your seats, ladies,” one of the eleven crewmen urges politely.

“I do not believe I have gotten your picture as yet, young man.”

“You did so, Madame, out on the dock.”

“Oh my, all you good looking men in those snappy uniforms look so much alike,” Judith explains, as one of the flight stewards does a double take, after getting a better look at the second party.

“Are you… uh, Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm?” he stumbles for the right proper name.

Mary Pickford, yes.”

 “Yeah, her too.” He rifles his jacket for a pen and paper, anything to record their meeting. He takes off his white Pan American Airlines hat. “Would you be so kind as to sign your same on my flight cap?”

“This will be a first…”

 “Barney, Barney Sawicki.”

  “All right Barney-Barney Sawicki, how do you spell your last name?”

  “Just one Barney, ma’am and it is spelled S-A-W-I-C-K-I.Pan Am Hat-001

 “I was pulling your leg, sir.”

  “Say, could you just put, ‘To Barney, All my love, Rebecca?’ I must have seen it a hundred times. You didn’t know it, but you were my first love. I was only seven, but that didn’t matter.”

“I’m flattered, I think.” Mary had done some math in her head. It can be rough being an icon or rather, is it disturbing to be referred to as a fictional character instead of one’s real name; no matter. “There you go Barney and thank you for reminding me how long ago I played Rebecca.

“Oh, by the way, my traveling companion played Rebecca’s teacher, you remember Miss Emily Maxwell, don’t you?”

“Well I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. Miss Emily. My grandpa had it bad for you! Grandma was a teacher and didn’t like you much, ‘cause grandpa said they didn’t have teachers like you when he was a kid.”

Judith does not know how to take that comment.

“Sign right here on the bill, okay?”

First stop: Honolulu.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Pan Am Clipper

Episode #248


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Gotta-Go Go-To Go-There(s) – WIF Travel

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Tourist Destinations

Made Famous

Through Pop Culture

Someone who is enjoying a book, a song, a movie, or a television show is enriching his or her inner world by imagining new physical, intellectual, and emotional possibilities. Sometimes, however, the world a person creates in his or her art isn’t imaginary at all. All of the places on this list are actual places that a tourist could visit. All of them have been popularized because of their associations with certain books, music, movies, and television shows.

10. Graceland (Home Of Elvis Presley)

When the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, bought his Memphis estate, Graceland, in 1957 it was one of the most costly properties in the area. Unable to afford the expense of caring for the estate after Elvis’ death, Elvis’ former wife, Priscilla Presley, opened it to the public in 1982. Now, roughly 600,000 people visit Graceland each year to pay homage to their favorite rock and roll royalty.

Graceland is a tourist destination because of its sociocultural significance. Elvis spent 20 years of his life there. However, Graceland also has artistic significance, as it has served as a muse for successful songwriters. In “Walking In Memphis,” singer/songwriter Marc Cohn sings about seeing the ghost of Elvis Presley while touring Graceland. In “Graceland,” a song from an album of the same name, singer/songwriter Paul Simon sings about the creative and personal redemption he finds while visiting his idol’s home.

9. Lyme Park And Sudbury Hall (Pride And Prejudice)

Mr. Darcy, the hero of Jane Austen’s 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice, was mentioned more in 1995 than at any time since 1900. This is partially because when screen and teleplay writer Andrew Davies adapted the novel into a six hour miniseries for the BBC, he put a handsome face to the famous name.

When the novel’s heroine, Elizabeth Bennet (played by Jennifer Ehle in the miniseries) tours the estate of Mr. Darcy (played by Colin Firth), whose marriage proposal she has rejected because she thinks him haughty, she realizes that the man she has turned down is very well endowed… with property. His estate, Pemberley, consists of lush woodlands and a stately manor. When they unexpectedly meet at Pemberley, Elizabeth and Darcy better understand both each other and the nature of their own romantic feelings.

