Expelled just keeps on sucking.

April 30, 2008

I’ve been working on my first peer-reviewed research post, which should be coming within the next day or two; these things require considerably more effort, so it’s not going as fast as I might have liked. But in the meantime, I thought I would drop in to mention that Expelled is continuing to stink the place up in its slide into obscurity: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday were all down at least 45% from the corresponding day on the opening weekend, and the total take to date is just shy of $5.5 million (boxofficemojo). Given yesterday’s rather dismal performance of $157,191 (down 35% from last Monday), things are looking a little grim for Ben Stein’s money.

Dracil has a good round-up of the weekend’s numbers, and I encourage you to check it out.


iPhone in Canada!

April 29, 2008

Rogers says iPhone coming before year-end

Okay, now *that’s* what I’m taking about. Here’s the important part of the story, since the rest is really just blah-de-blah about Rogers and their revenue:

TORONTO – Rogers Communications Inc. said on Tuesday it plans to bring the iPhone to Canada before the end of the year.

“We’re thrilled to announce that we have a deal with Apple to bring the iPhone to Canada later this year.

No word on pricing, yet. And the ‘later this year’ bit makes me think that they might be waiting for the release of the 3G iPhone which is rumoured to be in the next few months.

I wonder how much this is going to hurt the booths selling unlocked iPhones (and other GSM phones) around Montréal? (And were those sales being included in the world-wide stats on iPhone sales? My thought is “yes”, because they had to legitimately buy the phone somehwere, but I’m not confident enough to state that definitively.)

In any case, I’m glad to see that they’re finally bringing the iPhone to Canada, but unfortunately it comes a little late for me. A few after the initial release of the iPhone in the U.S., I was coming up to the end of my contract with B*ll and if the iPhone had been available, I would have found the money to get an iPhone. But it wasn’t, so I didn’t, and now I have a KRZR. (It’s an okay phone, but let’s face it, it’s no iPhone). Not to mention that Bell drops about 1 out of every 4 cross-country calls for me, but that’s a story for another angry blog post.

Expelled and the definition of “tanking”.

April 28, 2008

This started out as a reply to a comment made on this post, but the amount of research quickly got out of hand so I decided to give a post of its own.

Bad made a comment:

I’m not really sure “tanking” makes much sense. The film certainly didn’t meet its maker’s stated goals, but its seems to have the basic and relatively mediocre trajectory of any documentary.

My reply to Bad:

Thanks for the comment, Bad! Here’s why I said that Expelled is “tanking”:

Expelled is playing on an over a thousand screens, which is absolutely unprecedented except for the top two Michael Moore documentaries. Each movie theatre that they open in costs, right off the bat, $1500 to $2000 for the cost of printing the film (see HSW: Movie Distribution). So, since they opened on so many screens, even estimating on the low end, they’re already at least $1.5 million in costs. The theatres retain a portion of the money made from tickets; I’ve seen estimates rating up to 50% (here’s one), but let’s lowball it and call it 20%. Boxofficemojo.com is currently reporting an estimated take of $5.3 million for the movie to date (that number will become clearer tomorrow, obviously). Taking off 20%, they’ve made 4.24 million. Subtract the printing costs and you’re left with about $2.75 million dollars in revenue to date.

Of course, that’s before any consideration of the aggressive marketing they’ve been doing. The LA Times noted that the Expelled advertising budget was “in the single-digit millions”. Given that, I would be extremely surprised to see that they had managed to swim out of the pool of red ink yet, and that’s one definition of “tanking” that I’m willing to run with.

None of this seems like the basic trajectory of any documentary I’ve seen or heard of; I”m admittedly not an expert on film distribution and box office reports, but if you could enlighten me more on the trajectory of a documentary, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Another definition goes by the stated words of the producers, as you noted in your comment. Again, the LA Times reported a quote from Walt Ruloff, the executive producer of the movie:

Ruloff said the film could top the $23.9-million opening for Michael Moore’s polemic against President Bush, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the best launch ever for a documentary.

That constitutes another meaning to “tanking” that I’m willing to go with.

And that’s not even counting the pathetic moves of the “bring 25 people and get a Ben Stein bobblehead” and the payoffs of $5 to $10 to schools and home-schoolers for each person that they bring. (The current status of this last bit leaves me a little confused: they were certainly offering it before, but the current page at GetExpelled makes it out to be a contest now that only a single school will win. However, the FAQ page on the site still clearly shows traces of this (see the attached screen shot). It seems likely that they tried to clean up their tracks and just failed to erase all the traces. If anyone knows what happened, please let me know!)

