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Today’s Hit Movies Reimagined Perfectly as ’80s VHS Tapes

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Video stores aren’t totally extinct, but for most of us the tradition of actually going to them is a thing of the past. Not to get too Norman Rockwell here, but people of a certain generation are sure to remember the Friday night family trip down the street, where you could browse through shelves upon shelves of VHS tapes.

To browse the shelves of a video store is really to evaluate a slew of marketing materials. Think about 1990: There weren’t websites devoted solely to movie trailers, or troves of flicks available via a button or two on the remote. You had word of mouth and the video store. Those VHS boxes had to sell themselves, and for awhile—especially in the 1980s—some of them really started overselling. There were a lot of heroes standing on mountaintops, busty trophy women at their sides, supporting casts hovering hazily in the background.

That’s the era French artist Julien Knez pays homage to in his Timeless VHS series. For fun, Knez mocked up a bunch of posters featuring today’s hit shows and movies—like Breaking Bad, Interstellar, Gravity—as if they were actually the jackets for VHS tapes. Knez created them all on Photoshop by modeling them after after VHS cases from the era. They’re incredibly convincing.

More Is More

Knez’s 1980s version of Gravity, for instance, is based off a jacket for the old Bond movie Moonraker. Like Gravity, it’s space-themed. There’s an inset of an illustration of Bond and his Bond girl, clad in silver lamée suits, surrounded by blue, black, and white type that doubles as a credit reel. Little icons for ‘VHS,’ and ‘Dolby Stereo’ dot the corners. Or take Knez’s rework of Game of Thrones. He says the design is mostly a rip-off of Yor, a film about a “hunter from the future” that we can all assume went straight to video. On the Knez version, there’s a regal hero shot of Ned Stark and his sword, with a toy soldier-sized army (maybe from Winterfell?) parading beneath him. The Game of Thrones title might as well be written in a font that was also commissioned by The Babysitter’s Club books. An orange sticker on the side announces: “Plus previews of other movies.”

The-Walking-Dead-VHS-Golem13
Julian Knez

“That’s such a perfect detail, ‘Plus previews of other hit movies,’” says Joe Pickett, author of VHS: Absurd, Odd, and Ridiculous Relics from the Videotape Era. “Just trying to sell you in any way they can.” Besides his book, Pickett also heads up The Found Footage Festival, a traveling showcase of rare and weird VHS finds. Right now is a great time to collect VHS tapes, Pickett says, because unlike records VHS tapes aren’t experiencing a retro revival. Everyone’s trying to empty their basements of them.

Even in their heydey, Pickett says, B-list movies always had to compete for screen time. Thus, the sensationalized cover designs. “[Video stores] were like an art gallery, and it was all you had to base it on,” Pickett says. “You had to encapsulate the whole movie with just one chance. The cover is always the gateway to read the back of it.” Knez’s take on The Wolf of Wall Street is a great example: You get a smug Leonardo DiCaprio, the New York City skyline, and the debauchery of hookers and bankers in the backdrop, with “Box Office Hit Video” emblazoned across the bottom. Not a lot of nuance there.

Sensationalism Sells (Sorta)

The funny thing about this maximalist approach is that it made a lasting impression—just not as planned. “There’s some covers I remember better than the movies,” Pickett says. “Like Up the Creek. It was one of those crappy ’80s movies. But I remember the raft, which was a woman with enormous breasts.” There’s more: “Zapped, with Scott Baio, pulling his finger and making the woman’s skirt flip up. I became a man when I saw that cover.” Pickett’s got a point. When I think about VHS covers, the jacket for Porky’s immediately comes to mind (I remember being so confused: Was it funny, sexy, or something sinister? Either way, it was off limits to me). To this day, I’ve never even seen the movie.

That’s not to say some stellar designs didn’t emerge from the era. The art for Star Wars belongs on the Mount Rushmore of iconic movie posters. There are also the indelible images associated with Jaws, Scarface, and maybe Forrest Gump (feel free to debate that). The Star Wars poster, with Luke and Han Solo and Princess Leia up front and Darth Vader looming behind them, helped establish a visual trope you can see copied in goofball flicks like Up the Creek, like Pickett mentions, and in Knez’s take on Guardians of the Galaxy.

The movie landscape has changed dramatically since the VHS era, and with it, so have the promotional materials. We still have posters, but they’re less audacious. “Covers now are so boring, they just focus on the face of the star in the movie,” Pickett says. It appears to be true: Peruse the new releases on iTunes, and it’s all fairly straightforward. There’s lots of close-up shots of stars, with not much more than the movie title for text. It’s inoffensive design. “You don’t have to slap a million things on the cover anymore,” he says. Just George Clooney’s face.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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