The Pemberley of the 1995 miniseries is actually two places. The exterior shots of Pemberley were filmed at Lyme Park in the Peak District in Cheshire. When the cast and crew were ready to film the interior shots for Pemberley, Lyme Park — which is open to the public — was no longer available. The interior shots for Pemberley, including the elegant, long gallery, were shot in Sudbury Hall, an estate in Derbyshire. Tour guide Maddy Hall says that when she takes tourists who are using P and P Tours to Lyme Hall, she doesn’t go inside herself. She wants to keep her vision of Pemberley (literally) intact. Says Hall, “In our minds we think we have seen Jennifer Ehle [as Elizabeth Bennet] looking out of the windows and seeing the lake [on the grounds of Pemberley] – but in fact it’s all down to skillful editing.”

8. Middle-earth (The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy)

While he was writing the The Lord of the Rings, British fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien meticulously created the vivid details of Middle-earth, the setting for his trilogy. Tolkien produced a colorful, annotated map of Middle-earth, now housed in the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University. Tolkien also made sketches of his fantasy realm.

When movie director Peter Jackson acquired the rights for his movies based on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, he knew exactly which location would best represent Middle-earth: Jackson’s homeland, New Zealand. Jackson used 150 locations in New Zealand during the making of his movies. Each movie in the trilogy grossed an average of $970 million, and the third film was the highest grossing film for 2003. New Zealand embraces its identity as Middle-earth in its tourism marketing. On its tourism website, it’s called “the perfect Middle-earth.” Many people must see New Zealand’s sloping hills, majestic mountains, and limpid bodies of water as the perfect features for Middle-earth. Roughly 47,000 Tolkien fans per year visit film locations in New Zealand.

7. The Empire State Building (King Kong)

Since it opened in 1931, the Empire State Building has been featured in over 250 movies. One of the building’s earliest scene-stealing cameos was in the 1933 movie King Kong. In the film, the behemoth ape King Kong escapes from an exhibit and kidnaps the character portrayed by Fay Wray, with whom he is smitten. He carries her to the top of the Empire State Building, where she’s rescued when the gorilla is shot repeatedly by airplane gunners.

In 1933, the scene served as an homage to the sociocultural relevance of the (relatively new) Empire State Building. In 2019, the Empire State Building paid an homage to the film. As part of $165 million worth of renovations, designers built a gallery with interactive exhibits on the second floor of the world-famous tower. As visitors walk through a 1930s newsroom, King Kong’s fingers pierce the walls as he dangles from the rooftop, dodging airplanes. In another exhibit, visitors can step into King Kong’s arms.

6. The Iron Throne (Game Of Thrones)

A Song of Ice and Fire, the fantasy series author George R.R. Martin began writing in 1991, hasn’t been completed yet. The HBO series based on Martin’s books, however, premiered in 2011 and ended in 2019. The series earned 12 Emmy awards for its final season, the most wins for any individual show. The finale was watched by over 13 million viewers, the most viewers for any HBO show, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Since the show was filmed in 10 countries, fans of both the books and the miniseries have many tourist destinations from which to choose. Arguably, the most contested site in the series is King’s Landing, home of the Iron Throne that inspires the brutal succession “game” that gives the series its title. In 2019, HBO hid six Iron Thrones throughout the world and awarded prizes to fans who found them using clues posted on the Game of Thrones Twitter account. The scenes in King’s Landing featuring the “real” Iron Throne — the one built by the show’s set designers — were filmed in Dubrovnik, Croatia. In 2015, the mayor of Dubrovnik claimed HBO was gifting the Iron Throne to his city. HBO denied the mayor’s claim. Dubrovnik does not have the Iron Throne yet, but it does have a museum honoring Game of Thrones.

5. Llanddewi Brefi (Little Britain)

One of the recurring characters on Matt Lucas and David Walliams‘ 2003 BBC sketch comedy television series, Little Britain, is Daffyd (a misspelling of the Welsh “Dafydd”) Thomas, a flamboyant, inexperienced youth who doggedly insists he’s the only gay man in his village of Llanddewi Brefi, Wales.