Text from the FAQ page.

Now *here’s* a great idea.

April 27, 2008

Uncertain Principles: A Pro-Science Film Festival: Why Not?

Over at Uncertain Principles, Chad Orzel has a really smart idea to help counter the tsunami of stupid that is Ben Stein’s Expelled:  a ScienceBlogs-sponsored science film festival, run though YouTube and featuring user-generated submissions.  This is pure Web 2.0 / user-driven content, but done for a great cause which doesn’t involve hawking automobiles.  (To be fair, I didn’t actually have that big a problem with the Chevy campaign, but I’m in a very small minority it seems…)

In any case, if you’re reading this, what are you still doing here?  Head over to Chad’s blog and voice your support or add your ideas.  If this thing goes ahead, I’d sure be tempted to borrow a camera from someone and put together my magnum opus, dissertation be damned.

Expelled is tanking as we speak.

April 27, 2008

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) – Daily Box Office Results

We’ll have to wait to see how things play out until Monday, but Friday’s results seem to be pretty suggestive: Expelled’s staying power seems to have come up drastically short. With a nearly 70% drop from the previous Friday’s results and a grand total of about $4.3 million, Expelled will be hard pressed to make back the millions of dollars that they put into the film. (Yeah, I know: Brayton’s estimate is at best an educated guess, but I haven’t see anything better anywhere, and the argument is plausible).

Excuse me while I shed some tears over the demise of this steaming pile of creationist spew.

UPDATED: Dracil dropped by to leave a comment, and I liked his Friday round up so much that I’m linking to it.  So there.  You can’t stop me!  Oh, wait, I’m mad with power.  Right, have to take my pills now….

UQÀM under threat…?

April 25, 2008

I just attempted to enter the Biological Sciences building at UQÀM (the Université du Québec à Montréal), and I was refused entrance (along with everyone else) for unspecified “threats”. Someone I know who spoke to security had just left the building and I caught up with her; according to her, the threat wasn’t about a bomb but was instead a threat about something like a school shooting. “Apparently somone was really upset and made some threats”, she told me.

UQÀM students have been in the news lately for scuffling with school administration and security regarding tuition (something which sort of amused me, considering that UQÀM tuition is much lower than most institutions outside of Québec), but I don’t know if these threats are related to that.

I’ll update this post with any further information I gather; I’m probably meeting some people from UQÀM later this afternoon, so I’ll see what comes of it.

UPDATE (6:55 p.m.): I did speak with some people in UQÀM’s bio department. They tell me that indeed there was a threat of a school shooter, which was phoned into UQÀM and the police last night. The comments about UQÀM’s response were fairly disparaging, owing to the complete lack of communication between UQÀM and the students, and the apparent confusion of the security people who first suggested people leave the Biological Sciences building and then closed it entirely at about noon or 1:00 p.m. The fact that this was an exam day makes me wonder if the threat was simply meant to postpone exams (which did, in fact, happen). In any case, no-one appears to have been hurt, and normal activity is expected to resume on Monday.

UPDATE 2: Apparently, the IT people are UQÀM are actually monkeys, and badly trained ones at that. Apparently, an e-mail mentioning unspecified threats to the Science Complex was circulated to students – arriving about 12 hours after they locked down the building.  Way to be timely, guys.

Jenny McCarthy: please keep your “help” out of Canada.

April 25, 2008

I was on CBC looking for confirmation that the Canadiens had won another game (which was admittedly a foregone conclusion, given the massive honking which just began outside my window), and I saw a link to The Hour with Jenny McCarthy on it.

I’ve been fuming about her for some time, but now she’s coming into my country and spreading her idiocy. I’ll keep this short, though: I’m in biology and I’ve read enough of the research to satisfy myself, but I’m not in epidemiology or medicine, so I’m going to refer you to some really smart people who are. Please, if you’re reading this, go and educate yourself.

Here’s some bonus links to Canadian media and Health Canada:

In many ways, I just feel sorry for Jenny McCarthy. She has a son with autism, which is not something I can imagine having to deal with. But she’s been taken in by her own sense of self-importance and she honestly believes that she’s smarter than the entirety of the scientific and medical community because she read a couple of websites and bought into some anecdotes. If you really think that you’re smarter than the most intelligent and experienced people on this Earth, you had better damn well have some evidence. And this is where the rage comes in: with her constant television appearances and star power, she’s helping to kill children who may die from diseases that we can stop, reliably and safely.