The sketches are actually shot in Buckinghamshire, England. Still, the popularity of Lucas’ character has strengthened the tourism industry in Llanddewi Brefi. Shop owner Neil Driver, who owns Siop Brefi in partnership with his wife, Glesni, says tourists come to have their photos taken while they’re standing in front of the sign at the town’s entrance, and sometimes they steal the signs. In 2005, Driver told Wales News he had sold roughly 40 shirts with a line from one of Daffyd’s sketches on them to visiting tourists.

4. Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey)

Sam Wallaston, a television critic for the British newspaper The Guardian, called Julian Fellowes’ series Downton Abbey “a posh soap opera [but] a pretty bloody splendid posh soap opera.” The series dramatizes the interpersonal relationships of the Crawley family, the owners of the estate Downton Abbey, and the servants who attend the Crawleys. The Crawleys’ story also intersects with important sociocultural and sociopolitical events in England at the turn of the 20th century.

Highclere Castle is where the interior shots (most notably the dining hall, the entrance room, and the staircase) and the exterior shots for the series were filmed. In a way, Highclere Castle is the titular character, since the show is named for the Crawleys’ estate. The popularity of the show has increased the popularity of Highclere Castle, Downton Abbey’s real world counterpart. George “Geordie” Herbert, the eighth earl of Carnarvon and Lady Fiona Carnarvon, who own Highclere Castle, say the tourism created by the show has assisted them in paying for the castle’s necessary repairs. As of 2015, 1,250 tourists per day visited Highclere Castle. In 2019, Airbnb offered two sweepstakes winners an overnight stay in order to promote the newly released Downton Abbey movie.

3. King’s Cross Station (Harry Potter)

In 2018, author J.K. Rowling’s seven book Harry Potter series became the bestselling book series in history. Rowling’s series has sold over five hundred million copies worldwide. Rowling’s work is appealing — especially for her most devoted fans — partially because of how deftly she depicts Hogwarts, the wizard training school where Harry seeks to master his craft.

In the book, Harry travels to Hogwarts by taking the train at platform 9 ¾ in King’s Cross Station. Boarders must reach the platform by running through a brick wall between platforms nine and ten. At the actual King’s Cross Station, platforms nine and ten are separated by tracks. Luckily for Harry Potter fans, there is still a platform 9 ¾… sort of. A luggage trolley is embedded in a wall in the station concourse. Above the trolley is a sign that says Platform 9 ¾. Tourists may have professional photos taken grasping the trolley. A nearby gift shop offers tourists the option to further personalize the photo by wearing a scarf in the Hogwarts house colors of their choice. The photo and the scarf are available for purchase. King’s Cross Station’s platform 9 ¾ welcomes over one million visitors each year. Rowling, for her part, said she immediately knew she would locate platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station, because it has emotional significance for her. Her parents met on a trolley there.

2. The Hollywood Sign

In 1923, Los Angeles Times publisher Harry Chandler invested in an upscale housing development. The housing development was called Hollywoodland. In order to advertise, Chandler bought 45-foot high white letters that spelled out the name of his development, located on the south side of Mount Lee in the Hollywood Hills. He anchored the letters to telephone poles, and attached a total of 4,000 illuminated lights to his lettering.

The word “land” was removed from the sign in 1949, long after Hollywoodland had gone out of business. The sign has received regular maintenance checks since the 1970s, and its sociocultural significance continues to be confirmed. The Hollywood sign, or at least a studio set replica of it, has appeared in over a dozen movies.

1. Abbey Road (The Beatles)

When rock and roll’s most famous quartet, The Beatles, crossed Abbey Road in the cover photo for their 1969 album of the same name, they elevated the significance of their recording studio, Abbey Road Studios. Now linked inextricably with the success of a band ranked Number One in the 2010 Rolling Stone list “100 Greatest Artists,” Abbey Road is a symbolic home for any musical artist who desires creative freedom.

Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, and Adele, for example, have recently recorded at Abbey Road Studios. While Abbey Road Studios isn’t open for tours, Abbey Road Crossing — the crossing on The Beatles’ album cover — is usually crowded with tourists taking photographs.


Gotta-Go Go-To Go-There(s)

WIF Travel